I stared at the pregnancy
test, filled with relief, sadness, fear, longing, and regret. It said, “Pregnant.”
I tried to take a deep breath. I guess I wouldn't be able to have that glass of wine I had planned after all. In fact, the reason I bought the test was because I wanted to drink, which I hadn't done in a few days because I was worried about my period being so late. Holy buckets. Pregnant! How did this happen?
Oh, that one time I had unprotected sex
and didn't bother taking the morning after pill because I figured I was too old for anything to happen.
I honestly didn't think I could get pregnant, and I spent my twenties doing everything I could to avoid it, including taking the morning after pill multiple times.
Then, in my 30s, I realized I really wanted to have a child and tried to conceive with my partner at the time; I went off birth control for years with no success; and I considered going to a fertility clinic, but the cost was prohibitive.
My inability to conceive in my late 30s caused acute pain and an ongoing sense of loss; when I turned 40, I was finally able to accept what I assumed was my own infertility
; and when I turned 42, I assumed that window had closed.
Then I found myself approaching my fortieth birthday, pregnant by someone I met on Hinge and had four dates with.
I paced and paced, my mind racing, because the thing I'd wanted for so long had finally come true: a baby! Despite the less-than-ideal situation of being without a partner, I never considered having an abortion
. Yes, I was terrified of all the risks of having a child as an older mom, but there was no way I'd pass up this opportunity.
I started thinking about baby names
right away, and before I told anyone, I plotted scenarios of how I'd make it work
. I'd need a two-bedroom apartment, I reasoned. Maybe my parents could help with child care
, or I could ask my nieces and nephews to babysit.
I didn't tell anyone until the following day, when I called my sister and said, "I think I'm going to keep it."
I told a few other close friends
, and everyone was supportive, though some advised me not to make a decision on whether or not to keep it right away; I told them I would think about it to appease them, but I had already made up my mind.
I began to see how people
in early pregnancy should instead lean into their community; if the worst happens, the village will be there to support them; why keep things hidden and face loss alone?
I found it difficult not to share my happy news
with everyone; I wanted to tell everyone, but I didn't even tell my parents or the Hinge guy, whom I hadn't spoken to in two months; I knew I'd tell them, but I felt I needed to wait.
I had heard that you weren't supposed to announce your pregnancy until you were 12 weeks along, and I had people close to me encourage me to wait until that point before telling everyone, but I didn't understand why.
Abortion stigma and miscarriage
stigma are two sides of the same coin. In both cases, instead of viewing reproductive health
as simply that — a component of a person's overall health care
— it's loaded with politics
and morality. One set of events means you're a terrible person, while another set of events means you're somehow lacking as a real woman.
We are told to keep early pregnancies private in order to avoid the pain of sharing our loss. However, I began to see how people in early pregnancy should instead lean into their community. If the worst happens, the village is there to offer support. Why keep things secret and battle
that loss alone?
I was reading on the couch about a week and a half after finding out I was pregnant when I felt a sudden gush of liquid, went to the bathroom, and realized I was spotting. I had my first ultrasound appointment the next day, and I was bracing myself for the worst.
I didn't realize my insides were being projected on the screen in front of me until the technician started the ultrasound. I opened my legs apart to see the image and gasped. It was my very own little nugget right there!
Finally, the technician removed the wand and apologized for not being able to detect a heartbeat, as if she had jabbed me with a knife. I burst into tears, and she took me to a private room so I wouldn't have to wait.
I immediately regretted not telling my parents; I needed my mother now more than ever; why hadn't I told her the truth from the start?
Our culture has a long way to go in terms of supporting people who become pregnant, and that begins with removing the stigma of miscarriage, the politicization of abortion, and the stigma of not having children
I felt ashamed about the people I had told, and now I had to tell them about the miscarriage. But then I began to question myself. Wasn't it a good thing to seek help when something terrible happens? Why should I feel ashamed?
It took three weeks for the miscarriage to occur; I decided to wait for it to happen naturally, and I ended up needing to go to the emergency room; it was traumatic, and I was still hesitant to share with people outside of my immediate circle.
That doesn't negate other people's experiences of becoming pregnant and deciding to abort. Those two truths can exist for different people. For me, I lost someone I wanted to meet and love before they were born.
Our culture has a long way to go in terms of supporting people who become pregnant, and that begins with removing the stigma of miscarriage, the politicization of abortion, and the stigma of not having children at all.
That is why you should share whenever you feel compelled to do so. For me, keeping the news bottled up inside me prevented me from receiving all of the support I required. Other pregnant women
may wish to wait a little longer.
The important thing is that we, as a society, stop telling people they have to wait until some arbitrary predetermined date, and instead begin caring for people at all stages of their pregnancy journey, including pregnancies that do not come to term.
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