TRIGGER WARNING - We discuss abortions in this episode, so if that content isn't for you, please exercise your discretion with this episode.
Carmen Cervantes is a woman who never thought she would be a mother, by her own conscious choice. When she and her husband found themselves unexpectedly pregnant they consciously decided that they would have an abortion. Then, they changed their minds...
I have a lot of respect for Carmen because she has entered into motherhood with her eyes wide open to the challenges she would face, the physical impact, the exhaustion and the financial strain. Despite the fact that we would have made different choices to start with, we are completely aligned in our desire to be conscious parents. (I would have respected her choice either way FYI!)
We are both women who are horrified at the thought that abortions might be made illegal in the states if Roe vs. Wade is reversed. We talk about this in this podcast. So trigger warning for those of you who might be sensitive to this sort of conversation.
It's also on my heart to say, if you are a woman who wishes she could be pregnant, you have a big hug coming from me... I know conversations like this might be hard to hear... but I feel strongly that we must be talking powerfully about keeping our choice and body autonomy. For you, for me, for our daughters and for the women around the globe who would feel the reverse of Roe so much more than we would!
Carmen Cervantes: Great. Well, thanks again for having me. Yeah, I agree. Everything you said ditto. I think we; we definitely share a kinship, and we have a lot of similar views and maybe a really ardent opinions about certain things. [00:10:00]
Candice Smiley: That's a great word.
Carmen Cervantes: Yes, it is, but just to give you a little bit, I guess my story, I have been with my husband for oh God, 18 years.
And I know 13 years into the relationship I got pregnant and it, you know, 13 years that was clearly something we had not planned. It wasn't something that I had ever really envisioned for myself in terms of birthing my own child. We always planned on adopting. We always planned on having a family, but just a different way.
And his opposition might be a harsh word, but his point of view was that he didn't want to put me through the pain. He thought that I honestly, when we, when we were pregnant, he kept apologizing the entire pregnancy. I'm so sorry. I did this to you. [00:11:00]
Candice Smiley: I’m sure there are a few women listening, thinking like what?!
Carmen Cervantes: He didn't come near me. Like it was, it was really, it was a struggle. And I mean, taking a step back when I found out I was pregnant, and I let him know. We, we had, we sat down, and we had a real heart to heart and said, you know, is this something that we want, is this, do we want to go through this?
You know, I know you're scared about this. I, myself never having really envisioned it. It was, it was an emotional and a mental negotiation that I had to go through. There's so many changes that are going to come about during pregnancy. And most people I guess, I think most people don't really stop to think about that.
Like it's not just like, oh yay, we're making a little person. It's like, wait, there's physical, emotional, financial. So many things are going to change from this moment on. And in my past, you know, I [00:12:00] just had a really troubled childhood, drug addicted father, severely abusive to my mother. We lived in a battered women's shelter for a while.
So, emotionally and mentally, I just didn't know if I was even capable of being a good mother. I saw how hard it was for my mother. And she did an amazing job being a single mom. After we got out of that situation to four children, I, I was fully cognizant of the fact that being a mother is a full-time job.
And the toll that it takes and yes, there's some good things to it. But at that moment, all I could focus on was like, oh my God, can I do this?
Candice Smiley: I love that you’re being this honest because I mean, for me, it was right down to like, there are certain bits of you that change afterwards. And nobody told me that until I had my first one.
I'm like, [00:13:00] I don't know if I can enjoy intimacy in the same way, because all the bits are moved. Right. And I said this to a mom and she's like, I know I said, but nobody told me this, we need to be talking about this. Right. So, I'm just, you know, I'm sure there were some moms who were smiling and nodding, and I appreciate that.
So, anyway, carry on.
Carmen Cervantes: Yeah, I mean, I had two full-blown, full-blown panic attacks during pregnancy. Like literally it was that bad that, and I know people are gonna, you know, some people might be listening and thinking, oh God, she’s just being too over-analytical or crazy about this, but for me, and that's what my, my podcast Mother, Mommy, Mom really focuses on the fact that every mother has her own journey. Our history, our trauma, the way that we were raised, the place we grew up, everything enforms the decisions that we’re going to make as mothers.
And whether we even want to be mothers, if you didn't grow up in an idyllic childhood, I think you have a completely different perspective than somebody who, who might have [00:14:00] had that experience. And yeah, that weighed super heavy on me.
I'll give you another little anecdote or a story. When I was pregnant and finally told my family, literally, I was like, yeah, I got pregnant. Like, I made a mistake and they said nothing to me. My sisters. Are you okay? Are you sure? Like after a few minutes, this is how much they knew that I didn't plan on this.
I never once said, oh yes, when I have children or I'm going to name my kids, you know, Bobby and Jane and whatever. Like the things that you hear from most women that was not my road or path to motherhood at all. So, we sat down and we're like, okay, no, we are not going to have a child. We can't, we are emotionally, psychologically a wreck right now.
It's not something that we think, we honestly thought we were [00:15:00] ill-equipped to do it. And there was no way we were going to bring a child into this world if we weren't going to make it a priority. And show up the best that we could. At that point, we didn't feel we could be those people. So, we're like, okay, fine.
We made that decision, you know, crisis averted. Then we go grocery shopping and, it's not a task we like to do. So, we, we always separate.
Candice Smiley: Divide and conquer
Yes, divide and conquer. And he comes running up to me. He's like, I can't do this. You're going to have to make the decision yourself. I'm like, excuse me. He’s like, I just saw the cutest little girl.
Candice Smiley: Plot twist
Carmen Cervantes: I was like, oh God, here we go. I was like, I guess, I guess we're having this child. But I'm, I'm being completely frank. It took me. I mean, we, we didn't find out the gender of the baby [00:16:00] on purpose because mentally, we were still kind of in denial. It wasn't totally real. So, we honestly, I was like, well, something's gonna go wrong.
Like, I'm not my, I wasn't made to be a mom. Like this is not even going to work out for me. So, let's just have low expectations here. And we both really went through it that way. But the moment we heard her cry and he, he really wanted a girl, and he got a girl and, you know, she's, she's amazing. She's honestly like, the coolest person I know, like as a three-year-old
Candice Smiley: That’s what I say about my kids, I’m like, gosh, you guys are cool.
Carmen Cervantes: Yeah. She's such a, she was into dragons and, dinosaurs and I flip houses for a living and she wants tools and she wants to do what mommy does. And she's just, she's a chill kid. Like I couldn't have asked for a child that would have made my transition into motherhood easier. [00:17:00] Like it's been amazing, but I fully own the fact that we had decided to get an abortion first.
Because nobody can tell you what's right for you on the outside, it might look like everything's going swimmingly. Like you have it all together, but nobody really knows what you've been through. Nobody knows the decisions or the reasons why you're making the decisions you are making. And. My goal and what I'm doing with mother, mommy, mom is to validate everybody's decision.
I don't care if you're an absentee mother or abusive mother, amazing mother, you are doing the best you can at that point in time. And for some of us, the best we can do is really low. It's a low bar because of the situations that we've lived through, because of where we are psychologically, emotionally, financially.
I mean, there are [00:18:00] women who, who situations change on a dime. You know, some people divorced, you know, you're a testament to that. It's not something you envisioned. Nobody goes into parenthood thinking that it's not going to be the ideal. And that's hard. So, I, the debates I mean, is infuriating, especially in the time of COVID, because if you think about the people who are advocating for, you know, the, the turnover of Roe vs Wade and making, abortion, illegal, those people are out there saying I'm not going to get an injection.
The government can't tell me what to do to my body. How is there such a disconnect.
Candice Smiley: This question, and I love that you brought up because you know, there’s key things you brought up, like you are a conscious parent. And I was the same way. Right. I waited until I was older to have children. I knew what I was getting into on some level, right.
That I would kind of made this decision, which [00:19:00] has made it a lot easier. And I mean, right down to when I was having, you know, sex pre my marriage, pre wanting children, right. It wasn't the right time necessarily. I knew if I got pregnant for me, life begins at conception. That's my own personal choice. So, I was going to carry it all the way through.
Right. Which was always challenging to tell people that I'm like, it doesn't really matter, but this is my choice, but there's this huge choice piece that I really, really love. One of my values of self-expression and freedom. So I want to be able to choose what's good for me, in that moment. Right. And this, when they weigh in, like you say, with this disconnect, I'm like.
Candice Smiley: Well, you're right. And it's, it's 2022. I keep on saying to those 21, but it's 2022 and we are coming to such an interesting space. Why are we still having this debate, do you think?
Carmen Cervantes: I think it's just people who are trying to impose their will over others it's because honestly, I can't help, but see. The constant hypocrisy in a lot of the politics, unfortunately today in the U.S. [00:23:00] So many people are quick to say, you shouldn't do this. You shouldn't do that.
Meanwhile, in their own lives, they're not adhering to the same standards. There's this whole idea about creating this ideal norm. That nobody can measure up to, nor should we aspire to do that. We, we should embrace the fact that we're all different and that we all have different needs, live, and let live.
Candice Smiley: You know, one of my friends is currently waiting on potentially having children. She's a little bit older like me, because she really wants that core unit. And she really believes that, you know, there should be a mom and a dad right too, in that space. I'm very open-minded, but that's what she really believes.
And, you know, based like you say, on how she grew up, and the impact of her, you know, her family life has had on some of her decisions. And I c