If there’s one thing I never wanted to be in my life, it was pregnant. It wasn’t just motherhood I shied away from – in fact, I was looking forward to being a mother someday in the future. But I wanted to have children, not HAVE children (as I once told my own mother, much to her confusion). In other words, I was planning to adopt when the time came.
From the earliest time I can remember, pregnancy has disgusted me. I compared it to humans allowing an alien parasite to grow inside us and then violently rip itself out of our bodies. Not the hugest fan, obviously. The thought of me pregnant was additionally terrifying. As much as people harp on the whole “beauty of creating life” concept, you generally hear a lot of negative stuff about pregnancy. I mean, think about it – the information people tend to share is about annoying, uncomfortable, or just plain awful side effects throughout the nine months. Then there’s all those lovely birth stories about the long hours of labor, the extreme pain, and the many things that could and sometimes do go wrong. Honestly, I’m surprised anyone wants to give birth at all if this is the stuff they grow up hearing. To me, it was a horrid punishment I hoped I would never have to experience in life.
That’s why, when I got a positive sign on my second round of pregnancy tests, I was devastated. This wasn’t just an inconvenience for me – it was the worst thing that could possibly happen. In fact, I compared this to the other most devastating event in my life – loosing my mother – and ranked it higher. I immediately felt bad for doing so, but still…
As soon as I saw the results, I called my best friend from the ship (the one who had signed off a few weeks ago – told you he would show up again). He stayed on the phone with me for over an hour while I sobbed, sniffed, tried to talk, and ended up sobbing more. Despite the fact that this couldn’t have been easy information for him to process either, he comforted me without a word of judgment or criticism until my boyfriend decided to show up.
Though I had told my friend about my pregnancy fears as soon as I took the first tests, my boyfriend had only found out the night before after we had a long conversation on how our relationship was going nowhere and was pretty doomed to end along with our ship contracts. My friend had done some research for me (having better access to internet and more of a desire to find out the truth) and discovered that the vertical line I received on the first tests was called a “faint positive.” It meant I was either in very early stages of pregnancy or I had already had a miscarriage.
I’m not proud of it, but I’ll admit I prayed hard for the latter. If it could just be an early miscarriage, I could pretend it had never happened and move on with life, free of this cruel consequence. It’s strange and often difficult to look back now at my attitude then. Just goes to show how much this process has changed me.
Whatever the results of those first tests meant, my boyfriend deserved to know that he could be or had been a father. Maybe it seems unfair that he wasn’t the first on my list to tell, but I had suggested to him several times throughout the last month that I could be pregnant and hadn’t been thrilled with his lackadaisical insistence of the contrary. The assurance that I most definitely was didn’t really improve matters. I immediately settled into a deep depression that lasted throughout the rest of my contract, and though I know he tried at first to be there for me and comfort me, I think, in the end, we simply couldn’t understand each other. Both passive aggressive and afraid of conflict, we struggled to communicate about anything important. In his experience, women who got pregnant had their babies and raised their babies and loved their babies, no matter what the situation. He couldn’t seem to grasp why I didn’t shake off my initially negative response and find joy in my impending motherhood. Meanwhile, I was constantly confused and let down by his refusal to give me genuine reassurance that he would support me during this time and in the future.
In a conversation later on, he accused me of being angry with him and even hating him. Considering he was never in the room when I had my meltdowns – which varied from quietly crying at the wall to violently punching and throwing pillows – I was somewhat surprised that he picked up on those emotions. He was right. No matter how much I tried to condition my brain to be fair in my thoughts about the situation – to take equal blame in allowing this to happen – I continually felt like this had been done to me. He would forever be the person who had gotten me pregnant and, as I felt at the time, ruined my life.
Even when I was logical and accepted that I was just as much to blame for this happening as he was, his apparent lack of interest in accepting any consequences irritated me beyond measure. He would continually reference our equality in the cause, yet ignore the fact that I was now left with the responsibility of carrying the child for nine months, financially supporting myself the whole time, painfully birthing the child, and then raising the child while he went on doing whatever he wanted. He even balked the first time I brought up adoption as a legitimate option, yet never once offered to support me financially or to be a present father for the child. So yes. I was quite angry, as much as I tried to hide it. We had already doomed our relationship to end with our contract, and pregnancy had done nothing to solve the many issues between us. Even today, though I am no longer actively angry with him, I struggle to forgive him, not because he “got me pregnant,” but because he failed to take responsibility for his actions.
February was not an easy month. My life became a constant cycle of working and returning to my cabin to sleep, preferring to avoid human interaction as much as possible. Since only three or four people on the ship knew about the pregnancy (and I wanted to keep it that way), I was unable to explain my depression to anyone. Even better, my emotions decided to settle in my stomach, resulting in a constant low-level nausea that made eating the gross ship food even worse. (I’m fairly certain this wasn’t morning sickness though, since I never threw up and it went away as soon as my emotional state improved.) Coworkers began making comments about how rarely they saw me smile or laugh. Similar to the year following my mother’s death, I’m sure I was not a pleasant person to be around. I used Netflix, music, and limited long distance conversations with my two friends and the one sister who knew what was going on in order to stay sane and make the time pass.
I think I felt really helpless being stuck on a ship at this time, but in reality, I made a lot of big decisions in that first month. I had to cancel the next contract I had already lined up, decide where in America I would live for the rest of the year, figure out how I would support myself, and of course, consider what I would do with the baby.
First, let me say that abortion was never even a decision on the table for me. Despite my general detestation of pregnancy, I had always known that if it happened, I would let it happen. I cannot reconcile myself to the idea of terminating the tiny human being I just created simply because I hadn’t meant to. However – and again this pains me to confess – that doesn’t mean I didn’t pray for a miscarriage with all of my heart. I had learned my lesson, I was scared to death, call off the punishment, please! Then I heard the term “induced miscarriage” and my ears perked up.
It could be rather easy. Take crazy amounts of vitamin C. Drink a cup or two of coffee every day. There were simple, “natural,” ways to create your own miscarriage, and I’m sorry to say that I seriously considered them. Practicality set in before my conscience did. These methods were very iffy. There was a huge chance of them failing, and that could result in physical or mental deformities for the baby. That information was followed by a slap in the face from the thing I had been ignoring: trying to induce a miscarriage was no different than attempting to perform my own abortion. The thing I thought I would never even consider was right there in front of me, and I was considering it. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been that ashamed of myself before.
With all other options officially off the table, I was left with two basic routes. I could carry the child, birth the child, and raise the child; or I could carry the child, birth the child, and give the child up for adoption, either to a family member or to strangers. It was that middle part that was causing me the most anxiety at this time. If I let myself think too much about the disgusting process of pregnancy or the excruciating period of labor and birth or the results of those two things upon a woman’s body, I would end up in fetal position under the covers sobbing in fear of the year I saw ahead of me. I never quite got to hyperventilating, but these breakdowns were the closest thing to an anxiety attack I’ve ever experienced. My emotional state was far from stable. No, February was not a fun month.
I suppose it could be easily assumed that my distress at the news of my pregnancy stemmed from a sense of shame at having gotten myself into such a situation (especially if you’re aware of my very conservative upbringing). Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ll be the first to admit that I made some rather poor choices when it came to protecting my own body, but hey, I haven’t made a ton of poor choices in life, and frankly, I’m proud of every single one. I’m not going to blush and lower my head or hide in shame about what I’ve done simply because I’ve chosen a different lifestyle than what my mother expected of me. I’ll own my mistakes proudly because, after all, those mistakes are what make me ME.
More importantly, this “mistake” turned into not only the greatest learning experience of my life, the greatest period of growth I’ve ever had (and I don’t just mean around the waist), but also an unspeakably amazing blessing for multiple people. How can I be anything but proud, not necessarily of the mistake itself, but of what came from it?