Monday, December 6, 2010

On unwanted pregnancy.

First of all - let me say that this post is not about those who have been raped.  This is about something consensual that ends up in something unplanned.

My husband and I have always planned on having children.

We had grand plans about how our lives would pan out.

We would move to Maryland and I would take a teaching job (check).  He would work at random jobs until he could find work as a lighting designer in DC, and then we would move back to PA as soon as I had enough experience to do so.  Or we would move to the city (any city) after he made a name for himself as an LD and we'd follow his career.  After all of that (we estimated a five year plan), we would think about having kids.

We knew for sure we wanted to wait five years before even thinking about having kids.

So I was on the pill, and we were married, and all was well.

Then there was this one time where we were in a show and it was tech week and we were incredibly busy and we didn't get my prescription filled when we should.  Not sure if I missed one pill or a few pills, but I figured, I'd been on birth control for years due to some messed up stuff with my monthly cycle, so surely there would be some residual effect for that one or two days that I missed taking the pill.  I got back on birth control asap and went on about my life.

Sometime in January, I found out I was pregnant.

I was devastated.

I think that's an accurate description.

This was not something that I wanted.  I had just started my career.  We had been married seven months.  My husband was teaching at a middle school in Virginia.  Not where we wanted to be at that time, really, but we needed the extra income (or so we thought at the time).  I had no idea how to care for a baby.  I hadn't even liked babysitting older kids all that much as a teenager - it was more of an obligation than something I enjoyed doing.  We had just re-arranged the house so that my husband and I each had our own office with huge desks, our own spaces for being.  What in the WORLD were we going to do with a baby.

I didn't want it.

It didn't help that the entire first trimester I was throwing up pretty much constantly - keeping only Saltines and sips of water down for longer than two minutes or so.  It was tough to even get anything else past my nose.  I threw up in class.  I had a dizzy spell where I had to be sent home.

Being pregnant was NOT fun.  Re-thinking everything about my life was NOT fun.  I could not imagine how I could continue doing the things I wanted to do - the things I thought made me who I was.  Everything was going to end.  Doing theatre together with my husband was most certainly over.

I was angry and frustrated and on top of all of that I had a lot of shame.

You don't just roll over and decide that once you get married it's suddenly okay to get pregnant.  You've spent all of your teenage years avoiding it and scared of it because you know if you get pregnant you're going to be disowned.  Now it's okay?  Now I'm supposed to be happy?

There was a lot of private guilt.

Why couldn't I be happy about this baby?

Why did I have to feel so afraid?

What was going to happen?

How badly, really, was labor going to hurt?

What were the chances of dying in the process?

And at the same time, worrying if the baby was okay.  If I was eating the right things.  If I was doing the right things.  Guilt about how my negative feelings might be effecting him or her.

At first it was easy for me to not think about what was happening to my body as a baby.  I wasn't showing, just puking.  I couldn't feel any movement, I just felt like junk 24/7.

I admit I still have some flashes of guilt about my feelings regarding this pregnancy.  This...unwanted pregnancy.

I never thought about having an abortion, because I had decided I felt abortion was wrong when it came to matters of convenience.  It wasn't like I didn't know sex made babies.

I just felt cheated somehow.

There were people, friends of mine, who were TRYING to have a baby and couldn't have one.  And me.  I missed a birth control pill and now I was pregnant.  Insanity.

Eventually...once I could feel kicking, I became seriously curious about the baby.  I felt...a little different.

Yes.  My life was going to change completely.  I was terrified of labor.  I didn't know the first thing about caring for an infant - I was afraid I would break the baby if I held it...  but I was curious about this little person:

Was it a boy or a girl?  What would his or her name be?

Maybe...maybe we should start thinking about a room.

As I picked out the wallpaper and bedding my heart grew so big.  Thinking about this new life - I was scared, but now...  now excited somehow too.

When the gender didn't show up on the sonogram we went to have a 4D one done.  I HAD to know.  We picked out names.

And he was a boy.

And his name would be Jonah Thomas.  Jonah after "Jonas" in The Giver, who saw the reality of the world and understood the world's pain, and still wanted to be free from the false world around him.  Wanted the truth, even if it was painful.  Wanted to feel emotion and love and to touch snow.  Thomas after my grandfather who had recently passed to the next world.

In the first days after he was born I was so afraid of breaking him.  So afraid of messing up.  So afraid of hurting him or doing or saying the wrong thing.  Holding him wrong.  Feeding him wrong.  But I managed.

Still a skeptic about motherhood, feeling like everything I wanted for my life had been taken away, and guilty about feeling that way, I got up for a middle-of-the-night feeding.

Jonah was crying.  Hungry.

I warmed a bottle and went into his room.  Wallpaper I had chosen.  Clouds and sky on the wall and ceiling my husband had painted.  Little toys and blankets.  I pulled him out of his crib and fed him the bottle.  He was warm in my arms and staring up at me.  I loved him so much.  I realized I had loved him so much from the beginning - that all that shame and horror and worry was me and selfish and mostly just fear about my own ability to take on such a massive responsibility.

After the bottle I put him down on the throw rug (shaped like a turtle) on his floor.  It was quilted and soft... and I pulled out my violin.

I hadn't felt I was able to practice since we'd been home from the hospital.

It was around three in the morning.

I pulled out my violin and my music and I played for that little boy lying there, staring up at me on the turtle rug.

I think about that night often now.  About how my art and my love for my child entangled in that warm and beautiful moment.  About how yes, my life was changing but perhaps...  and now I know it for sure...  for the better.

I cannot imagine life without my son, and I don't want to.

Last night at The Refinery we were talking about Joseph, and how he had a decision to make about Mary.  He could divorce her quietly - send her away to relatives to have the baby.  He could have her stoned for adultery.  Or he could marry her - believe what the angel said about the origins of this child inside her.  Joseph chose to listen to the angel.

And what of Mary?  Her choice?

The angel said - this is going to happen and how do you feel about that?  And Mary said YES.  In spite of a culture of shame.  In spite of her fears.  And her answer changed the world.

I guess it felt like that for me.

I have this son.  He's six years old.

I could have said no.  I could have run away screaming.  I could have terminated the pregnancy.  But he is the JOY of my LIFE!

I know that my unwanted pregnancy was an easy one.

I have an amazing husband who supports me in everything and who was there for me through the whole ordeal.

Lots of unwanted pregnancies happen under very different circumstances than mine.  Lots of women are alone.  We make these choices and then we end up in a place we never thought we'd be.  Not every guy is like Joseph.  Some are, sure - but some aren't.

This isn't supposed to be some anti-abortion post.  I guess it is one.  But I don't want to add more shame to anyone's plate.  We've all got enough of that.  For me this is a post about hope.

About looking at a situation and trying to see that even if we can't imagine the good, there CAN be good.  That pregnancy is scary.  And motherhood is intimidating.  But a baby is...  a miracle.  A magic thing.  When you thought all of the love was drained from your fragile heart - how it can swell at the sight of your child - this is a miracle.

To all you single moms out there - my hat is off to you.  You are true heroes.

To all you guys out there who chose to stay when the going got tough - good on ya.  You are a man of courage.

To all you women who are scared out of their minds right now and have no idea what you're doing or what you should do - and babies seem the farthest thing from happy you could imagine - think about that night I had with my little son and my violin, and know that so MUCH is possible.

My heart goes out to you all.


1 comment:

Heather MacQ said...

my favorite post yet. so true how God has designed it for new life to give us hope, if only we will let him.

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