Losing an Unwanted Child

Eight years ago this week, I found out I was pregnant. I know, because it was my brother’s birthday, and also because I’m the guy from Rain Man and can remember exactly what I was wearing the first time I saw Jurassic Park, when I was five.

Miscarriage is a common topic for bloggers. Women everywhere grieve through writing, discussing their struggles with infertility, their fears that they’ll never have a child, and perhaps even previous losses. When we know them personally, we weep for these women and pray for them, as we should. We tread lightly and try not to look their way when someone else announces their own pregnancy. Hopefully, we celebrate with them when they refer to their first live birth as a “rainbow baby.” It’s really quite beautiful to see how kind and loving people are to a woman who loses a wanted child.

At 21 years old, married to a lazy sociopath, one year from my college graduation, which I intended to follow with grad school, I did not want my baby. I hadn’t figured out how to take care of myself, yet. I couldn’t imagine another human being relying on me, particularly when I could expect no help from my ex-husband, who I suspected was lying about his employment, again. I was heartbroken that another thing hadn’t gone as planned in what was a pretty wretched existence, at the time. I prayed. I did not pray for the strength to be a good mother. I did not pray for my ex-husband to shape up, as those requests had previously seemed to fall on deaf ears. No. I prayed for God to take it back… to make me not pregnant.

I was supposed to hear my baby’s heartbeat on my 22nd birthday. My first trimester was coming to a close and I needed to pull up my big girl panties and get happy, because there was going to be a baby. I cleaned out a room. I began to look forward to the ultrasound. I tore the tags from the clothes I bought and registered at Baby’s R Us. I tried. In spite of all this, on the first day of my senior year of college, at eleven weeks and one day, my prayers were answered. I started to bleed.

No one ever talks about what actually happens during a miscarriage. I never gave it much thought, myself. I had always just vaguely understood it to mean a woman went to the doctor and wasn’t pregnant anymore. Being on state insurance and having visited the worst emergency room ever, no one told me what to expect. The pain, the amount of bleeding, the baby coming out in the toilet… I had no warning. No amount of prayers reversed the course of the one that was being answered. I had no one with me as I lay on a beach towel and my body ripped apart my child… just as I had requested.

When you lose an unwanted baby, there are no flowers. There are no tears, at least not from anyone else. People still have good hearts, but they’re… well, they’re glad for you. Perhaps they wouldn’t word it that way, but you can hear it in their sighs of relief, in their condolences. Your life is back on course, just a little bumpy, and you’ll get through this… certainly more easily than you’d have gotten through that unplanned pregnancy. Despite any pro-life convictions, they even speak of the baby in less significant terms, as if you weren’t really pregnant. There’s a lot of emphasis on how “sometimes this happens” and “chromosomal abnormalities,” things they would never say about a planned pregnancy. Now, I know each scenario is different, but I promise there is no woman on Earth who wants to hear that the baby she just flushed was probably defective or that it’s “for the best.” In general, it’s a safe assumption that, regardless of the circumstances, you should just keep your fist bump to yourself.

When a woman loses a wanted child, she feels guilt and even betrayal from her body. She feels as though God is punishing her. Years later, when she’s melancholy after looking at an ultrasound photo of equal gestation to her own pregnancy, people mourn with her. For me… well, I quite literally asked for it. I should feel guilt. I should be punished. I should feel heartache when I look at the same photo. I didn’t want the baby and God reclaimed that blessing.

My reasons for asking God to take my child back, have only been validated over the last eight years. My ex-husband is still psychotic and neither I, nor a helpless child, have any ties to him. I had only just gotten to a point where I could afford to take care of myself before my wedding. Despite two incomes, I don’t feel we could fund a baby, even now. Although I married a wonderful man, we have financial and career goals. Personally, I’m still a couple of years away from being in a place where I can properly prioritize the needs and wants of another little life with mine and be a truly good mother. No one talks about what it means to lose an unwanted child, to feel grief and relief simultaneously, even years later. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still weep over tiny overalls as I thank God for the way things turned out… just that I do it confused and alone, as I deserve.

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Thank God I lost the baby.

pacifier on floor

You’re not supposed to say that. It’s one of those unspoken rules.

One of the worst parts of miscarriage is that other people don’t always consider it a baby. I was starting my second trimester. I had just registered at Baby’s R’ Us. I’d have bet money it was a boy. I had a name all picked out that I have no intention of using now. I was supposed to hear his heartbeat on my 22nd birthday. I didn’t. I have a box full of baby clothes that were never worn. Every now and then, I take out some tiny overalls and have a good cry. It was a baby to me. My ex-husband lost his job days before the bleeding started. I was home alone through most of the pain. It broke my heart.

Another one of the worst things about a miscarriage is everyone high-fiving you over it. I’m not a fan of a particular married-in family member in general, but I’ll never forget when she called after her husband received my text message (not her) to point out all of the perks of my miscarriage.

“Well, maybe this is for the best. You can wait until you’re done with school and you both have jobs to start a family.”
Yeah. It’s for the best that I just passed my baby into the toilet with gut-wrenching pain all alone. FUCK. OFF.

Even the ones who truly meant well (and no, she wasn’t one of them) were relieved. They were kind enough to keep their mouths shut about that fact, but I could hear it in their voices… as sad as they were that I was hurting so much.

The absolute worst part about my miscarriage was that even I was relieved. Even then, a part of me knew the man had burned down our house with all our pets inside. He tied the dog to the wall and left him in his own urine without food or water. Said dog still can’t get through bathtime without my ridiculous and terrible singing to calm him, because my ex would scream and hit him when he bathed him. My ex-husband wouldn’t do the dishes because the dishwasher was pretend broken and wouldn’t take the trash out because it was too far. He once left glass in the floor after the cat broke a dish and didn’t clean it up until after I cut my foot on it. I still have the scar. While I was home losing our child, he insisted on going to a birthday party, because he never got to have fun. Then he cashed in my WIC checks for the free food. Not only did he steal and pawn my things, but he wasn’t allowed in his mother’s or aunt’s homes because he’d stolen from them as well. He’d already pretended to have several jobs and I didn’t see that coming to an end. I didn’t even know how I’d fund my own living expenses, let alone a little one’s. I prayed to God that he’d take it back, that he’d make it not so and I’d wake up not pregnant. I wasn’t ready and he was a terrible person. Then I bled… and bled. I screamed and cried all alone in physical and emotional agony, while laying on a towel to catch the blood. At 12 weeks, they should’ve done a D&C, from what I understand. They didn’t and it just all tore through me naturally… and painfully. With every ripping sensation, I knew it was me, it was my body, that was killing my baby and there was nothing I could do to stop it. There’s nothing like the guilt of asking God to take it all back and having your prayers answered.

Today… I wouldn’t change it. Even if I had been ready to have a baby, had been the person I am now with the morals and priorities I’d want to instill in a child (which I knew I wasn’t then)… I’d never wish him on anyone, especially not a helpless child. Gail regularly wishes she’d never told her ex he was the father of her daughter that died at eight months. She knew he had a sick mind for little girls and would still rather live without her little lady than ever have her experience that pain. I’d rather have lost my baby than come home to glassy eyes and no explanation for his unresponsiveness. I was due March 5, 2010. I’d have had a three-year-old right about now… and he’d have been cursed. I’d rather God have kept him.

You’re not supposed to say that. It’s one of those unspoken rules. Actually, scratch that. It’s one of those spoken rules. But God had a plan. I’m where I’m meant to be… and so is my baby.