• Helping her helps me

    I skulk into CVS and head straight for the Family Planning aisle. I scan the shelves of pregnancy tests and tampons, condoms and intimate gels. What I seek has to be here somewhere. My cheeks feel flushed, and I’m breathless. I glance left and then right — no one else is nearby. So far, so good, I think. I have to hurry. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, and school just let out. Any minute now a throng of sugar-addicted junk-food craving teenagers will converge here like ants at a picnic. I haven’t felt this self-conscious in decades.

    On the top shelf, I spot a cereal box-size, clear plastic container with a lock, and take a closer look. It holds one small cardboard package that reads: Plan B One-Step. Bingo! I grab the container and glance at the price tag. One pill costs fifty bucks? No wonder it’s locked up like Fort Knox. Oh well. I have no choice and I’d pay $500 for this pill, so I head to the pharmacy register to make my purchase.

    I pick that register at the back of the store for privacy sake, and it’s a good decision. There are only two people in line ahead of me. My left hand holds the box against my chest, a feeble attempt to hide its contents, and I gently rock my ring finger to and fro to catch the glint of the fluorescent lights off my wedding ring. If teenagers are going to snicker and point a finger at the middle-age lady with the sex pill, at least they’ll think this a wedded oops, not an unwed one.

    They will be wrong. My 16-year-old daughter is out in the car right now, terrified and crying. The pill is for her. When I picked her up after school, she crumpled into the car, burst into tears and demanded that we drive here to get it. One of her friends must have suggested the pill as a way to calm her down. I hadn’t thought of it, and I don’t like the idea. For some reason, ingesting one pill with enough of the hormone levonorgestrel to disrupt or even prevent ovulation is scarier to me than the idea of regular birth control pills with the same hormone in a lower dose. But I can’t let her suffer for weeks, like my generation used to back in the day, waiting to see if she gets her period. The morning after pill was created for a situation just like this.

    I don’t want to be here, but my presence indicates that there really is no limit to the lengths a mother will go to help her daughter. I inch forward in line, glad this option exists. I wish it had existed years ago when I desperately needed it.

    When it’s my turn to pay, I deposit the plastic container on the counter. The line behind me has grown, and all I want to do is get out of here. The cashier looks at the box and then at me. I smile and wear my best I am in charge of my reproductive freedom-expression, but the divot between her eyebrows tells me that something is wrong. Before I can ask what, she grabs the container, holds it over her head for all to see, and calls out to the pharmacist, “Do you know how to open one of these things?”

    My insides shrivel, and my heart skips a beat.

    Within seconds, every employee in the pharmacy is involved in the mystery of how to open the locked Plan B box. I feel hysterical — it’s all I can do to keep myself together, undulating between mania and despair. I had the same reaction two nights ago when, after watching my daughter sob, I suspected what had happened between her and her boyfriend.

    We were in her bedroom late at night. She lay on her zebra-striped bean bag chair curled up in a ball, discarded clothes and stuffed animals littering the floor around her. I sat down beside her and placed my hand on her leg — my way to ground her, help drain the pain out of her body, and the only way she’ll receive comfort when she’s upset. Her wails hurt my chest and my ears. I said nothing when she choked out the words, “I’m afraid to talk to you. You won’t let me see him anymore.” I waited for her storm to subside. After 15 minutes, she sat up, spent. She wiped her eyes and heaved a deep sigh.

    In my most calm voice, I asked, “Did the two of you have sex today?”

    She nodded. Tears again filled her big blue eyes as she answered, “It only lasted, like, five minutes, but I’m scared. I’m so scared about getting pregnant.”

    My heart sank at the same time I had the thought, Of course it only lasted five minutes. You’re 16! I wanted to support her, but I was disappointed and kind of pissed off. After all, I had done my job. We had talked about safe sex, condoms, the pill and not growing up too fast. We’d talked about her body and holding it in high regard. I had suggested sex was a Big Deal. She’d dismissed me with a couple of “yeahs” and a hearty, “MOM, I KNOW!” I had hoped my message stuck and now it appeared that it hadn’t. She hadn’t listened and here we were in the exact spot I was trying to avoid.

    I racked my brain for the perfect words to support her. Come on, I thought. She needs me. I tried to recall what my mother said about sex when I was a teen and then remembered we never talked about it. In my mind’s eye, I saw the night, soon after high school graduation, when I returned home. Sore. Raw. Feeling disappointed and dirty. I couldn’t tell my mom what I’d done or how I felt, so I simply hugged her and told her I loved her, words not often spoken between us back then. Scared and confused by my first experience of sex, and saddened by our emotional distance, I went straight to bed.

    I didn’t want my daughter to feel that alone. I didn’t want her memory of her first time to be about how my words failed her instead of how they brought us together, so I bit my lip and skipped saying the part about poor decision-making and lack of control. Besides, I wasn’t one to talk.

    I was 22 when I had my abortion. It was 1990, and I had just graduated from college and landed my first job in a small Maryland town as a photographer taping video footage for a local television station’s nightly news broadcast.

    A nurse in the clinic’s procedure room instructed me to strip off my clothes and don a gown. She offered no kind words, not even a smile. She didn’t say, “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay,” or pat my hand. She provided no medication to ease the pain or the fear. Shivering, I lay down on the table and berated myself again for ending up in this position. I’m such an idiot, I thought. I deserve this — my punishment for having sex without protection and for saying, “It’ll be okay, just this once.”

    I was so ashamed. I thought about my mom and dad and how disappointed they’d be in me. I thought about how disappointed I was in myself. I tried to imagine myself as a 22-year-old single mother and knew I was making the right decision to avoid that fate, but that didn’t make it easy. I wondered why it’s true that we each have to learn our own lessons and usually the hard way. My heart pounded and my body broke out in a cold sweat. I figured that no good would come from this experience, and none would.

    The doctor entered.

    “Put your feet in the stirrups, please” she said without a trace of sympathy.

    I obeyed, terrified by how easy it was to end up in this predicament and exhausted by weeks of not knowing what to expect of this moment, and by my inability to ask.

    In my memory, the doctor jammed the vacuum cleaner-like device up my vagina as if to say, This will teach you a lesson, and, without warning, turned it on. Unprepared, I gasped at the force of the suction. Tears popped out of my eyes. I writhed in pain. I needed to vomit. I wanted someone, anyone, to be with me, but I was all alone.

    Twenty-four years later, I focused again on my daughter in the zebra beanbag chair and settled for some simple words to comfort her: “I’m so sorry you’re putting yourself through this.” And I meant it. “I’ll call the doctor Monday morning for an appointment to get you started on the pill.”

    “Okay,” she said, and blew her nose in her shirt.

    We hugged, and I left her room happy that we’d talked and that she admitted the truth, but I also felt uneasy. I felt like I should have said more, like maybe I missed an important opportunity but had no idea what it was.

    Two days later in CVS, the mystery of the locked box is finally solved. I pay for the pill and run to the car. My daughter is more composed than when I’d left her, but the skin around her mouth and at the corners of her eyes is pinched.

    “You get it?” she asks, anxious.

    “Yes, sweetheart.”

    I tear open the box and extract the pill.

    “Here you go,” I say, and hand it to her along with my water bottle. She gulps it down, wipes her mouth.

    “Are you mad at me, Mom?” she asks. “What if I am?” She means pregnant.

    “I’m not mad, babe. And if you are, we’ll deal with it. I don’t want you to worry. I don’t think you are, but either way you’ll be okay. I promise. You’re going to be fine.”

    That’s when it hits me. Decades have passed between the day of my abortion and this one. Though the experience didn’t devastate me, my memories of it are shrouded in lonely sadness. There are so many women who have made the same choice, but I don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who I am, and I carry that loneliness with me. My daughter will not end up needing an abortion, but if she had, she wouldn’t have faced it alone. I would have been with her every step of the way. Now, I see that changing the outcome of her future also changes the outcome of my past. To help her heals me by making sense of what I thought could never make sense.

    “I love you,” I say. “I’m here for you. I’ll be right beside you. Always.”

    A phsst sound, like a deflating balloon escapes her lips, and I feel her anxiety decrease. She says, “I need an ice cream shake.”

    “Great idea,” I say, and start the car.


      • Jessica

      • August 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you for sharing this story with such honesty, and even some humor. I’m so sorry you were alone at such a vulnerable time, and I’m so glad your daughter has you to navigate these things with her. I love your realization that changing the outcome for her future changes the outcome of your past. That’s beautiful.

      • Thank you for the kind words Jessica. I really appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    • Raw. Honest. Brave. Wow. Congrats Tracey!!!

      • Madgew

      • August 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm
      • Reply

      The sad part is how much pleasure could she have derived in 5 minutes? And just think if she had needed an abortion all that for the boy to get off in 5 minutes. I think both need so much education about what it takes to make love and how both need to get satisfied. Clearly in her case she missed the pleasure and the experience when it goes well. But it says more about being 16 and too young to do “it” but you handled it very well. Hopefully next time it will be better and safer.

      • I think we’ve probably all experienced the 5 minute syndrome. Sometimes that’s how it goes down. I really don’t know if she missed the pleasure, but yes. She experienced that young pain we all have had of the fear that a few minutes might change our life forever. I’d like to think (and did for a while) that if I could only have educated her more she would have loved herself enough to not make this choice, but that is unrealistic and punitive on more than one level. They’d been together for a while and they loved each other–no matter how long it lasted that makes her first experience a beautiful thing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I appreciate your kind comments.

      • Alexia LaFortune

      • August 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm
      • Reply

      As a mama with a daughter, this is so spot on, and beautiful and brave…. Thank you for this, Tracy, for your open heart and lovely writing….

    • What a wonderful mother you are, to have handled your daughter’s fears so well. That she could tell you at all speaks volumes to the love you have provided for her. I am in awe, as well as in tears. What a wonderful story.

      • Thank you so much meeshmvf. It didn’t always feel so wonderful at the time, but that’s the grace of re-experiencing it through the writing and of sharing it. We’re all doing the best we can, every day. Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond.

      • Susan

      • August 5, 2015 at 5:16 pm
      • Reply

      For a heart-wrenching situation, your story is beautiful. You thought of what your daughter needed and were her support system through a situation you’d never want her to be in, one you warned her to not get into. Had you not been in a similar situation once, maybe you would not have said or done what you did for your daughter. Think of how far you’ve come, from a young woman who wasn’t able to seek help from her mother, to a mother yourself who was there for her daughter. Kudos to you! Progress is slow in our society, so many factors to consider with teen sex, birth control and abortion. But we are going in the right direction, talking to our children about safe sex, rather than not discuss it at all, or put so much shame into the equation that our children would never come to us for help. I commend you for sharing your story. I hope you inspire other parents to be as compassionate as you were, no matter what trouble their kids get into.

      • Thank you so much for your thoughtful response Susan. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. And yes, I hope we are all inspired to lavish compassion upon our children, especially when they may be “misbehaving”–what a different world they’ll be grown ups in if we do. Thank you!

    • your daughter is lucky to have you. the mother-daughter relationship can be so complicated but at the same time, there’s nothing like it in the world. my mom also used to comfort and connect with me by putting her hand on my thigh. i miss it now that she’s gone. this is well-written.

      • Thank you campjano, for your kind comments and for taking the time to read and respond. I really appreciate it and i’m sorry you miss your mama. I miss mine too. Best to you.

      • Faitherahael@hotmail.com

      • August 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm
      • Reply

      Must have taken so much courage to write and post this wonderful written piece. I don’t have daughters, but hope that I’d be as loving and supporting as you. Congratulation, Tracey.

      • Thank you Faitheraheal, it was way scarier to put out there than to write because writing I did in the privacy of my own home. But the response as been wonderful. I’m grateful and humbled. Thank you so much.

      • Terri Connett

      • August 5, 2015 at 5:58 pm
      • Reply

      Beautifully written. I love how you handled it. Who wouldn’t want a mom like you on her side?!

      • Thank you so much Terri! I’m doing the best I can, that’s for sure, but we’re all in this together. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond.

    • Wow- the way you handled this situation with your teenager is what I’d consider a #parentingwin in this world of #parentingfails. I guess when you’ve been through all you’ve been through … this was almost comical. You are lucky to have each other! May you continue to handle your future(s) with as much grace and humor !

        • wendy goldsteingo

        • August 6, 2015 at 7:57 am
        • Reply

        Correction: Your scene at the CVS played like an SNL skit. NOT that this real life situation was comical.

        • It was def one of those surreal moments, I can tell you that! Thank you for the kind words Wendy. They mean the world to me. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

      • nettle66

      • August 5, 2015 at 7:47 pm
      • Reply

      Oh Tracey. You’re a gem. xo

    • What a powerful, honest and loving woman you are, Tracey! You told us all how to respond with grace and compassion under pressure. I will never have a mother like you, but I hope that I can BE a mother like you!!

      • I have no doubt Rae, that you are a mother like “me”–we’re doing our best every day. Thank you for taking the time to read and to respond and for such lovely comments.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • August 5, 2015 at 8:38 pm
      • Reply

      Did you tell her of your own experience? I was very open with my daughters and them — it didn’t traumatize them to know I had had my own growing pains. It made them more comfortable talking to me because I’d been there, done that and was not likely to be judging them anytime soon. We do have a right to control our bodies and those who would take that from us have clearly never walked in our shoes. Good mama stuff…

      • At the time this was happening, I did not tell her Maya. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Before this piece was posted, she read and it and we discussed it. Sharing my experiences with her did bring us closer together. I wish I’d done it sooner, but we’re here now. strong, healthy and happy. Thank you so much for your kind comments and for taking the time to read and respond.

    • Beautiful writing and story! I also grew up having to deal with these things alone. It’s inevitable that teens and young adults will make these mistakes again and again. The benefits of having a parent as open, loving and compassionate as you to catch them are eternal. Your daughter is lucky to have you as her mom:)

      • I agree with you Crystal–these things are a fact of life and as such, we might as well help everyone involved to the fullest extent in a loving, accepting and compassionate way to bring more beauty into a situation that could otherwise be ugly. My abortion was ugly and painful. I’ve heard now from many women whose experiences were just like mine. Let’s end the shame and stigma. now! Thanks for reading and for responding.

      • Yolie

      • August 5, 2015 at 11:40 pm
      • Reply

      OH MY!!! What a powerful and heart felt story you have my friend. Your daughter will learn so much from you.. It takes courage to go to a place that brought back such painful and dark memories to help your baby girl…I too got pregnant young, but lost my son to a stillbirth… And like you, I was met with cold and uncaring “caregivers.” My mother never told me I could be anything I wanted to be, so I just assumed I would get married and life would be good. Boy was I wrong…the one joy that I do have is my daughter. And I tell her every day that she can be or do whatever she wants as long as she works hard and comes by it honestly… As mothers, we have to tell our daughters that they are worth more than 5 minutes or the backseat of a car..

      You, my friend,are amazing.. The way you made a difficult time for your daughter, much easier with your compassion, love and strength.. I know that there is more to your story,and the way you have searched for ways to help your family and others is truly inspiring.. I am proud to have you as my friend❤️

      • Thank you so much Yolie for your kind, thoughtful and supportive response. I’m so sorry you had that experience growing up with your mother. We take for granted that the mother-child bond will be strong and encouraging, but that simply not always the case and that is screwed up. You are strong and beautiful and wise and are passing those stellar traits on to your daughter. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond.

    • The daughters we are raising are a new generation of healers and world changers. This is a perfect beautiful example of how that will happen. Thank you so much for your courage and for sharing a story that will help so many women do a little bit of healing.

    • This article is beautifully written. I am in awe of your strength and how you were there for your daughter. I am so sorry for what you had to through alone, breaking that cycle with your daughter is absolutely amazing. I think this will strengthen your relationship with your daughter.

      • Thank you so much Kim for your kind and supportive words, They really mean the world to me. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

    • So glad you are there for your daughter. If it was that difficult for you to buy Plan B, I hope everyone thinks about how difficult it is for young people to obtain it without the support of a parent or caring adult. While some people say that places like Planned Parenthood are too free with their dissemination of Plan B, given that the drug is most effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected intercourse, I believe that higher access is better. Many studies have found that increasing access does NOT lead to increased sexual activity. Giving young people the tools they need is essential.

      Thanks for writing this and sharing your story as well, which is an alternative to Plan B. I am very sorry that the care team you had was not more compassionate towards you. Choosing to end a pregnancy is a difficult decision for anyone to make: you made the right choice for you.


      • I’m so glad you made these points drkrisg. It’s so easy to forget that we really don’t have to be so hung up (at least I am) about something that is such a natural part of life. I wish I wasn’t raised with so many constructs around it, but I was. I don’t want my daughter to experience that judgmental attitude. I want her to love sex and her body. To be safe and healthy, to love the one she’s with. To enjoy life to its fullest extent. It is, of course, important to remember that there are many alternatives. Yes, we chose the ones right for us. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

    • What a difficult, personal moment to share. Thanks for taking us mothers with younger daughters by the hand and shining a light to illuminate the path ahead. I appreciate your kindness and compassion you showed your daughter and pray I extend the same grace to my daughter as we traverse difficult teen moments to come.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words Julie. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. By the shear fact that you want to, you definitely will extend the same grace to your daughter any time she needs it. thank you

    • Tracey, I can relate on so many levels. Thank you for this gorgeous telling of your story: I especially love how it all came swirling back to you while waiting in line at the pharmacy. That’s how life is, isn’t it? I also love your honest assessment of your own feelings as your daughter talked with you in her bedroom, and what powerful images of her sobbing self amidst the stuffed animals. How did it come to this? I’ve had many moments with my daughters (21 and 15) where I’ve asked that question. All the wisdom I’d hoped to impart from my own mistakes seems sometimes to vanish with them. I reluctantly see that they need to make their own mistakes, and draw their own conclusions, and learn their own lessons. We’d do anything, as moms, to alleviate that pain. Your trip to the pharmacy was one of the bravest acts of your life. Thanks for telling us your story with such honesty and tenderness.

      • Thank you so much Maria and yes! It’s that the suckiest truth, ever?!?! We moms would do ANYTHING to keep pain and turmoil from blighting our children’s landscape, but in the end, that is not what helps them the most (and our attempts usually fail anyway!) Bummer. I seem to have to learn this lesson over and over again. One of these days I’ll get it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond.

    • Beautiful piece, Tracey. Thank you for sharing your story and yourself.

    • Extremely moving and thought provoking story. It made me think about my own family and difficult situations and conversations that we have had or not had. One question that keeps coming up for me as a mother of 4 daughters over the age of 21, so I have weathered the teenage years, how does you daughter feel about you sharing this very VERY personal story about her? Just wondering how that conversation went. Thank you for sharing.

      • Hi Carolyn, as David responded, I did initially request to have this piece published anonymously. I hadn’t discussed with my daughter the option not to and to include my name.I realized though that it wasn’t fair of me to make that decision without any input from her since the story is so much about her. We did discuss it together and I expressed the concerns I had and why I originally thought the best choice was to leave my name off of it. I was happy to proceed in whatever way made her most comfortable. She is proud of the piece and proud of us and is happy to stand beside me as we share our story in an effort to help other people who may feel that they are alone in making a difficult decision like this one. No one is alone, we’re all in this together! Thank you for reading, commenting and for asking the question.

          • Kate

          • August 17, 2015 at 9:43 am

          My sense is that having the discussion speaks to the strength the relationship between you and your daughter. I’m glad to hear that she is OK with you sharing your intertwined stories in a bylined fashion.

      • David Lacy

      • August 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm
      • Reply

      I certainly won’t speculate on the discussion between Tracey and her daughter (I’ll leave that to her) but I will confirm that she initially considered this piece for anonymous publication.

      David Lacy — editor, iPinion

    • thank you for your response. It was just a question that kept coming up as I read this.

    • It took a lot of strength to post this story. Just as it took a lot of strength to not panic when you learned of your daughter’s situation. So many would have fallen back on the old shame and blame. We all have sadness in our past, but no everyone can draw on those experiences to deal better with the present.

      • Thank you so much Carrie. I had to learn over time that panic or knee-jerk reactions don’t help. I still have time all the time, I’m human after all, but I take a deep breath and think, What do I really want my message to be here? Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Carolyn Howard

      • August 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm
      • Reply

      Tracey, wonderful job! This should be required reading for healthcare professionals working with women of childbearing age, ALL pharmacists and drugstore clerks, and parents. It was a great read and highlights so much of what can work (supportive, empathetic parenting), and what doesn’t work (callous treatment by some professionals) when it comes to sexual behavior. I trust that clinic professionals today are much kinder and more professional. However, I know that cluelessness reigns among drugstore clerks and sometimes pharmacists given my experience teaching sex ed classes (where teens have to buy condoms as part of the curriculum). CVS should put this in their training somehow. Very nice job!

      • Thank you so much Carolyn! Yes, I would have had a very different experience if the employees in the clinic had been kinder. But then I remember the picketers screaming in my face to not kill my baby and waving their signs in my face. If the workers experienced that every morning, no wonder they were cranky! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • This gave me goosebumps, Tracey. First, I cannot imagine you having to go through that abortion alone. You poor thing. SHAME on the medical staff for not being kind, caring and delicate with you at a time like that. Secondly, what a truly courageous woman you are. And then to make sure your daughter does not experience those same feelings, you are one extraordinary mom as well. Your descriptions are exquisite and has me right there with you from the beginning till the very last word. Just amazing. Thank you very much for sharing something so personal. I know there are many women out there who have just been comforted by reading your story.

      • Linda S. York

      • August 7, 2015 at 1:56 pm
      • Reply

      You are so brave to have written this and so generous to share it. My heart aches for what you have shown it means to be a good mother…not always having the answer at the moment, but willing to dig deep to find it. I am sure that your daughter will feel good about her part in your personal healing. Our children deeply care about our happiness, and you have written a Valentine for the relationship that you and your daughter share.

      • Madgew

      • August 7, 2015 at 5:46 pm
      • Reply

      I don’t remember an article on ipinion that has generated more comments. So nice to see and on a great topic. Curious if your daughter was with said guy now and did they continue to have sex? I love how “kids” love. And then when we all grow up we love so differently and demand so much more of ourselves and our partners. Great writing Tracey and so happy ipinion is popping.

      • Hi Madgew- I couldn’t be more thrilled and appreciative, especially in light of the debate and the fact that our rights are in jeopardy! That being said, no. They are not still together, but the did stay together for quite some time after said “incident.” I’m not sure if they continued to have sex, but I imagine they did. (But my daughter was more prepared!) Practice makes perfect! And I do hope, of course, for my daughter as she grows and matures that she will always make sure she makes the right choice for her and for whatever loving relationship she may be in. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      • Stephanie

      • August 7, 2015 at 10:40 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you for sharing this story. I love how open you are with your daughter. We want them to come to us, but if they do not trust us they won’t. This a a great reminder for me to keep the lines of communication open.

      I enjoy your writing, Tracey. I hope to see a lot more!

      • Thank you Stephanie–that’s such a great point. You’re so right. We have to earn our kids trust and keep earning it, especially during their teens years, if we want to keep those lines open. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Sally

      • August 8, 2015 at 3:41 am
      • Reply

      Beautiful, honest and raw. The undeniable bond and connection between a mother and daughter. You are a fantastic mother and your daughter is very lucky to have you. As a mom of three girls I too understand the line of parenting and the connection to my past. I always hope and pray that somehow they take my wisdom and life experience to better themselves. I am happy that you found healing through the experience with your daughter. Your love and support of one another is beautiful and special.

      • Thank you so much Sally. You are right–but I don’t like that part 🙂 The uncertainty that comes along with parenting! I’d rather know–for sure–that they WILL take our wisdom and make themselves better. The surprising part, the part that keeps making me sit up and take notice, is how often my daughter’s actions and attitude do help me to heal and help me to remember every day the type of person I want to be. Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment.

    • Tracey, thank you for your bravery! Not only in sharing this story, but by being the kind of mom who has the presence of mind to try to not let their child suffer in ways they have. Transforming your own scars into gifts of compassion and empathy for your daughter … well, that’s great parenting at its finest!

      • Thank you so much Reese! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments and that you took the time to read the piece. I’m glad you liked it.

    • What a brave testament to motherhood, womanhood, personhood . . . all the “hoods!” Bravo, Tracey. How powerful your daughter must feel knowing she has someone as powerful as you standing behind her. Beautifully shared.

        • Tracey Yokas

        • August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much Suzanne! I appreciate the kind words and the support!

    • Why can’t they do things the way we did when I was in high school. Nobody really had sex but they just said they did. Welcome to iPinion Tracey.

        • Susan

        • August 13, 2015 at 8:40 am
        • Reply

        Oh, Donald, yes they did! I had a friend who told me all about her escapades, how she’d sneak out at night when her parents were asleep. Her boyfriend would pick her up and they’d drive to beach and have sex there. Was she making it all up? I don’t think so, though I surely wasn’t a witness to their goings-on. That was in the later half of the 1970’s. And in my mom’s generation: well, my mom told me the “good girls” would get pregnant because they were not prepared with a condom, or didn’t make the guy wear one. They were just caught in the moment and got pregnant, then got sent away for a few months “to visit aunt so-and-so”, leaving before they began to “show” and coming home after the baby was born and put up for adoption. It may have been relatives some girls were sent to, but there were special homes for pregnant girls, too, so they could all be schooled together without the “shame” of mingling with the community at large. The girls who might have had a “reputation” were prepared and maybe less likely to get pregnant, though they up’d the odds with every encounter. I’m not saying lots of kids didn’t say they had sex to impress their friends (which sounds more like a boy-thing than a girl-thing) but according to the CDC, the rate of births for 15-19 year old girls has been dropping (for the most part) since 1960.


        So, yes, lots of teens have been having sex for a long time.

          • Tracey Yokas

          • August 21, 2015 at 5:43 pm

          Thank you Susan — it’d be fun to figure out who was saying it and who was actually doing it! LOL…maybe at my 30th reunion next year. Thanks for commenting and for the link!

      • Teresa

      • August 13, 2015 at 12:07 pm
      • Reply

      Beautifully written. Great job. It made me reflect on my own trials and tribulations. You’re a good mom. I wish I’d had someone I felt I could talk with about all of this with when I was young. I got pregnant and then married at 22. It seemed easier to me at the time to go through with the pregnancy rather than face an abortion. Ha ha, how little I knew about raising a child!

        • Tracey Yokas

        • August 21, 2015 at 5:36 pm
        • Reply

        LOL Teresa. Yes, if only we could get them to understand that! What it’s like from our side. Alas, not to be. She’ll get hers I’m sure. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and for commenting.

      • Kate L.

      • August 17, 2015 at 10:17 am
      • Reply

      Tracey, this is a beautifully written piece. You had me at “skulk.” I really like how the layers of the intertwined stories unfold. Keeping the reader in suspense about why you’re skulking around in CVS in the afternoon fuels the feeling of the piece, and heightens readers’ sympathetic anxiety. The details, such as moving your ring finger slightly to make your wedding band more visible, sure help bring the reader into the moment. Your case for making and keeping reproductive healthcare options available and compassionate is all the stronger for the absence of hyperbole and pedantry in your piece. This is compelling, moving and human.
      Welcome to iPinion!

        • Tracey Yokas

        • August 21, 2015 at 5:37 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so very much Kate! For reading, the kind words and for the welcome, I appreciate it more than you know!

      • Keiren

      • August 18, 2015 at 10:45 pm
      • Reply

      Tracy, you are incredibly brave to share two personal stories, that of your past and now that of your daughter. This is such a serious topic that often comes with such emotional trauma for girls or women. Emotions of fear and shame….when the act of sex was one of love, curiosity, wanting to be liked, the sensation of having what everyone talks about the often elusive orgasm. Your story was so well written, honest and I’m sure will help other mothers and daughters have that conversation and deal with this topic. You are not alone in your personal story, I too had an abortion at age 16 years old. I’m not proud of it….and often think of the age the child would have been today, however there was no way at 16 years old I could have had a baby, nor did the male I had sex with want a child. So I think it is this type of baggage we will carry with us for life. My mother never discussed sex or pregnancy with me or my sisters….we were scared of our mother and would never ever think I could have had the conversation your daughter had with you. . And it was my sister who took me to get the pill for the first time at planned parenthood….and I don’t think my mother even asked me my entire life if I was on the pill or not. We just never ever would ever speak of sex or how I was managing it. So be proud of your strength to take on this topic and support your daughter at this time in her life. Not only did you help her but you’ve taught her how to manage when she possibly has a daughter. So proud of you…thanks for sharing.

        • Tracey Yokas

        • August 21, 2015 at 5:42 pm
        • Reply

        Oh my goodness Keiren. Thank you so much for sharing you story as well. This is my hope, that we can share these stories that before left us trapped in shame and humiliation and bring them into the light. When we realize how NOT alone we are, it is astounding. And I, for sure, never want my daughter to feel as alone as I did which is more important to me than anything else. I want her to feel loved and accepted, no matter what. It’s not the “bad” choices we make in life that define us, it is what we think others think of us and what we in turn think of ourselves. I wanted to replace the feelings I had about myself when this happened with her to be about love, compassion and understanding. I don’t want her to be fighting the same demons I am at 47. She’ll have her own, to be sure, but she’ll know she’s not alone! Thank you for reading and sharing.

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