Pregnant By Choice

‘I’m a 32-year-old woman, disabled since birth, and until recently I have been firmly in the closet. I have been living in the nondisabled world all my life… I completed college, then graduate school. I am a full time professional. I have been married eight years to a non-disabled person…And yet, here are these braces. This limp. This ostomy appliance. These stares in the supermarket. All remind me that, while I live among the non-disabled, I remain on the margins. I remain Other. I was born with a congenital defect of the lower spine called sacral agenesis. This means that my sacrum is mostly missing — where “normal” folks have vertebrae, I have a mass of soft tissue… Given all this, why am I outing myself at this late date? Because I have broken a cardinal rule, done something so subversive that I feel the shockwaves ripple around me everywhere I go. I have become pregnant. By choice. My doctors couldn’t give me a great deal of reassurance about what a pregnancy might mean for me. Not a single case study was to be found. Apparently, if anyone like me has ever been pregnant, it wasn’t written up in the journals. Ultimately, my husband and I decided that pregnancy is a leap of faith for any couple — and we would take that leap. As soon as my pregnant belly began to be obvious, balanced atop my spindly braced legs (in the words of a wry friend, “like an olive on a toothpick”), the stares from strangers increased, both in number and in hostility. They telegraph their messages clearly: “I didn’t think that kind had sex!” and “Good God is she bringing another one like her into the world?” This kind of hostility has made me angry in a way that even the intrusive curiosity that has followed me all my life never did. I’m angry at being excluded from that group of people who can, in their eyes, acceptably have children, all for want of a pair of perfect legs. I’m angry that, should my child have health problems, all eyes will turn to me — even among family, and even if the problems are unrelated to my own. It is anger that kicked open the closet door, but it is impending parenthood that pushed me out. I want my child to have a mother who claims what she is, who accepts herself and expects others to do the same — not one who stands at the margins, waiting to measure up.’

Candice M. Lee, spinal disorder External Website that opens in a new window