Wednesday, April 9, 2014

She's Got Fever

I sat on the floor of the bathroom, my arms thrown up on the side of the bathtub and my forehead resting on my forearms.  Gareth played delightedly with cups and toys, water spilling and cries of "Jump into the pool!" sounding and it was all I could do just stay to stay semi-upright.  

I was so hot.  
And not in the "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard" kind of way.

Later that night, after I'd put Gareth to bed and managed to find my way to bed, I took my temperature and it read 103.8.  I'd been running a fever for 60 hours at that point, despite having had antiobiotcs for 48 of them.  

I was so hot.

Sitting on the bathroom floor, the only clear thought I remember having was "Thank God for birthcontrol."

I'll explain.

Before Cliff's trial began, before he confessed, before I knew the truth of things, we were planning on trying to have another baby after the trial concluded.  We both wanted more than one child and it would have been a good time to start anyway; chances are I would get pregnant quickly and we would have an August baby which would miss Easter and Christmas obligations at church.

I decided we couldn't take the chance on getting pregnant if he did end up going to jail, so I remained on birth control.  Birth control that I was able to get prescribed by my doctor because my doctor wasn't being horrifyingly strong armed by a hospital system like this one: (http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2014/03/29/a-town-without-contraception/).  Birth Control that I was able to get cheaply because I was fortunate enought to have health insurance pay most of the costs on it.

Thank God for birthcontrol and my ability to get it. Because if I hadn't had free access to it, my apparant fertility almost guaranteed that I would have already been pregnant with another child by the time Cliff went to jail, let alone afterwards.  And my life would be so so so much harder than it already is.  

I grieve the possibility that Gareth will be my only child.  I never expected a "first-and-last" pregnancy.  But as life is now, as a single mom, as the only bread-winner, as the bearer of "all-the-responsibility", it is the best possible future we could have had.  Because he can withstand several days of repeating netflix cartoons while I lie, bleary-eyed on the couch trying to withstand raging fevers.  But a younger child too?  I don't know how I would do it.  With family so far away, with funds so limited, with my attention so necessarily frayed.

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I'll be brutally honest here: I now understand why some women choose abortions.

I'm a single mom of only one child, I make substantianlly more than minimum wage, and it is still very very financially difficult to make ends meet.  Despite the help I know I could get from family.

Can you imagine?  A woman much like me, but with less education, with a lower paying job, with one child, with no health insurance and little access to birth control, who suddenly finds herself single-parenting and also pregnant?  I can imagine.  The desperation.  The nauseating knowledge that this is an impossible problem.  There are some agencies that can help, but not long-term.  And they certainly won't be there when she's sick with a 103 fever and she has to feed and bathe a 4yr old and 2yr old and she can't move from the floor of the bathroom where she's collapsed.  

If I had turned up pregnant after Cliff was incarcerated (and I was desperately afraid that would happen), abortion would have been something I considered.  And y'all, I'm an ordained Christian minister.  I believe life is sacred, I do.

But sometimes, sometimes life is just terrible.  And sometimes your only choices are all painful.

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This is difficult stuff folks, I know.  I don't expect consensus or even many to agree with me.  But if you sit in a place of privelege, like a family with 2 parents who are both employed, or a family with 2 parents where one parent can stay home; if you have never had to live under the strain of difficult finances; if you have never had to consider your future in light of no access to healthcare; if you have never had medical choices stripped from you; if you have never had to rebuild your life after it has been destroyed....

Choose mercy.  And compassion.  And remember that out in the world right now, there are single mothers and single fathers laying prone on bathroom floors, feverish and weak, trying to gather enough strength to feed their kids and then just survive till they're well again.  Sometimes their (my) best choices may give you pause.  But what they (we) don't need from you are picket signs, self-righteous editorials about our "moral failings", legislation that makes it harder to get even basic medical help.  What they (we) need is help.  And love.  And someone to bathe the children and get them to bed so we can shiver and sweat till our fever breaks.  

3 comments:

Josephine Robertson said...

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Anna Pie said...

I have had so many thoughts like this about our kids' mom. She didn't actually have enough foundation, help, housing, finances, you name it, to take care of her kids so now they're with us via CPS. We're told she is motivated to do what she needs to do to get them back but I can't help thinking "If Trent and I struggle at times to make all this parenting stuff work and there are TWO of us, how can she be expected to do it with flying colors under CPS scrutiny all by herself?" I don't know the answer. But this post really resonated with me and made me think of her.

You're a wonderful mother Elizabeth. I'm very glad your fever is gone. No fun.

Chris Thomas said...

Absolutely one of the most honest and beautiful things I have read. Thank you for being who you are Elizabeth.