In 1988, I worked at McDonald’s and made squat for money, but I was friends with nearly everyone there. I started dating a co-worker (not my shift) who would later become my husband. I was monogamous to my partner at the time. I got pregnant but didn’t know it.
At my friend, the manager’s house, I went to the bathroom and found a piece of “chicken” in my underwear. I picked it up out of morbid curiosity. It was about the size of a lima bean. It was squishy. It did not occur to me that I was having a miscarriage. I thought, perhaps this was a food accident. I dropped the “chicken” into the toilet, wiped after peeing, then flushed.
The next day, torrents of blood poured forth from my vagina. I’d never had a heavy period like that. I’d had periods that lasted for 15 days but they occurred sporadically at best. I had no regular cycle. When they did happen, as in this instance, they were ridiculously traumatic. I hated my body for being a woman, for being human.
I told my significant other about what I then suspected was a miscarriage and we decided to get married and raise a lot of babies, wanted babies.
We were married on May 6, 1989 in a church wedding with all the trimmings. I told my dad as I prepared to walk down the aisle that I didn’t want to get married. He said, “I paid a lot for this wedding.” and led me to the front of the church. (In his defense, he didn’t know my secret life either.) On my 21st birthday, June 23rd, I walked away from most of my friends, most of my family, and focused solely on becoming a better person.
In 1990, we began to try in earnest to conceive. We went to a fertility doctor in Northern Indiana. We were tested within an umpteenth of patience. He had decent mobility. I wasn’t ovulating. I went on birth control to regulate my periods.
The cramps, the acne, the invasiveness of the tests, the clomid, Pergonal, thermometers, tracking. All of it invasive to no avail. I cried nearly constantly because this is not how I pictured my journey to motherhood. Why couldn’t I just get pregnant like other women?
Finally, in early 1994, we decided that the best option for us was going to be adoption. We ceased all medical interventions and began classes to adopt a child from the Indiana system.
In June, my father, whom I had a sketchy relationship with, asked me if I’d speak to his wife about something. Sure! She got on the phone and said that her daughter was pregnant again and didn’t want the baby. Would I be interested in meeting the daughter about the possibility of adopting the baby.
She explained that my father and her were already raising one of the daughter’s children and didn’t want another mouth to feed. My husband and I agreed to make the trip to Tennessee to meet with the pregnant daughter. We were not even cautiously optimistic. We were anxiously excited.
The first time we met her, she was a tiny, dark haired, quiet woman. We took her to eat and talked for several hours. When we left, we all felt that my husband and I were a good fit for the baby.
The journeys began. I travelled to Tennessee from Northern Indiana once a month to attend the obstetrician appointments. Each time, we talked about the future of the baby and what plans we were making. It was an exciting time.
In October of 1994, she was living in a small room of a hotel. The man who lived in the next room over was murdered and the hotel was set on fire displacing her. Receiving the news, I rallied my Covenant church to arms. We were able to help her get re-established in a new home with supplies. When next I visited her, I delivered what I’d collected for her.
At one appointment we found out the baby was a boy she gave me the ultrasound pictures. My husband and I decided on the name Jordan Glenmark. We were elated. We created a nursery in Looney Tune theme. I, having never sewed anything, made curtains (Okay, they were really bad curtains, but I made them myself!) We purchased nursery furniture. My father-in-law built a cradle with a spinning cross accent at the head of the tiny bed.
My husband and I found an attorney to draw up adoption papers. We finished the adoption classes and were merely waiting for the final approval. That’s about the time my father’s wife decided that we needed to pay her over $1,000.00 for setting things up. We declined because it sounded too much like buying a baby.
At the beginning of November, 1994, I broke my right ankle in three places while playing tag with the neighbor children. I was in a temporary cast for a couple weeks until the swelling went down, then I chose a green cast with Christmas trees on it, because that’s how long I’d be off my feet.
In late November 1994, the birth-mother developed Preeclampsia a complication of pregnancy. With preeclampsia, there might be high blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine that indicate kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage. Not knowing whether she would deliver in December or January, my husband and I made the journey down for Christmas. It was an uneventful, if not joyous occasion.
She maintained contact and her health seemed to steady out overall. As she neared the end of her pregnancy, I was released from the cast and was approved to drive on my own again! WHEW!
The plan was for me to go down the third week in January of 1995 to await the birth. That Friday the 13th, I went to the Attorney’s office to pick up the papers I would need to present to the birthmother. I arrived home around 3PM. I was so excited! I was days away from becoming a parent, a dream I’d held dear and true to my heart.
The phone rang. It was the birth-mother. She told me she had something to tell me but didn’t know how. I encouraged her to share whatever she had on her mind and we’d get through it together. She was silent for a short bit. I again encouraged her.
“I’ve decided to keep the baby.”
I dropped the phone to the floor and howled in anger and grief. I’ve since seen movies of women wailing. Yeah. It was like that.
I felt as if a piece of my soul had been jaggedly ripped from my body. I completely withdrew from the life I’d been building. I couldn’t breathe much less function. Physically, I felt as if someone had started sawing off my body parts. Emotionally, I was so dark, I couldn’t have found a light if you gave me one. Intellectually, I suspected it could happen but certainly didn’t believe that it would.
The baby boy was born on January 31st, 1995.
My marriage fell apart. The day I left that marriage, I received a call from Indiana’s Child Protective Services that offered us a six year old boy. I burst into tears and declined motherhood.
We were divorced after 7 years and 13 days of marriage.
In October of 1998, I married my second husband.
In March of 1999, I was in excruciating pain. We used the car that didn’t have insurance to take me to the emergency room. We got pulled over because I had a scent-tree on the rearview mirror. Our other transportation was a motorcycle which was fully legal, but I couldn’t ride with the pain as bad as it was. I got a ticket for no insurance despite circumstances.
We arrived at the emergency room, quite late in the evening. They ran a battery of tests. The physician entered the curtained cubicle where I was lying down holding my husband’s hand. “You’re pregnant.” he said. “No. That’s not possible.” I said. “Well, you are.” He said he’d bring me information to follow up this bizarre announcement (I thought it bizarre, he didn’t call it that.)
My husband leaned over with a deep, unexpected anger in his eyes and said, “Is there something you need to tell me?” I was shocked. What did he mean by that? “No.”
Further testing, two days hence went by showed that the pregnancy was not viable. I was scheduled for a D&C also known as a medical abortion. Everything was happening at warp speed and I couldn’t digest anything. My husband took me to the hospital. I was put under, the procedure performed.
They kept waking me up, but I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. My blood pressure kept falling to dangerous levels. I had given up. They forced me to live. I hated them.
Two days after that, they discovered I was still pregnant which indicated ectopic pregnancy. They explained that I would have to have shots to kill the cells growing in my fallopian tubes. At first I refused. I had the false hope that somehow I’d be a medical anomaly. My friend Bean went with me after convincing me it was the best thing to do.
They shot me in two places with medication to destroy the life growing out of place.
My two year marriage did not survive the loss of that baby either.
I’ve not been pregnant again after that. The closest I can figure is that the mumps I had when I was 12 contributed greatly to my not being able to have children.
At this point in my life, I’m reluctantly grateful that I didn’t bring a child into my life. My life has been tumultuous and it wouldn’t have been fair to any kid. I’m okay with how my life turned out. It’s allowed me freedom to come and go as I please. It’s allowed me to be able to make some difficult decisions without complications of custody.
Mother’s Day has been a day of painful reminders and gratitude, a sense of detachment from women around me who have had children or created families. I don’t envy them. I’m happy they were successful at something I was unable to do. I am okay with being child-free.