On Tuesday, August 14th, at 1:00 p.m., I went into my OBGYN’s clinic to get myself checked out, and walked away two-and-a-half hours later with the biggest shock I have ever known: I was pregnant, and half of my pregnancy had already gone by. I had no symptoms, continued having a period every month, and never experienced any weight gain. But none the less, I was going to be a mother. And I had one night to decide if I was ready to change my life, forever.
It all started about four weeks earlier. I was at work when I started experiencing some very strange bleeding. I had just finished my period two days earlier, and while spotting isn’t a rarity, this bleeding was different. The color wasn’t the normal, vivid red I anticipated, and the consistency was almost clumpy. I immediately called the 24-hour medical advice hotline. They told me that all was well, but it sounded like I was experiencing a miscarriage. Their theory was that I’d recently gotten pregnant, recently enough that I hadn’t yet skipped a period, and my body was simply rejecting it for whatever reason. They assured me that there was no need to rush to the ER like a coworker was telling me, gave me a list of symptoms to look out for, and encouraged me to make an appointment with my OBGYN to ensure that my body had disposed of all the tissue matter.
It took almost two weeks to get hold of someone in my local hospital’s OBYN clinic. The date they gave me for my appointment was two weeks after that. I felt a bit unnverved at the prospect of waiting so long to see a doctor, but the nurse on the line told me that as long as the symptoms I’d been given didn’t pop up, I was in no danger. I let it go, and went on with my life, trying not to overthink or worry.
At 1:20 p.m., I was called into an exam room by a very nice man who I really wish I remembered the name of. He sat and talked with me for a few minutes about what I had been experiencing in the previous weeks. He agreed that it did sound like a miscarriage, in which case he wanted to perform a quick ultrasound to ensure that everything was gone from my body. I got myself settled into the exam chair, and we started the ultrasound.
Almost immediately, his face dropped from the previous cheerful, professional disposition to one of shock and concern. He said to me “Um, Miss B., you have not had a miscarriage. You are still pregnant.” I was surprised to say the least, but thought to myself that I couldn’t possibly be very far along. I hadn’t missed a period, no morning sickness, no sore/tender boobs. I asked how far along I was. He said “I don’t know, that’s what I need to find out. I will be right back.” He pulled the ultrasound wand out of me, and left for a moment.
He came back with a larger ultrasound machine. “You have gone long enough that I need to do an ultrasound on your stomach to get a better idea of how big the baby is.” He squirted the gel on my totally-flat tummy and started pressing very hard, in several different directions, paying very close attention to the screen in front of him. “Miss B., you’ve gone quite a bit…” he said to me, slowly, while he studied the screen. “Okay,” I asked him, trying to stay calm. “How far is a ‘bit’? Ten weeks, or twenty weeks?” “I don’t know, yet, that is what I am trying to figure out. I can tell you this much. You are over fifteen weeks.” I covered my face with my hands, doing my best to remember to breathe, trying to process the information I was being given.
After what seemed like an eternity, he finished the ultrasound, printed the photos, and told me to get dressed. I quickly threw my pants back on, and slumped into the chair next to him at his desk. He took a deep breath and began. “Well, I have been able to determine that you are seventeen weeks, and five days pregnant. I know that this is coming as a shock to you — I am also very shocked because you don’t look pregnant. But I know that you told the nurse when you set this appointment that if you, by some chance, were still pregnant, you would want to explore your options. You need to know, Miss B., the law in Sweden is that the very last day that a woman can elect to have an abortion performed is seventeen weeks, six days. This means that you need to decide now, or at the latest tonight, and begin the process before noon tomorrow. I am so sorry to unload so much on you all at once, but you don’t have much time, now.”
I was in tears. The shock was too much, and the prospect of having to make such a huge decision was weighing on my chest so heavily that I couldn’t catch my breath. I asked to see the ultrasound photos that he had printed. He looked at me sympathetically and asked if I was sure that was a good idea. I nodded, and asked again to see them. He took the photo strip out of the folder with my name on it, and handed it to me. Immediately, seeing how large the baby already was — not the sea monkey-esque being I had expected — I began to weep softly, though I somehow managed to smile through my shock. I asked if everything was okay with the baby. The doctor assured me that from what he had seen, it was a very, very healthy baby.
I was incredibly relieved to hear that; at least I hadn’t hurt the baby in the last four-and-a-half months, with my bad diet and stressful work atmosphere. I asked if there was a chance I could take the pictures home with me. The doctor started explaining that he could maybe ask for a copy mailed home to me, but stopped mid-sentence and said “You know what, just take these with you” with a very genuine smile.
My memory gets blurry for a bit, here. I know that my kind doctor escorted me to the clinic’s midwife’s office, and that I spoke with her for a few minutes about how the next 72 hours were going to play out for me depending on what I chose. If I chose to terminate the pregnancy, I would need to come back to the clinic tomorrow to take the first pill before noon. I would then need to come back on Friday afternoon, take the second set of pills, and then stay in the hospital overnight Friday, to ensure that I would have medical attention right away if any complications arose.
If I decided to keep the baby, then I should call to the hospital’s maternity clinic, and set an appointment to get a wellness checkup and begin the process of preparing for a baby. They asked if there was anyone they could call for me. I didn’t think to call my boyfriend, Chris, my sister, or anyone. There simply wasn’t logic in that moment. I did manage to ask them to call my boss and let him know that something came up during my doctor’s appointment and he wanted me to stay home for the rest of the week, but I would return to work again the following Monday. They called a taxi to take me home, which I doubt is standard protocol. I think the staff may have been worried about whether or not I could get home in my incoherent state.
Before the taxi came for me, I talked for a very long time with the clinic’s counselor. We discussed my shock, my current predicament, my personal life (Chris and my stepson, Orion), the prospect of parenthood, what an abortion would entail. I am so thankful I talked with her for as long as I did, because it pulled me out of my shock enough to start thinking about what I wanted, on the ride home.
I had the taxi drop me off at my boyfriend’s house. Thankfully, he’d had the day off from work, so he was home when I walked in. He turned off his Playstation when he saw me walk into the bedroom, surprised I was home so early. He asked me how my appointment went. I sat down next to him on the bed, and dropped the bomb. For the next twenty five minutes, he was totally silent. I didn’t push him to talk. Occasionally, I piped up with a tidbit of information or a thought, but then let the silence envelop us again. When he finally did start to speak again, the discussions began:
Were we ready?
Could we make this work, financially?
How would this affect my stepson?
With only four-and-a-half months left until the baby comes, are we going to be able to get everything done in time?
We talked for over four hours in that dark bedroom. Just me and Chris, lost in each other and the enormity of the moment, the emotions choking us both. The idea of becoming a mother didn’t scare me, I was only worried about if the time was right. But the more Chris and I talked, the better I began to feel. We could do this. We just had to set our minds to it and make it work. Abortion, to be completely honest, was never really an option for us.
The idea of becoming a mother didn’t scare me, I was only worried about if the time was right.
The rest of the night was a whirlwind of emotions and excitement. We started making phone calls to my family and his family, letting them know about our “little surprise.” Even more to my surprise, we have gotten nothing but support and an outpour of love from everyone involved.
The more time passes, the more excited I get. It has started to melt in that I am going to be a Mommy! Chris is starting to get there, too. He came home from work that Friday night, saying “Okay, we have to figure out what you can and can’t eat, now. I know you can’t have fish!” He has started rubbing my stomach a little bit, when we are laying down together, and making jokes about me giving birth. We are beginning to talk about how to tell Orion, how we are going to present ourselves as a united front, and make sure Orion feels involved. This won’t be “Pappa and Taylor’s baby,” this will be “our baby” — we’re building our family one day at a time.