Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Ying and Yang

In 2003, before the birth of my first child, I experienced an early miscarriage. In some odd way, that first and what will now be my last pregnancy feel related to me.

In the first case, that pregnancy was also "unplanned." After much debate about having children, my partner and I were not "not trying" but also "not actively trying" if that makes sense. Labor Day weekend (how appropriate) 2002, I took a home pregnancy test. We were both delighted and happily anticipated that child. We were both completely devastated when I miscarried. I have to say that next to getting divorced, that miscarriage was probably the most difficult personal time of my life.

When I think about how I might feel after the abortion, I also find it useful to think about my miscarriage. What was so upsetting to me was the lack of control I felt. I wanted to be pregnant and I was not. I feel now like at least I have control over what will happen to my body.

While I felt sadness for a long time after my miscarriage, many of my feelings related to fear that I would never have a child. I am not one who commemorates the anniversary of that pregnancy (although I do still remember the EDD), as other women do. I do not think of that fetus as an "unborn" child watching over me from heaven. I do not find myself looking at my oldest child and thinking he could have an older sibling. In fact, other than times when miscarriages come up, when friends have experienced them for example, I really do not think about my first pregnancy any more.

I sort of think that will be how this pregnancy will be incorporated into my life. I have consciously chosen not to look at the EDD, do not know my exact gestation by ultrasoud and want to know no details. I do not think that I will spend time in the future wondering about the person this fetus might have become. I do not imagine that I will look at my youngest and think that she could have been the middle child. I hope that I will be able to draw on the experience to help other women in the future, since that is what I do in my life.

My husband chose to watch the ultrasound screen during the dating ulstrasound. I could not do that. I have my bodily sensations to make this real. Because I had a problematic first pregnancy I had ultrasounds every two weeks. I know exactly what this gestation entails. At this point in my prior pregnancies, I knew the sex of the fetus and had selected names. I responded to that fetus as a potential person. From the moment I learned of this pregnancy I have felt nothing but unhappiness, not one spark of "what if" or "if only" has crossed my mind. All I have hoped for is a miscarriage so that I would be spared this difficult experience.

In a strange way, I feel like I had no control over losing a pregnancy that I wanted and I now have control over a pregnancy I do not want. They are the ying and the yang of my reproductive experiences.

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