It was 1989. It was two o'clock in the morning. I was a sophomore in college, nineteen-years-old, sitting on the floor in the living room of my college apartment. I can still remember the sounds of the screams; the feeling of shattered glass as it brushed passed me; and my roommate's voice asking if everyone was ok.
We were making posters to take with us to D.C. the next day for the Pro-Choice March on Washington. “Keep your rosaries off my rosaries;" “Pro-Choice = Pro-Woman;" “Keep your legislation out of my uterus;" our signs read. That was why we were now sitting in a room strewn with glass. That was why we were suddenly looking at a brick in the center of the room.
That brick had a piece of paper wrapped around it held in place by a dirty rubber band. I can't tell you why I remember it was dirty. But I do. I remember all sorts of minute details from that early morning because it was the most frightened I believe I had ever been up until that point in my life. No one said a word. My roommate rolled the rubber band off the brick and unfolded the note.
“Death to Feminazis and baby killers," the note read. We were all stunned. We cleaned up the glass. We talked nervously about whether or not to call the police. We were scared. And then we were angry. We went back to our sign making. The terrorists had failed. They didn't make us from our path. They only fueled our resolve.
That was nearly thirty years ago, and I still hear those words volleyed carelessly around – Feminazi, babykiller - and I am still stunned that denying healthcare to women is something people vehemently fight for and I am still puzzled at the arguments used as not one of them is valid or applicable. All I could think then, and all I still have to believe today, is that the battle is not about abortion or babies or human life. Never was. Never will be. The battle is over men controlling women's bodies.
It's not hard to see. A simple parsing of the “arguments" used by the anti-choicers. (I will not call them pro-lifers as they are not in any way supporting life). First they argue that life begins at conception not because of science but because of God. Well, seeing as believing in God is both a choice and something that the law says must be keep separated from matters of state, that's a non-starter.
Second, they argue that abortion kills babies, also a non-starter. Abortion removes cells that would otherwise develop into babies. Cells have no rights. Third, they argue that “life" must be protected. But these same people have absolutely no interest in the life of the mother. They don't care if her life is in danger because of the birth or because someone will kill her if they discover she's pregnant. And they have equally no interest in the life of the baby once she or he is born as the same anti-choicers who kidnap women to keep them from having abortions do not support governmental services to care for the child.
Photo Courtesy of QNS"They don't care if her life is in danger because of the birth or because someone will kill her if they discover she's pregnant."
So, they have no right putting their religion on other people's bodies, and they don't actually care about life. They just feign to in order to help their cause. They don't take issue with any other medical procedure. They don't take issue with men masturbating and wasting their seed. Shouldn't that sperm be saved to make a baby? And these are the same folks who are happy to see insurance cover Viagra. But if a pregnancy, even in the case of incest or rape is God's will, how is impotence not God's will? Clearly God does not want impotent men to procreate. Otherwise, he would have assured their ability to have sex.
The same arguments get played over and over and the fact that they are not arguments at all simply doesn't seem to matter. Over the years, the anti-choicers have killed doctors, kidnapped women, and blown up clinics. Yet, they claim they support life. Over the years, anti-choicers have argued that more women die when abortion is legal. Yes, they actually argue that more women die from safe, legal, accessible abortions then from resorting to having wire hangers and filthy knives and probes inserted into their vaginas while they lay on soiled sheets draped over tables set in dirty alleys and basements.
This is not about opinions. This is about statistics. This is about facts. This is about thousands of women a year who died when abortion was illegal. This is about creating a myth about abortion doctors chopping up babies and selling their parts. This is about control. This is about control. This is about control.
What anti-choicers actually want to is control women. They want to control women's bodies. They want to control women's sexuality. They see abortion as a method of birth control, as an easy out for women whoring around and carelessly getting pregnant at every turn. Take it from a women who has had an abortion. Who has walked through the screaming protestors at the clinic, who has laid on the table and heard the whir of the machine, who has suffered the pain of the procedure and the blood of recovery. Women do not have frivolously have abortions. They do not figure, “Why not have unprotected sex? Who cares if I get pregnant? I can always just pop on over to the clinic and have a painful, expensive procedure that will leave me cramping and aching and sore and bleeding for days to come."
And how do you explain the women who are anti-choicers? That's easy. Brainwashing. It is a powerful tool. It is a tool passed down generation to generation. The lies are set in place. God's law is law. Abortion kills beautiful little full term babies. A baby born as a result of a rape or a case of incest is a good thing coming out of something bad. Only sluts get abortions. There is a stronghold on the minds of women who still believe they in any way need a man to survive. Side note – they don't.
It's all wildly ridiculous and it is all wildly offensive. If anti-choicers were really about protecting life, why not stop things at the source? What about the men who get them pregnant? Why not control them instead? Why not give them reversible vasectomies? Why not teach them to be pure? Why not have them vow their virginity to their mothers until marriage? Why not teach them that birth control is their responsibility? Why not, hmmm? Why not? Why not indeed.
The abortion battle is not about abortion. It never was. The abortion battle is about reminding women of their place. The abortion battle is about controlling women and their bodies and sexuality. The abortion battle is about continuing the nauseating “boys will boys" mentality that will forever mean they need mommy to clean up their messes. They need women to be chaste because it suits the story they have created for themselves.
But it's a story that simply does not make any sense. It's a vision that perpetuates that virgin/whore complex. It's a vision that infantilizes women. It's a vision that kills women. It's a vision that leads to unwanted babies. It's a vision that simply cannot be tolerated any longer.
It's simple. A separation of church and state is still the law of our land. So, there is no reason to make abortion illegal because the religion of some does not support it. Women have a right to their bodies and healthcare. So, there is no reason to make abortion illegal just because men want that control instead. Lives are saved when abortion is safe, legal, and accessible to ALL women. So, there is no reason to make abortion illegal because some people refuse to accept the facts that women die when abortion is illegal and babies suffer and die when they are unwanted.
This resurgence against abortion, like the horrible and devastatingly restrictive laws just passed in Mississippi and Iowa is a distraction. It is an attempt to chip away at women's autonomy. It's the same as suggesting insurance shouldn't cover birth control. It's the same as offering no sex ed or abstinence only education which is the same or worse. It's the same as purity balls.
My mother was so upset when she found out I was headed to Washington for the Pro-Choice March. She wasn't upset because I was supporting abortion rights. She was having upset that I was having to march for the same rights she had marched for decades prior. It is insanity that we are back here having this conversation again, or perhaps more to the point, still.
We have to pay attention. We have to vote in elections. We have to protest. We have to educate. We have to fight. If you think Handmaid's Tale could never happen. Think again. Walls come down one brick at a time until there is nothing but rubble. Abortion rights must stand lest the world of freedom and equality that we are still at work building is at risk of crumbling to the ground.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.