My last first period after having a baby

I keep looking it up and I get a bit of science: your first period after having a baby may come 6-8 weeks after childbirth, or if you are nursing, may come as late as a year or later. Your first period may be especially heavy and painful, and may involve the removal of excess lining that wasn’t shed immediately after birth. Your first period after having a baby signifies the first egg released from your ovaries since having a baby, and this is important, because you need to know that you can get pregnant before your first period after having a baby.

You, meaning, the hypothetical you. Not me—we took care of that, severed the gateway between ovaries and womb. If we have more children, it will be in years ahead when our two babies are older, when I feel in good health, when our finances are stable. If we have children in the years ahead, I will not have carried them.

So I’m having this, my last first period after having a baby. I’m pulling out the old equipment—literally. I still have pads from an earlier era, and I use a menstrual cup, which I mention because I only heard about if a few years ago and I think its genius. If you have periods, look it up.

My abdomen is cramping and I am bleeding. Unlike every period I’ve had before, no egg will come out in this shedding. It is, I presume, stuck at the dead end of a Fallopian tube. 

I forgot, by the way, how messy it is, or at least how messy it would have been a couple hundred years ago, if all I had to staunch the bleeding was cloth—can you imagine? So I guess I don’t envy women of old. 

So I’m thinking about my two babies, my four year old and my just-barely-turned-one year old. How pregnancy was like spinning out on ice in the middle of my carefully planned road trip. Both times, laid up and ill for the entirety of pregnancy, and weaker afterwards for the ordeal. How sweet it was to finally have my babies, hold them. Not easy—exhausting, sleepless, difficult. Bone wearying and at times devastating, to see my babies get hurt, to see my own limitations, to fear for their safety. But sweet, and revolutionary. An atomic evolution of my deepest desires.

I would have another right now, if I didn’t know what pregnancy would do to me and my family. And if I hadn’t foreclosed the option—but I stand by the reason I did. These babies need a mom more than this mom needs more babies.

So I’m having my last first period after having a baby, and I almost want this moment to last. I almost like the familiar clingy plastic that covers the pads I unwrap. I almost love that I can expect this monthly mess for the next three decades of my life. I keep wanting this to be a special right of passage, or if not that than some kind of sad occasion. I keep looking it up online as if I will find the answers I want. I keep reminding myself I won’t get the answers online so I need to just write it out, which is why I’m here. But I missed the apex of my moment. I waited, and my period is already almost over. I didn’t expect it to pass so quickly.

On Just Mercy and the difference between racism and ableism

First, the film Just Mercy is incredible. It is really hard, and really hopeful–which is not just a cliche. The most hopeful things are always companion to the worst tragedies and wrongs.

It was a gut punch to realize that much of this took place in 1988, the year Michael was born, and that the Sheriff was never arrested and reelected sheriff, serving until 2019.

I highly recommend you watch it, and this month you can watch it for free, either at Amazon or YouTube and I believe elsewhere.

Before and since watching, I’ve been thinking about the nature of privilege, and wondering about the differences between racism and sexism or ableism.

I use the graphs to point out that privilege is not about individuals, but about group trends. Some individuals in a privileged class will have more hardship that some individuals in a vulnerable class, but there is still a demographic gap that needs attention, especially for Black people and Non-Black people of color.

Sexism and ableism are both real and can be very dangerous. Michael has had the cops called on him twice just for being with our kids when I’m not there, just because he has Cerebral Palsy (even though he is an attorney and was close to our home both times). People with disabilities are at a huge risk of being killed by police. Nearly half of all people killed by the police have a disability—more on that another day. Women are also at serious risk of a variety of violent crimes, particularly within their own households. The same goes for children and the elderly.

However, sexism and ableism do not involve the kind of public, violent societal posturing that racism or nationalism have. I think this in part because racism and nationalism are about one community or group having power over another community or group, rather than within. There will be women and disabled people in every community, and women and disabled people have naturally occurring vulnerabilities that can be easy to exploit and systemically perpetuate or amplify.

But when you are talking about an entire community of people, the uneven playing field is not naturally occurring. It may be a remnant of the past, but given a fair start, either community is not naturally less powerful than another community. This means that, as long as another community is in power and as long as *some members* of that community want to stay in relative power, there will need to be more public displays of violence.

That doesn’t have to mean violence towards everyone in the community they want to oppress; it only takes a few instances to make “examples.” Even if only a small number of black men are killed innocently and never receive justice, that sends a message.

Most white people do not want to send that message or perpetuate community differences. However, there are SOME white people who do, and until ALL white people recognize that some cops or judges or politicians want to keep racial power, there’s no way to check the inordinate power of those cops and judges and politicians. That doesn’t address every aspect of privilege or racism, and doesn’t get take into account implicit bias, but I think it is a critical part of what is going on now.

I don’t know exactly what to do with that recognition, in part because I believe the answer to that will be different for different people. But nothing else can change without that recognition.