I am stronger than I think I am.  That is what I tell myself on Tuesday afternoon this week.  I have now been pregnant 4 times and have one beautiful, funny, wild girl by my side.  The human body is an amazing thing and there are so many things that we don’t talk about.  That we worry about the judgement that will be passed for sharing our journey.  Today I write to share a part of my journey and I don’t seek to be judged but rather to share with others who perhaps have experienced part of this as well and feel alone.  

When I was 25 I got pregnant.  Truth be told I didn’t know I was pregnant until new years eve.  I was on the phone with my sister and she said something and I got off the phone and burst into tear.  I am not a cryer.  I thought what is going on, and then I thought when was my last period.  I was on birth control.  I had been dating a guy long distance and he had come to visit in October but it dissolved shortly after that I was dating someone else by now and yes, I was sexually active with both of them.  I took care of myself and had taken the morning after pill twice, despite being on birth control to “play it safe.”  I went to work, worked my shift at the restaurant and then went to Walgreens and bought 2 tests.  That both came back positive.  I was beyond overwhelmed.  I called my mom.  I called my sister and I panicked.  I couldn’t be a mom.  I couldn’t be pregnant.  I had no support system.  The man and I had broken up about 2 weeks prior when I realized that long term it wasn’t going to be a good fit and it was a tough break up.  

Within 48 hours I had made my decision.  Some of you reading this will disagree with my choice.  I would encourage you to keep reading.  Some of you reading this will agree with my choice.  I am not writing this to change anyone’s mind about abortion.  I am writing this because I think the conversation really has nothing to do with your personal beliefs.  I would hope that no one was ever faced with this decision and knows that it isn’t something that I took lightly.  I met with the nurses.  We spoke about my choices and I made my choice.  I will never forget the weeks leading up to that day.  They were long and I harbored a secret unlike any I had ever had to keep.  The weight of the decision was crushing and yes, it took weeks to schedule.   The worst part, I had to find a ride home and didn’t know anyone who could come get me.  I called a co-worker’s girlfriend who I knew and told her I had a huge favor to ask and that I needed her not to ask any questions.  She agreed and let me know that she would help.  

On the morning of my procedure, I went to the clinic via cab.  There were a handful of people outside with signs that said murderer and life has started and the like.  I don’t remember all of what the signs said just that I could feel the hate coming from these people who didn’t seem to know anything about me or my decision.  I walked up the steps and to the waiting room.  Shortly their after I was ushered into a prep room and then into another waiting room.  As I looked around I was one of a few there alone.  It was cold and I was terrified.  How could I have let this happen?  Would my sister ever speak to me again?  Then I heard the girl sitting next to me say to her partner.  We can’t have sex for at least 6 weeks.  Her partner scoffed and said what am I supposed to do during that time.  I almost threw up on the floor.  I didn’t know what to say to this poor girl who was being pressured to have sex right before she walked through the doors to end a pregnancy.  I started to silently cry thinking to myself that this would soon be over.  Praying that it would all be okay.  Telling myself that right now this was my decision and that I had to do what was right for me.  Praying for the girl that sat next to me that she would find a way out of that relationship.  They herded us in like cattle.  Call your name, enter the room, wait 15 minutes, call the next name, enter the room.   I woke up in a clinic bed with curtains between me and the girls next to me.  The nurse came and let me know what to expect, she asked if I had a ride home and I said yes, could I please go home.  She said yes.    I walked out the door and got on to the elevator.  There was another patient on the elevator with me.  She asked if I went to school at the University of Montana.  I said I did (I was wearing a sweatshirt), she said she did too.  We hugged.  It was a very small bit of compassion in a place that will haunt me forever.  As I walked out of the building the protesters were still there yelling at me.  Not knowing that their voices of hate could never breakthrough what I was telling myself.  

The voices of being disappointed that I wasn’t responsible and that I had put myself in this situation.  The voice that I should have kept it all to myself so that I didn’t ruin the relationship I had with my sister.  The voice that if I were braver, or better I could have made a different decision.  Those are the voices that rang and still sometimes ring in my head.  The truth is I did make a mistake but the mistake doesn’t define who I am.  The truth is that I am lucky that forgiveness can be a part of my relationships with my family members.  The truth is that I made a very brave, very difficult situation that is part of who I am but doesn’t tell my same story.  

A few weeks later I went on another date with the man who now is my husband.  Had I not made that decision I don’t know how things would have worked out.  I am very lucky to have him as a partner in crime.  A supporting person in my life.  2 years after we were married, after being together for 4 years we decided that we wanted to have children.  I have no infertility in my family that I know of.  My sister had had 3 children at this point and I thought that it would be a matter of time before we got pregnant.  About 18 months later we finally conceived.  I was over the moon.  The year and a half prior had been difficult at best.  The words of disappointment in myself came back so strongly and vividly that it was a daily battle to beat them back.  I felt that I was being punished by God for ending a perfectly good pregnancy.  About 6 weeks in I lost the baby.  This was more than I could emotionally handle.  The sense of failure that I had was bigger than me.  I didn’t know what to do or how to get out.  My husband asked me to get professional help.  This in my mind seemed to make the failure larger.   Not only could I not get pregnant, or stay pregnant, but I couldn’t dig myself out of this pit of despair.  Gratefully, I did get help and was able to see that life would and could go on.  

In April of 2017 we conceived again and this time it was okay.  Well okay in terms of being horribly sick, exhausted, and a small miracle learning what your body can do.  We were blessed with a little girl in January of 2018 and she is a wonderful, happy, and healthy child.  Being pregnant was not the butterflies and rainbows that I had heard it be but being a mom was.  The amount of love that I had for this child was unbelievable.  More than that my love for my husband and the growth of it was something I hadn’t expected.  It is connecting with someone at a level that I didn’t know was possible.  This fall we decided we would start trying for a second child.  That it would be daunting and scary but that we wanted our daughter to have a sibling. 

Shockingly we got pregnant on the first try.  This is not what I expected.  I expected it to take a while and I had mentally prepared myself for the challenge emotionally of working to get pregnant again.  I went into my first appointment and they confirmed that I was indeed pregnant.  It was too early to ultrasound so I would have to come back in a few weeks to get checked again and at that time we could determine a due date.  I let my husband know and tried not to get too excited.  Two weeks later I found out that the pregnancy was not viable.  That my hormone levels were not rising and that the gestational sack had formed but it was empty.  Surprisingly to me, I knew how to emotionally deal with this loss.  I let the doctor know that I would prefer to pass and miscarry naturally if possible rather than have a D and C.  That I didn’t think that I could go through that process again.  She understood and let me know that I would need to keep them in the loop with what was happening.  I agreed.  10 days later I lost my mucus plug, the next day I bleed and was uncomfortable and then stopped.  

On Monday morning at 8:00 AM something was wrong. I was in pain worse than when I was in labor and I was bleeding a lot.  I called the doctor and let them know that something was wrong.  They first stated that they couldn’t get me in until 1:00 PM.  I let them know I couldn’t wait that long and asked if I needed to go to the E.R.  They said to come in we are going to do an ultrasound and call in the on-call physician.  I got in my car, called my husband and drove to the doctor’s office.  On my way there I realized that I likely shouldn’t be driving.  I called my mom to meet me at the doctor’s office.  After the ultrasound, I met with the physician.  He let me know that my sack was still intact and that he was concerned about the amount of blood I was loosing.  He said we could wait and see if this works out but if it doesn’t you will likely need a transfusion this afternoon.  I would like to go to the hospital and do a D and C so that we can get you on the road to recovery sooner than later.  Off to the hospital, I went to get checked in for surgery.  The nurses were kind and warm.  They were empathetic to the situation and comforting to know that it was all going to be okay.  There was no one protesting when I arrived or when I left.  

Today I sit with a heart full of hope that eventually we will be able to add a family member to our family.  I pray that anyone who is faced with a difficult decision will do what is best for them and not carry the burden of choice with them as long as I did.  I dream that one day we will be able to discuss the gravity of choosing abortion without feeling judgment from those around us but rather seek to understand the path of someone other than ourselves.  I hope that one day we will be able to talk about the difficulty of loss without fearing that it makes us less strong, or less of a woman, or less capable.  So today after all this I ask that you speak kindly to those around you when it comes to their choices, their hopes, and their dreams as you may not know the path they are walking or have walked to get where they are.