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.
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.