I’m still fairly new to this whole reproductive rights scene as an advocate, not just a participant. In the past I’ve only been concerned with my own choices. Now I continually get to discuss other people’s journeys and their choices. As an activist and as a doula, I get to stand with these people. My own personal choices take a backseat, as I become absorbed in every one's rights, not just my own. I got to have my first in-depth birth control talk this week.
A lovely woman, mother and wife went through a vacuum aspiration that she had kept private from her husband. She is primarily a Spanish speaker, but could see I am definitely (and unfortunately) not, so we were both patient with each other as we chatted in the recovery room. I asked why she wanted to start using birth control pills and if she felt like it would be easy implementing them into her daily routine. Pills were just what she was most familiar with though she had never used them before. I suggested she think about some of the other methods available especially if birth control was something her husband did not agree with and she felt would be a secret. She went home with more information and she earnestly said she would think about this decision more.
While this woman was extremely open with her circumstances, I was careful not to assume too much. I wasn’t sure if her husband was totally against birth control in a controlling way and I don’t want to necessarily condone dishonesty in a relationship. She had bigger questions she maybe needed to deal with and I would have gladly talked about them had she wanted. I succeeded in not stepping on her toes and not prying in a way that made her uncomfortable. As it stood though, I had to respect her autonomy as a woman making her own reproductive choices. If she wants to take birth control and keep it secret to stay with her husband, I will stand with her in that decision, because it is hers and it is extremely important that it is hers.
We all end up in less-than-perfect situations in our less-than-perfect lives. In those stinky moments, we need someone standing with us being our personal cheerleader saying, “You did it! You made a decision!” That moment stands without judgement. It doesn’t matter if it was “right” or “wrong.” It’s a moment of autonomy in a life we otherwise might be confined in.
I’ve known one of my roles as a doula is to support an individual's power. This week that role was a big focus for me and I feel a little more prepared to doula the world now.