*Editor’s Note: The author wishes to remain anonymous. This article appeared originally on our old site.
I just turned 40. Everyone said this is the year I would feel liberated and alive. I was recently divorced from a physically abusive man and was starting a new and exciting life for myself…until I got knocked up by a much younger man.
I was aware of how neglectful I had been with taking “the pill” as prescribed, so I did what I heard many women do nowadays and I took the “morning after pill.” That should work. The likelihood of getting pregnant was slim to none.
I had already experienced four pregnancies, and although it had been almost a decade since my youngest child was born, I instinctually knew the moment conception occurred. My busy lifestyle allowed denial to kick in and I was able to carry on my daily responsibilities as a single working mom of two and pursuing my PhD. I didn’t have time to consider what was growing inside me. I couldn’t take back my irresponsible behavior, and children to attend to, bills to pay, and a dissertation to write. So, I continued to live in pretend until I could no longer ignore that persistent sour stomach feeling. In my previous controlled and abusive habitat a decade ago, I begged and pleaded with God to bless me with a sibling for my daughter after suffering from two miscarriages. And in this moment I begged and pleaded for freedom. Ironic, isn’t it?
Sure enough, that urine stick projected two glowing lines before my eyes. After I felt chills run through my body and remained frozen for a long time, all I could think about was how unwelcome this baby would be. I had already raised my two children. I endured an abusive marriage and finally got out. I finally had my life together. Or, did I? The reality of my situation was instantly glaring me in the face. I was in a mock relationship; intertwined in a loveless, yet intoxicating situation with a scared little boy who calls himself a man. A baby is supposed to fit into this mess? How would a baby fit into this? I sunk to the bathroom floor and cried and prayed to wake up from this nightmare.
I am a woman claiming her whole life to be pro-choice, but really one who never believed in crushing the heartbeat of an unknown human entity. I was also a woman who was never faced with such a heartbreaking choice. At least not until this moment; a time that was supposed to be a new life chapter free from an abusive marriage and joyously reliving my lost years. So, why was this pregnancy not welcomed into my heart? Was it fear? Did I think I wasn’t worthy or deserving of another chance at happiness? I believe it was the intelligence chamber of my heart waving a red flag. A chamber from a heart that desperately hoped for a happy ending, but the wiser saw the reality. This excuse for a man, whom I fantasized about having a life with, was never going to marry me. He had lied and cheated and just manipulated his way back into my heart blaming it on a mid-life crisis. I knew the truth; I had already been down this road in my ten-year marriage.
My motions from this point became robotic. A call to the doctor to confirm the fate I already knew; followed by blood tests and ultrasounds. At my age and with a history of miscarriages, they treated me like I was a walking risk. I tried to hide my guilty thoughts in front of the doctor, and the days that followed were blurry. I never prayed so hard in my life for God to end this pregnancy and take away this choice from me.
I had raised two children with a man who controlled every fiber of my being. For years I knew I needed to escape from that life. I desperately wanted to believe this time around would be different and maybe I could actually conquer all of the obstacles that were in my way. I could raise another child with this new partner in my life; in a new city, with new hopes and dreams as a new family. I began to convince myself that he would feel the same. That he would finally commit to me.
At the same time I was mustering the courage to share this “joyful” news with the lucky dad and now eager to start planning our new life together, I received a heartfelt email from him with a continuation of his “mid-life” crisis at 31 and his revelation that raising a family wasn’t in his cards. What in the world was he saying? Notorious for his ambiguity, but I knew what he meant. I felt the weight of an enormous wave crashing down on me. I couldn’t share my “happy” news now. The dynamic of this imbalanced relationship prevented me from letting him into my world.
I felt alone. Scared to tell the one person who needed to know, and fearful of being judged if I told anyone else. I continued to cry multiple times a day and at any chance that no one would see. I would shut the door to my office and sob and get down on my knees and pray to heaven that this pregnancy would terminate naturally.
I went to my next sonogram appointment. As I lay there with my feet in the stirrups, I started shaking from head to toe, and I closed my eyes to plead one last time to the heaven above me… The doctor “regretfully” informed me the baby’s heartbeat could not be seen… Huh? “No, God, please no! I take back everything I said! I didn’t mean any of it!” My prayers were actually answered this time. So, why didn’t I feel relief? Why did hearing this news send my heart and soul into a tailspin? Suddenly, the memory of my two other losses came flooding back. Losses that I prayed to God would not happen. This was the finest irony. I had wished my pregnancy away; and now I wanted it back.
I couldn’t call anyone to pick me up at the hospital, so I needed to have the D&C procedure done without anesthesia. The thought of physical pain at this point was welcomed. Anything at all to take away the dreadful, confusing, and hateful feelings I had toward myself. But, I was oblivious to what I was actually about to endure for the next 20 minutes of my life. I was deafened by own screams and blinded by the hot tears streaming from my face and soaking my hair and gown. I prayed that I would float out of my body. I started to shiver uncontrollably and my teeth started chattering. Blackout.
I permitted that physical torture as a way to punish myself. But, unbeknownst to me, the outer body experience taking place that Tuesday morning was only the beginning of a long and windy healing process. Each day I felt a haunting, lingering feeling from inside me. The pregnancy was my fault. The pregnancy loss was my fault. I was a horrible human being. Every night I agonized over my guilt. I’m not even sure how I slept, or showed love to my children, or worked, or got through graduate school. I was moving through life as a zombie. I was un-deserving of any happiness at all. Maybe if I could share this pain, and tell him what happened I would be freed of this jailed emotion?
I prepared myself for the phone call to him and the conversation about to take place, when I was blindsided by a call from him instead. He rarely took the time to call me. But now, he was calling to tell me his father passed away.
As I listened to the shock in his voice, I began to feel a connection; one that filled the void we always had. He needed me. I had never felt closer to him and a hope for our future seemed clearer. With every fiber in my body, I felt his pain. I began to feel a spiritual connection to both him and his father. It was like my pregnancy loss connected me to the soul of his family. Before he hung up, he told me he loved me. And all that mattered in that instant was how fast I could get to him and be by his side.
As I was preparing to go to his father’s funeral, I received a text from him telling me not to come. What? …He doesn’t want me there? Hearing these words felt like a razor cutting through my heart. The love and contentment I briefly felt was buried under yet another wave. As the words sunk in, a piece of my soul died.
In that instant the truth I avoided for so long dangled in front of me. He would never know about the loss we shared. Not now. It would no longer matter to him. In fact, I never mattered to him. All the stars in my life had collided and fallen from the sky. My dreams were disappearing and I could no longer try to solidify the reasoning behind it all.
My mind and emotions spiraled out of control. He wasn’t the only one struggling with loss. I was also hurting so terribly and I wanted him to understand. I wrote countless heartfelt letters and sent meaningful gifts. No response. I begged and pleaded for him to talk to me. Did I do something wrong? I must have. Everything was my fault, but maybe I could fix this one situation and earn his forgiveness. What was I trying to do? Force a man who never loved me to listen to my pain; to understand my loss? Our loss? My self-loathing started eating away my dignity as I tried to win back this man into my life; a man that didn’t want me at his dad’s funeral after years of being in each other’s lives. But, I couldn’t give up. I could not let myself feel any more loss and I lost sight of what mattered most. This continued for six months.
It was on my due date that I wrote to him one last time. In that moment I realized we had been paralleling in our own separate grief. It had all come full circle. He had been grieving the loss of his father. I had been grieving the loss of our pregnancy and his potential fatherhood. But, it was my own dream, and I felt ashamed that I tried to make it his. The writing on the wall had been there all along, but I missed it. It was time to let go and start forgiving myself. I had wasted six months of my life chasing a dream that was never shared. A dream I created to soothe the pain of my loss; one that sometimes I wonder if I will ever fully recover. I felt so guilty from my own thought processes that my judgment became clouded.
I didn’t allow myself to grieve from a very significant loss; one that represented so much other loss in my life. I felt so guilty about willing away this pregnancy, I didn’t permit myself to feel the pain. I was hanging on to something that wasn’t even real because letting go of him meant that my miscarriage was real. And suffering from miscarriage is a tremendous loss. I have forgiven myself for the negative thoughts I had when I was pregnant. I was panic-stricken, and I was alone. I am learning how to be loving and kind to myself, and allowing all of my emotions to be felt.