Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hyperemesis: Part II

I realized today that I only have a Part I to my hyperemesis story. This is very difficult for me to write about, so maybe it's no accident. Maybe I've just been putting it off.

Last year, Babble published a story of mine about my battle with hyperemesis when I was pregnant with Elke. (Click here to read the story, "World's Worst Morning Sickness? My Pregnancy Nausea Made Me Consider Terminating.")

Just writing that title makes me cringe.

But I did. I did consider terminating. And I am totally pro-choice, so no, this is not some weird ploy to get you to read my story and then once I've reeled you in, I tell you how pro-life is the only way. Actually strike that. I hate saying "pro-life." Everyone is pro-life! (Okay, if you're Jack the Ripper then you're not. But you get my drift.) So, no, this is not some anti-abortion story. This story is about MY choice.

My daughter Elke is 2. She is a full of life kind of girl. Talking non-stop. Asking questions. Running around. Kicking it up in the dirt. Singing Lady Gaga songs--even mashing up Gaga with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. She is a willful, wild, adorable piece of work. Well, all of that energy. All of that motion. It started somewhere. I believe it started in my belly. I believe her essence was captured during my pregnancy. It was a whirl wind pregnancy that started with me in the hospital at 8 weeks and then again at 10 weeks for dehydration.

I was miserable. Hiding under the covers most of the time, begging for the day to end. For the hour to end. I curled up in a ball and wondered what I would have done if it had been 1867. They would have shot me in the back of the barn, that's what they would have done.  Hell, I would have shot myself. If I hadn't of starved to death, or died from complications of dehydration. Anyone read Annie Proulx's "Them Old Cowboy Songs" in the New Yorker about a woman on the prairie alone and pregnant? Let's just say it ain't good.

I was so sick that I wanted an abortion. I was open about this. I spoke to my mother, my husband, my midwife. Every day I suffered with extreme nausea. I couldn't take care of myself. I couldn't take care of my child. "Mommy, when are you going to stop being sick?" he'd say. This was a blow to a woman who just came from a divorce only two years prior. I had gotten used to taking care of myself. I didn't need anyone to help because I was a single woman. HEAR ME ROAR.

But when you're pregnant, you're vulnerable. Physically not as strong. Especially if you're sick and weak and can't eat or move like I was. I thought, wow, is a baby worth it? A baby? Why do we need a baby? I had a child. Another baby would just have been a bonus, right? This was a total turn around from how I first felt when I met Andy. All I wanted was a baby. It was crushing to turn around and think, well, this is just not worth it. Not to live this way, no.

So I wrote about it. It took a long time to write the words down. To type out for the world to read that I wanted an abortion. That look at me with this beautiful daughter now, this gorgeous curly-headed, blue-eyed, inquisitive little thing, a spit fire just like Alice, my grandmother that she's named for, and yes, that's what I thought about. I thought about terminating.

This is an interesting thing about my life and the life of essayists and bloggers and all of the amazing non-fiction writers brave enough to write about their lives in decades before. This is a story to share. I wasn't alone. And now, I've been able to talk about it. Write about it. To put it out there in the world and get feedback. My own cathartic process of how I allow myself to heal is through writing. It has been since I was about 10 years old. It doesn't matter who sees it. This is for me. But now, with this medium, it's communal, isn't it? It's brought me full circle and allowed myself to make amends with it.

"How can you write about this?" someone asked me.

How can I not?

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