Mikki Kendall

My life is not your life

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So, I’m looking at some of the comments and emails that are flooding my inbox demanding to know all the inner workings of my life when I had the abortion that saved my life. And I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but there seems to be an ongoing assumption that I had tons of family support, disposable income in abundance, and that my two kids were self sufficient. At the time my oldest was 8 and my youngest was 1 1/2. My friends are supportive, and one of them stepped in to take care of my kids that night but I’ve never had the kind of family of origin that will pitch in to help me (or each other) with more than the most basic things most of the time. It was better before my grandmother passed away, but she’s been gone a while now and without her we’re not a close family by any stretch of the imagination.

When I say my family will help, I’m mostly referring to my aunts or my husband’s family. My parents? They aren’t helpful. They got the phone call that I was in trouble while they were en route to St Louis for a televangelist’s convention. They suggested I call someone else to come get my kids, and then they continued their drive to St. Louis. I did get a phone call from my mother the night after the surgery. She was more concerned with me interrupting her weekend away than anything else as far as I could tell from the conversation. Admittedly I stopped listening after she launched into her latest version of ” This would be shocking, but this is the same woman that didn’t bother to name me and then got mad when I was 13 and filled out my own birth certificate with the name I’d been using at school instead of the moniker she’d always planned to saddle me with so I wasn’t shocked. It was the last straw for our already tenuous relationship, but that’s a story for another blog.

On the disposable income front…at that point we were a one income family and just barely getting by on that one income. It was cheaper for me to stay home with our two kids (childcare costs in Chicago are astronomical), but that also meant we had very little wiggle room financially. So, there was no question of my husband taking off work for weeks on end to allow me to stay in bed all day every day. And while his family will help to their best abilities, they have their own households to run and must go to their jobs too if they want to pay their bills. Same thing with our friends. I don’t know where people live that folks can just stop working and keep living, but I don’t live there.

Someone else asked why I didn’t take my kids with me to the hospital. Aside from not wanting to traumatize them, there was also the part where my oldest was at school. We lived close enough to his school that he could walk home, but having him come home to an empty house was not an option. Nor was waiting for him to get home since you know, I was bleeding profusely and all. My friend cleaned my blood off the walls and hid my sheets so that my son wouldn’t be scared. As for the demands that I have a c-section just in case a micro-preemie could have survived? You should go look at the survival rates for 20 week preemies again. Death wasn’t going to be averted, it was just a question of whether we both died. There seems to be this assumption that major surgery was a better idea than a less invasive procedure. Umm..no. The first thing discussed when I got to the hospital was the lack of viability for a child born at that point, then there was the part where I was in active labor & had no amniotic fluid when they did the ultrasound. But hey, go ahead and assume you know every detail of what was going on in my life so you can pass judgment on the decisions made by the person actually living it.

Lastly, no I wasn’t paid by Salon or anyone else to write that post. It’s not fiction, and the title of my blog isn’t an indication that my nonfiction should be taken with a grain of salt. It is an indication that I’m a published author of fiction and non fiction. The idea that this was a publicity stunt is laughable. I don’t know what planet some of the folks making that comment are on, but on no planet that I work on is having a blog post about a tragedy a way to boost attention for a closed company. Yes, I said closed. Verb Noire is defunct and has been for some time. My writing career has been developing for years and really, I know enough people to have a good chance at selling the book I’m working on.

Mind you, I wrote that post after an argument on Facebook with someone who insisted (as many people do) that abortion is not a medical procedure and that no one ever needs one. I posted it on my personal blogs & on a blog that I co write with several other angry black women. Most of my posts are made in a similar fashion. Most do not go particularly viral. This one has, and yes I did put myself out there when I agreed to let Salon re-post it. Not for an agenda, but simply to write what happened to me and talk about the fallacy in “No abortion is ever necessary” arguments. Did we file a lawsuit? No. I had a lot of other things to do (like mourn and heal) and the hospital staff that did eventually treat me encouraged me to go through internal channels so that patient care would be improved. I did that, and then for the sake of my sanity and my family I put away what happened to me and got on with the business of living my life.

Some say I should name and shame the doctor that refused to do the procedure. If I knew why he refused I might have done just that, but since I know that there are many possible reasons that he did not do it? I’ve left him to deal with the internal procedures in place. Same thing with the hospital where this happened. I could name it (funnily enough many people have correctly guessed and more than a few remember me naming it when it happened), but I didn’t write this post to shame the hospital any more than I wrote it to shame the doctor. Hard concept to grasp for some, but this post wasn’t about revenge or money. It was about me coming to terms with what happened and about my disdain for a particular pro-life argument. Believe it, don’t believe it. That’s up to you. My life will go on either way.

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