9781590513200

Impossible Motherhood

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781590513200

  • ISBN10:

    1590513207

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-10-06
  • Publisher: Other Press
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Summary

Vilar was a young college undergraduate in awe of a 50-year-old professor when they embarked on a relationship that led to marriage--and 16 abortions in 15 years. In "Impossible Motherhood," Vilar looks back on her history of addiction.

Author Biography

Irene Vilar

Irene Vilar was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Her memoir The Ladies' Gallery (Other Press, 2009) was a Philadelphia Inquirer and Detroit Free Press notable book of the year and was short-listed for the 1999 Mind Book of the Year Award. She is a literary agent and editor of The Americas series at Texas Tech University Press.

Excerpts

For years, it didn't occur to me that there was anything to tell about abortion. The opposite. There was much to forget. But I discovered that many other women were hungry to come to terms with a past scarred by cowardice and the need to cloak themselves in someone else's power. Many had a history of repeat abortions. They, like me, were eager to find a language to articulate an experience they had seldom spoken about. My testimony is not unique. Beyond the antiseptic, practical language of Planned Parenthood and the legalistic or moralistic discourse of Roe v. Wade and its pro-choice and pro-life counterparts, there are few words to articulate individual, intimate accounts. About half of American women having abortions in 2004 (of 1.5 million reported) have had a prior abortion. Close to 20 percent have had at least two previous abortions and 10 percent three or more. A considerable number of the repeat abortions occur among populations with high levels of contraceptive use.
 
My own account can't resolve the moral dilemma of my actions. Yet, I want to understand the spell a pregnant body exercised over me, my flawed desire to become someone, or something else. The diaries I kept guided me. My promise to the reader is to deliver an account of my addiction, a steady flow of unhappiness, the X-ray of a delusion, and ultimately, the redeeming face of motherhood.
 
Halfway through working on this book I got pregnant for the seventeenth time. I don't think I would have been able to give birth without the call to accountability and self reflection that writing this story demanded. My daughter became the coherence emerging from the shameful mass of thirty-five years.
 
Yes, I was an abortion addict and I do not wish for a scapegoat. Everything can be explained, justified, our last century tells us. Everything maybe, except for the burden of life interrupted that shall die with me.


***
 
My story is a perversion of both maternal desire and abortion, framed by a lawful procedure that I abused. My first pregnancy was a result of lying about birth control. He was inside of me when he asked: You are protecting yourself, aren't you? Later, I would take my pills and skip a day, a few, and often give up on the whole month, promising myself I would do better the next time. Not knowing how a pill or a handful of them would affect my fertility, my days took on a balancing act, and a high of sorts accompanied the days before my period was due. Half my pregnancies with him occurred during our first three years together. Each time I got my period, I was sad. Each time I discovered I was pregnant, I was aroused and afraid. Every pregnancy was a house of mirrors I entered and lost myself in, numb to the realities of a fetus, my partner's wishes, and the impossible motherhood I was fashioning.
 
I never craved that moment when I clenched my vibrating abdomen, feet high up on cold stirrups, and told myself never again. There was no high that came with that. My mood-altering experience was a shape shifter. At times the high took place before pregnancy, waiting for a missed period, my body basking in the promise of being in control. At other times it was the pregnancy itself, the control I embodied if only for a couple of months, and still other times it was leaving the abortion clinic, feeling that once again I had succeeded in a narrow escape. The time of my drama was my time, no one could interrupt it, and what was more important, I could not interrupt it to meet others' needs.
 
Feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and disorder faded in the face of the possibilities of my reproductive body. An excitement, hyperarousal, almost euphoria surrounded my maternal desire. The craving gave structure to the confusing morass of events that made up my life. I would visit Marshall's and put infant clothes on layaway. I would start a diary. I would daydream about holding a baby girl a

Excerpted from Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict by Irene Vilar
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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