Back in the day, before everything was terrible, I wrote about politics. Often. If the 2008 iteration of The Skinny Black Girl still existed, you’d see my gushing Millennial love letters to Barack Obama and the world he wanted to build. He caught me at just the right time. Twenty-five. The granddaughter of a Selma, Alabama native who moved to Cleveland in the 1940s for a better life. A recent graduate of one of the oldest HBCUs in the nation, raised on A Different World and The Fresh Prince, with a full-throated belief in Black Excellence. I’d seen Roots. Watched hours of PBS’s Eyes on the Prize in freshman lit class (taught by a real life Freedom Rider). Sat stunned and wrecked in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina as the U.S. government abandoned people who looked like me.
But on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, I thought America was done breaking my heart.
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Two days after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, I called my gynecologist’s office.
I’ve known for the last ten years that I do not want to have children. Defended my stance loudly to people who insisted the “right” man could change my mind or “anything could happen.” Nodded firmly when potential suitors ask “Really? NEVER?” You could say I’ve avoided serious commitment during my fertile years to make sure love didn’t weaken my resolve. But I never discussed sterilization with my doctors.
Sure. After terminating a pregnancy at 25, I told friends “If I could have all this shit tied, cut, and burned up, I’d do it in a heartbeat.” Still, checkup after checkup, I remained silent. I heard too many horror stories of doctors petting female patients on the head and cooing “What if you change your mind?” and “But you’re so young.” My sex life was sporadic at best and almost always included condoms. There was always Plan B. If worse came to worse, as I dead-panned to my last boyfriend when he joked about getting me pregnant: “I would not be pregnant for very long.”
Then the Supreme Court turned conservative. And I had to consider a world where I don’t have the power or resources to make decisions about my body.
“How long have you been thinking about tubal ligation?” my doctor asked yesterday.
“Honestly? For the last ten years. I just didn’t say anything because I thought I was too young. But I turned 35 and thought ‘It’s time.’”
She nodded. “Okay.”
That was it. She didn’t ask about my sexual habits or if I was dating or in a relationship or if I intended to marry one day. She said “Okay,” and talked me through the process.
“You know,” I said, once we talked appointment dates, “I came in here prepared to defend myself. I feel like I’m always explaining that parenthood is too big a task to be ambivalent about.”
She smiled. “I trust women to make decisions about their bodies. If you’ve thought about it this long, you know what you want. And you’re absolutely right.”