Someone asked me recently (in a comment on this blog) if I ever thought that the abortion I had when I was seventeen had anything to do with my subsequent pregnancy difficulties.
I never worried about this.
Statistics are clear that one's ability to get or stay pregnant isn't adversely affected by abortion until you've had more than three. Even at that point, the chance of problems is very slim and basically confined to that of a weakened cervix, which can cause premature birth but otherwise doesn't effect conception or the health of the fetus at all.
On the other hand, statistics are also clear that it gets harder and harder to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy with age. This seems a completely separate issue, but for me, it might not be so cut and dried.
At seventeen, I knew I wanted to be a mother -- some day -- but that clarity changed rather quickly, what with disillusionment with my community (if they only knew, then I would be shamed), and disillusionment with myself (how could I do such a thing, when my heart told me otherwise?) plus a burgeoning attraction to a non-traditional life path: that of an independent, itinerant artist, musician, and writer. It was a lonely idea, but not unromantic.
I can't say for sure if the abortion had anything to do with my acquired reticence -- the sense that maybe motherhood and family life wasn't for me after all -- but I believe it was at least part of it. Still, the urge to mother, and to grieve that life I let go from my body so long ago, remained with me over all the years, underground, surfacing only in my sleep.
Ever since the abortion, I've had recurring nightmares in which I happened upon forgotten babies tucked into dresser drawers, inside pianos, under sinks. Every time I found one, it would be thin and weak and unconscious. Inevitably, I would feel desperate to revive it, but whether or not I could do so remained to be seen.
More recently, perhaps six months ago, I had the last (so far, anyway) in this years-long series. In this dream, for the first time, the baby I found in my sock drawer was already dead, its limp, frail little body cold to the touch.
There is so much more I could say about my reproductive journey. And I will. And contrary to the suggested interpretation of this most recent dream, it ain't over yet.