Friday, April 27, 2018

Motherhood is a Choice: Part 3

*     *     *

*     *     *

Her name was Coco Lucille. "Lucy."

I spoke to her in my dreams. I envisioned her tiny hands and feet as they might have been one day. Her due date - May 2 - was forever branded on my heart.

*     *     *

*     *     *

When I left the hospital, the doctor gave me his home phone number and asked me to call him if I had any further complications.

By Friday, I needed to call him.

The bleeding wouldn't stop. It had been three days. He booked me to come in for a D&C.

I remember an empty feeling in my stomach, and it wasn't simply from remembering not to eat before my procedure. While I have always argued for the rights of women to have access to medically safe abortions, my personal worldview was that a life was not mine to take, even if it was living inside me.

And though in a cerebral way I knew that my Little Bean was no longer alive - knew that medically I needed to have this procedure - it felt like a betrayal. How could I allow my beautiful baby's remains to be scraped and sucked away from me? Even now, nearly eight years later, I feel guilty that things had to end in such violence.

*     *     *

*     *     *

Saturday morning, Thanksgiving weekend. The local OB/GYN performed the routine procedure to remove what was left of my pregnancy from my womb. When I came around after the surgery, he was kind-hearted. He spoke to me of what to expect next. He said, "You need to know that after a D&C, your body will be very receptive to pregnancy. You may decide that you want to try again right away. If you aren't feeling ready for that, then you should take extra precautions to avoid getting pregnant in the next few months."

*     *     *

We didn't tell anyone about the baby other than immediate family - my mom, my sister and her husband and children, and my husband's mother and sister.

I recall sitting at my mom's dining room table, trying desperately to keep a false face from hiding what my false heart did know. I was going through the motions, passing the turkey, eating pumpkin pie, but inside I was screaming. My mom's siblings, my cousin, and my grandma were all present. This was supposed to be the day of my pregnancy announcement.

For some strange reason, my mom decided this would be a great time to start a new tradition of going around the table and each stating something for which we were thankful. I couldn't believe she could be so unbelievably insensitive. What in God's name did she think Ian and I were going to say? It was the most uncomfortable family gathering of my life. I went home and cried myself to sleep.

*     *     *

That fall, I collected the roses from my garden before the last frost. I've always been far more sentimental than I let on to others. I have boxes of keepsakes - tiny mementoes that mean nothing to anyone else, but that ground me in my experiences and remind me of times of joy and grief in equal measure.

I gathered those roses and I placed every petal in a little bag. In a tiny leap of faith, I decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would give them to her on her wedding day.

*     *     *

Over the next few months, I am not sure how I made it out of bed in the mornings, let alone how I dragged myself to work. My anger seethed, barely below the surface. I was short with my students, and while I gained a small level of sympathy and cooperation after telling them I'd lost a baby, it lasted for a teenage minute and then they went back to being typical teenagers. I had no patience for their antics or misbehaviour. I dreaded going to work every day.

Ian and I barely spoke. We were both grieving, but we didn't know how to talk to each other about it. The chasm between us was an abyss. I remember lying on our bed sobbing with rage and bitterness. I wouldn't let him touch me. I wore my self-loathing and guilt and inadequacy as badges of honour.

Finally at the end of November, after I knew I should have finished ovulating for that month, I broke down and tried to make some kind of physical amends with Ian. I was so scared. I didn't want to ever be pregnant again. Afterwards, Ian held me in his arms and I cried into his chest.

"I don't want to get pregnant if I'm just going to keep losing babies. I can't take it. It would have been better to have continued believing I couldn't get pregnant than to go through this," I told him between gasping sobs.

*     *     *

That Christmas, Ian and I decided we should go away and have some time together. We booked a weeklong cruise to the Caribbean. I arranged to take a day off work just before the school holidays started so that we could get away before the rush.

Our cruise was set to embark at 5pm on Friday afternoon from Fort Lauderdale. I was feeling a bit annoyed as the time approached since I knew my period was due to start the week before we left.

When shark week came and went without a period in sight, I had a funny feeling again. No. There was no way I could be pregnant again. I had been very careful to avoid any kind of intimacy except for the week right before my period. There wasn't any possible chance I could be pregnant.

I don't know what possessed me to make the doctor's appointment. I remember sheepishly telling my doctor that I just had a strange feeling, similar to how I'd felt back in August, that I was pregnant again. The nurse took a urine sample; the results were negative. To this day I'm not sure why my doctor sent me for bloodwork. Maybe it was because he felt sorry for me and didn't want to completely dash my hopes. Maybe it was because I told him we were leaving on a cruise and I didn't want to drink if I might be pregnant.

No matter the reason, I went to have bloodwork done at the lab on Wednesday. I gave the doctor's office my cell number and asked them to call me with the results.

As we sailed out of Fort Lauderdale on Friday evening, I called for my voicemail messages. There was nothing.

We embarked on our week away and I drank a margarita on the balcony, soaking in the sun and trying to enjoy my vacation.

- To be continued -

No comments:

Post a Comment