Pregnancy is like reading a book I can’t skip ahead in. Until I hit that magical twelve weeks, I can’t plan to go on parental leave and it seems like a waste to buy maternity clothes. I can’t plan. I’m a planner: I live my whole life planning. When I was finishing grad school I got through my thesis, managing the compilation and release of a magazine issue, reading 15 books, and finishing the last of my courses by creating a puffy-paint calendar where I could map out every single thing I did at a granular level.
- Monday: 100 pages of Book 12, finish chapter four rewrite of thesis
- Tuesday: galleys review, skim through course book for class, imitation piece
- Wednesday: catch-up day for anything unfinished, +finish Book 12
I mapped out my life for three months and I finished my thesis a week ahead of time. I was so excited. Projects are stressful, but when they’re projects I love, I like to feel like I’m progressing. That’s how I thrive.
If I fell behind on my thesis, I could move things around and catch up.
If I lose this baby, I can’t catch up on its life.
It’s just over.
I know that the picture is bigger than that. Blah blah blah, there was probably a genetic defect, it wasn’t the right time, blah. But aside from the basics—don’t drink, don’t get hit in the stomach, don’t have a stroke—there’s no prevention for a miscarriage. There’s no early-detection of a miscarriage while it’s in progress that will make it not-happen.
It’s like walking a tightrope without a net. You can fall at any point, and the slightest bit of imbalance can send a life hurtling toward its death.
I read somewhere once that there was a woman who was so heartbroken about her own fertility issues that she confronted someone who had an abortion at a conference and shouted at her for getting an abortion. I understand both perspectives: for the abortion side, the world is already stacked against women on their own; adding extra lives for those women to be responsible for on top of the pre-existing discrimination that exists against them is simply cruel. But in defence of the attacker, the inability to create and carry life when you want to is so excruciatingly painful that it’s difficult not to be irrationally, jealously angry at women who choose to rid themselves of the organisms they WERE able to create.
When I first miscarried I was angry. I was jealous. I couldn’t handle people who were amazingly fertile. I felt better when people acknowledged that what had happened was shit, that the unexpected death of my embryo was stupid and terrible and painful, and that most pregnancy was frustrating and difficult and dumb. This comforted me–because negativity tends to comfort anger.
Or, more accurately, expecting things to be bad takes away any semblance of hope that things might be good. So waking up to find that you feel like shit when you don’t expect the world to be great is much easier to explain than waking up to find that you feel like shit when you expect the world to be rosy.
Of course, I’m the same woman who–four years ago–would have sought out an abortion if I’d become unexpectedly pregnant then, because I knew that even as lucky as my spouse and I were to have at least one well-paying job between us, we couldn’t afford to raise a kid then.
What these situations come down to, on both sides, is a lack of control.
Pregnancy is already a circumstance that is all but uncontrollable. It’s painful, emotionally and physically, especially with people who have psychiatric disorders like me, in particular due to this lack of control. Even when everything goes as planned it can be a terrifying journey full of endless anticipation and constant self-reassurance, which is exhausting, nevermind the existing exhaustion from growing a human in the first damn place.
So why are people so hell-bent on insisting that women shouldn’t have even one slight modicum of control such as abortion? Why do we intend to make an unpredictable process even MORE unpredictable, which ultimately increases suffering?
I anticipate a mutiny of responses if any vocal anti-abortion folks come across this, but to those of you who are here to tell me I’m a baby-hating bitch, I ask that you read my other posts. I ask that you read my initial reflection on my miscarriage. And I ask that you react with love.