The emotional fall-out from my depression, and later the abortion, wasn't just mine, it was Ryan's as well. Many things are triggering for me now, like hospitals, and I avoid movies or books with scenes of childbirth (I can't read Marley and Me without crying, and I've never seen Juno). There are lines I can't cross, scars that I carry both physically and mentally that will be with me for the rest of my life. However, something Anne Bishop writes in "The Shadow Queen" struck me when I first read it and has stayed with me since. Lucivar, a very powerful character and former slave, is speaking with a much weaker character, Blade, who was once tortured and abused. Blade tells Lucivar that he's not right, as in, not right in the head. And Lucivar replies "No, you're not. You have scars and they run deep. When a man has scars like that, there are boundaries he can't cross, lines he has to draw to keep himself whole. But those boundaries aren't as small as you might think, and a man can choose to live safe or he can choose to live right up to those lines. He might slip over a line every now and then, and that will hurt like a wicked bitch, but he might decide that what he gains will be worth the price." (Bishop, 186)
We had a lot of conversations, after a while, about maybe having another child, but it was always a touchy subject. I wanted to know for sure if we were ever going to actually try again and Ryan was much more comfortable with just seeing what happened and going with the flow. Gabe was a surprise, but a welcome one. We handled it with as much grace as we could with the help of our family and friends. The second time around was a nightmare disaster. I fell back into depression, more because of how badly I had hurt Ryan than anything else. Abortion doesn't cause depression, but not having the support of the people you love sure can, and living in a society where this legal medical procedure is so stigmatized sure doesn't help either. Depression seems to be strongly linked to guilt with me, and I cannot stand to hurt the people I love. But when hurting someone you love is the only alternative to breaking away from your self, sometimes it's the lesser evil. To commemorate the year of 2008 I got my tattoo, which reads "To Thine Own Self Be True" across my shoulders. It felt good to etch that into my skin, for the pain to assuage in some small way the hurt I'd caused and still felt. Something else that helped a lot was a book titled "The Pagan Book of Living And Dying" by my favorite Pagan author, Starhawk. It had sections within it specifically dealing with unwanted pregnancy and abortion and I'm pretty sure I still have them saved on my computer from scans I made thanks to a friend.
So where does this all leave me today? I have a good grasp where my boundaries are, which ones are set in stone and which are fluid. My experiences have made me into a staunch prochoice and body acceptance ally, and given me much more real expectations about labour and delivery. Ryan is preparing for whatever happens and is planning on keeping a keen eye out for any trouble post-delivery, and I wont hesitate (so much) to say anything if I start that slide. We're very much hoping to avoid another c-section by going with a midwife (Lillian has attended over 800 births with very few ceseareans) but mentally I'm preparing myself to go there if we have too. At the same time, I'm also trying to forgive myself for all the messes in the past. The original c-section was not my fault. Technically we did everything right, Gabe just wouldn't turn. My IUD failed me-a 1% chance that led to so much misery. You play the cards you're dealt, and I did what I felt was best. I can't help but wonder "What's next?" Hopefully nothing but an uneventful pregnancy with an equally boring labour and delivery, and quiet recovery at home where I can actually enjoy the first few weeks of the new baby's life. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Live up to the line and sometimes step over it, because I know that the pain has been worth it. If it wasn't for all the mess I wouldn't be who I am.
The image reads "I can do this. I have the strength and support of my family and beloved ones, and confidence in myself. No power in the 'verse can stop me." It's a picture of a sign that hung over my desk in the fall of 2010 when I was away at teacher's college.