I felt really excited as leaving the first day of the Power of Storytelling conference. As the host, Mr. Cristian Lupșa told us, this is the kind of conference where the lights should be turned off so you would not feel embarrassed for crying. ’cause the stories are real-life stories, the kind you relate to and feel tragic through their authenticity. I must admit that the one that impressed me most is Leslie Jamison, although I haven’t yet read her awarded/best-selling novel. Although I take pride in my English skills, I didn’t quite understand everything she said. But I felt the passion, the storyteller involved in his story. She used the concept of “oversharing” as a concept of telling too much of your story. Telling too much is not the issue here, but the purpose of oversharing. The purpose is being pitied?!
This is where I wanted to get because I decided to write about a subject that might fit in the category of oversharing: abortion! So I dedicate this post to all the women that decided NOT to overshare: grandmothers, mothers, and friends.
Stage1: The set
As a young woman have you ever felt like the pregnancy test might ruin your life?! Or hoping for so long that test will turn negative, so you are not feeling joy when you finally decide to have a baby? I know I did! I have heard one of these phrases below so often, that even the thought of them makes me sick:
- She miscalculated!
- I did something stupid!
- My mother wasn’t happy about my pregnancy!
- My husband threatened he will not support my decision of having another baby!
I can now see why Romanian women relate to this better, after years and years of oppression from the communist regime and lack of birth control methods. So many unwanted children, so many deaths, so our generation…
I grew up being told to be careful when leaving out on the date. Being careful meant not being stupid, as stupid is that stupid does. And I tried my best not to be stupid.
Stage 2: The unfortunate news
These things don’t change with age or marital status. So one day, after miscalculating, you find that you are late! You check the pregnancy test and there it is, that second line appears! You don’t have to acknowledge it; you don’t have time for a quick prayer. There is a tiny life growing inside you, and you feel anything but joy. You feel as your own life is over, while another is about to begin. You are allowed just a brief period of adjustment and then you start reminiscing:
- I drank and smoked a lot!
- I am keen on my career right now!
- The pills I am taking might affect the fetus!
Whatever the reason, doubled by the opinions you know you’ll hear, get you to the only reasonable conclusion: You are not keeping this baby! From that moment on your nights will be sleepless, first-trimester nausea will kick in and you’ll generally feel bad about yourself. You blame yourself the most and realize that yes, they were right: You were stupid and brought this on your own! Maybe you have the support of your husband (lucky you!) and may not feel as guilty, still, this is your responsibility!
Stage 3: Taking care of things
You call your gynecologist and let her know your decision. The first thing she will advise you on is to have a confirmation ultrasound. This is when the shit gets real! As no doctor respects their appointment, you have to sit in line next to women chatting about their pregnancy, babies and the latest trends in parenting. And then, when it’s finally your turn, you realize that all of this is real: you see on the monitor the amniotic sack, you pray not to hear the heartbeat yet, but somehow get the whole package. You count in your head and remember that is almost three years since all this made you the happiest woman alive. You take the picture and stare blindly at the tiny creature lost in the grey background as if floating into space. But you feel lost here on Earth and nothing makes sense, nothing counts. You just hope you are making the right decision.
Truth is that you might get all the support in the world, but looking in your son’s eyes tells you the ugly truth: you might have had another child! And this is a conflict between you and your body, nobody can carry the burden!
Stage 4: The loss
Again you find yourself alone or either feel as such! Check into the hospital, fill in the papers and also decide what the hospital should do with the remains. Luckily you do this legally, not getting butchered as your mother did. The heart races and the adrenaline puts pressure on the already stressed out body. The nurses place the IV and you know that soon the anesthetic will kick in. You are told that due to your heart condition they can’t risk a panic attack. By the time you are woken, everyone is busy around you, and you find time to ask the stupid question: May I see the baby? Not my baby, ’cause he/she was never mine. Nobody answers and they try to shift the focus, not wanting to risk my heart. What does anyone know about my heart, my hurt? Now I am grateful for the medicine they pumped in. They keep my mind as dizzy and reluctant as my body feels. A long time from now I will crave having those medicine in a secret drawer at home. I have no such luck and the pain hits me a few hours later. It’s not really an ache of the body is the guilt and emptiness. I feel my tummy knowing nothing is left there, nor will it ever be. You are not allowed to be stupid ever again! I wonder if I am allowed to feel human, I wonder whether I would be allowed to feel sorry for myself …I now wonder if it’s time to forgive myself… “Don’t look back in anger, I heard you say…”