Before I even stood up, the test read positive. My head was filled with a million different emotions and my heart raced a bit, but I didn’t panic and I didn’t cry. Now what? I decided I should finish getting Marlowe dressed and go about my day as planned.
You can imagine this story is pretty long (really, really long) so I’m going to cut it and let you click the link if you’d like to choose to continue reading….
So yeah, here I was… single again, raising Marlowe alone again, and pregnant. My emotions were torn and bounced back and forth between the positives and the negatives of my situation. I so badly wanted a sibling for Marlowe. I so badly wanted to raise another child, and to have a growing family… but I no way thought that this is how it would be again. Part of me was upset, slightly bothered, and annoyed, knowing that: AGAIN I would be going through a pregnancy alone… that I would now, not only be raising one child alone, but two children, by myself. All while Alex would be living his life, with zero responsibility, for himself, just like he always has. That no matter what would happen, that I would be at every single doctors visit, in the labor room, up all night long, and exhausted to no end during the day, with a toddler, and a newborn, without a partner, without someone I could love and trust by my side. I would again be missing the joy of sharing a pregnancy and child-raising with a loved one… I would be fighting to parent alone. My mind continued to jump further into more thoughts of good and bad. Yes, it would no longer be my time, again, my life would be on hold, but there would be another baby. A baby to love, a brother or sister for Marlowe. Marlowe would not be alone. I thought, well now, on holidays and her birthday, and on the weekly visits with her father, she wouldn’t be alone when having to be dragged back and forth. The idea of her having someone by her side brought me relief… and not just someone, but a sibling by the same mother and father. I also thought about the fact that, without this pregnancy now, who knows when I would be ready to have children again, maybe a decade from now? When I’m 35? 40? When Marlowe is much, much older, missing out on someone to grow up with? Well, that’s not how I would want life to be either. I thought about how physically and mentally exhausted I would be. Raising two on my own means less attention for both kids— attention they deserve, attention I could give, but at what cost? But, then I would think about the fact that there are MANY women who are in this situation, with less help, and more children, who not only manage, but thrive, giving their children really wonderful lives. I thought about the fact that any problems I had now with Alex, wouldn’t really change. I mean, what difference would it make? If I had to deal with all the crap of co-parenting with one kid, then two would be no different… it’s a struggle either way. But then, I would grow angry thinking about Alex as a father. Thinking about how I would honestly feel like a bad person if I brought another child in this world with Alex as their father. Harsh, but true. It’s already nearly impossible for me to get a weekly schedule out of him… so much time and energy trying to find out what day he will see Marlowe next. If he doesn’t want to (or can’t) make more time now, if he continue to lie about EVERYTHING and doesn’t help with childcare, and/or help provide enough money now, he isn’t going to do it later. If the pressure of being a father to one kid is already too much work for him, then two will surely be too much for him to handle. My heart was torn between wanting another child versus feeling guilt for having another child by the same, unstable man. But then I would think: I am young and I can do this. So what if I’m exhausted, low on money, and raising another newborn? I’ve done it once before, and I did it well, and I could (and can) do it again– this time with two. I’ve heard many times in the past few weeks: “The universe won’t give you anything you can’t handle”. Well, I knew I could handle this. Many thoughts and questions, but no tears, little fear, and moving forward.
A few days later: I told Alex. He filled the phone with questions. Every few sentences he would question: “Why are you so calm? Why aren’t you freaking out?”. I would respond: “Alex. I’ve been here. I freaked out before. I now know that freaking out isn’t going to change this situation. I am fine and calm because and I can do this, I’ve done this once before. I was alone then, just like I am now, and nothing is going to change that, so why am I going to freak out?”. Just like the first time, he viewed the situation as something to fear, as a financial burden, and not as a pregnancy or a baby– after all: it would REALLY only affect my daily life. We very briefly discussed it a few times, and then decided: we would not talk about it anymore, because no matter how Alex felt or what he wanted, nothing was going to change.
The first time I became pregnant, I did not have health insurance. Until I was able to acquire health insurance (medicaid), my family helped me pay out of pocket for the first doctors visit. (For those of you who don’t know how the medicaid system works: it can take weeks upon weeks to be approved for medicaid. I had very little income— I had left Miami and was living with my brother and sister in law for most of my pregnancy until I could find a (more than) affordable place of my own… I was approved for just about everything the medicaid system could offer me, but it still took weeks until everything was qualified, approved, and put into system. And even after you are approved, the whole system is shoddy at best). This time around, I had no idea how far along I could be, I figured it could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks— thats a pretty big range in the world pregnancy. Even knowing very well each pregnancy is different, I tried to base things on how strong my symptoms were— but really, between breast-feeding and weaning, I knew everything within my body was sensitive and off. I decided to wait, tell very little people, and about two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I decided to schedule an appointment at Planned Parenthood (No insurance, remember?). I called, I scheduled, they give me rates, and told me about price adjustments for people who qualify. A friend came with me, she kept me company, we discussed dinner plans. I told her (about a million times) I wanted a feast with mass amounts of delicious food— but mostly: I just wanted to stop being nauseous. I never actually threw up with morning sickness— I did ONCE when I was pregnant with Marlowe– but only after I ate cheese (real cheese, I never realized how lactose intolerant I really was until a few years ago)— but I do (and did) waiver between wanting to run to the bathroom and wanting to eat every disgusting thing in site.
We wait. Nothing seems real. A million thoughts run through my head and I find myself wondering if I am possibly dreaming. After an hour or two I am called into the office. I disrobe. I lay down. And I wait for the ultrasound tech. She comes in and we proceed. I lay there… waiting and staring… and confused. She has a weird look on her face and like hers, my eyebrows also start to scrunch down with confusion. I ask her what is going on. I honestly forget exactly how she put it, but basically: there is no baby. I ask: “what?” and she begins to explain that my gestational sack is empty. A “blighted ovum“. I am confused and I have no idea what this means. She turns the screen closer to me and moves the ultrasound wand around to show me all the angles. My mind darts back to my first ultrasound with Marlowe. The screen looks so familiar…. but there is no little bean where a baby should be. I tell her: I don’t understand, “but I took a test and it was positive and I have all the symptoms?”. She tells me that if I took a test it would be positive, because I have all the pregnancy hormones in me. I ask her how common this is. She tells me: “I see this a few times a month”. I lay there in shock. I question everything and I tell her: “I don’t know if this is wrong to think and say, but I feel a bit of relief.”
I ask her more questions. Is she sure? Can she tell how far along I am and is it possible that a baby could grow and I will be pregnant? How would she be able to tell if there is no possible future baby? By measuring the sack? What happens next? She tells me: “Does seven weeks seem right?” Absolutely: five days after I had fully weaned Marlowe, a few days off from a night I had calculated as a possibility. She goes on to tell me more about my situation. Somewhere along the way, after I got pregnant, something happened, and a baby did not grow. The hormones were in me, and my gestational sack and uterus would continue to grow and eventually I would miscarry. I could wait for my body to miscarry naturally or I could choose to have a D&C. Knowing: I do not have insurance, the (small) risk of complications, a hospital bill would be incredibly pricey, and especially knowing: I’m the only one there to watch Marlowe 24/7 and (I imagine) a miscarriage would be an emotionally and physically uncomfortable thing to go through: I decide to stay and have the D&C. I go back in the waiting room. Five more hours pass. I am searching the internet for every bit of information I can find. I want medical terminology. I want statistics. I want possible complications of D&C. I want to know if maybe it would be better to wait for a natural miscarriage. I want to know how long I would have to wait. I want to know the side effects of my procedure— physical, yes, but mostly: emotionally. How will my hormones be affected? Emotionally, will it be the same as a natural miscarriage? Will I become depressed? How long will it last? How long will I feel “pregnant”? Why did this happen? Is there really no baby? There is no baby.
I am called in. I’ve decided what pain methods and such I will allow. I decide benedryl and an anti-anxeity pill. I don’t want an IV. I want to be conscious and aware of what is going on. I ask the doctor even more questions. He tells me: it’s quite common and most women don’t know, they will miscarry before they are even aware they are pregnant. This all makes sense.
Almost instantly: the pregnancy symptoms slow and I being feel better. Physically and emotionally: there is a calm. I felt (and feel) a bit of disbelief about the whole thing. Still, I feel so many mixed emotions. I think back to that saying I kept hearing and I wonder “Did the universe know it wasn’t my time?”. I feel relief and part of me feels guilt. There are so many families out there trying to conceive that would be devastated in this situation, but I…. well, I don’t know. I feel a calm and think: as much as I would have wanted a second child, a sibling for Marlowe, things are
probably better off this way. Marlowe happened. I became pregnant, I was scared, alone, tossed back and forth, but I knew: there was no way I could go through with an abortion or adoption. And here we are. Marlowe is here. No blighted ovum, no miscarriage, no complications what-so-ever, she is here and the most important thing in my world.
Yes, I allowed Alex back in our lives, I took a risk on someone undeserving of it, but he is and always will be her father. I wanted a family for her and I made the jump. Yes, he proved again that he was not able to fill the family role that I wanted and Marlowe needed, and he again let us down, but I needed to take that risk— for her and for me. I now know what I didn’t want to believe. I am now (more than) ready to move forward and continue with the beautiful life I share with my daughter, raising her alone. I wake up everyday and I feel grateful for the life I’ve lived and my lessons learned. Things were hard, very hard for a while– with never ending lies, a new break up, the end of a family, raising one child, and pregnant with another, alone. Struggling to stay awake, finding new work, but struggling not to let my morning sickness get the best of me on the overly hot, smoke filled truck, coming home and doing everything I did the night before, but with even more exhaustion. (Not whining, ranting, or complaining– it is what it is, nothing that anyone else wouldn’t be able to handle, it’s life). But through it all– I continued to move forward and smile everyday, and complain about nothing— other than, well, being nauseous. I came to a huge realization over the past year, months, and especially in the past few weeks: I am stronger than I ever realized. I am not looking for anything or anyone. I am just living— Living a life I love, raising a beautiful and incredibly happy daughter, and I am happy. I am really, truly happy. I am proud of the mother I am. And I am proud of the person I am.
I know this story is a lot to share, it’s not a story about a perfect life or an ideal situation. I debated whether or not I would write publicly about this experience, or just let it be another thing that stays behind the scenes of this blog. A few days after posting about having “a story to share”, I was catching up on many of the blogs I’ve missed over the past few weeks and found this quote on a cup of jo, in a post she had shared about being authentic:
“It seems to me that being authentic is being brave enough or just candid enough to be honest about what you are experiencing or who you are, whether it is popular are not. A person gives a gift to other people when they say, ‘This is what happened to me or this is how I truly feel, no matter what the popular belief is about what I should feel.’ Whenever you are honest, you are speaking for a thousand silent people who don’t have the voice to say what they really feel or are really experiencing. So, if you ever talk about [the thing you went through], you will touch a million hearts. Because you are speaking for more than just yourself. You are never alone in what you are feeling. I love you.”
It reminded me again why I write, why I share my life stories (as complicated or as imperfect as they may be), and why I feel the need to be so overly honest about everything around me. I have a few reasons for sharing my story. My main reason is so you know where I am at, where my head is, and how I am doing. That life happens, goods and bads, and unexpected situations. The world isn’t going to stop turning, changing, and throwing unexpected curve-balls, so the best thing I (and we all) can do is to just be happy– with ourselves (and all of life’s ups and downs), to be honest, to breathe in and breathe out, and keep living.
Somewhat unrelated, but I also wanted to share this story because of all the craziness surrounding Planned Parenthood in the past few months with funds being pulled by Susan G. Komen, the largest private breast cancer research group in the country.. and everything else that always goes on there. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life I think we all need to be aware of the good Planned Parenthood is able to do for ALL women, but especially the women in need and women lacking health insurance— which I don’t have numbers or statistic in front of me, but I think we can all agree: the numbers for people lacking health insurance and proper care in this nation (and in TOO many parts of this world) are high. If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood, I might still be sitting here today, suffering with all the physical and emotional symptoms of a pregnancy— with no baby– just waiting for a miscarriage to happen sometime in the near future. I am grateful for Planned Parenthood. With them, I was able to: get the help I needed at an affordable price, with no health insurance. And now, I can sit here today: feeling much, much better (great even), feeling happy, raising my daughter, and no longer wanting to gag at the sight of mushrooms or peppers.