I was 40 and had been married two years when I found out I was pregnant. We had no children and didn’t want any. Things weren’t going well. My husband was told he being laid off from work at some point in the next several weeks, but we didn’t know when exactly. I worked as an adjunct college instructor and made almost no money. I wanted full time work, but couldn’t find it. We were both very stressed out and weren’t getting along. Marriage, I was finding, was not all it was cracked up to be, as they say.
I’ll never forget holding the pregnancy test stick. I was alone in our bathroom and I was just so shocked that my body could actually get pregnant. I had gone all through college in the late 80s-early 90s and my 30s dating all these idiots and breaking condoms and I had never gotten pregnant; I was pretty sure I was infertile.
I heard my husband come home from work and I walked out of the bathroom with the stick. I could’t say the words, “I”m pregnant.” It was like a scene from a movie or something and I couldn’t say the words so I showed him the stick. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “What else?” As though he were asking the universe what else it could throw at him. At him. His initial response was not to express concern about me, but rather wonder why this was happening to him. This was not a man I wanted to raise a child with. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that. I had been feeling sick and nauseous, and now it all made sense. All I knew is wanted my body back. I wanted to be not pregnant as soon as possible. I couldn’t move without thinking that “it”–I imagined a shimmery sea monkey–was always with me. It never left my mind.
I was prescribed RU486 and took one at the Planned Parenthood and then one at home 12 hours later where I lay in bed and miscarried my 5 week old pregnancy over the weekend. It was rough physically, but the stigma of what was happening made it worse. I couldn’t talk to many people about it. I couldn’t tell my parents without hurting them, even though my mother had raised me very pro-choice.
It was sad, but I don’t regret it for a moment. What was sad is that I wasn’t in the position to want and welcome a child. Virtually the only side of motherhood we see in society is a wanted pregnancy (or one that becomes wanted quickly). Very rarely is the other side of the coin shown, although I can’t help but think that unexpected pregnancies are what must occurs at least half the time and have been happening throughout history. My biggest memory was just fear and wanting to to not be pregnant. It was both primal and overwhelming. It made me realize how women’s lives were carved out of their reproductive choices, whether they wanted it to be or not. It is an intensely personal issue, much more so than I ever realized. I feel very fortunate that I had the choice and could safely decide to not be a mother.
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