this test result led me to dream of actually having a future, the fact that I wanted to be a mother more than anything else in the world became undeniable. In 1994, "undetectable" viral load tests were practically unheard of, but in 1998 they are very common. Women call me on a weekly basis who are having this same experience. For many, if there's a future awaiting them, they want a baby to be part of it.
My pregnancy and prenatal care lasted 9 months. I threw up for 5 months, and spent the other 4 on bed rest. I had a scare with premature labor that had to be stopped with medicines that made me feel crazy. Big deal. It was only nine months.
I'll be a mother—rocking, dressing, teaching, feeding, nurturing, disciplining, and loving my children—for the rest of my life. There are lots of baby-sitters, foster parents, grandparents, and adoptive families out there, but nobody will ever love my children the way I do. And while my children deeply love and trust many adults, none of them can take my place. So please, let's remember as we all work so hard to protect babies from being born with HIV, to work equally hard for the health of their mothers, so we can be there for them, care for them, and see them grow up.
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you today. I realize I didn't always focus directly on the issue of testing, but I felt compelled to share some of the "real-life" stories that can tell us a lot about how to save lives. Make the best decision you can about testing. But remember, when that decision is made there's a lot more that needs to be done to ensure that those who test positive have access to the kind of care that will ensure the well-being of women and their children. Thank you.