After our fateful ultrasound, the world crashed down. Hard. As the bravest decision of our lives dangled in front of us like a slimy, blackened, rotten carrot, we knew we had to fight all disgust that burned deep within our souls and head toward it.
Termination is a delicate topic, one that incites extreme emotion on the spectrum: deepest empathy to fiery abhorrence. My saddest memories reflect this time our of journey; moments that were unavoidable, undesirable, and heart wrenching. It is my fantasy that no one would ever be presented with this advise from doctors. Sadly, it will forever be a part of life. It does not discriminate. It does not take into account religion, race, age, beliefs, desires. It entangles more women and men–mothers and fathers–each day. It is my dream that when those in this community are faced with such a life-altering fork in the road, that as members of humanity, each one of us can let compassion overpower judgement.
Deciding what to do next is remarkably overwhelming. My mind tries to counter this, protecting every cell in my body from the twisting, wrenching, pointed pain. The melancholy air hangs, filling the room from the floor to ceiling, and it is suffocating. If this were a courtroom, I would call a recess. If this were a game of tag, I would call a time-out. If this were a commercial, I would change the channel. Vanishing is my resolve to focus on this gargantuan decision. Haltingly, my dismal thoughts recede, like hot lava shrinking away from the island I desperately cling to. The only way to fill the lava void is with memories. Transcending my thoughts, leaving my physical self behind on the table, I am clinging to a past time. Other recent decisions that foolishly seemed so burdensome are blatantly, and achingly, arbitrary. Stimulating what is now a distant, imaginary world, my mouth corners turn up slightly, briefly. This mental reprieve lasts but a fleeting moment. Allusive is our past life–our life of just a couple months ago.
“Let’s start with paint color,” was Jason’s suggestion for the nursery. We stand in the middle of the room, considering the bright, lemony-yellow walls.
In total agreement I state,“I’m thinking a shade a bit calmer, gentler, more soothing for a baby.” Jason nods at my verbal assessment. He has learned to just agree with what I say, even if it’s just a restatement of what he said. It’s his way of showing his support for me as the mother of his baby, the one who has physical suffering and sacrifice. It’s the least he can do to even the playing field. I love this man for trying.
Unable to wait long to change the overly cheery color, we scurry to the store. Quickly scanning the paint samples, I conduct my typical shopping appraisal. My eyes flickering back and forth, up and down, not wasting time on obvious color offenders. Oranges, pinks, magentas, black, gray, browns, reds, purples, and metallic silvers, all given a millisecond of my time. My eyes settle on the shades of blues and greens. Not “girly” nor “boy-like”. Slowly sliding the paper samples from their docking posts on the wall, I carefully build a collection, as if I am selecting a perfect poker hand.
This fantasy dissolves. Looking around, there are no paint samples. We are not in a store. Our biggest decision is not related to hues. I so fiercely want to return to that time. A chill bleeds through my body; I shiver. I breathe deeply. Tears have been falling down my cheeks. The realization that sweeps over me almost makes this moment worse. Almost. We can never go back. Step by dreaded step, with each piece of ghastly news, we are quickly approaching the end of this pregnancy, whether we like it or not. Two days ago, this would have been a nightmare from which we could wake, shake off, and go about our lives. Today it is our everything.
Partially hearing Dr. Bates describe hypothetical situations, “…your health could be in jeopardy if we let this pregnancy continue, the baby couldn’t possibly survive…”, all send my mind, my world, crashing.
“If we terminate due to the baby not being viable, we’d have to do it before twenty weeks. The complete amniocentesis test results we need take two weeks to come back.” Dr. Bates states this as if she were suggesting a cholesterol test.
Being fully present once again, the words “twenty weeks” and “terminate” linger. Not being able to fully comprehend what this means, I carry on this nightmare no different than as if I ordering from a menu: run through the options, figure out what we know. Amongst a barrage of uncertainty, exactly three things are certain. I am eighteen weeks along. We are running out of time. At twenty weeks, we can no longer terminate a pregnancy.
That new word to our pregnancy lexicon is dreadful. I let it float around, but only silently. I don’t dare let it escape my tongue. Such an utterance would make it too real. I’m not ready to make it real. Until this exact moment, I couldn’t fathom things being much worse.
Neither of us had ever considered terminating a pregnancy. Neither one of us had considered terminating this pregnancy.
Termination falls in the same category as anything else that is completely undesirably to us, like crawling in a pit of spiders, running with the bulls, swimming in shark infested waters. If only termination could be like crawling in a pit of spiders, running with the bulls, or swimming with sharks. If only I could do those things in place of termination. Termination has quickly become the thorn in my side. How do I make the word “termination” go away? I want none of this.
No test. No decisions. No termination.