9 lessons from my wayward child

9 months ago today, I became pregnant.

Pregnant in spite of plan b, nonchalance, magic and my non-pregnancy-inclusive plans. I had no idea. I didn’t feel anything particular, didn’t notice my enhanced sense of smell (except in retrospect).

I didn’t glow.

8 months ago today, I reached up to close a window while doing a phone interview for Octavia’s Brood, and was suddenly in the most acute and life focusing pain I have ever experienced. I understood in a quiet inner way that I only had a few minutes to get myself downstairs, and that I needed immediate help if I was going to live. A friend rushed me to the hospital where I, with no insurance, learned that I was pregnant and it was ectopic and I was lucky to live in a time when I could survive it. And I would be losing my left fallopian tube.

I’ve given myself these long months marked with other griefs to process it myself before writing about it, hopefully birthing some kind of wisdom in the absence of a child-based outcome.

Here are the 9 lessons I have learned, so far, from my wayward child.

Lesson 1: I am special.

I rarely date men (frankly it never seems to go that well, in spite of my earnest pansexual leanings). So rarely that when my dad heard the news, I think he seriously considered the possibility that I was involved in a biblical birth. The game of percentages means there’s exactly a one in gazillion chance that this could happen, both the pregnancy and then the ectopicness of it.

Lesson 2: I am not special.

When I got to the hospital, I told them I was pretty sure my appendix had burst. They said it was more likely that I was pregnant. I was adamant, I made my case of how that was impossible, asked them through clenched teeth to focus on the real problem. They said, “uh huh, pee in this cup though”.

It was a common situation, and I was handled accordingly, with very little gentleness.

Lesson 3: People are complex human beings, and also angels.

I had two that night, humans who stepped over into a beam of light. I will forever be grateful for the convergence of events that led to my strange and lovely support team that night, and getting to see the particular goodness that can emerge in crisis. The nurse wouldn’t give me morphine for a while because of my ‘condition’. It was cold, and scary, the pain was nonstop, and there was a torturous internal ultrasound. I both survived and increased my pain by laughing, and it was worth it.

I am also grateful for my mom’s voice on the phone, helping me face what was happening. There was some time between learning I was pregnant and learning for sure that it was ectopic and surgery would be immediate, my hour of conscious pregnancy. My mom’s voice on the line helped me through that time.

Lesson 4: I am human.

After what I initially called ‘the surgery’, I denied my humanity and tried to carry on as usual. I was in the middle of a book tour. I did several major events, which I powered through, hoping no one would notice I was moving slow and couldn’t do simple things like open doors or water bottles. People did notice, and I told various small lies (an ‘ovarian cyst’ seemed close enough) about what was going on. I shared what I could, mostly because I had to depend on others. Other than my closest friends and family, I actually didn’t know how to say the truth. I spent about a month in tears after every event, overwhelmed by the juxtaposition of the high of my life’s work and the strange irrational sadness inside me.

People kept speaking of the book as a baby, asking wasn’t I thrilled about our book baby. I had said that before, too, but I don’t think I’ll say it again…nothing is a baby except a baby.

Lesson 5: I can grieve like a motherfucker for something I didn’t want, something that barely happened. I’ve written about my choiceful childlessness, I’ve ignored healers and intuitives who felt a baby coming for me.

Still.

I had a few people afterwards who advised me not to think of it as ‘losing a baby’ since it wasn’t a viable birth. I tried that. It didn’t work because when I did my research, it said that there were all the makings of a baby, it just connected to the wrong part of me. If it had connected to the right part, or even a different wrong part, I could be in or near labor today.

After my sister’s miscarriage, my niece, four at the time, said she hoped that the baby found another way into the world. I hope the same for the little mass of miraculous tissue that visited me. I sense the size of it’s soul in absentia.

And in spite of my attempts to logic through it, that little lost embryo made me cry a lot this year. It was tenacious and miraculous in it’s own way. A one in a gazillion kind of lost embryo.

Lesson 6: So many humans have faced unintended pregnancy loss, of kids they wanted, of kids they didn’t want.

And so many people get pregnant even when they take measures not to get pregnant.

Many of the children I love most in the world were unintended, were somehow able to outsmart preventative measures to get here.

A lot of my favorite parents felt disappointed, scared, confused and stressed when they found out they were pregnant.

These stories emerged this year when people learned what I had experienced, and I am grateful to all of them for sharing and normalizing my complex emotional response.

Lesson 7: It’s not the little one’s fault it didn’t find fertile soil. They showed me some pictures, it’s confusing in there.

Lesson 8: Everything does not happen for a reason.

That doesn’t mean you can’t create a reason for everything.

This year, this wayward child, has turned my sense of self upside down, narrowed the number and increased the quality of people I need close to me, made me sloppy and vulnerable, changed how I want to dress, made me favor my left side, sharpened my ideas of what I want to generate in the world, snatched my perfection mythologies away, given me good news to sweeten the hardest days, found me wandering in the dark begging for help, and helped me keep choosing to see and love myself, just as I am.

Lesson 9: Time is the most precious thing. Time is the most precious thing. One month, nine months, an hour, a lifetime. During these nine months life and death came in and out like waves, like always. My wayward child was life moving towards life for a month. My mentor Grace was life moving towards life for 100 years and 100 days. Could it be that they are equal teachers to me?

Time is the most precious thing, choosing to learn in this precious time. Once lived, these hours cannot be returned to me, I determine whether it is a miraculous experience with my attention.

So. Nine months are complete. I declare it miraculous.

12 Responses to “9 lessons from my wayward child”


  1. 1 ALI

    My soul needed each and every word of this poem, of your truth. So much of my own truth is hidden in what I wish was different. Thank you for writing.

  2. 2 Malachi

    This is beautiful, amazing, hard, soft… this is truth in love. Sending so much love and gratitude for you who continues to share and provide a candle light in these difficult times. Thank you and LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVEing YOU

  3. 3 Ellen Paasch

    Powerful words and message. Thank you. I had a Fallopian tube pregnancy that ended in a spontaneous abortion and lost another child when four months pregnant. That was many years ago. The pain of loss surfaces now and again. Your message will help so many as they read your words, most importantly, they will heal and help you.

  4. 4 Jamilia Harnois

    Thanks to you and your wayward child. Love love love

  5. 5 Shruti Purkayastha

    Thank you for choosing to write this and share it with us. It is so important to read– I am taking your lessons, and hearing my own in your voice. SO much love to you and your voice, and your healing.

  6. 6 dSavannah

    Beautiful words. Made me cry. Loss is loss.

  7. 7 Bekkah

    Your lessons bring me solace. I’m thankful my friend shared this article and for her friendship as these lessons apply to any loss. #puravida

  8. 8 Cinthya

    all I could think of reading through this is how grateful I am to you for the many ways in which you’ve assisted the never ending growing of me. I am grateful for your love care strength and wisdom in those moments during those times while carrying Karaya. Me and this child are two months postpartum and a lifetime of appreciation for your being. Thank you for sharing this. Muchisimo amor y cariƱo.

  9. 9 Janice

    My favorite Lesson from your list. #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9…..you get the picture. Each and everyone one of your lessons were powerful and powerfully articulated. Grief is grief, loss is loss….and ache is ache.

    Today, I am missing my mother who left this earth over 18 months ago. I am really missing her…the weeping kind…the on the floor-might never get up kind of weeping. Reading your honest beautiful lessons connected me to your life and loss experiences as well as my own, dear Adrienne. Thank you for writing this with your wide open heart. I am respectful and grateful ….. I am finding my sloppy way up and off the floor. Might even put on my wings for a short flight to the moon and back. Love, Janice

  10. 10 Kyana

    This is truly powerful and moving. Thank you.

  11. 11 patchwork

    Thank you for sharing with and offering to us the pain and wisdom in your experience. Thinking about my big sis who was life hurtling toward life for seven months and feeling gratitude that there are constellations, loved up clusters of cells and stars floating, acquainting, guiding us and each other. ?? Also so much love for another slow mover in a fast world.xo

  12. 12 Danielle

    Hi Adrienne, I don’t know you but found this post through an Internet wormhole :) I had to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy a few months ago, and it was just a terrible thing. Thank you for sharing your story, I am so hungry for stories about pregnancy loss bc it is often kept secret. There’s a lot I want to write about it, and I have been, and stories like yours give me courage <3

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