A Mother's Day Retreat: Let Me Show You To Your Womb...

Happy Mother's Day, Ma! How's about an oral contraceptive with your freshly squeezed OJ?

May 9th is the 50th anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill. I ain't makin' this up! Google that shit! This Sunday may serve as the greatest example of irony in the history of the ironical. Theater and writing teachers, take note! "Example of irony, example of irony . . . Ah, yes! How about the 50th anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill — that medication which prevents pregnancy so, therefore, sex yields no children which, thereby, brings a screeching halt to the creation of mothers — falling on the same day as . . . tah-daaaah! Mother's Day, 2010! Oh, that was a great day for irony lovers across the land! Some say Alanis Morissette wept."

Of course, that's hyperbolic example. Most women don't take the pill their whole life-long so they may never have any children and never be mothers; rather, they take it for the convenience of choosing when they will or won't get pregnant — when they will or won't become mommys. However, some women take definitive action when they swallow the pill, having decided at some point they didn't want to have children; that, for whatever reasons, surgical intervention was not for them nor any other method of birth control prevention. And to be able to make that choice — to have the ability to daily take a pill because now is not the time for a baby, or to stop taking said pill and say, "Now is the time to have a baby, I want to have a child now." — that easy for so many women! — what an awesome ability that is.

Still, the irony. Oh, ya' gotta laugh. I gotta laugh. Or else you'll cry. Or else I'll cry. I cry at the drop of a hat these days. I cry at the drop of a hat, drop of a sock, drop of a shirt, a pen, a pill — really, there's no need to drop anything because I cry for no reason at all — not sure why I necessitated the dropping of a hat to begin with. Silliness. Madness. Mad Hatters? Hormones.

Q. How do you make a hormone?

A. You kick it.

Oh, so terrible, so terrible, offensive on so many levels but so funny, so funny and ya' gotta laugh, I gotta laugh or someone's gonna drop a hat.


Not one word of a lie — wish I could video record while writing — after boldly typing "hormones" with the intent to draw a laugh I stopped, stared at the word and cried — laughed but cried, hands held up in the universal "What the fuck?/Search me!" gesture.

And thatfast — the tears dry up. But that salty wall still pushes impending behind my eyes, sinuses — all the time. It's so stupid. It's such silliness. It's the unending dropping of hats.


It is pointless to tell you

It is now and it will continue to be pointless to tell you when I'm made to pull over for breakdowns. Repairs are quick affairs, usually: oily hormones clog the machinery, the engine overheats, leaks and fails. These are delicate works, cannot be forced, roadside rest must be taken, pulled over before attempting reigniting, at finding the lost spark, then shift into neutral, sit idle, and soon enough I'm again back on the rocky road. There's a destination ahead, The Mother's Day Retreat, and I aim to get there, breakdowns be damned.

So throw it in reverse and burn rubbers, 'cause this is a retreat — a retreat from the mothers.

From madness.

Hyster-(o): from the Greek meaning uterus; hysteria.

Socratic, sexist bastards.

Explains a lot, though.

Gotta laugh, gotta laugh . . .

This Mother's Day, Sunday, I'll be here at my mom's, likely laid up on the couch; Ova Marie warms-up her . . . pipe . . . alla agiato, affannoso, promising ostinato ovations for the weekend. Oh, she's such a diva-bitch.

But I'll listen, keen — cry myself breathless over the melancholy music played by my little internal organ and the knowledge that it's the last time I'll ever hear her discordant anguish.

Hysterectomy: meaning uterus, hysteria, removed.

Mother's Day: meaning . . .

There are other hopes, other meanings, other means but — if you please — don't ask she, still stuffed full with the hysterical, to focus on such right now. The hats are dropping and should you point out future potential chance or "luck" those hats will drop mad.

Some other hysteria palpated within my weird womb remains unnamed, unknown so we'll see. It's funny (seriously, it is funny — well, I had to laugh, anyway) when the doctor examines you, palpates your right side, stops dead and awkwardly asks, "Um, Anne? Didn't you say they took everything out of your right side?"

Keep in mind, Doc's got one hand all up in my mamma jammas, the other pushing on my belly, I'm doing everything I can not to look him in the eye and all-hell hurts like a motherfucker but it shouldn't because—

"Yes, yes they took everything, everything OUT!"

"The right side?"


"Ovary, fallopian tube, appendix, too?"


"Huh. I'm palpating a mass over here and it's about the size of an ovary — small lemon-ish size—"

"I know and it hurts! What is that?!"

"Well, could be a wad of scar tissue, could be something . . . else, we'll have to get a better look later. Let's check the left side now. I'm sorry, I know this is going to hurt."

"I'm sorry, too but just do whatever you have to Doc I want to know what all's wrong so go ahe— ohmygaaaaaawwwwwwd."

"I'm so sorry, I'll go as quick as I can—"

"No don't — just take whatever time you need just do whatever you have to find whatever you have to — it's okay! Really it's okay!"

"Some masses over here, too. Might be cysts or scar tissue. I know — just hang on, Anne, we're almost done. You've been such a patient lady. Okay, we're done. Okay."


"I grow scar tissue like kudzu," I tearfully informed him afterwards, postured painfully in Quasimodo hunch on the edge of the exam table.

"Oh, I'm sure, after 7 surgeries, I'm sure you do, and the surgeon will find out exactly what those masses are and — that's the only hiccup — I don't do hysterectomies anymore — but I've got 3 people on my staff here who do, so I'm setting you up for a consult with one of them. Next week . . . Tuesday okay?"


And it is okay 'cause the thing is, I know it's all scar tissue — it grows in me like kudzu — my mind isn't consumed with preying masses. There's the money, or lack of, I should say; unassured as one uninsured but there's help, assistance for the unassisted. Junk: dope, narcotics, drugs — terrifying for the recovering addict who just last week celebrated two years clean but y'know, not so terrifying as I thought it might be. Twenty-four months of sobriety, sanity, chronic pain suffered without the aid of painkilling . . . all of this time to reflect on what's really tolerable and what isn't . . . I know I'll come through shining.

I know I'll be okay.


But I'm still going to lament the loss. I'm going to cry myself to sleep each night from now till then — the day they take my unknown babies away — when I let them show me to my room, show to me my womb and I make my final retreat: wave bye-bye . . . bye-bye . . .

It's okay. It's time. I've held on so long. This battle . . . I fought as gods and monsters and whether anyone else knows the truth of that matters not: I know it. This is not a surrender. This isn't even a retreat.

This is a peace-offering.

I offer up to Hecate my hysteria that I may reclaim my Life — my sanity — my peace — myself.

I cannot raise another of her artificial sprites.

Time has had with me her druthers,
And please believe — that is okay.
Celebrate your children, Mothers:
My birth is that of better day.


HECATE: Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.
Macbeth. III.v.34-35


Forgive the awful writing. Mad hats dropping . . . everywhere, endlessly.

Please — no advice, however well-intended, or stories of hope, hang-in-there, been-there-and-had-success-if-you-just-try-this, do-that, etc. I know what I've endured. This is my decision. I'm so tired. I'm not living; merely existing, and not well. I'm done. Well-done.

I'm one who's done well.

Thank you, Mark Sleiter, for unobfuscating things for me when really, you had no call to do so. You are the most awful, terrible, horrible mean man. You should be clubbed with a baby seal.

My ovary is in the mail. I N L O V I N G M E M O R Y.

Scary scrawl.

Thank you, Mark. In all seriousness. Seriously.

But ya' gotta laugh . . .




  1. I cry at the drop of a gerund.

  2. Hi Annie
    It's about time I came here, but for some reason, although I searched I could not find it before.

    Any friend of William Michaelian's....

    And this writing of yours so rich and so poignant.

    I used to call the pill the 'anti-child'. And I thought that it was first marketed in 1952, the year of my birth, which makes it a tad older than fifty.

    I have written elsewhere:

    In 1952 the world's first contraceptive pill was manufactured. Not that this brought any relief to my parents. As Catholics, they refused contraception until the last baby was born and died and my mother at 43 years of age received permission in the form of a second opinion from a somewhat radical priest who sympathised with her plight. The doctor had told my mother that a twelfth pregnancy would not only kill the baby, it would kill her.

    But this is not your difficulty, yours is the opposite and you write about it with such grace and wit and poignancy that I salute you and look forward to reading more.

  3. Elisabeth, you're absolutely right, and I need to fix the damn piece. I noted the misinformation on my Facebook page -- as well as the fact that I've simply been too lazy to fix it. ;) No, this Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the FDA's approval of the pill, not its invention. I'm very familiar with the pill; had to take it from the time I was 11 years-old to prevent ovarian cysts. Or try to, anyway. Wasn't fun. Didn't work. In any case, your mother's story is heartbreaking and reminds me of my Catholic grandparents, how horrified they were that their 11 year-old granddaughter was on the BCP. Even though my father, a doctor, explained to them that it was medicinal, they still balked. That was in 1987, 1988? Many years down the "modern" line but...for them, you just didn't take birth control, ever, for any purpose. My poor father couldn't make them understand.

    Thank goodness your mother found solace, respite and relief. I'll be thinking of her tonight.

    William is a warm and wonderful soul and I adore him. Any friend of his is a friend of mine. Thank you for finding me and for your kind words. I hope you'll stay. :)

  4. If ever there was a person ripe for the Pali Canon.

  5. You are great. I've read a bunch of your posts. Really fabulous writing.
    I'll be reading--