Alice Eve Cohen's story is so unbelievable it almost reads like fiction. As a young woman, Cohen was told she was infertile. So, when she married, she and her husband adopted instead. The marriage ended, but at age 44 Cohen is happy in a new relationship, her career has taken off and everything seems to be going her way until...she begins to experience symptoms that no one doctor can seem to diagnose. A CAT scan finally reveals the cause....she is six months pregnant.
I truly was unable to put What I Though I Knew down - I devoured it in one afternoon. Cohen works as a storyteller and performer and her skills as a raconteur shine through in this deeply honest and open memoir. Cohen takes us along with her through a gamut of emotions as she deals with having to make unimaginable choices. I found myself wondering what choices I would have made in the same situation. A highly recommended read. This would be an excellent choice for book club discussions. Read an excerpt of What I Thought I Knew.
I asked Eve if her daughters had read the book or discussed it with her and here's the reply....
CENSORING MY OWN BOOK
A pro-choice mother’s conundrum
By Alice Eve Cohen
I once attempted to censor my own book…That, of course, was a dumb idea.
I was hell-bent on hiding the book from my daughter, who is central to the story of my memoir. She quickly let me know just how dumb an idea it was.
My memoir begins eleven years ago, with my unexpected and terrifying pregnancy at the age of 44. I was so desperate that I scheduled an appointment for a late term abortion with Dr. George Tiller, in Wichita, Kansas; but at the last minute, I decided to have the baby.
Eliana was nine when my book came out. As my July 2009 publication date approached, I feared that she would be traumatized by the knowledge that I had considered an abortion.
The truth is, I had censored my story for many years. I bottled it up inside me, unable to talk to anyone about it, until I was finally able to write the book. Given that I’ve always been an ardent advocate of women’s reproductive rights, why was I was so wracked with guilt at having considered a late term abortion?
Even after my book was complete, I held on to the half-baked idea that I could publish my memoir, while at the same time selectively censoring myself on the subject of abortion. I told my publisher that in order to protect Eliana, I would not take any media interview questions about abortion, to which the publicist reluctantly agreed.
...Until May 31, 2009, when Dr. George Tiller was murdered in Wichita, Kansas by an anti-abortion terrorist.
I mourned Dr. Tiller’s death and reflected on the vital importance of knowing, in the midst of my terrifying pregnancy, that I had the right to choose whether or not to have the baby. I realized that having that right saved my life and, by extension, Eliana’s life.
I decided that it was irresponsible of me to censor my abortion story. I called my publicist to say I’d changed my mind, and would welcome interview questions about abortion. I wrote an essay for the Huffington Post, titled “Dr. George Tiller Saved My Life…and my Baby’s Life.”
But even after that, I still wanted to hide my book and my abortion story from Eliana. My husband and I tried to persuade Eliana not to read it until she was a teenager, but she let us know that was out of the question.
“This book is about my birth,” Eliana said, “so of course I’m going to read it. And I’m going to read it before the public gets to read it in July!”
“OK,” we said, with trepidation. “But on one condition: We want you to read it when Mommy or Daddy is home, so that you can ask us questions.”
For two days in June, Eliana and I lay down on my bed with two copies of my book, reading side-by-side. I regularly peeked over to see what page she was on. She was laughing in all the right places, but I knew she’d have hard questions.
She finished the chapter where I scheduled a late-term abortion. For years, I’d dreaded her ever finding out about this moment, fearing that she would be devastated.
“Did that upset you?” I asked.
“No.” she said. “Why would I care what you thought about me before I was born? I was only a fetus.”
She got to page where she was finally born, after my horrific 47-hours of labor.
“Wow, Mom this is like a non-fiction book that teaches you a lot about pregnancy!”
She got to Epilogue—which is virtually a love song to my two daughters, Eliana and Julia. When she finished, she turned to me and smiled. “Good book, Mom. I really liked it.”
“Thank you, honey, I’m so glad. Did anything in the book upset you?”
“Nope! Because I knew exactly how everything was going to turn out.”
Eliana wasn’t devastated to learn that I’d considered a late term abortion. Rather, I had injured myself by keeping it a secret for so many years. Note to self: knowledge isn’t traumatizing. Secrets, lies, and censorship are."
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Thank you so much for sharing both your story and this conversation with Eliana.
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