Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea: I Got Married! Then I Got An Abortion.
Thanks to the little progesterone pills I popped up my vag twice daily, I made it through my wedding without having a natural miscarriage all over my ivory J Crew wedding gown.
A word about the gown: I liked it just fine, but it was really selected for its ability to be transformed into an empire waist dress to hide my belly.
When I bought the dress in May, we were still a couple months away from our first embryo transfer. If it had taken I’d have been five month pregnant at our wedding and really needing something that flattered my baby bump!
As it was, I didn’t have a bump but I was so bloated up with progesterone I was passing flawlessly as a legitimately pregnant woman. Which I had only so recently been, so it was weird when people asked. When the questions first started I would say Yes, I Am Pregnant, but then quickly explain that they weren’t seeing the baby, they were seeing months of constipation.
Then Dashiell told me I didn’t need to be telling that to everyone –- I was pregnant. I could just say, Yeah, I’m pregnant. Then I wasn’t pregnant anymore, but I still had this little mass of cells in me. Then when people asked if I was pregnant -- like the woman who gave me my manicure did, hours after learning I wasn’t pregnant anymore -- I just shook my head no and looked away.
I felt bad for leaving her to shame spiral in the wake of the question you’re never, ever supposed to ask a person –- after all, I looked pregnant! But I couldn’t get into some happy conversation about my pending bundle of joy. What would happen, I wondered, if I said Actually, I’m miscarrying right now?
I tried that at my wedding, when my friend Weezy hissed, “Are you pregnant?”
Poor Weezy, nobody must have sent her the text! I actually didn’t mind telling her. I was, but I’m miscarrying right now. Her eyes grew wide.
I know, I nodded. I liked when people just gave me a quick expletive and moved on. Totally my style.
I was so worried that the miscarriage news would turn our wedding into a sad event, but it was amazing. Tali got ordained as a minister via some crackpot but totally legal website. She burst into tears delivering her sermon about gay rights and then me and Dashiell repeated our vows to each other, which included promising to pet one another’s heads for eternity, as well as pledging to always snug and be snugged.
I feel like I rushed through my vows; Dashiell began his by saying my name in this lovely clear way, and really looking at me, and it made me so dizzy and also I was like –- fuck, why didn’t I do that?! And then we put our rings on each other and I had a hard time getting Dashiell’s ring over her knucklebone and she had to sort of do it but she wouldn’t let me take my hand away, she wrapped her fingers around mine and we jammed that thing on there together.
And then we were married. We went and hid out in a back room together and kissed and caught our breath before going out to greet all the people who had come to cheer us. And they really did cheer us! When we walked down the aisle, holding hands, everyone stood up and started screaming! I hadn’t expected that and it was probably one of the best moments of my life.
Also, when Tali pronounced us married Dashiell did a big fist pump. She hadn’t planned to do it, it’s just how she naturally expresses joy.
After our wedding we stood outside, me barefoot, no longer able to walk in my pumps, and hailed a cab.
My pumps were Lanvin! They cost more than my J Crew wedding dress! But supposedly I’ll wear them forever. I’ve got to wrangle some occasions worthy of these sort of honeyed-rose satin pumps. They don’t go with a lot, frankly.
We took a cab to the room I got us at the Fairmont. The Fairmont is the fanciest hotel in the city and it seemed like we should spend our wedding night someplace really fantastical, someplace that we’d never been and would never be again. I got the room half price on Ootels.com, the bargain hotel website for people who don’t know how to spell "Hotel." Or, in my case, people who make a ton of typos.
It was perfect to lie around in fluffy hotel robes and go through our presents, but it would have been nice if I wasn’t miscarrying and we could have engaged in traditional wedding night activities, like sex. It was Saturday night. My abortion was still five days away.
Why did it take me almost a week to get an abortion? Well, my schedule was a little intense that week but also the Women’s Choices Clinic is only open two days a week. Two days a week! How in the world can that be enough to accommodate all the ladies in San Francisco that need abortions?
Both women like me, whose pregnancies petered out or took a genetic left turn, and women who need to terminate cause they don’t want to be pregnant? It made me think of this book I just read, "Generation Roe," which talks about how scarce abortion services are across the US because of the pressure put on providers, be it legislature or death threats.
They can’t be doing very many each day, either, because the entire visit, from beginning to end, takes about four hours, even though the actual procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. There’s a lot of waiting around.
Though it is ridiculous that providing a basic medical service to women in 2013 should be seen as noble and radical, I do think the work the women at Women’s Choices are doing is both noble and radical, and I salute them. That said, I did not need the intake nurse, Dolores, to talk to me like I was a molested three-year old about to have a body memory.
Her walking-on-eggshells voice, every sentence ending in a gentle up-tone, made me want to die. I’m sure they’ve had to deal with women freaking out in every which way, so maybe this tone and timbre is practiced and often useful, but it made me feel like an infant or an imbecile. I was so happy when Dolores left and one to the doctors came in and just talked like a normal person.
I still felt compassion and sympathy from the doctor –- you don’t have to speak in a baby voice to convey such things. After that doctor left, another doctor came in to introduce herself. She was midway between Dolores and the normal doctor in terms of talking to me like I was having a mental breakdown.
Which I was not.
I was not having a mental breakdown. I wanted this clot of cells taken out of me so I could go on with my life. I didn’t have sentimental feelings about it; once I learned it didn’t have a heartbeat and had stopped developing weeks ago I’d ceased thinking of it as my future child who will grow up and do wonderful things and had begun regarding it as a strange, gelatinous bit of sea life that had washed up on the shores of my uterus. Get it out.
After Dolores went over my paperwork in that voice so gentle it was like a horrible, faint tickle all over my soul I was allowed to pop some Vicodin and Ibuprofen. I can’t believe how many IVF Freelapses I’ve had. Dashiell and I waited around for the pills to kick in, then one of the doctors came in to explain that the Novacaine-like stuff they use to numb my cervix might make me feel dizzy or nauseous or give me a metallic taste in my mouth.
OK, I nodded. The upshot of this is that it’s really strong and I should not feel any pain at all –- if I feel any pain during the procedure I need to let them know. Okay, I nodded.
After a couple hours it was finally time for me to don my assless smock and climb onto the table. It was so awesome that Dashiell could stand beside me the whole time, holding my hand and looking into my eyes. Her face is my most favorite thing on the planet.
I was super doped up at this point, and when they started numbing my cervix I felt a wave of intense, psychedelic dizziness. It’s weird to feel dizzy when you’re lying down. For a moment it felt like the room and everyone in it -– Dashiell and Dolores and the two doctors –- were very, very far away. Dashiell said I turned super spooky white, but then the sensation faded and it was happening.
My Abortion Team’s plan for the procedure was apparently to distract me as much as possible from what was going on. Dolores and Dr. #2 kept up a steady stream of inane chatter, getting us talking about our post-wedding brunch at the Fairmont, where we’ll be going on our honeymoon, our dog.
The pressure to engage was sort of exhausting. I was so doped up I didn’t want to talk. If I made any sort of noise someone –- or all of them –- would quickly ask if I was in pain. No, no, no pain. But I could feel a terrible tugging deep inside, a yanking.
If there was a lull in the conversation, Dr. 2 would look at us wildly and start yakking. My team seemed more nervous than I was. I guess they really must deal with a lot of freaking out or something.
I was glad when it was over and I could be alone in the room with Dashiell, laying there high until it was time to go