In 2003, I was unexpectedly pregnant. But, oh, I was in love with my child.
I began working at a low-paying job, at all kinds of stupid hours, so I could provide for my child, for myself. I did sign up for Medical Assistance through state assistance because my employer did not offer (affordable) insurance, but I didn’t sign up for Food Stamps or Cash Assistance through the state of Pennsylvania because certain groups of people made that a shameful action. I believed I was stronger and better than people who needed such things. I was going to Make It in the world, without help, without assistance.
Ah, how pride cometh before the fall.
At 18 weeks pregnant, I was at work when I started to feel a little woozy. My back hurt horribly, and not in an “I’m Pregnant and Achy All Over Way.” I wasn’t even showing yet, so it wasn’t even an “I Gained Too Much Weight Already And My Back Hurts.” I knew it was different. I felt whiny, but I left work early, ate a sandwich, and took a nap in my modest, self-funded apartment. I woke up with a fever of 104. After calling my doctor, I went straight to the Emergency Room.
What follows is a story that no young mother expects to live. I went through an emergency surgery on my kidney. I was placed on Level III bed rest, suddenly unable to work or even get out of bed to shower everyday. I had to go on Cash Assistance to make my rent. I had to sign up for Food Stamps in order to eat. I was kicked off assistance three times during my pregnancy because I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t drive myself to appointments to keep that assistance. I had to fight to keep enough money coming in to eat food — food that I couldn’t get out of bed and prepare for myself.
Due to that craziness that ensued because of an undiagnosed kidney disorder and the panic of not being able to work, not being able to keep assistance, I relinquished that baby — my only daughter — for adoption.
Needless to say, I did not earn enough money in 2003 to be required to pay federal taxes, like the 47% you chastised and called entitled. I also didn’t spend all of my Food Stamps that were allotted to me in that year. Nor did I use all of the Cash Assistance. I simply couldn’t go out and spend the money. It was a year of bare necessities, a year of bare minimum. I only gained 19 pounds that pregnancy, partly because of my health and partly because I couldn’t get up and get food, make food, find the energy to consume food.
As for my “entitlement” to the health care that I received during that pregnancy, I felt no such entitlement. I simply needed it. I felt shame then, and it angers me that you are still shaming me now, nine years later. Without that medical coverage, Mr. Romney, I would have died. Plain and simple. My life was on the line twice during that pregnancy. But you see, I paid taxes before that pregnancy and have paid taxes every year since that pregnancy. I have worked my ass off. And, even if I hadn’t, even if legislation and economy failures and poor choices I could have made would have kept me from finding stable employment and building my life — even if I hadn’t wanted to do right by my daughter and prove myself to be more than a failure — I believe that my living, breathing self was worth your tax dollars. I believe that the doctors working hard to save my life, to help keep my unborn child safe from my own toxic body, oh, I believe we were both worth it. Especially her.
I will vote for a President who doesn’t make me feel guilty for signing up for Medical Assistance when I needed it. I will vote for a President who doesn’t villainize me for a health condition that we didn’t know about, that landed me flat on my back and in need of help from others. I will vote for a President who doesn’t make me out to be the bad guy for accepting that help. I will vote for a President who doesn’t throw me under the bus in the name of campaigning. I may not have paid taxes in 2003, but I can assure you that I will stand with those who need assistance, who need help, and vote for Obama in 2012.
This post originally appears on The Chronicles of Munchkin Land, my now defunct adoption blog.
This post was syndicated by BlogHer on September 18, 2012.