Core

**TRIGGER WARNING: Pregnancy loss & abortion. If these subjects are upsetting to you in any way I ask that you discontinue reading. This will not be hurtful to me in any way, but negativity being added to this situation will.**

At tent on Sunday I was vague in my share. I justified being closed off with the thought that I did not want to trigger anyone - and I didn't - but the other truth is that I did not want to be judged. I feel immense sadness and guilt, and did not want it reflected back to me in my safe space. When I needed to crack open and lean into this loving circle the most I retreated.

This has been weighing heavy on me. I believe in writing hard about what hurts. I believe in sharing your pain and your story, so those who have not found their voice yet can find an ally. Hiding felt fake and dishonest. I'm not ready, and may never be, to share publicly but I am ready to trust my tribe.

At the tent before last Carolyn led a beautiful meditation where we were supposed to envision the seeds we wanted to plant for our future. I went to my generic image of my husband, children, and myself in the yard, outside of a small but happy home. As I watched my husband walk into the house I stood to follow, and leaned down and kissed the head of a baby I hadn't realized I was holding. She had crazy black hair, and deep brown eyes. The image of her startled me back to reality. The next morning I took a pregnancy test and the lines instantly turned blue.

I showed my husband, who was supportive of any decision I would make. I texted my best friend who reminded me to breathe. I spoke to midwives who gave me a reality check.
"You're not even 6 months postpartum."
"You hemorrhaged badly." 
"...Dangerous to you and baby."
I remembered.
I remembered...Months of being incapacitated with each of my pregnancies. Loosing anywhere from 10-20 pounds with each baby. Thinking that I would be leaving my own children behind to give someone else their daughter when I delivered Julia. The room covered in blood. The large painting crashing to the floor. The panic in the midwife's eyes. The color draining from my husband's face. Hands frantically digging into my abdomen as needles jabbed into my legs. My vision going black. Being too weak to walk.

I remembered thinking I was going to die.

Just a month prior to this test I was lying on my living room floor, pale as a ghost, because my body was not handling the bleeding from my cycle well. My midwife then reminded me to take it easy, that I was still recovering, and that I had a longer road than normal to healing. I was reminded now of how far I still had to go.  

How could this happen? I teach classes on this. I have NEVER had a mistake. I also know that it is nearly impossible to be 100% accurate when postpartum and breastfeeding. I remembered thinking, the night of a mistake, that it felt like I was cycling twice that month. I remember thinking I was being paranoid. 

I kept my shit together and said I was fine. I acknowledged the truth of what several professionals told me - it isn't safe or wise. I shut down. I got the herbs, tinctures, and seeds and I called The Equality Health Center. I was told I was 6 weeks pregnant. I took deep, cleansing breaths, and I was furious with myself. 

While I waited for a special ordered tincture to come in I debated what, if anything, to say to my boyfriend. I ended up telling him in the parking lot behind his house, in case he wanted to leave after I let him know. I was shaking. How could I let this happen? I told him there was a positive test, and that there couldn't be. When his silence forced me to look up, there was a smile on his lips that instantly broke my heart. "You're pregnant?"
"I can't be..."
"But, baby, you are." He reached out and took my hand. Even with tears blurring my vision I could see him smiling.
"I am. I can't be. Why...What...You're smiling..."
"This is amazing. I'm here for you. Whatever you need to do, I'm here for you."

I explained Julia's birth. I explained my health, since. He understood, hugged me, and we went home. That night I started the herbs, and he rubbed my belly as we fell asleep. As I drove home alone the next day, I finally wept. From there on out my husband and boyfriend were both silent on the matter, except to ask how I was feeling every few days.

The next day a friend posted to Facebook asking for volunteers to escort women into the Equality Health Center the following week, as there would be protests. Tears of rage and guilt streamed down my face. As if this wasn't hard enough. As if anyone wanted to fucking be there. Now there would be protestors for the hardest day of my life. I put my hand through a door, then sat to schedule a new appointment at Planned Parenthood, instead. I knew my friends would be there to support me if I asked, but I didn't want to see anyone I knew. I couldn't take being fiercely loved in that moment.

Despite intense cramping nearly constantly, my body would not let go. As the day approached I reached out to a friend, who walked me through what to expect and offered to go with me. I begun to feel nauseated throughout the day, which meant either the pregnancy was progressing, or I was slowly poisoning myself. Either way, I had to discontinue the herbs. I sat in the shower, with my hands on my belly, and sang a quiet lullaby. When I finished I spoke to her. I told her I loved her, that I was sorry, and that I released her. I told her she was wanted, but it wasn't possible. I told her it may never be possible, and that she could find another family if she needed to come through in this time line. I wept until the water ran cold. This was really happening.

Arturo asked to go with me. I told him "You really don't have to. I have a friend who can come."
"You have me and John. Why would you ever do anything alone?"
"Because we haven't even been together two months. This is...a lot."
"I told you, we're Benjamin Buttoning this relationship. I'm going with you."
John's eyes welled up as I told him about this conversation.

John begun to pace anxiously the day before I went in. The reality seemed to be settling in, and he was angry he couldn't be with me. I was grateful for this show of concern, but still refusing to acknowledge any feelings I was having. This had to be done. I was a spectator, watching myself from the outside. 

As I sat and pulled at my hair in the waiting room I remembered kissing another head of beautiful black hair and nearly lost my nerve. It was too late. The herbs could cause serious damage. There was no 'choice' here and there never was. 

After hours of waiting I was called back. They did an ultrasound, and asked if I wanted to know if there was more than one. I hadn't even thought of that, but said yes. She asked if I wanted to see. I hesitated, but said yes. There was nothing much to look at. A tiny circle. Just one. A blueberry in a dark cave. She told me it was too early to see any form, and I was immensely grateful.

They offered me medication to help with the pain and anxiety. I denied everything except for the minimal dosages of the lightest medications they had. I said it was because I didn't want to feel loopy. I told myself that I should be present for this. I told myself it would help me to process and heal. The truth is that I didn't think I deserved to escape. 

The experience I had kept myself detached from suddenly came crashing down, as I was slammed back into my body by pain. The only other times I had experienced my cervix opening had been to welcome life into the world. Feeling it being forced open by cold steel and piercing needles overwhelmed me with a sense of sacrilege. My womb was being desecrated, and life was being pulled from me. Knowing it needs to happen, and going through with it are vastly different experiences. There are few more primal urges than the will to protect the life within you. I bit my lip to keep from  screaming for it to stop, and then it was over. Something settled deep within me as I became mother to a child I would never meet.

The little bit of medication I accepted did its job. I slept a lot and felt okay that day. I even came up with a theme for tent in 3 days, to honor Ostara - Persephone, and the story of the underworld. 

I finally collapsed when I was alone the next day. Carolyn was an immense help at this point. She guided me through ways to honor the baby, and did the most important thing anyone could possibly have done for me at that point - she acknowledged that this was a loss. She told me I was allowed to feel pain, not just guilt. As I was researching spring Goddesses to choose a name for my baby I looked out my window, through bloodshot eyes, at the falling snow and I remembered the warmth of the sun on my face, just a day earlier as I carried my baby for the last time. I thought of Demeter's grief, and how it froze the world.  I understood how a mother's grief could do just that. At that moment Carolyn messaged me about how Persephone had come to me the night before. Persephone; of course. Everyone loved the name, and so it was chosen.

I remembered her story, and how she was allowed to come back to her mother. A shuddering sob wracked me, as I realized it would be a terribly long lifetime until I held my daughter again.

Carolyn asked if I wanted to change the theme of tent. I didn't. She offered to introduce the topic, which I typically do. I was so grateful for her thoughtful care, as always, but said I would like to try. I might not ever be ready to talk about her, or share her story, but at least this way I could say her name in my sacred space. And so, instead of sharing my own truth, my voice shook as I told the story of Persephone and her mother's grief.