The awful Texas abortion law inspired this piece of writing.
I’ve had an abortion, much to my surprise. I say “much to my surprise” because by the time I needed the procedure, in my late 30s, I seriously doubted that I’d ever have an unplanned pregnancy. I started having PIV sex when I was 19 years old and, barring a year here and there when I was heartbroken or in between relationships or heavily drinking, have been sexually active ever since. And I’d never been pregnant. I’d never even had a pregnancy scare. Never bought a pregnancy test, nothing.
That’s right. I had sex, made love, and fucked around for almost two decades without getting knocked up or even contracting an STI. A lot of my female friends couldn’t believe it. One of them even suggested I must be infertile.
I attribute my success to a serious, even religious dedication to using condoms, along with ten years on The Pill, two years on Depo (“The Shot”) and about eight or ten uses of Plan B, the “morning after pill,” which I always used when the condom broke or when I had sex in an alcohol-induced blackout and could not recall whether condoms were used or not.
(Soapbox break: condoms work, kids. I’ve bought my own and carried them with me whenever I haven’t been in a monogamous, or at least fluid-bonded, relationship almost my entire adult life, and they never let me down. Ladies, make your date wrap it up every time you have intercourse.)
But it finally happened: I got pregnant. My luck ran out, and when it did, it ran out in spectacular fashion. It’s never the right time for an unplanned pregnancy, of course, but in this case, I got pregnant under the worst possible circumstances I can think of outside of rape in a war refugee camp.
The Collector and I had decided that we were going to have a baby in a few years when I turned 40. I know that’s old to have a baby, but it’s no longer rare in this day and age, and we were going to use a surrogate anyway, even though the doctors said that there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to conceive (I have a phobia of childbirth and the Collector didn’t want me to ruin my figure). As I’ve mentioned in other posts on this blog, I’d had my eggs frozen and the Collector had been to the clinic a few times to make his genetic contribution. The ingredients necessary to make a little Margo embryo (or Margo embryos, rather–the doctors said they’d need to make several in the hope that at least one of them would stick, as it were) were floating in a vat of liquid nitrogen. We were looking at surrogates.
Things were going pretty great (if you can call our batshit relationship “pretty great”) before everything suddenly, spectacularly imploded. I honestly don’t know if my relationship with the Collector would have survived the implosion–I think it might have, I really do–but it did not survive my pregnancy.
The family unit was devastated one weekend when we were all together at the family house in his home country. The boys flew back to their mutual schools–I never saw the Younger One again in person–and the Collector and I fucked off back to NYC. I was pretty shell-shocked and spent a lot of time staring out the windows or at the television (I watched the entire series of Breaking Bad and I hardly remember any of it). The Collector spent the next month worried about me, trying to pretend that everything was under control, and raging at his elder son. The brothers were not talking for the first time in their lives, and the entirety of what I’d done, what I’d let myself be talked in to, threw me into a very bad place, mentally and emotionally. I went to the psychiatrist and got on Wellbutrin. I suggested family therapy to the Collector and he told me that there wasn’t a shrink in New York who would take our case if we were honest about our lifestyle and the things that had happened. He was probably right.
I didn’t think much of the first missed period because I actually bled a little at the time I was supposed to. Spotting. I thought it was an exceptionally light period, but still a period. I don’t bleed nearly as heavily as I did when I was younger.
If there were other signs that I was pregnant, I missed them. I had a lot on my mind. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I had no morning sickness.
I missed my second period and didn’t even pay attention until I was over a week late. The thought that I could be pregnant had never even crossed my mind. I wasn’t looking out for it. One day I noticed the box of tampons under the sink and it occurred to me that I hadn’t used them in a long time. A long time.
One day when the Collector was watching me get dressed, he said “Your breasts look bigger.”
“Do they? I hadn’t noticed,” I said, which was true, but suddenly I did notice, and he was right: my breasts were fuller. They were flowing over my bra cups. I chalked it up to hormones; pre-menstruation bloat.
That planted the seed in my head, though, and after I didn’t bleed for a few more days I waited until he was at work and walked to Duane Reade and purchased a pregnancy test for the first time in my life.
Positive. Fucking positive. I sat on the toilet lid in the bathroom blinking at it owlishly for what might have been an hour. I was too shocked to cry.
To me? To me? Pregnancy had happened…TO ME?!
I couldn’t fucking believe it, reader! Could not…fucking…believe it! I was as shocked as if I’d found out I had cancer. I felt as if something freakishly improbable had happened to me, like I’d been struck by a falling meteor, or witnessed a dinosaur walking down the street outside the window, instead of having my body do exactly what it was engineered to do under the right set of circumstances: procreate.
When I could get up off the toilet lid, I walked to the kitchen and drank the half-full bottle of white wine that was in the fridge. When I could piss again, I took the other test, and it was positive, too.
I wondered if maybe I had a faulty box of tests, you know, broken tests, and went back to the drug store to buy more tests of a different brand. I stopped on the way home to buy some little airline bottles of vodka, which I sucked down with fruit juice as I sat on the sofa staring at the art on the walls, waiting for my kidneys to make more urine.
Positive. The tests were all positive.
I took all the tests and wrappers and the empty vodka bottles and threw them away in a trash can down the block. Then I lay in my bed in my room in the dark and wondered what the hell I was going to do, drunk (but not drunk enough) and staring up at the ceiling.
When the Collector came home I told him that I was sick and just wanted to try to sleep, but he noticed the wine was gone from the fridge and came in and sat on the bed and asked me what was going on.
Did I tell him? No, I didn’t.
I didn’t tell him that I was pregnant because I didn’t know who the father was.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear it from the peanut gallery now: Boo! Hiss! But I assure you, I hadn’t been cheating. You can take my word for that–besides the fact that cheating is sleazy, it would have been impossible to do in that relationship even if I wanted to. I simply didn’t have the privacy.
What I had was a Great Big Problem.