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BEFORE by Alisha Vasquez

When I was 15 years old, the balding, opinionated, gruff man who made my leg braces informed me that I’d “never be able to have kids. [My] body just [can't] support it.” Up until that point I hadn’t given much thought to having kids; all I knew was that I wasn’t supposed to have sex. This crabby, pseudo-medical professional gave me, what was up until that point, the closest thing to a sex talk that I ever had. He wanted to dictate, and make sure that I knew, that my defiant, punk rock, Chicana, disabled body is not to procreate. I all but ignored his comment and spent the next 13 years of my life focusing on achievement: good grades, community organizing, scholarships and scholarships, traveling to conferences abroad, pushing my body and mind to ensure I emulated the success that I saw of the organizers and professors I read about in books and looked up to in community. By the time I was 32, though, I recognized that these prescribed patterns of success were killing me…and that I wanted a baby.

Even before we conceived, I experienced ableism and many of the negative aspects of existing in a cis-gendered female body. The older generations, especially, asked why we didn’t have kids. I asked myself if it was all the stress that 20 surgeries, hundreds (thousands?) of x-rays, or simply my krip genes that was hindering the process. We went to a fertility doctor after eight months of trying, making sure to get in before my “good insurance” ran out once I quit a job that was killing me spiritually and physically. I asked the doctor all the things I was fearing: Did all those x-rays kill my eggs? Did my genes not only bless me with a short-left leg but also with infertility? Did the pesticides sprayed on my grandfather when he was a farm worker pass down infertility to me? Was stress the culprit?

The doctor was kind, and her team informed us of the testing that my good insurance covered, but when it came to IVF or other medical procedures that lead to conception, my good insurance wasn’t good enough. My ovaries and fallopian tubes were checked in a cold, sterile office visit waaaay up on the north side near the foothills of the Santa Catalinas. Dye injected into my cervix, speculum coldly spreading me open, the procedure more painful than an annual exam. My results: everything is fine; you have ample eggs, open tubes, and a healthy body.

Adam’s procedure was much quicker, cheaper, and more exciting. Cum into a cup and get it to us before an hour passes. No pain, no invasion, simply one orgasm and a car ride. His results: low sperm count and quality. We cried. I was angry that all this time it was him and not me. I was angry that he, our families, society duped me into thinking there was something wrong with me, and I was the reason we weren’t pregnant.

At the break of 2018, I was tired of waiting for the perfect life to follow a perfect timeline that existed only in my head. I had given myself a semester away from a dysfunctional work schedule and was beginning to plan the next steps of a hard-fought career in academia. That January, I let go. I let go of timelines. Of working with others in mind. Of being angry at Adam, at my body, at others who so easily got pregnant, at the world. I told myself that I would accept each red moon as she appeared every month, and I would focus on myself, nurturing my strengths, growing the one-of-a-kind academic program that I was running, and enjoy life.

And on March 8, 2018, with my moon mysteriously 8 days late and my spirits a little more up, I was teaching and became so dizzy that I had to sit down. None of my students seemed to notice that I lost my balance as my uneven legs lose their balance all the time. I took a dollar store pregnancy test when I got home, and amid my shock these words fell out of my mouth at my first ever positive test: “you little shit.”


Alisha Vasquez is a 5th generation Tucsonense. A trained historian and the first in her family to attend college, she's filled with historical tidbits that represent decolonial uncoverings about her hometown. She has been active in many struggles for justice, from abolition to stopping border militarization, was the co-director of the Pima Community College Border Culture Program, and taught at the Earlham College Border Studies Program. Currently, she works for the Southwest Folklife Alliance and is taking time off teaching to care for her 2-year-old, Athena, while unlearning superkrip, neoliberal expectations and incorporating disability justice in her day to day.

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