So. It’s been a while.
I stopped writing about abortion because I started to feel a little bit overexposed, maybe even repetitive. Hadn’t I said everything I needed to say about abortion? Was it making any difference, anyway? As far as I know, I’ve never converted even a single person from pro-abortion to pro-life. Maybe writing about abortion is not what I’m supposed to do.
I was thinking that way for about a month. I didn’t feel like writing. I felt somewhat disillusioned by the movement, disappointed by in-fighting and egos.
Then I found out I was pregnant.
After I saw those two little lines pop up, I thought I would be inspired to write again. Now that I was carrying a baby, wouldn’t I be motivated to help save some?
But I felt the opposite. I found that I couldn’t stand to see references to abortion or even think about it. It made me recoil instinctively. It was a strong, visceral reaction.
My husband and I tried to conceive for eight months, including one operation on my ovaries and three months of medicated cycles. This baby was a dream come true. I am a worrier anyway, and it was a constant effort to think positively through the anxiety-inducing first trimester. I prayed about 100 times a day. Meanwhile, I was dealing with a physically demanding (for an exhausted pregnant woman) full-time job. I had enough on my plate that I didn’t want to think about babies dying in the womb, and I allowed myself not to.
Then I miscarried.
Since it started happening nearly two weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to share it with all of you, because I think there is a lesson in there somewhere about loving our children before they’re born. About being a mother before your child comes out of you. I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story or not, but I’ve been building up my courage to tell you all, and I think I finally can.
It was the day of my first pre-natal appointment. I was seven weeks pregnant. The doctor told me everything seemed fine and scheduled my ultrasound for one week later. That night, while swimming with my husband, I felt a sharp pain. A few minutes later, getting out of the shower, I suddenly felt vaguely unwell. I actually said to my husband, “I feel like all the energy just went out of my body.”
Looking down, bright red blood on a clean white towel.
I gasped. I said, “No.” I said, “Please no.” I said it over and over. Then there were cramps. Emergency room. In the waiting area, I sobbed and could not stop shaking. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had never been more terrified and miserable in my life. I cried and shook and prayed that this was a nightmare, that I would wake up and everything would be fine.
The ultrasound I had imagined, with my husband and I looking excitedly at the little flicker on the screen, never happened. Instead I was wheeled into the ultrasound room at the hospital, after midnight, bleeding and hurting. My husband was not allowed in. The procedure hurt badly. I sobbed. The results were inconclusive. There was a sac, but they couldn’t see anything else. They told me it was possible they just couldn’t see it yet. I was sent home, told to take Tylenol and call my doctor.
I saw my obstetrician at 9:00 the next morning. In the elevator on the way up, a woman saw my haggard expression, hospital bracelets, and baggy clothes, and asked me, “Did you just have the baby?” I just said, “No.”
The doctor told me they would test my pregnancy hormones that day and three days later, to see if they were dropping. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he told me, but he also told me, “At least you know you can get pregnant!”
I would hear that a lot from well-meaning people. In fact, I would even tell myself that sometimes. But the truth was I wanted this baby. I loved this baby. I had prayed constantly for this baby.
Late that night, I noticed that House Bill 2 had passed in Texas. I saw photos of women screaming and holding signs and otherwise demanding their “right” to kill their babies in the womb after 20 weeks gestation, and I felt a sense of disconnect, of unreality, that I occupied the same planet as these people. I prayed and wept and begged God for the life of my seven-week embryo. I knew it was a life. I knew it was God’s. How could these people not know, not recognize that at 20 weeks?
Over the weekend, I tried to be positive but prepare myself for the worst. I felt better physically, with less bleeding. But that afternoon the doctor confirmed that I was miscarrying.
I thought I was prepared to hear that, but I was not.
The nurse asked if I wanted a D&C or if I wanted to “let it happen naturally.” I was tired of needles and hospitals. I said I’d let it happen naturally. Three days later, after hours and hours of excruciating contractions that left me bawling and screaming into a pillow, I called the doctor and said, “I want the D&C.” No one had told me to expect such terrible pain.
In fact, no one had told me what to expect at all. I had no idea a miscarriage meant so much uncertainty, so much physical agony.
While rushing out the door for the hospital a few minutes later, I passed what the abortionists might call “the product of conception.” I left my blueberry-sized embryo in the toilet. I flushed it. I didn’t even think about it. I still have crushing guilt over that. I was in so much pain that I didn’t even think about the fact that the child I prayed for and wanted and was devastated to lose had just been discarded like a used Kleenex.
I was not asleep for the D&C. I felt everything and I remember everything, and it hurt. The whole time I was in the hospital I thought about women having abortions, about their terror and pain. I thought about the doctors who did it over and over everyday.
But it was over. I felt better. My mom was on her way from Texas to take care of me. My lovely and kind nurse wheeled me out, and to get to the exit she had to push me straight towards and past a family lined up against the wall with their cameras and happy, anxious expressions, waiting for a child to be born. They all looked at me curiously, this haggard and disheveled woman being wheeled out of Labor & Delivery with no baby. I looked at my feet.
“I’m sorry I had to bring you this way,” said my nurse. I said it was fine.
The physical pain was not over. I had more contractions and passed more tissue. The antibiotic I was prescribed gave me bad headaches and vertigo. In short, there was a lot of physical pain left, and I was preoccupied enough that I wasn’t grieving yet, not really. Maybe the pain was a blessing in disguise.
You hear this a lot in pro-life circles: “Once you’re pregnant, you’re a mother forever. Abortion just makes you the mother of a dead baby.” So does miscarriage. And it sucks.
After you miscarry, a lot of random inappropriate stuff happens to you. Or, it did to me. I got a robo-call from my doctor’s office asking me to confirm my ultrasound appointment. I cancelled it and cried. Two days later, a nurse called and asked me if I wanted to reschedule. I told her that would probably be unnecessary, since I lost the baby.
Getting flowers is kind of weird, too. Two very nice people sent me some, and as much as I was moved by the kind gesture, I was also struck by the absurdity of giving flowers to someone who lost a baby. “Oh, something died inside you? Here, watch these die.”
Occasionally, you have to laugh.
People expect you to get over a miscarriage quickly. After all, it wasn’t a “real” baby. And it’s so common! It happens all the time! I’m sure it’s even worse for post-abortive mothers. I’m sure you’re expected to feel liberated, free as a bird. But some part of them must know what has happened, that there was a death.
My sister, who has also miscarried, gave me an idea, and I went through the house and gathered up my positive pregnancy tests, my hospital bracelets, my baby books, the sheets and clothes my friend gave me, and more, and put them in the sweet little hand-me-down crib that sits in our dining room. Later, I lost my mind crying for the first time. I festooned my husband’s shirt with mascara and snot. I begged him to leave me and be happy, said I wanted to die about six times, and just generally made an utter ridiculous fool of myself. It was horrible and I’m glad I got it out of my system.
Yesterday was a bad day, but today was a good day. I slept really late. My headache wasn’t bad. I made café au lait. I cooked ribeyes and bacon and eggs for dinner, because why not? I drank some iced tea and read some Harry Potter and watched The Dirty Dozen with my husband.
And I wrote something. Finally. And it helped.