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Santiago’s Baby

How I felt at the time…

Was pretty low key about the whole affair, upbeat, felt empowered and privileged to be able to make this choice.

How I feel now…

The person whose ‘baby’ it could have become has negated all contact so I am hella glad that I did not decide to go through with pregnancy, motherhood, etc.  Still, I do wish I had waited to have a conversation with this person before making the unilateral decision, although it was clear neither of us wanted to start a family together.  Also, I wish I had pursued a medicinal abortion, but at the time simply did not want any time to pass for me to get attached to the being growing inside.

My story…

He was wearing a beat up Red Sox cap, which is why I noticed him.  The Red Sox were my grandparents favorite team.  How many nights when I was a girl did I walk up the hill  to their house and watch the game on hard wooden chairs with my grandfather as my grandmother fried tofu for dinner.  It was the games that led up to their winning the world season in 2005 that kept my grandmother up way past bedtime, and though it likely wasn’t their fault, we like to blame them for bringing her leukemia back out of remission.  So the worn-out quality of this man’s hat really tugged my heartstrings, somehow.  Hadn’t seen something that familiar in a while.

I sat next to him throughout the entirety of the talk, long and drawn out as it was.  It was supposed to be people from Partners in Health, but they couldn’t make it in the end, so it was a local journalist and author whose speaking skills were not my favorite.  At the end I asked this man if he really was a fan of the Red Sox, a juvenile question but I had to make conversation.

No, he said, not really a fan.  He grew up in Texas.  The hat was only sentimental because it had been a gift from a Haitian he had worked with in the Dominican Republic. He had been down in the bateys, where the stateless live, those who are born without  citizenship at all, of Haitian origin, but stuck in the Dominican Republic, and not really recognized by either place. They work in sugarfields, and apparently, as this man in the battered cap informed me, more and more in construction.  They are unpaid, often indebted for having crossed the border, work incessantly and barely have enough to buy a mattress to sleep upon.

I lingered with others I knew, eventually stuck in a conversation around the evils of NGOs in Haïti, Ayiti, with him and the man who had spoke throughout the evening.  I told him to give me his email and I would let him know when other events were going on, and to introduce him to a website I had mentioned of a local group that worked for the rights of those stuck in bateys.  He obliged.  Weeks later I decided to invite him for a drink, and he was not disinterested.  He was learning french, in order to communicate better when he went to work in Haïti.  He was very sure of what he wanted, to be a doctor in the country.  Inspired by Paul Farmer, as many are.  He is probably there now.

We had a raucous evening, many beers and lots of laughs.  He was a Puerto Rican who couldn’t speak spanish, and who had grown up in Texas.  He was so refreshingly frank.  We talked about race and class and inheritance, surfing and US presidents, he charmed me with his wit humor and fast way of talking.  Saying things no polite Canadian would ever dream to say out loud, he made me nostalgiac for the harshness of America.  Even piqued my interest in Texas, minorly.  We went to my place at the end of the evening, he said he had known this would happen, I had not, but certainly had had my intentions.  We were drunk, happy, and had that kind of sex.  At some point, the condom came off.  In retrospect, how did he not notice?  But I didn’t, and so the night went on.  Afterwards, he stroked my hair and it was lovely, we talked and I admired his body his face his lips his hands, all the parts of a body that had just wreaked its havoc upon me.  I grow fond of bodies I am intimate with quite immediately.

He had an exam in the morning and I never saw him again, he was off to Paris and then who knows where.  He was worried about how the condom had broken, or fallen off, or whatever indeed did happen.  He encouraged me to take the morning after pill, but I waved him off saying don’t worry, its so recent that I had my last period, it will be fine.  I stuck a vitamin C tablet up my cooch, sure it would kill any lingering sperm, and went about my business.  He had assured me he was clean, and had such a neurotic doctor’s personality, I was not about to doubt it.  So I kept waiting for the blood to come.  Took parsley infusions, ordered wild carrot seeds and asked them to please come FAST.   Finally in my bloodless state I knew I was pregnant, DAMN IT, and took a test to be sure.  Sure enough.  Damn it again.  I wrote him, and he wasn’t too impressed – how did he word it – not the most glorious decision, he said.  Though definitely the right one, he went on to say, seeing as I had known him only 24 hours.  As if to suggest that had I known him 48 hours, or 72, or even 211 hours, then I maybe wouldn’t have needed to stop life from growing inside of me..

Anyway, he was in Paris throughout all of this, and we exchanged no more than a few emails.  I had no healthcare, as I was still not a resident of the province, though I had become a citizen years ago.  So I had to pay $525 for the procedure, out of my own pocket. I thought I would be reimbursed, but no such luck.  I told some people what had happened, and a friend accompanied me to the clinic,.  It was a warm snowy day and we walked down and back together, it was lovely actually.  After my previous abortion which had felt quite barbaric, this one was gentle. The doctor was a woman, they spoke with me before and after, and had me lie down on a bed, brought my friend in, fed me cookies and ginger ale.  The cramps weren’t so bad until later, when they were horrific.  Not as bad as when I had what must have been a miscarriage, back in Boston.  So they were livable.  I certainly lived.

He emailed me again this character who had made me laugh so, and who I would have loved to know better.  He invited me out for a tea, and said he had thought a lot about what had happened, and I was looking forward to hearing his end of the events, to have the opportunity to share this experience and not have it be only mine.  And then he disappeared. I wrote him a few times, unsure what had happened, asking, confused, angry, complacent, and I just kept writng because I couldn’t believe he was disappearing on me, and I wrongly assumed that eventually he would write back.  But no, nothing.  So this chance to share the experience that I was so looking forward to was stolen from me, and I had to carry what had happened around with me as if it was only mine, and nobody else’s.  It helps to share experience, especially with the people who live through it with you.  Nobody else could have assuaged my experience more than him, for simply hearing about how he dealt with the same situation, of which he was a part, would have offered me so much.

I was not given such a luxury.

10 Responses to “Santiago’s Baby”

  1. Adena Hannibal Says:

    You wouldn’t believe it but I wasted all day digging for some articles about this. You’re a lifesaver, it was an excellent read and has helped me out to no end. Cheers,

  2. admin Says:

    We’re so glad we can help, Adena. Check back soon for new stories!

  3. Mark Vice Says:

    I love it!

  4. Damian Katula Says:

    Awesome post. Keep doing stuff like this and fighting the fight!

  5. Herta Keomuangtai Says:

    Brilliant post. Just found it on Bing. Thanks for the useful information. Keep up the nice work :)

  6. Dominic Olson Says:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  7. bresse Says:

    i shared this story with a friend of mine. she got where you were coming from.

  8. Rusty Alesi Says:

    thanx for sharing these thoughts.

  9. tea girl Says:

    this is a beautiful story. thanks for sharing it.

  10. ggggg Says:

    it´s strange how even when people handle stuff so backwards we still wanna hear their voice, i feel that way so often.
    i´d rather words– silence can be such a patriarchal weapon.

    i wanna read on and on, thanks for sharing this, every bit of it.

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