I've got a sad little story about safe sex / unsafe sex that has left a lasting wound (spiritual/emotional, not physical). [re-reading: warning! not so little!]
Back in the days before AIDS, I started a mono-relationship with C. I honestly can't remember the kind of contraception that she was using, but it was one that was a bother to her (the pill / health risks + cockeyed hormones? IUD / irritating string?) and not an "apply when applicable" one like condoms or a diaphragm. So when I told her that I'd had the snip, she was more than happy to call a halt to the method she'd been using.
And yes, I had been through the 3-month delay period and had been (more than a year earlier) back to the clinic to get my sperm-count: 0 check-up. (Testing for STDs was also no hassle: she worked, in fact, as a hospital lab technician and ran the tests herself).
I really liked C, but it soon became apparent (to me) that we were bad for each other as lovers. [One aspect: she was trying to turn me into someone I wasn't, and guilt-tripping me for not living up to her expectations.] So I broke up with her, but tried to stay good friends.
Before resuming safe sex practices (or - if it was the pill - before the effects became effective), she had what she later told me was a one-night-stand ("I was thinking of you while I did it with him")... and got pregnant. Both he and I counselled an abortion: she was single, already over-worked (working extra night shifts and weekends to keep her head above water financially), and with parents who would be "less than sympathetic". "Less than sympathetic": HAAA! She was scared to tell them until the 5th month and she had to because it was about to be visibly obvious. And then her father called her a whore.
My stance: I want the best for you and sure, an abortion's rough. But even rougher is going to be bringing up a child on your own in your present circumstances... or the heartbreak of giving a baby up for adoption.
His stance: ditto plus "I'm going through a divorce right now, and my still-wife must not get a hold of this ammunition to use against me. I will pay for the abortion, but can't go to the clinic with you, or support you if you should decide to have the child..."
As you'll know (from her father's reaction) she decided to have the child. Now come more complications:
a) She decided to go to a preparation for home birth class (once a week). They asked her to be accompanied by the father of the child (right out of the question) or a friend who was prepared to commit to going through the birthing process with her... and she asked me.
b) She was still in love with me and it hurt her a great deal when other people at the class referred (some obstinately, after being repeatedly corrected) to me as "your husband... well, then; your boyfriend... well, then: the father of your coming child... what? Oh, just good friends?... Well anyway..."
b2) I missed this one out: I started to feel guilty about M's getting pregnant: If I hadn't had the vasectomy, she would have continued using her long-range contraception method, and wouldn't have got pregnant by that one-night-stand... Silly, I suppose, but I can't get completely free of this.
c) I am what Marge Piercy in my favourite utopian novel Woman On The Edge Of Time [check it out for a polyamorous society] calls a "childbinder" and then some. Children are the most important aspect of my life, bar none. I would rather hold a sleeping baby in my arms than have the wildest night of hottest sex imaginable. It even beats dancing!
d) I also became a fanatic of home births.
e) I fell soooo in love with C's son - M - as soon as he was born.
f) C had told me that she would never leave her baby in the care of her parents (considering the way they'd brought her up and the attitudes they had). I was slated to be the #1 babysitter (and could well have become a co-parent... as far as I was concerned) and it was agreed that I would move into her flat for the 2 weeks after the birth to act as home help and interface with the problems of the world.
g) As soon as the baby was born (we're talking here about less than 4 minutes), C asked a friend to 'phone her parents to inform them that they were grandparents. They showed up ASAP, the father boiling with indignation and accusations (because, of course, she'd been too scared to tell them that she would be having a home birth)... and it was decided that the mother would be moving in temporarily to look after C and M.
h) I swear that I wandered back to my empty flat with a strong case of post partum depression. I felt gutted.
i) C has never allowed me to baby-sit M. At first she told me that this was because of our wide difference of opinions on child-raising. But I had my doubts, and years later she admitted that yes, the real reason was that she was jealous because I was so obviously in love with her son and no longer with her.
j) I witnessed C's workload increasing, leaving M with her parents for ever more weekends while she worked extra hours (extra night shifts, too).
k) I moved away from the city, but continued to visit them... and M wrapped my heart around his finger. What a personality! He was one of the 20 loveliest people I've ever known (over a course of more than half a century).
l) When M was 8 years old, C stopped all my contact with him... and I haven't seen him since then. (Though C showed me a photo of him at 17.)
That was 20 years ago... And I still miss him.
If I can't dance, I want no part in your Revolution.
- Emma Goldman Anarchist and Polyamorous par excellenceThe person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
- old Chinese proverbAnd the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais NinI'd rather have a broken heart / Than have a heart of stone.