Friday, March 11, 2005


A Sisterhood of Loss

I was all prepared to haul out my Hill of Shame and display my horrendous collection of UFOs in all their glory and then rejoice as I ripped them back to their original state. Ashes to ashes, ass to the frogpond, and all of that.

But instead I find myself sitting here, mourning.

Warning: this is not a perky post full of amusing terms such as asstrumpet. I'm just sitting here with all of my emotions sitting on the outside and I have a need to write about it. You may not have a need to read about it and if not, that's fine, carry on and I'll be back in the saddle again tomorrow, raging against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and showing off my obscene stash.

But for tonight ...

My friend, previously referred to on this blog as "Stupid", decided that she could not keep this baby. And so on Tuesday, International Women's day, she went to the hospital and had her pregnancy terminated.

That's "abortion" for those of you who are into calling a spade a spade and not just another pretty shovel.

She's not stupid and I regret having referred to her as such, but, well, sometimes my writing has an edge to it and I say what I feel. I truly felt that her decision to have a baby at this time and with that partner was monumentally stupid, and yet now I'm overcome by sadness.

I believe strongly in a woman's right to choose, and I support her decision to end what was causing her so much mental and physical anguish. She was very, very sick. I don't know if there was a problem with the baby but she has indicated that there was, and really, even I'm not crass enough to ask for details or any sort of proof at a time like this.

And yet ... to see someone throw away what I and many other women have so desperately longed for ...

Ya know?

I have never written in public the full details of my miscarriage. It was a much-wanted pregnancy, but I had what is called a "blighted ovum". From what I understand, that means that the egg was fertilized but did not implant. The cells that were intended to become a child fell apart and never coalesced into a fetus. All I got was a placenta.

And so I carried on for eleven weeks, believing that there was a little person inside of me, and acting accordingly.

When I went to have the ultrasound because I was spotting, I could tell immediately that there was a problem by the way the technician asked me a lot of peculiar questions. She kept asking me repeatedly and in a very concerned manner if I was sure I was pregnant. Which of course I was.

And then a very kind doctor came and explained what had happened. And then I went to my GP's office across the street and she kindly and erroneously informed me that the placenta would just fall apart and "pass naturally". During this meeting there was no mention of the two days of intermittent back labour I would go through to "naturally" pass this placenta. I must say that if I ever see that doctor again (she went back to school shortly after this event, hopefully to find out some fucking FACTS) that I would like to think that I will explain to her, quietly and patiently, that it's really not a good idea to withhold information like this from her patients. And then I would like to think that I will punch her, firmly and lovingly, in the middle of her lying face.

Not that I have issues or anything.

I lost the nonexistent baby the week of my 40th birthday and have not conceived since. (No, this isn't meant to be a "poor pitiful me" post; I have the best kid in the world and if she's an only that's fine. I'm happy -- delighted -- and luckier than many.)

I'm not the sort to shut up, either in sharing my anger or my joy (I know you find this startling) and had told many people about my alleged pregnancy. I then had the task of telling those same people about my loss.

I was overwhelmed by the number of women who came to console and then stayed to be comforted in turn as they told me their stories. Stories of miscarriages, stillbirths, abortions. Stories of grief, guilt, regret. Stories of longing. Stories of love and of loss.

I would say that fully half of the women that I know shared their stories with me. Stories of decisions made alone in the dark (because even if they had partners who participated in the decision, it's still a very lonely decision to make). Stories I had never suspected existed.

Stories I hold close to my heart.

I believe strongly in a woman's right to choose. I will fight for that right with every resource I have available to me. I just wish we never had to.

And so, goodnight Irene. And David. And Stephen. And Colin. And Laura. And Hamish (even though you would have been beaten to shit on the playground for such a name). And Sophie.

Goodnight to all of you, and godspeed, little ones.

Thank you for posting this! I'm not sure that the feelings of loss ever go away. I'm not sure if there is evera closing of the door. I am only certain that these decisions should not need to be made in the dark and alone, the way they were 37 years ago. . .
I very strongly believe in a woman's right to choose.
That is very hard for me,sometimes.
I could never terminate,and refused all testing except ultrasound whilst pregnant with my son at 39 yrs.
His was my ninth pregnancy.I lost twins at 12 weeks,A hard and painful labour.My perfect daughter miscarried at 17 1/2 weeks.At 19 1/2 weeks another daughter was born,and lived for 1 hour and 31 minutes.At the same time women were,somewhere,terminating pregnancies at that gestation.That's hard.
BUT,I will always defend a woman's right to choose.To have autonomy over her body and her life.
In Sisterhood. x
I was just watching the episode of Sex in the City last night where Miranda finds out she's pregnant and Charlotte is devestated because she finds out she probably can't get pregnant. Anyhoo...

I had an abortion almost 10 years ago now and though I don't regret it and I still strongly believe in the right to choose, I would never ever ever do it again and I hope no one I love ever has to make that choice. It was horrible. And sadly it's like this horrible dirty secret women like me carry around. Making the choice was terribly sad and the experience made me feel more alone than I ever felt, and now it's this thing I bear in secrecy. My husband and close friends know, and it's not like I want to flit around chatting about it, but it's so sad that I really have nowhere to talk about it.

And now that I want to pregnat, I am so afraid that I lost my chance, that the baby I didn't keep was my only shot, and now the universe is going to serve up a generous helping of payback. And there are undoubtedly countless women like me, and I wish we could all meet up and knit and feel sad and scared together.
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