“Congratulations,” the doctor stuck his head in the door. “You’re pregnant.” He shut the door.
18, straight out of the mental hospital, barely able to take care of myself – and now this?
I had never had anything close to a pregnancy scare. Always responsible, I carried around condoms in my purse just in case. But something had happened when I went manic. I was reckless, irresponsible and well, crazy. When you’re seeing stars fall from the sky, when you’re knitting them into patterns with your hands, safer-sex doesn’t seem as important as it usually does. I don’t even remember having unprotected sex, but it obviously happened.
It was a hot day and the heat made its way indoors. I met an exuberant worker while I was checking out of the clinic who was so excited about my news that she rambled on and on about her midwife who I could hire. When I just stared at her in disbelief she muttered, “You are happy, right?” I didn’t answer. She got very solemn and drew hearts around her midwife’s name. They were the saddest hearts I ever saw.
At home my mom called my psychiatrist who said I’d have to get off all my medication to have the baby. (Now, in my 30’s, I know this isn’t true. There are a lot of options for a medicated pregnancy, which is the only kind of pregnancy I have.) The medication I was finally adjusting to, the medication that kept me from harming myself. I couldn’t imagine getting off of it. Nine months was a long time. Even if I wanted to give the baby up for adoption I doubted I could make it nine weeks without trying to kill myself – again.
We decided as a family that the best thing for my health was to have an abortion. I don’t remember much of it but what I do remember feels close, like it was yesterday. I remember the nurse being very sweet and at some point during the procedure “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” played, which at the time I thought was very cruel. The procedure was uncomfortable, but the morphine made a painting of roses look like it was swaying in the wind.
The morphine really got to me. When we got home Gabby Giffords was doing her first on air interview after her shooting. I noticed that our voices were about the same pitch, so I imitated her. For the entire interview. I had no idea I was being offensive. Later, after hearing about my impression, it seemed like that was the second worst thing I had done all day.
Now I’m a sane-ish woman in her late 30’s. I’ve had two babies, both of their pregnancies were complicated by a painful pelvic disorder I have when pregnant and, of course, my bipolar disorder. I went to the hospital often and had to take oxycodone everyday while pregnant both times. I had severe post partum depression for about one year after the birth of my second child. She is now only one year and four months old, so, I remember that horror show vividly.
Now, along with worrying about covid and – fucking everything everyone worries about in life, I worry about getting pregnant. Fear it. Knowing that if something happened to my sanity and I slipped again — or just an accident happened with my husband – or worse – I might not have the support and help to have a safe, legal abortion. My grandmother’s sister, Leona, was murdered in a back alley abortion and we are still suffering this loss, generations later.
I can’t take birth control because of the hormones and my bipolar disorder, I can’t have a copper IUD because of my anemia, I can’t get my tubes tied because it might complicate my PMDD. Safer sex is just that – safer. Not completely safe.
My youngest child plays with my hair as I type this. I’m so happy I’m a mom, I’m so blessed and lucky, but I can’t go through another pregnancy.
I do not think I would survive it.