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Loved and Wanted

A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood

Loved and Wanted: A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood / Christa Parravani

Christa Parravani thought a teaching job at the university in Morganstown, West Virginia was the path towards a better life for her young family. Instead, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant a year after the birth of her second child. With a tenuous marriage and financial situation, Parravani sought an abortion. Although well within her legal rights, Parravani was ignored and misdirected by medical professionals. Once she understood she’d need to leave West Virginia in order to attain a safe, legal abortion, she felt her pregnancy was too far along.

What begins as one woman’s quest to come to terms with a pregnancy she didn’t plan becomes a searing portrait of the way systemic injustices fail those who are the most vulnerable. When Parravani delivers a baby boy, it’s clear to her there is something wrong– her son cannot nurse (and quickly becomes jaundiced) or move his arm. But she is swiftly dismissed by medical professionals, just as she was when she sought an abortion. In motherhood and in America, it seems, you can’t win. When the family travels to Los Angeles for her husband’s job, a doctor notes the bump on his clavicle– broken during delivery, and now healed.

This was one I couldn’t put down, despite its heavy subject matter. It is a cutting portrait of modern motherhood, and a deft rendering of place, with Parravani’s exacting prose throughout:

I held my baby son and it felt like I was a skydiver pulling the ripcord. We were falling together and I couldn’t hold him hard enough. He was going down on my watch, just like Cara did. I was in a haunted place, in my home and in my body. I bargained. I couldn’t let that darkness touch my son. My love, she died; but we were still here.

I wondered how a writer would handle writing about wanting to abort a child she ultimately gives birth to and, of course, loves, wants, and fights for. The answer is in Parravani’s advice to one of her students, wrestling with her own memoir: “I assured her that writing is a service, not an act of aggression but of love. People need to be seen and heard. I implored her to remember, to follow the path of bravery, not fear.”

 

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