Jay was the first guy I'd dated after a year of dating only women. I was drawn to his compact, muscular build and charismatic smile. We had met a few times in high school through mutual friends, and years later, he reappeared in my living room with an acoustic guitar and beaming blue eyes.
He became a regular visitor to my house due to jam sessions with one of my housemates. The jam sessions turned into Jay going out with our crew on the weekends, which turned into him having a few beers at our house a couple nights a week, and gradually, he and I became an item.
We were both 21 and in search of thrills. Most of our short relationship was soaked in Jim Beam and PBR. He graduated from college that June, and when he asked to move into my house for the summer, I actually believed he wanted to be with me, not that he just needed a place to crash if he wanted to stay in San Francisco. My housemates agreed, welcoming him with open arms. His plan was to work through the summer and celebrate graduation with a trip to Europe in the fall.
We spent our mornings in the bright, sunlit living room, doing yoga and chasing last night's party away with bong rips and breakfast beers. He worked evenings as a server at a cheesy, family-style Italian restaurant, and I worked part-time at a pet store. The few responsibilities we had were sidelined for sunny days lounging in the park and fast nights corralled in dark corners of smelly dive bars.
At the time, I was taking antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Between my meds and my lifestyle, I wasn't feeling much of anything.
In the fall, he took a trip home to visit his parents before embarking on his Eurotrip.
One day, while riding in the passenger seat of my housemate's car, I started feeling really sick. Dog-piss scent filled my nostrils, and I asked my housemate if she smelt it, too. She said no but that she had cleaned up after her dog had an accident in the car a few weeks earlier. The smell was so invasive that I had to stick my head out the window for the rest of the ride.
My housemate suggested I take a pregnancy test.
I racked my mind. My periods had been spotty, but I couldn't be pregnant — I was on birth control. I had recently switched from the pill to a monthly injection because my lifestyle was too unpredictable for me to remember to take a pill each day, despite my mental health relying on taking multiple pills each day. I was doing good for myself, or so I thought. The problem was, I hadn't been careful about waiting out the time needed for the new birth control medication to go into effect.
The next day, my housemate and I sat anxiously around our kitchen table awaiting the results of the stick I had urinated on. A rush of doom stormed down my body and my eyes widened as I saw the double red lines on the stick.
I cried. She hugged. I shouted. I knew I couldn't have a baby. I could barely afford my rent with help from my mom, and I had been relying on student loans for food. My priorities were out of whack, and I was still a child. I knew Jay and I weren't seriously in love; we were more in love with drugs and alcohol than each other. It would be cruel to bring a child into this world, and the odds of this child being born healthy were slim with my pack-a-day habit and diet of whiskey and Hot Pockets.
I picked up the phone and made an appointment for an abortion the following Wednesday. Next, I dialed Jay's number and told him to sit down, that I had something serious to tell him. He (and his brother who had been standing nearby) knew what I was going to say before I said it. I explained my plan, assuring him I was okay. Mostly I was assuring myself I was okay. After hanging up, I took a deep breath and swallowed all of my feelings with an Ativan before heading to work. It was easier to pretend I wasn't affected. It would all be over soon.
On Wednesday, I enlisted the help of my best friend, who drove me to the doctor's office. I stopped in the parking lot for a last cigarette to calm my nerves. Because I was not so on top of my shit, when I signed in, they told me I was at the wrong hospital. I had made the appointment at the hospital in the next town over and hadn't realized it.
I was told they could see me anyway if I waited, so I took a seat. When my name was called, I was escorted into a small room where two nurses began my appointment. They asked me questions about my health and seemed a bit too joyous for what was scheduled to happen. Something seemed off. When they asked if I had planned my pregnancy, I glanced down at the cigarettes in my bag and informed them I was there for an abortion.
For privacy issues, the receptionist hadn't seen the reason for my original appointment and had scheduled a routine prenatal exam. My anxiety rose, and I could think of nothing other that getting out of that room. I was able to schedule another appointment for the following Wednesday before trudging out of there, angry, embarrassed and scared. Again, I swallowed all my feelings with an Ativan and pretended I was okay.
Jay traveled to Europe, and we kept in contact through Facebook messenger. I continued to assure him I was fine and that he should enjoy his trip.
I woke up early Saturday morning to terrible stomach pains. Still high from the night before, I thought it was just gas. I tossed and turned in bed, and when I realized I couldn't fart the pain away, I stumbled to the bathroom, bent over and clutching my abdomen.
There was a thunderstorm through the bathroom window that I didn't notice at the time. My brain was doing funny things. I wasn't thinking clear thoughts, the pain took over all my senses. My vision blurred as my body sat slumped on the toilet for what seemed like hours. I wanted to scream, but didn't want to wake my four housemates. I didn't cry; I was in shock. I felt a wet, runny glob fall out of me and into the toilet. It was yellowy-orange in color and the strangest thing I've ever seen.
My body finally calmed down enough to get back in bed and, exhausted, I slept for hours.
The next morning, after my housemates left for work, the pain began again. Frightened, I went to the bathroom. What happened then is hard to write about. It was death. Shocked, I sat and stared, speechless, thoughtless. Nature took the reigns.
Wide-eyed and sad, I swallowed my feelings and got ready for work, telling myself I wasn't affected.
The following Wednesday, I went to my appointment alone. This time, I didn't need my best friend there. I had already suffered alone; anything else from here on out will be easy, I thought. I told the nurse what happened, and she very kindly told me she'd just like to make sure. I silently sat, tilted back as she spread ultrasound gel on my belly. She confirmed there was no heartbeat or baby. She gave me some advice on what to expect, and we parted ways.
I drove home feeling empty — relieved, yet guilty and sad. It was easier to ignore what had happened and move on. When I look back, I feel sorrow for that lost, terrified girl. She was so strong and brave to go through that alone. I wish I could hug her. I wish she had reached out to someone at the time and released what she was feeling, because sometimes those feelings boil over and it still hurts.
Jay came back from Europe and told me he cheated on me while he was there. He was with another girl the night I miscarried.
I've since stopped the psych meds and am grateful to authentically feel my own feelings. Sometimes it hits me hard that, had I made a different decision, I would be a mother to a six-year-old. Although, it's sometimes painful, I know I made the best decision for everyone. I am happy and healthy, and my life now is completely different than the clouded reality I was living then.