Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse.
That’s all that was demanded,
Nod your head when you’re supposed to,
Clean up after yourself,
Leave no trace,
Keep your head down,
Don’t let anyone see the bruises that are hidden beneath that name brand scarf.
My pain settled around my room like dust,
Forever frozen in place,
Floating through life,
Don’t stand out,
Shuffling down the halls in school,
Don’t get too close to anyone,
They will only let you down too.
Consumed by the darkness,
Bottled up emotions,
Screaming to be let out,
Silence the pain with food,
My hands became hand grenades,
Exploding at everything,
Stood a chance.
Flip of a switch,
The sun is shining in my eyes,
A curse has been broken,
Let it into your heart,
Realizing that there is,
A way out.
Learning to soar beyond the doubt.
Letting go of the narrative,
Experiencing the now,
Trigger Warning: Pregnancy, Miscarriage.
I knew that as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, my daughter would take her last breath. I’ve managed to survive after losing my child.
I found who I thought was the love of my life at age 13, much earlier than anyone else I know. We clicked instantly and he and I managed to stay together all through high school despite any trials and tribulations we faced during this time. We were comfortable, in love and it was just simple.
I was 15 when I lost my virginity to this person and after the first time I had sex I became pregnant. We both decided it was too early in our lives to carry this pregnancy to term and decided together that an abortion would be the best decision for us. Despite what we decided, the idea of an abortion tore me up inside and caused me a great amount of stress. I went back and forth but after miscarrying I took this as a sign that it was meant to happen this way. After the miscarriage we still continued to talk about having a family one day even though we were still hurting. We had names picked out for our future children and we still shared our dreams and aspirations.
I met someone in college and I started to feel something for them but initially I wasn’t sure of how to explain these feelings. They were confusing because this person was a woman. I struggled with the idea of pursuing a relationship with her out of fear. I wanted to continue looking “normal” and I wanted to be accepted. I wasn’t sure of how to deal with this new label I would be given, “lesbian.” I also didn’t want to be judged. Eventually I let these thoughts go. I did not want to look back and have any regrets so I ended my relationship with my boyfriend and decided I’d follow my heart.
She forced me to explore new parts of my soul. I found out new things about myself I didn’t realize were there and the love I felt for her was like nothing I’ve felt before. It didn’t mean that what I experienced with my boyfriend wasn’t real, it just meant that I was now learning about a new kind of love that I was more receptive to. Her touch was different as her hands felt like silk. She understood me in a different way and this was a breath of fresh air. She was able to look deep and far past all I’ve experienced that caused me sorrow. In return I would have done anything to make her happy and at the time I thought she would do the same; until she cheated.
My heart shattered. This cut me deep and it was more than I could handle at the time. On the outside I started to show anger but on the inside I was in pain; new bruises. I started drinking more and smoking weed as a way to cope. I started to act reckless and outside my character. Before I knew it I found myself running back to the arms of my first love, hoping he could help me forget what I was feeling. Any time we got together we would drink, talk, laugh and I was able to forget for a second the pain I was feeling and he would put my mind at ease. We’d talk about our past together and we’d talk about what we had planned for the future. In a moment of reflecting we slept together without using condoms. I got pregnant again.
When I let him know I was pregnant he didn’t ask me to have an abortion, he told me to have one. He told his family and acted confused as if he didn’t know how it happened. He belittled me in front of his family and allowed them to criticize me and say I was forcing him to grow up before he was ready. The lack of support from him made me agree to have an abortion… until I confided in my ex girlfriend.
I wanted her to hear from me instead of someone else that I had gotten pregnant by my ex boyfriend and she became the first person I told. Her first question was about what the father thought about it and I let her know he was pressuring me to have an abortion. Her face immediately showed disgust and she questioned why I would go ahead with that option knowing in my heart I wanted to keep this baby. I shared with her that I didn’t want my child to grow up not knowing who their father was because I knew my ex boyfriend would remove himself from the situation. She responded saying my baby didn’t need him as their father because we had her and my family. She offered to help; saying she would pick up more shifts and help me with anything I needed. We cried together for hours talking about the baby and she begged me to not do it. My ex girlfriend was right – I didn’t want to have an abortion and aside from that what she said was true; I didn’t need his support and deciding whether or not to keep the baby wasn’t only his decision to make. I decided I wasn’t going to terminate my pregnancy.
Eventually, at some point during my pregnancy, my ex boyfriend got on board but when he came back my trust for him was minimal. I started to prepare for this baby as a single mother and he hated it. He’d tell me I made him feel like I didn’t need him and he was right, my response would always be, “because I don’t.” He still stuck around even though at times I was difficult and still accompanied me to my appointments and ultrasounds.
My ex girlfriend would bring me food and visit regularly. She’d talk to my belly and even if we were fighting she would ignore me but continue to ask about the baby several times a day. She hated that I was pregnant by my ex boyfriend but loved the baby I was carrying. We found ourselves arguing about plans that included my ex boyfriend and the baby; she was also upset about not being able to attend all appointments with me. She didn’t have much control over how much of the baby’s life she would be a part of and would get really angry with me. Her moods were like day and night – at times we were doing great but in those moments where she felt she lost control she started to talk down to me, calling me a whore and telling me my child would be ashamed of me for being involved with both her and my child’s father. At the same time I was constantly fighting with my ex boyfriend about everything right down to me suggesting we should hyphenate our child’s last name since we weren’t married. The stress I was feeling because of them started to become unbearable.
At three months I stopped working, at four months I was instructed to remain on bed rest, and at five months I went into labour. I quit my job and was forced to go on unemployment to pay my bills. I was not supposed to go anywhere except for my appointments and back home again. I couldn’t stomach my food, I lost 20-30 pounds, and I would faint multiple times a day if I stood too long. One night my ex-girlfriend and I got into a fight about how the baby shower would work. She still had animosity towards the father and his initial rejection of the baby. The argument got heated and she took her frustration out on me. Again, she spit comments about the failure of a mother I’d be and about my whorish ways; commenting on how no one could love me because of how spiteful (she thought) I was. The next day at my doctor’s appointment the father and I found out that my water had broken and that my amniotic fluid was dangerously low. I never got to leave the hospital.
I found out I was having a girl. I was told they needed to induce me and that I would have her that night. A lump grew in my throat when I realized what I was being told – I went into labour too early; I would be giving birth but leaving without a child. My daughter was two weeks away from having fully developed lungs and on her own she would not be able to breathe. I took some of my anger and pain out on my ex girlfriend. I texted to say the baby would die and when she tried to call me I hung up and asked her to not speak to me. The pain I experienced was unbearable not just because I chose to not have an epidural but because I knew that as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, my daughter would take her last breath.
It was heart breaking because she was active in my stomach and I tried so hard not to let my body alarm her of what was happening. She was moving happily until the very end. I gave birth and she passed away a half-an-hour later. I didn’t get to hold her until she had already passed because the doctor didn’t show up until after she had already passed away. When the nurse handed her to me she said, “it’s okay, you’re both young, you guys just try again,” before she walked away. We spent a few hours with our daughter, holding her lifeless hand before I allowed them to take her away. My ex girlfriend begged for me to tell her where I was but I wouldn’t respond.
I went into a depression. I came home to all of my daughter’s stuff in her room but without her. I completely shut down. I had suffered loss before but nothing compares to the loss of your own flesh and blood. I blamed so many people for my child’s death including myself. I felt I failed her that day. I felt like the hurtful words I listened to leading up to the day I went into labour and the stressful situations I was in could have been prevented and avoided if I didn’t continue to involve myself with these two people.
I knew it would take me years before I could accept what happened and to speak of everything without bursting into tears. I held onto so much hate that it turned me into a bitter person. I failed to see any light in anything that I did. I rejected any love anyone was trying to give to me and I carried the burden of not being able to carry my child to term.
Often times we forget to cherish the moments we have and to see how potentially beautiful these situations can be. There are many situations I wish had played out differently and with people I know would have treated me better. Sometimes we take our blessings for granted and find loopholes in why we should be grateful. Looking back now I realize that one of the most damaging things from this situation was allowing people to make decisions for me. I was already going through enough. The verbal abuse can and will drain you. I listened to the words thrown at me and internalized them as facts. I am not a whore, I am not damaged, and of course one day someone will love me. My daughter as she looks down on me is the most proud of who I am. Do not allow the words of others to define who you are or alter the decisions you make for yourself. You know what’s best for you. I hope anyone experiencing emotional turmoil and with unsupportive people sees that they are worth more! I look in the mirror every day and I tell myself exactly that: I am more than what those people thought of me. I’m slowly healing and learning ways to cope with the loss of my child. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am worthy and I have survived.