Dr. Jacobs is a family physician practicing in Colorado. Dr. Jacobs co-leads the Reproductive Health Access Project’s Colorado Cluster.
Every year at this time, I see scores of young female patients on their way to college after summer vacation. As a mother of two young girls myself who I love more than the air that I breathe, I am struck by how many young adult women come to clinic with their supportive mothers in tow. My kids still wear diapers and still can’t fall asleep unless they curl up next to or on top of me. And I marvel at and aspire to the relationship that many of my young adult patients have with their mothers.
This week I placed three IUDs for young women such as these—headed off to college, desiring reliable protection from pregnancy should they chose to be sexually active while away from home. Each patient came to the decision to obtain an IUD on her own, but each of them also presented for her visit with her mother at her side. Each patient held her mother’s hand. Each mother coached her daughter supportively to breathe, that everything would be OK, and reminded her of all the indulgent things they would do together after the procedure.
This week, I also performed an abortion for a young woman who came home from college for a week in order to obtain the procedure with her mother by her side. I was humbled by how much respect this patient’s mother showed for her daughter’s choices. She made no attempt to control the situation, to guide her daughter to one type of abortion or the other, to dictate what birth control she might consider after the procedure, if any, or to sway her daughter’s decision on what type of pain medication she might prefer during a procedure. She was present, supportive, and so very strong. This daughter made her own choices safely, with her mother by her side.
As a mother, I am so very humbled by these mothers of my patients. And every year, during back-to-school time I strive to be a little more like them.
One of my favorite parenting quotes was written by Elizabeth Stone. “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” What better way to care for our hearts than to honor, to respect, and to protect their choices?
This year, we are asking our Network leaders to share notes from their personal experiences as providers in the field. Stay tuned for more posts like this one from our Network Leaders in the coming months!