My husband and I had an unspoken agreement—if we became pregnant again, we would have an abortion. It’s not that we didn’t want to give my son a younger sibling or that we didn’t see our family with four members instead of three. It was simply the fact that our first child, as much as we love him, completely turned our world upside down. Finally, we had arrived at a point where things “just worked.” He was old enough to not need us hovering over him 24/7, school was right around the corner, and glimpses of our old life (read: freedom) began to enter the picture. Then it happened, exactly two years to the day we found out we were pregnant with our first child. The test was positive.
There were no discussions, no questions to be asked. I swiftly and calmly made my appointment with Planned Parenthood for the following morning. It’s not the picture of abortion you would imagine, or at least not the one that has been repeatedly painted for us. I was not the single teenage girl that had irresponsibly landed herself in a tight spot. I was tracing the brink of 30, with a husband I adored, a solid income, and a well-behaved toddler at home.
In reality, however, this is exactly what abortion looks like. In fact, over 60 percent of women who have an abortion are already married with at least one child. There’s a simple enough explanation to this: with your first child you are blessed with the gift of ignorance. You have no clue what is about to happen to your life, your body, or your relationship other than what you’ve heard from others or have seen on TV. Even then, there’s a glimmer of hope that your situation will be different. We were the lucky ones. I had a gorgeous, healthy pregnancy (I could’ve been the poster girl for “maternal glowing”), a drama-free natural birth, and a baby that ate well and slept through the night from day one. Still, our answer to a second child was a resounding “no.” My husband and I consider ourselves artists and both enjoy and need our freedom. Our little bundle of joy had brought us right to the brink of our comfort zone. What we had worked, any more would be too much, and we knew that. After all, why push our luck?
We didn’t want this. We knew we didn’t want this. Still, we made this baby, together. Were we going to miss out if we did this? Was this the last necessary piece of our family?
Life has other plans, however. While sitting in the Planned Parenthood lobby, staring at the batch of paperwork in my lap, I suddenly couldn’t move. I couldn’t make my way back to the car and I couldn’t go forward with the abortion. I was in an inescapable state of limbo. We didn’t want this. We knew we didn’t want this. Still, we made this baby, together. Were we going to miss out if we did this? Was this the last necessary piece of our family? There was no way of knowing, so I walked out and drove home to my husband, to have the talk we didn’t believe we needed to have.
It should be said that, like most pregnancies, this one came at the most inconvenient of times. We were in the middle of moving out of the country, back to Mexico, the place where our family first began. We had been living in other people’s homes for the last month, and the lack of roots made the idea of another child unbearable. We decided it wasn’t smart to make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances, and that we would do whatever was needed to make having another child work.
Many parents have said that being pregnant with your second child is simply…different. There isn’t the same honeymoon bliss that came with the first, dreams and expectations are replaced with real life knowledge, and doubt is an ever-present emotion. I could testify to all of this, but beyond those feelings, something didn’t feel right. It was as if this baby knew we didn’t want it, that we had considered letting it go, and that knowledge lingered in the air.
I didn’t touch my stomach. We didn’t pick out names. It was as if the baby didn’t exist, though a rapidly growing bump said otherwise.
We continued our plans for the move and finally made the three-day drive from California to Mexico. My symptoms were subtle but present, and I patted myself on the back for handling first-trimester morning sickness on the road so well. Once we arrived, we settled in quickly, finding a home and reconnecting with old friends. Still, something was off. I didn’t touch my stomach. We didn’t pick out names. It was as if the baby didn’t exist, though a rapidly growing bump said otherwise.
When it was time for our first official doctor’s appointment, I knew before he even muttered the words. I watched the small baby on the screen, repeatedly being nudged, without a heartbeat or any signs of movement. Tears began to fall, as the words I had repeatedly pushed out of my own head were finally said out loud “you had a miscarriage.”
I waited for the relief. For the final exhale. After all, this was the child we never wanted, wasn’t it? I felt empty, as my pain was repeatedly met by the stories of those I loved, those who I never knew suffered such a loss. According to Verywell, between 10 and 70 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many women will never even know that they were pregnant but for those who do know, miscarrying a child requires a grieving process. With miscarriage still a taboo topic, despite efforts to bring more women’s stories to light, these statistics can seem inaccurate, especially when you’re going through it.
Though logically I know it was no one’s fault—miscarriage is usually due to chromosomal abnormalities—I can’t blame a child for not wanting to stay where it knew it wasn’t wanted.
I grieved, I buried my baby, and I made the effort to move on. Still, I carry the one word in my mind that can explain it all for me: karma. Though logically I know it was no one’s fault—miscarriage is usually due to chromosomal abnormalities—I can’t blame a child for not wanting to stay where it knew it wasn’t wanted. When I buried what was left of my baby at the bottom of a small mountain beside the sea, I extended my apologies. “If by chance, you choose to come back, this time we will not take you for granted, I promise.”