July 20, 2010

Construction Paper Heart

Sitting in that room in a bright blue recliner surrounded by red construction paper hearts with a heating pad pressed desperately and firmly to my lower abdomen and tears drying on my cheeks, I wanted to shout out that I’d been lied to by everyone there. I wanted badly to demand someone take responsibility for being a dirty, lying scumbag. I did not, however, utter a word. I kept my mouth shut because underlying the anger I was feeling, I also felt guilt. Actually, there was a myriad of emotions bubbling under my pale exterior including sorrow, relief, apprehension, and shock. I sat in that recliner knowing I’d made the best possible choice given the circumstances but knowing that never once made having an abortion the easy choice.

In fact, part of me felt I deserved every humiliating, excruciating moment I had endured over the course of the day. Even now, I feel in so many ways, that it could never be punishment enough for making the choice I did. I will live with the fact that I terminated a pregnancy and what that means for the rest of my life, and I hope one day it weighs less heavily on my heart.

This life as I know it has had ups and downs just as the majority of everyone else’s has. At this point, though, I am a single mom working full time while simultaneously in graduate school. My life is generally divided between my funny, adorable 4 year old, my job, schoolwork, and housework. My free time, what little I have, is divided between writing, friends, and music…activities which often overlap. Most of my days are chaotic at best from trying to cram everything in, and I’m often stressed from not being able to get all I want done in a day.

Being a single mom not only means you’re busy, but, unfortunately, it also means I’m broke as hell. I struggle every month to juggle bills and buy groceries. Sometimes I barely make it. Alright, honestly, most of the time I’m barely making it. I do not receive child support most weeks and the continual lack of those funds has kept me sliding further away from financial stability. Everyone I know keeps telling me it will all work out and my busy schedule from attending school will be worth it in the end. Some days I only make it through without crying myself to sleep because I trust they’re right. Other days I soak my pillow because the light at the end of the tunnel just seems further away all the time.

So, when I missed my menstrual cycle, my period, the crimson tide, or whatever silly name you give it, I went immediately into panic mode. I have no time and no money. I don’t even have health insurance since I had to cancel mine a few months back just to help keep food on the table. Thinking it over on my own in those  first, tense, still-hoping-to-get-my-period days, I knew the person who shared responsibility for the possible pregnancy was not in any better a position than I was. It seemed pretty hopeless and I felt a growing despair as my panic increased by the day.

The two of us, as friends, partners, and responsible parties, sat down to have “the talk” about the now-week-late cycle and positive EBT urine stick results. Needless to say, I was terrified and tearful. He kept pretty calm and the both of us agreed we really did not have much choice. We certainly did not feel like we did. He expressed his feelings about not being in the best financial place and I acknowledged that truth for us both. I have one child and haven’t considered having another and he hasn’t felt the desire to have any children at all. Given both our situations and all the circumstances of our individual lives and our relationship, terminating the pregnancy seemed to be the only option which would lend to less than disastrous results.

Making that decision, even while feeling it was the right decision, still felt so ugly. A lot of people would fault me and likely say those feelings resulted from my mind screaming at me not to “take a life” but those people would be wrong. I know my body was being flooded by hormones urging me to protect the already growing fetus inside me and overall, I kept feeling like I was taking a puppy I’d brought home into the woods to shoot it because I could no longer feed it or pay for its care. But, every time I looked at my child and heard him giggle, every time he hugged me tight, or called my name, I felt even stronger that it was me and him against the world and given our current fight, it wouldn’t be too fair to anyone, especially him, to bring a baby on board.

So, sitting in that recliner after one of the most painful experiences of my life trying to ignore the heartfelt messages of hopeful inspiration taped to the walls around me, I was, indeed, angry on top of everything else. I was angry that no one talks about this. I was angry that none of my friends (except my closest) kept telling me to think it over and be sure. Friends who I know have gone through this before would not step up and tell me what to expect, how it would feel, and how I would feel. Everyone offered to help if I’d keep it…people that don’t even help me now when I can’t even afford to send my child to daycare some weeks. I was angry that all the information I’d gotten from the clinic implied explicitly that it would feel like “bad” menstrual cramps and that I could return to work the next day. The receptionists were extra friendly to deceive me into believing I’d meet with an understanding staff and while most were, the most important wasn’t. The physician himself, the person responsible for vacuuming my uterus, was cold. He wasn’t the least bit concerned or attentive. More over, he was pushing open the cervixes of terrified women of all legal ages like he was working an assembly line he’d grown jaded with long ago.

Some of these girls were sitting in recliners surrounding mine and their faces all let on the betrayal and fear they felt. None of us would talk or even make eye contact with one another while the shame and pain continued to wash over us. Personally, I have not talked to many people about this at all. In fact, only a handful of people know period and of those who do, only a couple know how I truly feel about it all. Talking it over is difficult when it seems impossible to truly express your range of emotions to someone who has never been in your position…even your partner is incapable, it seems, since they will never know what it feels like to carry a child or lose one by choice. To all the girls who shared my pain in the room of recliners, we shouldn’t have let each other sit there in stony silence. I, myself, could have used a knowing hug. We never should have let our mixed emotions keep us from reaching out to one another. To all my friends and not yet friends, I’ll listen and cry with you if you ever need an understanding ear. I won’t shut you out and I’ll be honest about what I went through myself. You’ll need it.

To M…you’re always the exception.

To my son…dude, your mom loves you enough to make the toughest decisions of all time so don’t give her too much shit. She loves you infinity plus five.

about me. not really.

dear you,

i don't talk about my child or being a mom. i don't talk about my garden. i won't mention my craftiness (often) or how much i save each week with coupons. if you're looking for that sort of thing, you're in the wrong place.

instead, let's abandon the tethers of domestication for a moment and remember what it's like to laugh at vulgarity and the world at large.

xo,

j

talk amongst ourselves


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