women, mothers, abortion, work and childcare

punkmama's picture

it isn't where i thought i would be after finishing my master's degree, and it makes me wonder if i should have stayed the doctoral course, i am revisiting this in my head as i walk down the hall of my new job, a tupperware bin in my hands, inside the bin a jar with the contents of an abortion sloshing around. i drop the tub off in the pathology lab, switch it out for a clean one, and go back to the room where there is a woman laying on a table waiting for me. this is an amazing place, they were the first legal abortion provider in the state after roe. they have been in this little converted house since 1973. the ad said abortion counselor. it did not say medical assistant, although that is part of it since this clinic has a counselor with the patient through every part of the process, including the surgery. so the counselor sets up the surgery tray, hands instruments to the doc, and cleans up. in between, we counsel, support, and help the patient with the process. they trained me to do deep breathing, guided imagery and relaxation techniques. if the patient is awake, i stand by her side, reminding her to breathe deeply, to leave her belly soft, to feel her body heavy on the table. i encourage her. you are doing so well, this is the most uncomfortable part, it is almost done, you did it, it's done, now just relax. we counsel them before as well, and during labs, and during surgery and in recovery if they need it.
***i love this job, it is part time, and if the pay wasn't abomidable for my level of education (this position only requires a bachelor's degree), i would be made in the shade. but it is abomidable, and i will either need to find something else entirely or find something more lucrative to do in the evenings. as it is, i am (for the first time) leaving vincent with a mama that i met through a local hipmama-type board one day a week. or i should say i will be, we are doing a trial run tomorrow, since i am off, and starting the real deal on friday. one day a week, she unschools her awesome kids and has a baby too, can it be? can i have found a woman to watch vincent while i go to work? i have to work for two hours to pay her the very fair rate for the day that she asks. i am too afraid to assume that it will be as good as it seems to be.***
so i am standing next to a woman on saturday. she is doing well until they turn on the machine. then she quietly starts to cry. i look down at the surgery tray with the scary, babaric looking instruments, bloody now, and think, sister, i have been you.
to be continued.


denessasma's picture
Submitted by denessasma on

i would have loved to have had you for a counselor. the way you describe that clinic i wish that was how all of them were. you've heard my story and it was nothing like what you describe. i think it would have been much help if it was.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind~~Dr.Seuss

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind~~Dr.Seuss

mamaneen's picture
Submitted by mamaneen on

counselors had a similar array of roles. i'm glad that the place you're working has been able to continue providing services for so long. congrats on being able to be there contributing and on the promising childcare situation. sorry about the low pay, though. that's rough.

"if i pass for other than what i am/do you feel safer?" ~lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

"if i pass for other than what i am, do you feel safer?" ~ lani ka'ahumanu

dragon knows dragon

733t sewz0r's picture

ha ha. No, but really. I mean it sucked, it sucked. BUT. There were women there that helped me through the process, the nurses or assistants and counselors - both in counseling and in explaining things and being *so* empathetic - how can they handle that much emotion all day long, every day, and be so present for each of us? I wondered - and even visited me in the hotel I was staying at the night in between the double-day procedure because the jerk that got me pregnant left me alone in Tacoma so he could go star in his soccer game back in our hometown and pretend he wasn't helping his girl-on-the-side get an abortion, because he had a real girlfriend and I remember he was taking to a high school dance in a few days. Anyway I was in the hotel and throwing up from pain and didn't have a car let alone able to drive and these women came over and gave me a shot in the ass and didn't pass ANY judgment and treated me like I was a Good Girl and it was pretty amazing. I still am so grateful for their compassion AND the painkillers.

Lots of pain there. But when I think about those women who helped me I am so glad they were there. The service you and your clinic are providing is really amazing. Keep it up, lady. And I hope your Vinnie-watcher is all you hoped and more. Good luck!

""but aside from those 2 things, everyday is 'steak and blowjob day' ummmm....minus the steak and blowjobs."

"Macaroni - let me finish! - salad."

motherfluffer's picture

this job will stay with you and make you all the more better because of it. you may decide getting your doctoral is the way to go. you may decide that you are better suited to a different job that presents itself a little further down the road. but this experience is something that can't help but shape you and make you an even more amazing counselor than you already are--if that's even possible.

mamanopajamas's picture

you are so great & any woman who has you by her side thru this will come out that much better for your presence

dr punky always sounds good to me ;)

i think even though it is low pay, a job below ypour advanced degree etc i think it is a valuable step in your career path ..it will not only help you down teh road for having been on that side of the procedure BUT it will speak volumes to your future patients/clients, they will see what you have doen for others and what you are capable of and they will in turn respect and trust you that much more

"Do not speak--unless it improves on silence." ~ buddhist saying

 "Do not speak--unless it improves on silence." ~ buddhist saying (wow - my email on file was so old - it was from the old hipmama email!)

beanweb's picture
Submitted by beanweb on

thank you for taking such good care of these women at a very difficult time in their lives.

Strange Quark's picture

Somebody like you helped me a lot.

"The Universe Molds Itself To Prove Your Beliefs"

"Fundamentally the markswoman aims at herself" DT Suzuki

mrs. sauce's picture
Submitted by mrs. sauce on

I can see how this job would be so heavy. I'll never forget the women who were there to hold my hands when I had my abortions. It is too bad they don't pay you more because what you do is so important.

* I'm all fight and no flight *

* I'm all fight and no flight *

Selahsmom's picture
Submitted by Selahsmom on

You should be paid so much more for what you're doing. This is such an important service to women and it just really sucks that they can't pay you a wage that reflects that. Perhaps someday...

I remember I started crying when they turned on the machine, too. The assistant standing next to me was very kind and had asked earlier if I needed to hold her hand. I said no, but when they turned the machine on I reached out for it. I accidentally grabbed her breast instead. ;)