Categories
Politics

Day 565 and Mommy Issues

I just want to scream into the void about how disappointed I am in American men right now. I probably shouldn’t but this is my own little space so I may vent briefly and without a lot of citations. I’m angry and sad and I’m pretty convinced we’ve got a bad case of mommy issues with the way we are treating women’s rights this summer.

I’m surprisingly steamed that gay marriage is being protected via legislation before bodily sovereignty. It is just so American to protect the fucking tax regime. Like I get it. We organize all our property around monogamous two person households. Everyone should have equal access if we have it.

Also maybe we could not have the government involved instead. But nope we’ve chosen to get the government involved in social organization and now we’ve got to fight for equal access. And sure the liberals in America are scrambling in this particular summer to front run the Supreme Court being open to overturning settled precedent on all kinds of shit. I get it. I swear. I get it. I’m glad something is being done.

But like in what fucking world is bodily sovereignty for half the population the sort of problem you don’t bother to codify into rights first. Or at all! Why is it easier to protect marriage than my body. What message does it send we protected gay marriage before the right to manage your own body.

We are able to pass legislation on protecting equal access to some dippy tax scheme but we couldn’t figure out how to have control control over your own body if you can get pregnant. White gay men have more sway than brown women. I get it. I get it. I’m just so fucking disappointed.

Categories
Politics

Day 543 and Complicated Country

America has always been a complicated country. We’ve perpetrated some of history’s great evils. And at the same time we’ve achieved the greatest set of freedom ever known. Dickins didn’t fucking know best and worst of times. That’s always been the great American novel’s thing. The remix is better sometimes.

And I am feeling this tension in my body this week. To have always believed in the forward progress of this nation. Even when one grew up, perhaps most uniquely among generations, aware of the sins. We had Adbuster’s and Zinn’s People’s History and every politically aware piece of Hollywood awards bait.

You know how weird it feels to be optimistic about capitalism and the mess of democracy when you know it’s fucking blood magic that bought its riches? Everything has a cost. But who am I to know the cost. And would I bear it myself if I thought I could enjoy it’s fruits only? I doubt it. Everyone loves a fucking deal. And white people love the meritocracy. Because it means we’ve got merit by being winners. Whatever your ego needs.

It’s no wonder we love horror movies in America. We like a nightmare on Elm Street. And we love our monsters. What if racism was the monster all along we laugh. Our art has always recognized the victims in the system. It was only very occasionally that our laws did anything to protect anyone though. Amendments were hard fought and fiercely opposed. Reconstruction of what exactly? Did we even try?

So I’m not surprised that my body is on the line. Because someone in my lineage knew the cost. They came to America willingly. The freedoms we bought for ourselves as immigrants. We knew they weren’t free. But maybe we misunderstood the cost. Didn’t pay the bill in full.

But if the promise isn’t worth it. If the dream cannot be attained? Then what happens. Who pulls back from contributing our best. Who gives up a little on working harder. And how do we slowly decay just a little bit over time. Slowly at first. And how does that compound. What little failures add up to the final cynical calculation that anyone who has lived under an authoritarian can smell.

It dawns on me that we should have been fighting my entire lifetime to secure every inch of freedoms we could. That every single instance would matter because we’d be losing ground the moment we stopped. Because shame is unrelenting. And we must hold our ground against it every day. Ever vigilant.

Categories
Politics

Day 488 and Life

I woke up today feeling betrayed. I’ve never been concerned that my reproductive health would be decided by anyone but me. It’s been a luxury not to fear my own body knowing I had a right to chose for myself. It was my belief my family would do it’s own planning.

And we did plan. We did fertility treatments and it went catastrophically badly. Four years later I’m just barely stabilized from the attempt to extract eggs and freeze eggs and embryos. The vast majority of people have to cope with our reproductive health in some capacity. Having a family is pretty standard issue. Mine just happened to be a little more dramatic than average. But I never had to worry if it was my life or my unborn child. Or who would get to chose. I never got that far and now I’m a bit afraid I never will. I’m afraid to be pregnant in a world where my health decisions are not my own.

In case you missed the news, last night someone decided to leak a draft opinion from Justice Alito (supported by the conservative justices but without any indication where Roberts stands) that would overturn Roe vs Wade. Abortion would no longer be a federal question but devolve to state authority if Roe is overturned. After 49 years it looks like a major reversal is possible. To be clear it is a draft and while Chief Justice Roberts confirmed it’s authenticity, he said it’s not final or representative of any current justices or the courts final authority.

But it didn’t fucking matter what anyone intended. Chaos has absolutely ensued as various parties look to assign blame for such a massive breach of judicial norms. Everyone is jockeying for position and speculation is rampant. A topic like when life begins is guaranteed to generate strong emotional response. Who gets to decide is a big question. But I’ve generally fallen onto the side that the woman has autonomy over her own body. A fuck ton of other people felt about the same as I did. I’ve seen social media erupt in fear and hurt.

I’ve got very complex feelings on abortion. I’m against it in principle (and I’m deeply grateful I’ve never been faced with that choice) but I am not convinced a fetus is a person. Lord knows if an embryo is a person I know I’d have a very different opinion. I’m not even sure I would have been comfortable doing IVF if I thought an embryo was a person.

This is all complicated by the fact that I don’t think any of society’s crucial issues should be legislated by courts. They enforce laws they don’t make them. We have a legislative body for a reason. Why won’t we try passing federal legislation for anything? Like honestly I’m sick of the courts having to be a backstop. I think most people are. I just don’t get it.

I don’t fully understand how we build out laws to enumerate natural rights but I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be an amendment. We have sucked at this amendment thing traditionally and I don’t really grasp why.

I failed Constitutional Law so my opinion maybe doesn’t count. In my defense, I took it with Will Baude as a fellow classmate as an undergraduate and well now he is is famously a world class constitutional scholar. He absolutely wrecked the curve for my class of twenty. But maybe I understand the issue marginally better than I imagine. Just not as well as say someone tapped to regularly review how the court operates. I don’t know! But at a certain point the contentious shit is going to be an amendment right?

I don’t have a tidy summary to any of this except to say I know this is hard for everyone. I wrote this post because I’m scared and hurting. I can now imagine a world where if I’m faced with crisis like an ectopic pregnancy it’s not clear that the choice to terminate to save the geriatric mother would be in my hands. And I don’t think that’s right.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics Preparedness

289 and Apocalyptic Aging

Millennials are aging, but that doesn’t seem to have kicked off the midlife crisis handwringing of popular culture yesteryears. The first millennial are edging towards 40 but it feels like no one is a day over thirty on social media. Maybe because it’s hard to feel like you’ve hit midlife when the traditional markers of stability like children and mortgages feel more like luxury status symbols.

Maybe no one is craving red sports cars and the open road because no one has the security of a home life from which to break free. A midlife crisis seems like an almost comically indulgent thing that our boomer parents did. Imagine having kids and a home and thinking that you wanted to go back to the insecurity of your twenties? And boomers have the balls to call millennials spoiled. You had to have have stability to throw it away first.

I’m an elder millennial and a reasonably comfortable even wealthy one at that. But I don’t have kids or own a house. I frozen my eggs when it seemed like having kids wasn’t financially feasible. My husband and I lived in Manhattan at the time and we both had early stage startups. It seemed like a wise idea to put off the decision at the time. And we never even considered buying an apartment. Tying up all that wealth into a one bedroom apartment was for trust funders not the professional class.

Now it’s clear we can afford children and a mortgage on a house, but it seems crazy to commit to either. No one has a clue what life is going to be like in ten years so why would you anchor yourself and innocent progeny? It almost feels immoral to consider.

I don’t really understand how one can age gracefully when so much of life feels casually apocalyptic. Maybe millennials aren’t acknowledging aging because we live in the stasis of the long now. If there is no future then we aren’t moving into it. Each passing year is just a lucky bonus when nothing builds towards stability.

Not being able to afford children and houses is a blessing if you don’t believe in the future will be better. We’ve rationalized that the basics of the American are luxuries only for the wealthy. The wealthy can afford to live with rising tides and six figure college tuitions. Everyone else is thrilled to have enough cash to buy prepper supplies and pay their health insurance deductible.

And in some horrifying sense it is rational. I don’t trust the political system in America. Which means I don’t trust we can solve pressing issues like climate change or rising debt. So when new and exciting issues like the pandemic destabilize life even further it makes committing to a future even less appealing. There is absolutely a part of me that stopped believing in the future sometime in 2016. Everything went Hobbesian. Millennials are aging but we aren’t growing into a future.

Categories
Chronic Disease Politics

Day 142 and Optimism

The pandemic has done more to improve my life than to it has hurt it. I have a little survivors guilt as I am not far from family and friends that have suffered but I was lucky. Part of my luck has been tied to my privileged place in society. I was able to enjoy housing flexibility and leave behind an expensive city apartment for a townhouse in my hometown. I was always able to work from home with little fear my income would be impacted by disease or even negative secondary effects. Nevertheless I haven’t felt much optimism until recently.

Part of my lack of optimism has been tied to my health challenges. It’s been two years of working to get a diagnosis, stabilize my spine, and get the secondary symptoms controlled. There were low points when drug regimens didn’t work. Or when it seemed like the fatigue or pain would keep my life away even when primary concerns were improving. I was genuinely terrified going into the pandemic as it did cut off my access to typical doctors visits and more hospital setting delivered care.

But I’ve found significant improvement over the past six months thanks to excellent remote care I was able to receive from functional medicine doctors. It’s almost as if with the operational and physical logistics of care removed the actual outcome of my care improved. I was able to get to the heart of a diagnosis and hone in on effective treatment protocols more quickly. Thanks to this improvement I’ve come to find my optimism again.

Not that I think the world is getting better. If anything I’m far more worried about the many axis of American failure. Our politics has become authoritarian. Our economy increasingly serves only the entrenched and already wealthy. Our interest in mitigating climate change remains low. It’s so bad the best we can do is chuckle at why millennials don’t have kids. It’s because they are selfish right? Nothing to do with how hard it is to trust that the system will ever work for you so why bother investing in the future?

But I am intrigued by the opportunities afforded by the chaos. There is money to be made adjusting us to new realities. Maybe by dint of accidental or unexpected changes we find innovations that change our world. Maybe those will be for the better. And maybe I can help nudge along the better outcomes. And for the first time in a while o believe my body will be up for the challenge. It’s nice to be optimistic.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 103 and Regret

It’s culturally acceptable to say “oh I regret never having children” but somehow we rarely hear the opposite. I understand that parents who regret having children do not want their children to feel unloved. For that reason perhaps it’s the kind of feeling you take to your deathbed. Or you post anonymously on Reddit. But for the sake of children feeling loved and wanted, I do think we should discuss it openly and in public with more honesty.

At this point in my life I don’t think I feel joyful about having children of my own, despite having pursued fertility treatments (which if I’m honest about was partially an insurance policy to let me put off the decision). If I have a child, I will need to resolve my anger and regret about egg freezing. It sent me on a path of severe chronic illness and I wouldn’t want my child to feel that my anger about being sick was ever any fault of theirs.

And maybe this is why we have no cultural space to discuss regret. We don’t want our kids to ever have access to the complex feelings we have as humans about our anger or sadness. Imagine how a child could extrapolate me feeling anger at a sickness that was related to their conception. Jesus fuck. Then I imagine a child learning that I had been unsure about a family in the first place.

I don’t think I’d regret having them. But I don’t know that I genuinely want them either. If I ever bring this up all I ever hear is “you will regret it if you don’t” which just isn’t that helpful. But you know what isn’t helpful? Never discussing regrets till it’s too late. Till you are doing something because it’s culturally normal. What kind of bullshit is that to put on a child? “Mommy got told that she’d regret it if she didn’t have you.” That seems like a recipe for Mommy very much regretting her decision. I pray that the hormones that bond us to our offspring work well enough that no parent or child is ever put in this position. I pray that evolutionary instincts make it so unlikely that one regrets having children. I just don’t happen to believe it. I’m confident some people simply didn’t want to have children and the expectations of life and culture didn’t make that possible. And I hope more people talk about. I don’t know exactly how I feel but I do know that no one should do shit on the advice that “they will regret it if they don’t.”

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle

How Much Money Did My Unborn Child Make You?

I’ve never been much of a privacy nut. I figured I came of age too far into surveillance capitalism to ever truly recapture the dignity of my own body. I thought the classic tag joke “Your Privacy Is An Illusion” on Gawker was genuinely funny. What was the worst that could happen to me?

I was an early adopter of quantified self. The industry’s rise dovetailed just well enough with the security Obamacare provided. By outlawing insurance companies from discriminating against preexisting conditions I figure it was safe to use my data to improve my health now. Prior to that I engaged in various bits of dodging having my chronic conditions logged avoiding telling doctors I took even the most banal of medications. After it passed I joyfully logged everything.

In hindsight, this may have slowly shifted my mindset towards my own commodification. Again, an issue never at the forefront of my mind as I worked in aesthetics. My job has often relied on putting metrics on the physical ephemera of bodies. But the inexorable progression of viewing my body as a commodity led me to a terrible choice: I froze my eggs.

At the time my husband and I were busy with careers. We had the disposable income to “buy an insurance policy” that would allow us to treat a life altering decision like having children with the casual mindset of buying an insurance product or making a moderately sized investment decision.

We were referred to the “La Mer” of fertility clinics by a friend who had successfully conceived through their help. Mind you we didn’t know if we had fertility issues, this was purely about optionality. Indeed genetic testing didn’t reveal anything shocking. We did it because we thought “why not, it’s just some money” as we may regret not having saved ourselves the option. God damn we were stupid. We got sucked into the marketing hype.

Freezing my eggs was invasive in a way I simply couldn’t conceive ahead of time. No pun intended. I thought it was some extra time and drugs. At every step of the process our fears and questions were allayed with the utmost professionalism. It felt like we were buying a mutual fund. Sure there were some risks but really we were investing in our future. It’s only now that I realize if I thought it was such a wise investment why were both sides so clearly invested in the transaction closing? Surely at some point someone would have pointed out it’s not without risks. And it’s also not remotely guaranteed. The cohort of women in my social circle were all sold on the benefits of egg freezing with its potential to finally liberate us (from what who knows) only to find it was just another product that had a high price tag physically and emotionally.

You see pregnant women are worth a lot of money to data brokers and advertisers. So of course the people at the start of that arc are going to cash in on that land grab. The clinic was getting upwards of $30,000 from a few months of care from me. Plus a subscription fee to keep them on ice. No wonder the egg freezing game is quickly becoming a status symbol for the upwardly mobile making it just another purchase for well funded venture backed millennial girl bosses.

I’m honestly astonished no one said a fucking thing. Not a peep. Maybe you should talk to a counselor. Here is what could go wrong. Here is how you might feel. Here are some of the outlier cases of how these hormones might impact me. Where were the angry right to life folks when I needed them? Because I wasn’t a picture of health. I’d struggled with some inflammatory conditions as a kid along with a never ending parade of “allergies” and aches and pains I mostly ignored with an Advil. But no one ever brought up that being stimulated to produce eggs for harvesting might set off a chain reaction with my latent autoimmune complaints. Highly unlikely. It’s just not discussed.

And so I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. Except that it was. After two rounds of retrieval (11 eggs of which a portion are fertilized) life was supposed to go back to normal. Except that it didn’t. Slowly but over time I became quite sick. I developed an autoimmune disorder that leaves me in constant chronic pain. I had to sell my startup and stop working entirely.

It’s still not definitive that the hormone treatments kicked off my illness but the endocrinologist and the rheumatologist tell me it’s the most likely culprit. So what I want to know is who made money off my unborn children? That I may never have as three years later my health has not fully recovered. Who Profited off my poor health. Who thought this was a consumer product. And why oh why was I dumb enough to believe them. My best guess? The business of birth is simply too lucrative for us to treat it any other way. I’m just another outlier. And someone else will use those eggs and unwittingly trap their kids into the next cycle of datafication and commodity childhood.