|Photo by Leigh Temple - Used Under a Creative Commons License|
Often I try to recall what I did earlier in the day before I found out I was pregnant. Had I brushed my teeth that morning or had I forgotten? Did I put lipstick on? Had I done anything out of the ordinary or had I woken up and done the same thing as every other morning, oblivious to the fact that in mere hours I would be crying, shaking, wracking my brain for ways in which to make one of the biggest decisions of my life.
But here and there are bits and pieces scattered throughout my own story that have clung to my very being ever since December 27 2009. It has been difficult to understand why even with the end result, the loss of what I would ever so dearly call my child, my baby, I cannot seem to lay to rest all my dreams of what she or he was and would have been.
As women we are directly exposed to pregnancy, giving birth, miscarriage, having an abortion. Our bodies in each and every one of theses scenarios births something; be it a live child or the eternal memories of a lost one. No matter how different each is there is confusion, suffering, happiness and devastating loss embroiled in our womanhood. Regardless of which way any of these experiences end there is something that comes out of it that will be carried forever.
When confronted with pregnancy and the overwhelming discovery that there is a growing, living, twisting being beginning to grow inside of you, life changes. For me, almost immediately I began to instinctively touch my stomach which was still flat, hiding all signs of what had begun to live beneath my skin. My breasts hurt and the image of latching my son or daughter onto my own flesh constantly appeared in my head. I dreamt of naming my daughter but feared that if she ever discovered the roots of her name she would look down on her mother for her poor taste in '90s films.
I imagined her rolling her eyes and snapping her gum at me, reaching the point where my touch would embarrass her in public. I dreamt of the moment she would yearn once again for that touch, as I did for my own mothers, and would come and collapse into me, reimagining the way I carried her as a baby. One morning I started bleeding heavily. I remember feeling guiltily relieved; my own body had taken the reigns and was making what felt to be an insurmountable decision on my behalf. I had considered abortion -- I was 21, broke, pregnant while taking birth control and six months in to a relationship with a long-haired stoner (who subsequently sat in the abortion clinic waiting room reading a graphic novel, hungry for Taco Bell). But the moment I peed on a cheap looking white stick and saw one too many blue lines appear I felt pregnant. I felt like a mother.
Many people told me that I would fail as a parent. Most often they warned me against parenthood without a degree, a reliable job, owning my own home or the precise assurance that my life would run smoothly. When I began bleeding, thinking I was starting to lose parts and pieces of my child, I decided I would need to go for an abortive procedure. I scheduled an appointment at a private clinic one week later.
I arrived at the clinic with my mother, my boyfriend and my best friend. My mother couldn't quite hide her relief; her 21 year old daughter wouldn't be having a baby unexpectedly, without every "I" dotted and "T" crossed. My best friend was there for me, and my boyfriend for obligation and the free food that would be purchased on the drive home after my 11 week old fetus had been sucked out from inside of me. I made my way into the back and had a very nice anesthesiologist attempt to administer twilight sedation into veins in my dehydrated feet, legs, arm, neck and hands. His name was Steve, he told me. He put his hand on my forehead to ask me if I was okay. I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. As I was waiting for Steve to get a vein the doctor, a brisk looking blonde woman who never introduced herself to me (perhaps there wasn't a good enough moment, seeing as I was strapped down to a table, tears streaming down my face) performed a vaginal ultrasound. I heard her say the pregnancy sac was "still" intact. Steve touched my forehead again.
I woke up some matter of minutes later. I stayed in a recovery room until the nurses felt I was ready to walk. I stumbled out into the office waiting room, wearing what I have since coined the "abortion robe". My mother, boyfriend and friend all stood at the same moment, sharing the same look of love/confusion/concern/discomfort and out we walked. People holding signs screamed, called me a murderer, asked me what it felt like to kill my baby so close to Christmas. We kept walking and made it to my mother's white luxury vehicle equipped with a beige, leather interior (I wondered and worried that I may leave parts of my dead child in between the seams).
We started the car, pulled out of the abortion clinic parking lot. My mother asked if anyone was hungry. My boyfriend, the man who had impregnated me, touched my stomach, had told me he would love me, love us forever, offered that he was in the mood for tacos. We stopped at the drive through, my mother asked me if I wanted anything but I couldn't tell her that all I was wondering was where the pieces of my baby were. Was she or he in a trash can, wrapped in blue medical paper? I looked at the ultrasound the doctor had given me: my before and after. I saw a circular shape on the left hand side, my baby. On the right I saw nothing but a vast blackness; a terrifying night without a single star. I told my mother I was not hungry and
we began our drive home.