My post yesterday, as well as the general time of year, got me thinking pretty hard about the events of last year. I have debated a post similar to this for a while now, and still am uncertain about if telling this story to you all is the right thing. I realize that some of you may be offended by this story, and for that I do apologize. I do not mean to upset anyone, challenge anyone's beliefs, or stir up controversy. The only thing I want to do here is tell the truth, in hopes that by doing so, I can help someone else. Please, please do not chastise me or comment/send emails with pro-life messages. I 100% respect the opinions of others on this matter, and ask that you respect mine as well. I hope that I do not lose any readers due to this post, but recognize that some people feel very strongly about things. I will not, however, let that keep me from telling my story, as this blog is nothing if not my honest account of pregnancy and motherhood. Ok, here goes.
It was April 28th, 2009. I was on my way home from babysitting, heart racing, palms sweating. My period was nearly a week late, and for someone on the pill, this is unusual. It had been late on and off lately (a sure sign, I would later learn, that your hormonal birth control was failing to do it's job!), so I shouldn't have been as concerned as I was, but driving home, pregnancy test in purse, I just knew. I was pregnant.
I got home and raced upstairs, spouting a quick hello to D where he sat on the couch, watching ESPN. I made some small talk and then excused myself to the bathroom, not being able to wait a second longer to confirm what I already knew in my heart. Sure enough, not 30 seconds later, a faint second line appeared.
"Uh, you have to come in here right now," I told him, appearing in the doorway, tears pouring down my cheek. Even then, through the fear of the unknown, the tears were hopeful. They were fearful as well, but there was joy there.
It's obvious by my blog title alone that we weren't planning to become parents just yet. D and I are not married, though we've lived together nearly two years, and have been together nearly three. In all of my childhood fantasies, the big, white dress always came first. And I wanted a big fairy tale wedding. I did. But the most predominant of all my childhood fantasies? Becoming a mother. I had wanted to be a mother as long as I could remember. I played elaborately with my baby dolls, sometimes creating families of nine or more children, all with beautiful little girl names like Gabriella, Isabella, Dominique. Never was I the parent of a little boy in my fantasies, strangely enough. I attribute this to being so close with my mother growing up, but all I ever wanted out of life was to have a daughter.
Flash back to April 28. D didn't think we were ready. What would his parents say? How would we afford this? What would this do to our relationship? I quickly found myself driving around Austin in my car, unable to be near him at home. I called my mother, as I so often do when I find myself needing advice. I told her I was pregnant, and that I would be keeping the baby. That was the only thing I knew for sure.
Somehow over the course of the next few days, amidst doctor's appointments and working long hours, I lost this certainty. Whether it was the stark contrast of our reactions, or my own fear of the possibility of going it alone, I can't say for sure. All I know is that where I once felt certain, unwavering resolve, I started to weaken. Did I want to lose D? Could we afford this? Would I be sacrificing my fairy tale ending? (It pains me now to admit these things - to admit that I was so concerned with having a life lived in a certain order.)
Once my pregnancy was confirmed, I felt even more lost. My family was supportive; excited, even. There was no negativity about my unwed, pregnant status to them. It's not like D had been a one-night stand. Hell, we'd even talked about getting married (abstractly, not date-setting chats) in the months prior, so it wasn't like we weren't serious. We lived together, owned a home, were doing well enough financially. I had recently paid off every cent of credit card debt, and he maintains a zero balance, so we had that on our side. So why weren't we ready, I would ask myself? It quickly turned us against one another, with no one being in the right.
I scheduled an appointment with my would-be OBGYN, Dr. R, for May 15th, when I would be 7 weeks pregnant. It was early, yes, but I wanted to see the baby. Wanted to hear the heartbeat. To be entirely truthful, I wanted him to see it with his own eyes, to make him/her real to him. I thought that there was no way if he heard that tiny heartbeat he wouldn't want to go on this journey with me. Fearing that I was wrong, though, I scheduled a second appointment for the next day. An appointment to terminate the pregnancy, given that he didn't come around. It wasn't to placate him, or to save our relationship, just so we're clear. I just thought that if we couldn't get on the same page about this, that I would never be able to forgive him. That it would be over for us. And I was terrified to go it alone.
May 15th, 2009. We heard the baby's heartbeat. It was 120, right on target. I cried. D looked terrified, but was kind and supportive. We left the appointment feeling just as confused as before. Knowing that I had mere hours to make a decision, I prayed and prayed and prayed. I had made the appointment to terminate always reminding myself that I could cancel at any time. It didn't mean I had to go through with it. This was the only thought that could console me. I cried, and cried, and cried. I couldn't eat, could barely sleep, and spent the days between April 28th and May 15th in a state of hysteria. I cried inconsolably, while D tried to comfort me. I wouldn't let him. How could I? And then, I thought about it long and hard. I stayed in bed the rest of the day, alternately weeping and allowing myself to imagine both situations. And I asked myself, What if this is my baby girl? What if later in life, not having had this baby, I ended up with a family other than the one I have now, other than the one I am supposed to have? I felt so strongly the baby was a girl from the very first second I knew, and I couldn't give that up. I couldn't give up being a mother. My first Mother's Day came and went, tearfully, as I pondered what to do. And I remembered what I'd always known to be true. To trust your heart. What was the very first thing I felt (besides fear) when I saw those two lines? Love. I felt love, and excitement, and joy. Yes, I was terrified and panicked and uncertain. But I felt love, and I couldn't let it go. I had faith that I could do this, with or without him, and I picked myself up out of bed and walked out of our room.
"I'm keeping the baby," I told him, with the most resolve I'd ever felt. "And I'm cancelling my appointment for tomorrow." And then I broke down in tears.
As it turned out, the baby is a girl. The baby is Ava. D came around, and we're so much stronger for what we endured together. Our friends rallied, our families were supportive (mine immediately, his later), and together we've come out of this situation ahead of where we'd be had Ava never graced us with her presence.
I pass the clinic I had scheduled my appointment at every single day. It's right off the main highway in Austin, and stands between my home and my job. There has never been a single day that I've passed without thanking God for stepping in and showing me the way to turn. Even now, sitting her typing this nearly a year later, I cannot contain my tears. I am so indebted to Him for giving Ava to me.
Why am I telling you this? When I was in the middle of those few weeks - the darkest period in my entire life - I felt alone. I felt like no one could relate (despite how silly that sounds), that no one understood. Even once my decision was made, I would sometimes peruse the BBC boards when they'd ask the question, "If your pregnancy was unplanned, did you consider termination?" Across the board, the answer was no. I don't mean to call anyone out, but I would always think to myself, Liars. I knew I wasn't the only one who weighed my options, struggling to do the right thing for myself, my unborn child, my family and my future. But it seems that once you've resolved to keep the baby, you forget what it's like to struggle with that decision, and this made me feel alone. And if someone ever reads this, and feels less alone, I'll have done my part to help.
My story has a happy ending. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I did the right thing. In one agonizing decision, I got everything I ever wanted out of life. Ava is everything I have ever dreamed of and more. However, I have always been and will always remain pro-choice, as I believe a woman has the right to choose and that every baby should be wanted. I will say, though, if you have even a shadow of a doubt that termination is the wrong decision for you, it may very well be. There are organizations to help you, people who will rally to support you, and those who are willing to talk (and listen). I would happily offer an unbiased ear to anyone in my situation.