Nope and Sure and Yes, I am.

by Alicia on January 3, 2019

Somewhere, buried forever, I have a spreadsheet. It has a Pros list, and a Cons list. Of all the reasons to take a leap, and all the reasons to stay safe. (To be fair, my headers read: Nope. and Sure.) There are more points on the Nope side of the spreadsheet, and a question to the far right of all the text:

“I’m here to move the needle. Is this the place to move it?”


Narrator voice: it was.


Alicia Higgison, Public School Board Trustee sign with three daughtersI recently ran an election campaign for a local Public School Board seat.

And I won.

(Unseated a two-time incumbent. Ahem.)

But the seat is not what I came all the way back here to talk about. I have a website, where I’ll be blogging about that specific experience. I’m here to talk about what it’s been like to do the work. To do the work I’m passionate about. To do that work alongside the expectations of motherhood, external and internal. There was a lot of doubt in my Nope list of reasons why I shouldn’t pursue a political career, but what is not on that list was ever a fear that my kids couldn’t handle my decision. I will say that while I took them into consideration before taking on the task, I did not ask their permission or wonder whether it would be ok with them. I wondered how they would handle the struggles, not if they should have to. I wondered what it would look like to carve out time for them, not whether it was ok to take the time for me.


In all of my work- in my bend toward increasing votership, in my deliberate political work, in my job in open education- in all of my work, I am leaving a path behind me. A smoother and more equitable and deliberate path for others to pursue their own choices with support and encouragement and confidence, and maybe, if we’re lucky, some great policy. A trusted friend paid me a great compliment yesterday. She told me that I consistently and always build people around me up to believe that they can do anything, and not just anything sometime, but anything right now. That they have all the tools right now, and that I’m excited for them to start, and that they should do it, do the thing, they’re ready.

I’ve spent my conscious adult life encouraging people to take up the mantel of themselves. (And when I say conscious adult life, I mean literally the past 5 years. It hasn’t been that long that I’ve known myself. You’re on your way, take your time with yourself.) And when I was making my decision on whether to run for a political seat or not, I wondered if I was smart enough. I wondered if I knew enough, if I was able to do the job well enough to be worthy of it. There was never the question of whether I should. There were many questions from other people on whether I should- both before I declared and while I campaigned.

I got a great call during the campaign, at a time when I was excited but feeling like I needed to humbly internally deal with the fact that I might just lose, after all of this effort. And I was told that even if I lose, all that I have gained in the process of the work is worth the moments spent to make it happen. That what my daughters were seeing their mother do would reflect on their goals for  themselves long after my political career gained or lost steam. That they would have grown up seeing their mother do something. Seeing their mother take a dream and turn it into work. Seeing their mother decide to put her name on a sign and her heart into a cause and expose it all to the elements in pure and electrified passion. Seeing their mother was a person, was a woman, was a force in this world meant for laying a path and building the bridges it would take for people behind her to succeed. Seeing their mother respected for being smart, for being ambitious, for being humble and gracious and for taking no shit.


My political decisions are influenced by my daughters, just as all my decisions are influenced by the relationships I hold most in esteem and respect most deeply. Those girls will always learn more from my actions than from my words. And the actions they’ve watched me do are authentically and passionately some of the greatest achievements of my life. And I live it fully, and I express it authentically, and I make sure they know how much it means to me and all it brings to my life. I don’t play it cool, I play it gloriously uncool, I play it with feelings and with exuberance and with all the weight and reverence that it deserves.

And the answers to those questions I asked myself, on whether I should run are: Yes I am, I’ll never know enough, and yes I am.

Yes, I am.



NovaSure and my Endometrial Ablation

by Alicia on November 6, 2017

Whoosah. I’m about to talk about my female insides, y’all. Specifically, my uterus.

At the end of August 2017, I underwent an outpatient surgery at my local hospital to complete an endometrial ablation. The procedure my gynaecologist used was called NovaSure. (Just this past weekend, I threw out the little pamphlet the hospital gave me on the procedure. I didn’t read it until a week before the surgery. I didn’t much care about the finer details of the procedure, I just wanted the damn thing done. If you’re considering endometrial ablation and are the kind of person that wants more information? I’m sure the website is a great place to start! I wouldn’t know, I’ve never read it.) Listen, it’s not that I didn’t care what happens to my body. I do definitely care about what happens to my body. It’s just that I trusted my doctor and knew that no amount of excessive knowledge prep would make me better prepared and less scared.

Why I Wanted An Endometrial Ablation

Basically, for around 5+ years, I’d been in and out of my general practitioner’s office with blood test requests and results. All of them said the same thing: “geez, Alicia, your iron is stupidly low.” And each series of appointments would end with a recommendation to increase the amount of iron I take in. Five years. Five years I thought that your stomach was just always supposed to feel like there was a rock formation in the bottom of it. Five years I just thought my body just needed a little extra time. Ok, like 4 years I thought that. The fifth year I got angry.

I’m young- currently 35. So the suggestion of a procedure which would end my ability to produce more children was out of my doctor’s immediate medical recall. In short, I didn’t know to ask for it, and he never suggested it. When I did bring up the possibility of this ablation thing, I was not rebuffed. He did not tell me no, he did not try to talk me out of it, my doctor was quite accommodating to my request, if a little hesitant to offer an immediate specialist referral. More blood work, more “your iron is so so low OMG how do you stay awake, ma’am”, more hand wringing. Basically, I needed a real medical need to become preferentially barren, is the short & brutal way to sum that up. I have three kids and zero interest in more. I got my referral- even if it took me 5 years. Persistence.

My gynaecological specialist took a pap smear and a uterine biopsy. He needed to rule out any other possibly outstanding medical issues that could be causing low iron and heavy periods. (My periods were consistently 7 days long, and obnoxious, though not as awful as some women I’ve heard of.) My tests came back clear- horray!- and my gynaecologist offered me birth control pills. FULL STOP. Say what, sir? No. This is where I caution you, Human Considering Ablation, to advocate strongly for your desired outcome. If the medical need exists for you to obtain the ablation, and there are no outstanding serious medical issues preventing that procedure from happening? Ask for what you want. Say specifically: “There is no need to offer me birth control pills I will not take. I would like to come back to discussing the endometrial ablation that I originally requested. Is there a barrier to you providing that for me?” Assertiveness doesn’t always mean bitchiness. If there is a barrier, ask to be referred to another gynaecologist and for access to your test results.

Why I Decided on Endometrial Ablation

Because I:

  • did not want to have a period (or at least not one as heavy)
  • did not want any more children
  • did not want to go through menopause at 35
  • did not want a long surgical recovery if it could be avoided

Now, there were some indications in my test results that pointed to very early stages of Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I never suffered any fertility issues, never missed a period, never had any symptoms of PCOS at all. So, take that for what it is. I’m at higher risk for cancer, but to be honest I don’t even know what that means, since that is a descriptor of nearly everything on the planet Earth.

What my Endometrial Ablation Experience Was Like

I dunno. I was asleep. The end.


Before my Endometrial Ablation, NovaSure procedureKidding. But almost not cause it was ridiculously chill. The hardest part was fasting for 12 hours before the procedure and only because I don’t like being told what to do. I showed up (starving) to the hospital 2 hours before my procedure, was given a hideously wonderful series of gowns and slippers, and everyone was very very nice. I sat in a second waiting room alone for around 30 minutes before where people asked me medical history questions and I was nosy as hell and listened to everyone else’s very exciting answers because my medical history is very dull because I am so lucky to be incredibly healthy. Then- and this blew. my. mind.- I walked into the operating room. No rolling bed, no wheelchair, just a 45 second jaunt down 2 hallways with a very polite nurse and into a very! bright! white! room! where my gynaecologist was like chatting with an intern and everyone seemed super chilled out. It was incredibly helpful to my expectations. Meaning I had none but I was just feeding off everyone else’s mood and they seemed to not think I was about to horribly suffer so I must be fine. I’d never had surgery before, no idea what to expect. I answered their questions after I laid down (do you know what you’re having done today? how old are you? what the hell does that tattoo even say?), got an IV put in, told them I felt a little sleepy and then I was out.

What they did while I was out was put a metal tube up my vagina, past my cervix, and into my uterus. This metal tube contains a net, which expands to the inside of my uterine lining. Electromagnetic waves are sent through the tube, into the net, which serves to burn and scar the lining of the uterus. This scarring and burning leaves the uterus inhospitable for an egg. Meaning, my ovaries work just as they always have, but my uterus just doesn’t bother creating a lining for the egg that gets released. My hormones are just as they always were, I just don’t have any lining to shed anymore.

Note: I inquired about several things before the surgery:

  • would there be smoke? No.
  • was there anything to keep after the surgery? No.
  • was it a big giant hoop like the kind they light on fire at the circus and a lion jumps through? No.

Yawn. Whatever man. So boring.

I woke up as I was being wheeled back in to recovery. I felt nothing. No pain, no aches, no cold or heat, no nausea, no flushed face, nothing abnormal at all. Recovery can be very different/ painful/ groggy/ nauseous/ whatever…but know that if you’re totally fine that’s totally fine. You have to pee before they let you leave. I was a stellar patient. Points, me.

My procedure began just before 2pm. I was home with pizza by 5:45.

My Ablation Recovery

Now! Do not be a brave asshole! I felt fine, so I carried on as if I had not just had surgery. And then as I was walking up my front steps I thought to myself, “oh dear, there are black walls closing in around the sides of my eyes and everything feels like it’s happening very slowly. I think I have overdone it.” I did not pass out, but I did not get to eat that pizza. I took a Motrin and fell directly asleep. Woke up 3 hours later, ate that entire goddamn pizza, took a Tylenol 3 (I wasn’t in pain, but I certainly didn’t want to be) and fell asleep again.

Suggested recovery is 2-3 days. I felt good by day 2, but I stayed the hell in bed because please refer to the fact that I have 3 kids and am actually healthy and have never had a great medical reason to stay in bed that didn’t involve a newborn. TAKE YOUR TIME, DUDES. I took Tylenol 3s for probably the first 12 hours following surgery, and I can definitely say I felt no pain. A dull cramp that wasn’t even like a period cramp, just like felt it. I was tired, for sure. So I slept and watched a lot of Netflix and read through almost all of Twitter dot com.

So here’s the not-as-fun, possibly gross part of recovery. Where I tell you that while I did not bleed after my procedure (which can happen and is totally normal), I did have a kind of brownish discharge. Which lasted…weeks. Like, so many weeks. Like, I should’ve read that goddamn pamphlet that told me it would maybe be up to four weeks because at week 3.5 I was so mad. Don’t get mad at your body trying to do its best, learn from my impatience. That’s totally cool. I mean, it’s gross (I could get by with one pantyliner during the day, one at night) but it’s fine. You’ve just scarred your insides, be chill.

I am now over 2 months post-surgery and have not had a period. BLESS ALL THE UNICORNS. My gynaecologist absolutely prepared me for the fact that my periods might come back. In fact, they are almost certain to come back. I’m very young. This procedure is generally done later in your 40s and into your 50s. Periods can be light for months following the surgery. It doesn’t mean it didn’t work, it’s just how your body has chosen to recover- meaning parts of your uterine lining are victorious little buggers and want to grow and shed like the old days.

I feel like I need to tell you a thing I asked my gyno never to say again. At my 6wk post-op check up, he told me that while I hadn’t had a period in September, I might expect one in October and it might be…chunky. He said that word. He said chunky. And then kept on talking like it was not the most aggressive thing to say in a sentence about my vagina. So, that can happen. Both the word chunky being spoken at you, and the fact that there may be some chunks of the dead lining/ scars that still have to come out. Best to know and not panic.

I feel great. I haven’t taken my bloodwork again to check my iron, but I do just generally feel like I can regulate my energy better. Not quite like I have more energy, but just like I don’t crash out. I’m hoping to see more of my short-term memory abilities come back, and I’m hopeful that my periods stay away. Because not having to consider all the possibilities of what I can and can’t wear, where I should sit, what I should pack and how I might have to work around my period to function in my every day life for 7 days of every month? It’s so incredibly mentally freeing.


So there it is. That’s the whole story. (It’s over 1800 words, it best be the whole story, dammit.)

It was the best decision I ever made just for myself. I’m glad I pushed for it. I’m glad I did it. I have no regrets.

If you have questions about why I chose ablation, or something I haven’t addressed here, you can either comment or send me an email . I’m happy to help where I can.



I can’t tell you.

by Alicia on June 27, 2017

I wanted this space to grow with my kids. Tell their stories and the story of my motherhood and how those two things grow together, just like when they were little.

But I didn’t know these girls then. My girls. I didn’t know them. I couldn’t have predicted who they would become and how they would grow up into people I’m now meeting for the first time.

When they were little, I could tell you all about the choices I made in parenting them, how I came to my conclusions, how I fucked up, how they reacted, what we all learned, and how things were going to go looking forward. I always thought this space would continue to hold those stories as they grew. But it can’t. I want so badly to keep talking about mothering these incredible girls, because writing it is how I sort out my experience with it. Writing is how I articulate and learn from what I experienced.

But writing about them now feels unsafe. Or at least, it feels presumptuous and intrusive.

higgisonladies2017I’m parenting the hardest I have ever parented. These issues we deal with are Big Fuckin Deals. The words I say now will be the things they talk about on scholarship applications and, for better or worse, the voices inside their heads when they’re fighting with their roommates, or deciding whether they really like this boyfriend/girlfriend. These talks we have are about their bodies, their self-image, trusting their inner voice. I cannot presume to know anymore what that inner voice can, should, would be. I cannot tell you details about their lives because they don’t belong to me. Not the children nor the details.

And it’s hard. Because raising daughters brings up a lot of feelings about my own self. Part of my hesitation of telling them anything is because I wish I could tell myself those things and believe it, all while I’m hoping they trust me. When I’m talking, I’m not drawing from some brain library of knowledge I’ve handcrafted. I just tell them what I wanted to/ still right now want to hear. So I never know if they think I’m full of shit, if they think I’m way off, if they think I’m brilliant, if they can use what I tell them. There’s no wealth of knowledge to apply. And this is why.

Because I can’t out my daughters. I can’t tell their secrets. I can’t use their actual life as a handbook for you because they didn’t sign up for that. They haven’t given me permission, and they don’t know enough about their future to assess if they would regret giving me permission to share now. And I couldn’t write it anyway, I’d have to let them do it because my voice is the side story now. These girls have their own stories, that aren’t fully entangled with mine. Most of my stories have to do with them, most of what I love to talk about starts and ends with them. They do not feel the same about me. And I can’t ask them to let me take over their stories and shape their thoughts, in order to make the verbs pliable for a generation of mothers like me who want to know The Right Way To Do This.

I don’t know what that is, The Right Way. I can’t tell you.

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