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Late nights and acrobatic sex

For a few nerve-wracking days, it seemed that the good times might just have come to an end. But if things had bounced differently, what would she have done?

Anne Sexton, 31 Jul 2007

My period arrived – thank God! For a while back there I was worried. Granted, I was probably over-reacting and I’m blaming my friend Ciara for that. I was feeling nauseous two mornings in a row and I told her. Jokingly – it’s not funny, missy – she asked if I was knocked up. I laughed, but a little voice inside my head wondered if she was right. Aaaargh!

As soon as she’d asked, I began to notice the signs. Tender breasts? Yep. Food cravings? Oh dear, I’d bought sushi three times the previous week – couldn’t get enough of it. Were these merely coincidences or was something more sinister afoot?

I like children – preferably grilled! No, I’m just kidding. I might like to have a baby one day – that is, at some indefinable point in the future, but not right now. No sireee. Somebody told me that when I hit 30 my biological clock would kick in, that I’d start to get broody and sigh over the mere thought of crochet booties. Biology is destiny apparently. Fair enough, but it ain’t happened yet and until it does I’m happy to content myself with late nights out and lots of acrobatic sex. More than happy, in fact!

No doubt it was the acrobatic sex that was – or that would have been – to blame for me being ‘with child’. Damn! Although I know very well that pregnancy is a direct result of sex – at least well enough to manage to take the pill every night – I’d kind of forgotten that there was a possibility that it could happen to me. Thomas and I are very careful, we use condoms as well as my contraception, and therein lay another problem. If in fact it had come to pass, would he think I’d been messing around?

I decided not to say anything to him – no point in scaring the boy unless there’s good reason to. I considered a home pregnancy test, but since a friend of mine got a false positive a few years back, I don’t really trust them. Although she was mostly relieved, she was also disappointed when the news was reversed – and I was worried enough as it was that there was no way I wanted to jump onto that particular emotional rollercoaster.

The major question was – if I was pregnant, what the hell was I going to do about it? My older sister has four kids and I used to joke with her that if I ever got pregnant I was going to leave the resulting progeny with her as she probably wouldn’t even notice an extra child about the house – but I don’t suppose that’s really an option. In fact, for me there were two potential scenarios – keep the baby or have an abortion.

It got me thinking. Thousands of Irish women have unplanned pregnancies every year. Of these, naturally some are thrilled, even if they had no intention of getting pregnant at that time; for others the news is a potentially life-changing crisis.

According to the Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study, a nationally representative study of 3,317 men and women, 54% of the participants had experienced a pregnancy or been with a partner who had been pregnant. Of these, 28% of women and 23% of men had been involved in a crisis pregnancy.

Single mothers have got a lot a bad press in this country. Despite the outrage caused by Kevin Myers infamous ‘bastards’ column in the Irish Times two years ago, a lot of people seemed to be in sneaking agreement with his views. The truth, of course, is that it isn’t easy raising a child alone even with State benefits, whether you’re working or a stay-at-home mother, and I say fair play to those that do. I’m not sure I could manage.

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