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 can remember feeling very [00:24:00] much the same way. Feeling very judgy of women who had children by multiple fathers. Now I'm one of them, which is ironic to me.
But I would say I didn't necessarily get it right the first time around, I had very naive ideas about marriage. I had very naive ideas, and I thought it was very, very grounded, and open. You know, I did not get it right the first time. So, kudos to you for, you know, for being much more grounded in that area.
And so, for me, it was very much a conscious choice to choose, to have another baby with the next one. But I tell you the questions I was asking the second time around were very different than the questions I asked the first time around, you know, it was like, here I am dating post-divorce and I'm saying things like, what are your views on abortion?
What are your views on childbearing? What are your views on, you know, discipline and how do you feel about raising children? And the number of people who don't know. And I say people, but we know it's mostly men. The number of men who would not date me as a single mom [00:25:00] yet these are the same people that would push a woman to not abort the baby.
And I said, do you guys not realize on some level, I have been a single mom. It is hard. It is hard on you. It is hard on your kids. It is hard on the system. It is hard. It is hard on society. And so, by pushing women in this direction, without asking for accountability from the man who forgive me for saying so is very much, has to take more of an active role in the production of a child.
Let's put it carefully that way. Why are we not then asking them to take an active role on the other side? Why is it women being penalized? Why are women being thrown into jail? Did you know, in Southern, in the south, like South America
Carmen Cervantes: It’s one of the worst.
Candice Smiley: It's crazy.
Carmen Cervantes: If you had a miscarriage. You will be imprisoned.
Candice Smiley: Thank you.
Carmen Cervantes: Not for one that like, yeah, it's, it's insane. There's such, and that's why I'm saying it's certain [00:26:00] people imposing their will on others because it is a complete imbalance. It tends to be men creating these laws that then affect women.
There are no repercussions, and it takes a man and a woman to make a baby.
Candice Smiley: Thank you.
Carmen Cervantes: Only the woman is suffering.
Candice Smiley: Receptive or passive. So, I mean, I know it's sort of gravity, but let's be like every time this comes up, I'm like, what do you mean? There are no repercussions. What do you mean there? You know, we're going to penalize the women and the doctors who are offering this as an opinion.
Whereas for some women, if they're pregnant and they don't want to be, and that's not even getting into like rape or incest, if she doesn’t want to be for whatever reason, that's her choice. Yes. We have to weigh in, I get it. There's an unborn life that didn’t get, you know a say in this, I get that. But on some level, I'm like, yeah, but you guys need to be adults about this in certain circumstances.
Most of the men. Okay. Right. Like you need to be conscious about it, just like you and your husband said you wanted to be present. I was like, yes, [00:27:00] please and thank you. The number of people who. I mean, you can't adopt dogs without going through an adoption process. Right. And anyway, some of this stuff blows my mind and the fact that they want to take away the choice piece.
Cause I mean, for you, how important was it that you knew you had a choice.
Carmen Cervantes: Oh, super critical. Like we made that choice knowing mentally I'm not going to break. And like I said, I was pretty close to breaking.
Candice Smiley: Which I love. And I mean, I have so much respect for that. Right. And this is united. I think it's called united polarity right now. This idea out there where, you know, there is a law of polarity, right?
So, what goes up must come down, right? Like that's sort of an idea. And so, can we start to come together? And this was the whole intent of my last podcast. And why I wanted to engage in conversation with you is can we share, especially as women, what we think, what we feel, and what's important to us, especially on touchy subjects like this and have the other woman here.
Even if her views are [00:28:00] entirely opposite and say, I see you, I'll hold space for that. How can I support you? Because what's actually happening is even the women are being divided on this and I'm like, guys, but then this, now this means that the men are winning. That would be trouble.
Carmen Cervantes: Because it's been turned into something it's not, it's a religious thing when it wasn't before.
It, you know, now it's, it's like the foundation of the Republican platform. It didn't use to be that 30 years ago. It all, it gets convoluted. It gets twisted and manipulated for certain gains for certain people. And then everybody else is left to suffer. And to your point about how can you force a woman to have a child?
Oh, okay. Okay. Let's she needs to have that baby, but then there's no social societal like safety net. We need to fix the social services system. We need to fix the adoption. We need to fix foster before we can even do that. [00:29:00] So. Like, I think there's a quote that, you know, there's people drowning in the river. Don't just keep taking them out, go and find out where they're falling in.
Candice Smiley: Thank you.
Carmen Cervantes: Stop it, when it becomes an issue and where it becomes an issue is at birth. So, if we can allow and give women the liberty. And valid again, validate their, their choice without judgment, without saying you should. Oh, there is a reason.
I firmly believe that no woman does this without there being a good reason. It might not seem like a good reason to you, but you're not standing in my skin. You haven't lived what I've lived. You haven't seen what I've seen. Your reality is completely different from mine. And if mine is just that mentally, I couldn't do it because of what I've seen, because I, what I know humanity's capable of because of whatever there's truth in my [00:30:00] story.
And I should be listening to it.
Candice Smiley: I agree. And I think that is such a powerful position, which again, why I wanted to chat with you about it because I totally respect it. I respect it because you had enough courage to say this isn't the right fit for me. I'm like good. I'm so glad you know that, because I know there are so many people, mothers, especially who were just going with the flow.
And they're not capable and they're not empowered, and they're not supported. And then they do, and it's the children who continue to suffer. It's the, like, it's a whole big thing. I mean, I'm currently going through, I had been waiting for denied, financial support, certainly emotional support, with a side of, you know, some mental abuse, right.
I'm just going to call it out. From my former partner. And that is just crazy to me. And I look at this and think, how come, we can't fix this system, but we can spend all of this money on this. Like, you guys are [00:31:00] missing the point. It's a misdirection, rather than saying, we need this to be a bigger support. Like, and I know that’s what happened when the Texas bill was coming out, that I was like, let's throw the guys in jail who aren’t paying the bills because that'll change the law real quick.
But it's, it's almost like the, you know, the boys club was, is continuing. And again, ladies, 49 years ago, women couldn't be lawyers. If we give ground on these one or two issues, we start going backwards. And like you and I were talking about, it's not even those of us, you know, white women with the privilege.
And we know we have the privilege, but some of these minorities. It's bigger. The, the obstacles to health care are significant already. And then now we're adding in to make some of these things illegal. That's just scary.
Carmen Cervantes: Well, what is it? What is the penis medicine? I forget that was covered by insurance. So, like, [00:32:00] but birth control is not.
And like that, just shows you the huge double standard that exists or the childcare system is broken. In the U.S. I mean, I'm not familiar with Canada, but in the U.S., you pay thousands of dollars, for somebody to take care of your kid. You get to the point where you have to be like, is me having a job worth more than the money that I need to pay for somebody else to watch my kid.
So, the entire system is broken.
Candice Smiley: It’s totally broken. Yes. I realized this when I, you know, chose to be a single mom. You know, that was hard. I remember being six days postpartum. So, all the postpartum hormones and laying there realizing I'm going to choose to be a single mom. And will my daughter hate me for that?
Like, what are the implications and how will she live? And, just within the last couple of years, I've worked really hard to get back on, back on top of, you know, where I need to be. And [00:33:00] got to buy my daughter, something that was relatively expensive, and I did it. We didn't have to wait for it, but payment.
It was there. We did it. And she was like, mom, you're rich. No, but mom has worked really, really hard to get here. Meanwhile, being questioned about whether or not I'm a good parent, questioned whether or not I should have her most of the time, questioned whether or not like just questioning. And I feel like saying while you've been busy questioning whether or not I can be a good mom.
I guess what I am a mom, right? It's such an interesting thing, but again, it goes back to that where we're missing the point and it feels very much like this is an entire misdirection and all that we really want as women is the choice. And autonomy, which my goodness gracious we had been fighting for in one way or another for so long.
And then as women, we need to start coming together on this. Right? One of my favorite quotes by Muriel Rukeyser, where she says, what would happen if one woman told the truth about her world? The world would split open. And I [00:34:00] think that is so true. Right. I talk about my trauma story. You talk about your decision choice.
These are big stories that literally can divide, but we also know that when you divide something, you can put it back together so much stronger. So, I guess as we start to wrap up, I mean, you and I could digress on this subject a lot. Is there anything you want to go on, leave, leave the listeners where if there's something that's been on your mind and heart, as you've been watching the state of the world, you know, this ongoing debate, for someone who's listening.
Carmen Cervantes: I think our caveman brain is quick to judge and it's so easy to do, but. What we need to start doing is taking that time, taking a step back and just saying to ourselves, there's a reason that what I'm seeing is why it's happening, you know, like. It's in terms of motherhood, especially like you're saying the judgment that there's [00:35:00] criticism everywhere and motherhood is so difficult already.
Like, yes, it's amazing. It's wonderful. It's changed my life. But we also have to admit that it's hard.
Candice Smiley: It's not even hard. It's effing hard. Let's be real.
Carmen Cervantes: Yes. It's true. It's depleting. It's exhausting. And it's equally rewarding. Otherwise, we wouldn't be doing it. Yes. But the only way to make it easier on ourselves, on others, is to just give everybody grace.
Give yourself grace. I know we all have those moments when we're like, just listening to me, just calm down to give yourself grace. Nobody's perfect at anything. Again, it's that whole high bar, that high standard that people should aspire to. I'm telling everybody, give yourself the freedom to set your bar low. Get through it today.
Candice Smiley: You can give yourself a timeout if you need to.
Carmen Cervantes: [00:36:00] Exactly. My kid went to daycare, and I gave her breakfast and I won today.
I won today. Today was good. Like we need to stop comparing ourselves, stop putting our own perception on others. Just take care of yourself, take care of your family. And hopefully you can learn to take care of others.
Candice Smiley: It's so powerful. And I think my listeners couldn't figure out why it was such an honor to be on your podcast.
I've listened to some of your episodes, my listeners, seriously, this is one you want to go and follow. Carmen does a really good job of making sure she's telling some impactful stories. It's not adding to the noise, which Carmen, is a big deal for me. I don't want to be putting out content that is just more noise because it's so noisy.
Especially on social media. I'm only putting out content that makes people think, it makes people feel. Aligned, inspired, motivated, but there has to be some value add. And so today was certainly [00:37:00] that for me. So, thank you so much for taking some time out to come and engage in this conversation with me.
And hopefully for the women who are listening, of course, we're going to have some support links are included in the show notes down below. So, if you're struggling with making the decision or some of those things we have, we're doing our best to make sure you guys have supports. And I guess we'll see what, 2022 brings in for.
Hopefully not reversing Roe, but I guess we will see. What was interesting too, for me, just as a caveat. When I started doing some research, there are actually, well, first and foremost, there's over 106 bills that are trigger bills. So, of Roe vs. Wade is reversed, they'll go into effect immediately. Which is downright scary.
Like that's a lot, that's a lot of pre-planning, but not only that, because that felt really overwhelming for me. Who's a supporter of the Roe vs. Wade decision. There is now I'm just pulling it up [00:38:00] a woman's health protection act, which is aimed to make sure that women can continue to have control over their personal rights.
I mean, it's constitutional. I mean, we don't have a constitution in Canada like you guys do, but it makes sense. And just, it makes sense. So, to leave people with, well, of course we'll have links to that down below. There is some hope out there for us to maintain choice.
And regardless of where you guys fall, my listeners on this debate, my encouragement to you, number one would be to hold your beliefs lightly enough that we don't alienate each other as women, because if we don't stand together and continue to make choices, then it's our sons and our daughters. We're going to have to continue these kinds of fights.
And I think we've been fighting long enough. So anyway.
Carmen Cervantes: And if this isn't legal, abortions aren't going to stop.
Candice Smiley: No.
Carmen Cervantes: So, let's make it safe.
Candice Smiley: Thank you for that. That's scarier to be completely honest, like [00:39:00] these illegal abortions that happen because women are still desperate to, and they will continue to, and they have for millennia.
Carmen Cervantes: And I think that highlights the point. If they're so desperate and willing to lose their own lives, just imagine how strong their reason is.
Mother Mami Mom Podcast:
Mother Mami Mom Podcast (ft.Candice Smiley):
Create the Ripple Podcast (Roe vs. Wade):
Resources (Roe vs. Wade):
“And the people who are most impacted by these abortion restrictions and bans are people of color, low-income individuals, young people and LGBTQ individuals — people who are already burdened with insufficient access to healthcare."
What’s at stake:
(Roe vs. Wade)
Women’s Health Protection Act: