Well No One Ever Said Breeding Was Easy
A Braided Abecedarian
Attempted for years to have a child gave up, adopted a child, got pregnant Zipping your lips is what they call it when you pretend it doesn’t hurt Budgeted for four rounds of IVF had three miscarriages, one healthy baby You should just adopt, people said Ceased taking depression meds to do fertility treatments and grew suicidal X-rays are what they call it when they squirt you full of iodine to check your tubes Delivered a stillborn baby, then miscarried Wage gap is what they call it when women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men Eclampsia is what they call the seizures that land her in the hospital in her 8th month Visa officers block pregnant women at the border for fear of what they call anchor babies Froze six embryos just in case then got pregnant by accident Uterine cancer is what they call it when you’re exposed to toxic chemical waste Geriatric mother is what they call you when you are pregnant over 35 Transvaginal probes are what they put inside you when you seek an abortion in 20 states Had an abortion, had an abortion, had a miscarriage Senile vaginitis is what they call it when you’re in menopause I lost at least one book, maybe one and a half to raising my kids, she said Ran a marathon while bleeding freely blood staining her leggings Just got home from the hospital with her newborn when her wife left her Quit her job, dropped off each kid with a different relative, and drove away Kept trying, kept trying, kept trying, kept trying kept trying, kept trying, kept trying Pregnancy wastage is what they wrote on her chart meaning her baby was stillborn Laughed out loud when she discovered she was pregnant at fifty Other women were her main source of information about what to do Married for fifteen years and can’t convince her husband to have a child Not expecting her period, she wadded up toilet paper in her panties but still bled through her pants Never wanted to have kids and she’s now stepmother to three Mother made her sleep in the cow shed until her period was over Ovaries were hyperstimulated by IVF drugs and she gained 15 pounds in a week Luxury items are how tampons and pads are classified for taxes in 33 states Pretended everything was just swell as she miscarried during a job interview Keeps quiet when people call him the mother even though he birthed their baby after transitioning Questioned her choice to have a child aloud and to strangers in bars for years Jails and prisons in the U.S. force women to work 21 hours for a box of pads, 27 hours for a box of tampons Resolved to have a baby on her own and met a new partner while seven months pregnant Incompetent cervix or inadequate pelvis is what they called it Suffered through the loss of one twin in utero the second lived in the ICU for a year Hostile uterus is what they call it when your body blocks sperm like a champ Told no one she was pregnant, not even her partner until the abortion was over Good news, it hurts like hell, but I swear you won’t even remember it later Used a donated egg and smiles every time someone says her son looks like her Fair practice is what they call it when she doesn’t get promoted because they think she might have another child Vacuuming the eggs out of her ovaries hurt more than expected waking after the retrieval Exhausted by people mistaking her for the nanny because she and her son don’t have the same skin color Why don’t you just adopt? people asked Decided to give up her newborn for adoption because she wanted to finish high school X-rays of her fallopian tubes hurt more than expected returning to work after the procedure C-sections mean the doctor gets paid more and he’s done in an hour You should think about just adopting people advised Bought food but no tampons this month because she was too broke Zygotes are overrated says her friend with no kids Adoption isn’t an option, she can’t opt to adopt because she’s broke, too broke
Rachel Galvin’s books include Elevated Threat Level, a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Pulleys & Locomotion. She is the translator of Raymond Queneau’s Hitting the Streets, which won the 2014 Scott Moncrieff Prize, and co-translator of Decals: Complete Early Poetry by Oliverio Girondo, a finalist for the 2019 National Translation Award. Her work appears in Best American Experimental Writing 2020, Best American Poetry 2020, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Fence, Gulf Coast, McSweeney’s, The Nation, The New Yorker, PN Review, and Poetry. She teaches at the University of Chicago.