Dear Uterus,

Dear Uterus,

I’ve been experiencing big feelings—the ragey grief kind—since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and I thought you would understand the way jagged snips of memory slice their way to consciousness, demanding attention.

Fragment. The mortification as the health-department doctor introduced me to the speculum. Leaving with a year’s-worth of birth-control pills and a bag of condoms.

Fragment. The fear that the pills and condoms hadn’t worked. The relief that they had.

Fragment. The discomfort as I sat in a beige waiting-room, trying to read a book as I waited for a friend. The discomfort growing heavy as despair when a very young teen was dragged in, sobbing, by her parents. The shock mixing in when she marched out, still sobbing, a while later because the clinic refused to give her an abortion she would not consent to. Parents be damned.

Fragment. The complexity of holding space for a male friend who grieved his girlfriend’s decision to have an abortion while I also knew she’d made the best choice she could for herself.

Fragment. The sadness when my friend shared how she’d suffered the unthinkable heartbreak late in her pregnancy. Knowing that the unthinkable heartbreak would be amplified today. That it will be amplified for some women.

Mixed between the sharp memory fragments are future what-ifs, worries that may never be realized and some that absolutely will be.

What if? My daughters. Their friends. What if they get pregnant?

What if? The women who have few resources. What if they get pregnant?

What if? The women who will risk death over giving birth. What if they pregnant?

Knowing that the question can shift in a moment from “what if they get pregant?”  to “they’re pregnant.” Wondering how those moments will impact the rest of their lives.

A fragment and what-if collide.

Fragment: Dr. M. repeatedly telling me that I must not—must not!—get pregnant after having the ablation.

What if? What if I get pregnant? I’m nearing the end of my reproductive years. My birth control is damn near failproof. And still . . .

Moving Forward

            I don’t know what the future holds. I try not to catastrophize, but I am afraid for so many women. For all of us really. Because this is not about saving babies.

            It’s about control.

            But I refuse to hand over my personal autonomy.

            I don’t know what the future holds.

            But I will do what needs to be done. For me and you. For my daughters, the ones you carried. For other people’s daughters too.

            I don’t know what the future holds.

Nicole C. Ayers