I had my abortion in 2010. I already have a child with my partner and we had been together ten years. We had our child young and struggled financially but both went to and graduated college. I had just graduated with a masters degree, and we were finally getting a bit more financially secure. Though we were still living paycheck to paycheck in a bad neighborhood, with a slumlord landlord. It was still better than depending on welfare, and we were feeling better about ourselves for being able to stand on our own two feet. I learned I was pregnant less than a month after taking a new job. My new boss was monstrous, but with the economic downturn I was lucky to have the job and I knew how hard it was to get in the first place. I was being illegally denied time off for medical treatment, and bullied being told that my boss felt my immediate need for time off for a doctor's appointment meant that I was unreliable. I needed that job. I ended having to stay pregnant longer just so I could go to the appointment and keep my job.
I was having severe morning sickness, it was impacting my job performance. When I wasn't at work I was in bed. I could barely eat anything and became very pale and had no energy. Those symptoms disappeared almost immediately after I had the abortion.
Financially I knew we couldn't have another child. Emotionally I knew that our family couldn't handle having the baby and giving it away. Not only myself but my partner and our child we already had could not go through that. I didn't want to give my baby away and I didn't want to plunge my family deeply into poverty. Having lived through poverty already and beat the odds we knew enough not to go down that road again. And there was no way we could do that to our child that we already had, abortion was the right decision for our family.
I wanted that baby. I loved that baby. Not having that baby was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I still cry sometimes, I still hurt that I couldn't be its mother. But I know without a doubt that we made the right decision. I chose not to tell anyone about the abortion. Instead the few people who were told anything were told that I had an ectopic pregnancy and it wasn't possible to carry the baby to term. Even then the only people told that story was my boss, so I could get the time off for the abortion my boss would demand to know what appointments were for. And even then I had to reassure my boss that it was unplanned and that we were relieved that I couldn't carry to term as we were not wanting more children. It was awful, especially because I was feeling so emotionally torn. I knew I had made the correct decision for my family, but in my heart I had wanted that baby.
I was deeply depressed, I cried constantly as silently as possible while I lay in bed, We had told our daughter that I was ill. I was ill, morning sickness had a heavy grip on me. But even as rough as that was, I wanted my baby. Worse, it was all over the news, abortion was the hot topic of the presidential election debates and every time a radio or television was on it was all about abortion. Everywhere I went people had and were voicing their opinions about abortion. I felt very angry about this. Here I was actually having to debate abortion for myself, and here were all these people talking about something that NO ONE can truly know unless you are a woman making that decision.
Every pregnancy is different, with my first child I was young idealistic and naive. I knew right away that no matter the odds I would have my baby. I thought about how I could never have an abortion. I strongly supported a woman's right to choose for herself, but I also knew strongly that I could never have one myself.
When I was pregnant with my second child I was older wiser and I knew what it was like to raise a child with no money. I knew how precarious life is, and how easily you can slip back into poverty. It had been a ten year struggle to become financially self sufficient. After welfare, there were many many family loans taken to get by. And even then we were still in a bad neighborhood and we felt acutely the desire to do better for the child we already had.
On the day of my abortion my partner came with me. We sat in the waiting room. Two other couples were there. One very young couple, the girl seemed at peace with her decision and ventured a smile to me. The young man with her looked tortured. He was in pain over this. The other couple were five to ten years older than my partner and me. The man was holding the woman tenderly and she was silently crying. In contrast we looked like we could have been in any doctor's office we looked at magazines chatted about things we had to get done, we had been through the wringer already. I had to wait longer to get the time off. I was having a c&d but I was almost past the window for having the procedure. I felt connected to that baby. I wants that baby. But the night before I held a small ceremony for my child. I thanked that soul for coming into my life. I told it how much I loved it. And then I asked it to leave. I told it that I would always love it, and that tomorrow the tissue would be removed. That I wanted that soul to go and find a mother elsewhere and be born. I felt closure. I felt like the soul of that baby did go. And that night and the next day I no longer felt that same connection, it was like my baby had already gone from me. It didn't make it any easier. But I was determined to get through the appointment.
We went into a room with chairs and a table, pamphlets scattered the table. We were given the informed consent and carefully informed about the procedure and it's permanence. Then a series of questions were asked and checked off by the attendant. I had the option of having my partner leave but chose to keep him with me as I answered the questions.
The doctor came in and introduced himself. He told us a story of why he performs abortions. His girlfriend had one in Mexico in the 1970's and it wasn't as safe as it should have been. She lived and she was healthy but the trauma of having to go to such lengths had stayed with him. When he was in medical school he decided he wanted to help women to not have to go to such lengths and to receive excellent medical care. It was touching you could tell he really meant what he said. He had us go to another room. There I had an ultrasound, our state doesn't require one but he does. He turned the monitor for us to see our baby. Our state doesn't require this, he chooses to do this. At this point he reassured us that if we change our minds it's ok. We squeezed each others hands I smiled at the beautiful baby on the screen and we let him know that no we hadn't changed our minds.
That ultrasound monitor image haunted me for years after. I wished I had a print out, and I mourned my baby's loss. It was the correct decision for our family but it hurt so much in my heart to make it,
We went into a room with a table just like any doctor's office only more space all around the table. I was given a gown and asked to undress and put it on. I was conscious for the whole procedure. My partner held my hand. I cried silently, it was uncomfortable but not painful, I had been given anesthetic. I saw the blood in the tubes and I was aware of the whole procedure. Then when it was over the doctor and nurse had me lay still and gave us some time alone.
After a bit the attendant came back in and apologized for it taking so long, she was sure I must have been bored. (It was really the wrong thing to have said. I was devastated, just not sharing those feelings with them. She was misreading stoicism for comfort.
When I got up from the table the absorbent padding was soaked in blood. The attendant had tried to scoop it away as fast as possible but my eyes followed it keenly. I was given a pad and wipes to clean myself with. I dressed. Again they gave us as much time as we needed. It was very respectfully handled. Then I was told how important the follow up appointment was, and if not at the clinic my own doctor should be seen. (I never went, I should have it could have cost me my life if there were complications. But I couldn't bring myself to do it.)
As we left the clinic a small group was in clinic parking area (we had parked two streets over as it was easier than driving around to the back of the clinic. The group looked like protester setting up for the day. They were having coffee, smoking cigarettes and unpacking their signs. I heard a woman call out "come over here dear this way" I turned my head and in a hardened voice I said "No". But inside I felt weak, the drugs were not fully worn off and I walked with the support of my partner's arm. It was drizzling steadily and we walked briskly to the car. I imagined that they might follow us. But instead I was safely tucked into my seat by my partner and brought home. He had bought pads for me on the way and I stayed home from work the next day, slept the weekend and returned to work on Monday.
It was awful seeing babies and mothers happy together. I usually cried in the bathroom when after they left the room. (I worked with the public) sometimes I allowed myself a big cry before I started work in order to help myself not cry at work. After work I went home and stayed in bed.
I didn't have insurance, and I knew I was depressed. I didn't see a doctor for it. I journaled a lot. I allowed myself two journals, one I kept my hopes wishes and happiness in. The other my pain.
Four years later, the fruits of our decision have come to pass. We are doing much better, a forced move when our landlord sold the property was extremely difficult last year. But it meant that we found a house for barely more money that is twice the size and in a very good neighborhood. Sheer luck, as we are paying far less than we should be, I lost my job, the location was closed and I was laid off. But we are making ends meet while I look for work. Our child is excelling their talents and has found corporate sponsorship to follow their sport training. If we had the baby the move would have been even more difficult, my job loss would be felt more keenly, and my child would have had to stop training for lack of funds years ago.
I know that had I had my baby, we wouldn't be this well off. But that didn't make the decision easy. There are still reminders everywhere. It seemed like my entire social circle sent out pregnancy announcements right after I had my abortion. Both of my sisters became pregnant with a year or two, and I have many toddlers I know that would have been my baby's friends. A generation my baby would have belonged to. I see their mother's happiness and for a long while I was envious. But now I am thankful. Thankful to share their joy, and thankful that my first child the one I gave birth to hasn't had their life truncated, that we weren't pushed back into poverty and that we can move forward as a family together.
It is a process, and I still get sad sometimes. A well meaning grandmother making idle conversation with me said that I was just the right age to have my " accidental" second baby. She meant well, really she did. But all I could think of was, it already happened. When I see abortion protesters with their gruesome image signs (occasionally they are in my city) I am angry at them. They have no idea what it means to have an abortion. And there they are smugly shoving their imagery on everyone who passes. I have been known to tell them off, flip them off, or yell obscenities at them. Not because they lay in judgement of me, but because somewhere there is woman trying to make her own decision and it neither helps nor hinders the process. But their intent is to cause pain and it makes me angry at them.
Editor's CommentThanks for sharing your story and experiences so fully. You made the good point that comes out in many accounts that circumstances and heart issues often pull women in opposing directions. Your circumstances were difficult financially, and you were struggling to make ends meet with your existing family.
I agree with you that protesters outside abortion clinics often make women feel judged and condemned, and while everyone has a right to their own opinion I don't find this type of campaigning acceptable.
This story was sent in on 07/04/2014 and it's been viewed 72 times.