Too scared to seek help, I tried to do it myself.
I woke up sweating. Overly hot. Like panicked hot, desperately trying to take the blankets off me but tangling myself back in them until I sat up and got mad and threw them off. It was only then that I realized I was bleeding. A lot. I was miscarrying and I knew it. I knew it because I needed it to happen, had indeed caused it to happen, and was terrified of what was going to happen next.
I jumped out of my bed and landed practically in the bathroom, bleeding murderously. We were in our RV, in Fort Bragg, California, in the middle of a really shitty RV park that we couldn’t seem to get out of and my husband had just taken our then 17-year-old son, Liam, to work. We were at the tail end of a two-year-long adventure where we had traveled first in a bus, then in an RV, from Alaska, through the Yukon Territory; British Columbia; Washington; Oregon; California — with some side trips thrown in. It was an epic adventure. But now, here at both the end of the “trip” or the lifestyle — and what was quickly becoming the end of a 20+ year marriage — I found myself bleeding, almost to death, inside this shitty RV.
At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening. I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test and I was very early into what I assumed was a pregnancy. I’m fairly experienced at the pregnancy thing. I’ve had eight children (yes, they’re all mine — made them all myself) and until that point, I had had three miscarriages.
Now, here I was, 43, in a shitty RV, stuck (the RV was broken down and my now ex husband refused to have it fixed) in an even shittier RV park, and now I was pregnant again.
The reasons I was pregnant again are both easy to explain and hard to understand. At least for me. I shouldn’t have been pregnant. I almost died the last time. My eighth pregnancy, at the age of 40, was the toughest I had had. Placenta accreta almost killed me right after Ani was delivered. And my doctor, a truly wonderful human who was the only male birth attendant I ever had and was kind, considerate, and very amenable to listening to the expertise of a mother of eight — whether he wanted to or not — saved me.
He told my then-husband, in no uncertain terms, that I was not to ever be pregnant again. Now, while I appreciate you think I should have gotten my tubes tied (I did too), or I should have been on birth control (I was), or that my ex should have gotten a vasectomy (I begged, he outright refused), know that I worked very hard to not become pregnant during my marriage, more than once. It was not always my choice. I had a very tumultuous marriage, and an increasingly aggressive husband, and I did not always get to choose when we had sex or whether or not I got pregnant.
That being said, this baby terrified me. Not the baby. I love babies. The pregnancy terrified me, especially as it was, again, the result of an event that was not my choice, and I knew that I am deeply scarred inside my uterus. I knew that if I was able to keep the pregnancy, the baby and I may not survive the third trimester (I also have a history of pre-eclampsia, another life-threatening pregnancy related condition) and I did not want to leave five children in an RV with that man.
I sat back down on my bed after bolting to the bathroom and put a towel underneath me. I couldn’t text anyone because my phone didn’t have service anymore (my husband was only working occasionally at this time and we were pretty broke). I could, however, still dial 911. Which I did. And then I passed out on the bed. When I woke up, startled, and realizing that I had passed out, I wondered why no one had answered the phone. I felt cold, and shaky, and looked at the phone to realize I hadn’t pressed send. Then I threw up on the floor in front of me. I pressed send, and suddenly felt a lot better, even though blood was literally pouring out of me.
The kind woman on the other end of the phone talked to me while I sent 10-year-old Jack outside to direct the ambulance to the right RV. I knew I was going to die.
My new 911 friend helped me scoot myself to the edge of the stairs of the RV and I waited, with my kids on the couch behind me. At the same time the ambulance arrived, my ex arrived, and I was quickly taken to the hospital. One look at me bleeding out under the blanket and suddenly everyone became very very friendly to me. Which scared the hell out of me.
I had never been in an ambulance before — much less as a patient. It was bumpy but I wasn’t in a tremendous amount of pain, so it was just a long, scary ride with me looking out the window, wondering if this was, indeed, it.
I am pretty chatty anyway — but particularly so when I’m nervous and terrified. So I chatted away and was my uber friendly medical patient-self, while I was prepped, quickly, for surgery once I arrived at the hospital. And I was still alone. In fact, I knew my husband likely wouldn’t come to the hospital at all unless called. There was no way he would bring the kids unless he absolutely had to.
As they put me under, and had me count, I had a moment of panic. First, I had never had surgery of any sort before and had never had anesthesia. As the mask went over my face, I remember trying to keep my eyes open while I thought, wow. This is it. I hope the kids are ok. I hope they know I loved them. I did not expect to wake up.
I did. And no one was shocked more than I was. I woke up just like it was any other day, and I was fine. Fine. Alive. And I knew at that moment, I would never again let my ex touch me without my consent again and I prayed, hard, that I would never ever again have to miscarry.
I didn’t have an abortion. But I did encourage myself to miscarry by taking an herb that would encourage a pregnancy to not stay implanted. I encouraged a miscarriage. What I didn’t know was that the mere act of the miscarriage would send my body into hemorrhage. Hence why my ex was told to not ever impregnate me again.
The circumstances under which women become pregnant — and subsequently terminate pregnancies are vast and often misunderstood. Ultimate control over one’s own body is crucial to any hope for self-sufficiency and independence. Blanket policies never work because someone’s foot is always left out in the cold.