Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mother to Isobel Nixie
Due August 7th, 2001; lost to miscarriage at 9 weeks

Kansas City, KS
Two months shy of my nineteenth birthday, I missed a period. As a freshman at college with few close friends and no mode of transportation, I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. The whole thing was stupid anyway. I was having manic and depressive mood swings coming off of Prozac. I was feeling rejected by a guy so I started fooling around with another guy who was nice and who missed his girlfriend back home. It was just a silly fling to get us over them. None of these are excuses, just factors. Like I said, it was stupid.

Regardless, here I found myself. I had to ask my roommate for a ride to the drugstore so I could buy a pregnancy test. I tried to hide it from her but I’m sure she knew, even though she never said anything about it. I spent what seemed like hours in the “community bathroom” of my dorm floor reading the test instructions, peeing on the stick, and subsequently freaking out – all very quietly, I might add.

After a long night of crying, I started making a plan. I decided not to tell the father. For one thing, neither of us had any intention for our fling to last past the semester. I didn’t really want to be with him, nor he with me. Plus, I didn’t want him to have any say in the pregnancy or the baby’s future. I guess I was selfish, but we were both 18 and neither of us were ready for parenthood.

I started looking at open adoption agencies. I even thought of giving my baby up to a gay or lesbian couple to raise. I knew that I couldn’t provide for a child as well as a family could. I also knew that although I support the right for a woman to choose, I personally could not get an abortion because the whole procedure terrified me. I was going to have the baby. The problem was how to hide the pregnancy from my family.

By the time Christmas break arrived, I was going crazy trying to figure everything out and keep it all a secret. I truly had no one I thought I could turn to with this kind of information. I was so scared and worried about how my parents would react if they found out. I really don’t remember how I acted those weeks at home, but I vividly remember one night.

I was crying in bed after everyone else had gone to sleep thinking about what I was going to do. I finally broke down and prayed to God and told him that I just couldn’t handle this. I said I was lost and I needed help. The next day, my stomach hurt just a little. A few days after that, I started bleeding.

At first, I thought it was nothing, but after a day I started to worry. I read about ectopic pregnancies where the fetus attaches itself outside of the uterus and as it grows it could kill the woman. That had me really worried so I finally broke down and decided to talk to someone. I chose my preacher’s wife because I knew she was very young when she had her first child. I was so afraid to tell her because it would be admitting that I had done something wrong. However, I really had no choice.

We talked for about 2 hours before I told her the reason for my visit. She didn’t criticize or lecture or anything. For that I was relieved. She called a few people she knew with medical backgrounds and asked their recommendations. They suggested a visit to the hospital and so we went.

Once in the ER, time seemed to stand still. We waited to be called. We waited for a nurse. We waited for a doctor. We waited for a sonogram. We waited for results. It could have been days for all I knew. I remember when they did the sonogram and how I really wanted to see my baby, but was too shy to ask. I wish I had. I think that would have made it feel like a real baby instead of just some medical problem. They kept asking me how far along I was and if I was sure. I knew then that something was wrong.

The whole thing was very impersonal. It felt like they were all shaming me for what I had done. No one spoke to me like I was an expectant mother. They talked to me like I was a stupid child who had gone and screwed everything up. No one tried to reassure me that it would be okay. They acted like I was inconveniencing them. No one really acknowledged that there was a life involved, including mine.

The results finally came back. I was supposed to be 9 weeks along, but the baby measured at 7 weeks. The baby was at least two weeks too small and had no detectable heartbeat. They ruled it a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and said to go home and just let it pass. If I kept bleeding for more than 2 weeks, I was to return for a D&C to clear everything out. Then we left.

That was it. It was over. Immediately, I felt better. I could breathe again. I could think again. I could smile again. Even the pain seemed to go away as soon as we left the hospital. I just had to tell my parents. I felt like I could now because it was over and there was nothing that they could do or say to make it worse.

I was nervous and I could barely get the words out through my tears but I told them the bare details: that I was pregnant, but the hospital said there was no heartbeat and that the pregnancy would end on its own. My mom cried. My dad only asked if there was anything that could be done to save the baby and I told him no.

As far as the physical end of the pregnancy goes, I continued bleeding and having cramps, but took some prescription medicine to ease the pain. It felt like a normal period. One day I passed what felt like a clump of something. I went to change my pad and there it was – my dead baby. It was just a round, gelatinous clump of bloody tissue about half the size of my fist. I wanted to look at it, but I was repulsed. I flushed it like a goldfish. I wasn’t ready to admit it was my baby.

After it was over, I was so thankful that I didn’t have to go through everything and could maintain a normal life. I went back to school as if nothing had happened. I did tell the father that I had been pregnant and miscarried. All he said was “good”. We didn’t really talk much after that. I decided that there was nothing more to the story and never thought I would really care. At the time, I was still so self-absorbed that it didn’t really occur to me that I was rejoicing at the death of a baby.

It was months before I really thought about it again. It was approaching the due date and I started to think of the baby that wasn’t anymore. At first it was more like research. I wanted to see how far along I’d be and what the baby would look like. Then I started looking for information on miscarriages and the causes. Turns out there’s not much. Most miscarriages have no known cause. Some pregnancies just end. I started worrying that whatever the cause, it might affect me in the future and maybe I’d never have children. I still think about that.

Most of the stuff I found on miscarriages had to do with couples trying to have a baby. Very little had anything to do with teenagers and I found nothing on the loss of an unwanted child. I guess they figure that if it’s unwanted, the only thing to feel is relief at the loss. And I did, but then I didn’t. It became a child – a child with my DNA.

I decided that I should honor my baby and not just forget. I began by choosing a name: Isobel Nixie. Isobel means consecrated to God and Nixie means spirit. In essence, I named her for her death, though I picked the name before looking up the meaning. I also decided to give her a permanent presence in the form of a tattoo. The tattoo is her initials (INW) placed on top of each other to form a square with lines in the middle. It’s located on the inside of my hip, the relative position of her entire life.

I did all kinds of internet research on pregnancy, miscarriage, child birth, child development and all sorts of related topics. It was then that I discovered that there wasn’t much for people like me. I hadn’t wanted a child. I didn’t plan the pregnancy. But I was still feeling things for this baby. I constantly thought about how old my girl would be and how my life would be different with her.

That was almost 10 years ago. I still wonder about what my daughter would be like now. I still wonder if I’ll be able to have kids, should I decide to. My biggest fear is that she was my only chance to be a parent, and I blew it by praying for her to go away. There’s nothing like thinking you killed your baby. I know I didn’t do anything physically, but I still wonder if I didn’t kill her by not loving her from the beginning.

I know my story is different from many of the others, but I feel like I need to put it out there for the other women who may end up in the same position I did. Just because it wasn’t planned and it took me longer to come to terms with it, doesn’t mean I didn’t love my baby and doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. It’s so nice to see that there is more support out there now than back then.
You can contact Rachel at


Anonymous said...

I completely understand the lack of information for teenagers out there, with miscarriage. I had my first at 17, at 19 weeks, and was so very lost and alone, and sad... So very sad. I did not tell my parents, I named my baby, in the hope that it would ease the grief. It did to some degree. Lily changed my life, and while she is to a point, a secret, I cherish her life every day, even if it is only a fleeting thought.
You are so brave to have gone through this.

Katie said...

I had a very similar experience to yours many, many years ago, when I was 18 and heading for college. When you are young and have an unexpected pregnancy and then a miscarriage, everyone expects you to be happy and relieved about it and to just move on without any regrets. It is hard for others to understand that it is still the loss of your child.

Anonymous said...

I think your feelings are totally understandable. I am glad you shared. Hugs.

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