I never really had the “mother instinct” for as long as I can remember, I never wanted to have children. I had a very unconventional; dare I say dysfunctional upbringing and between the lack of emotional support and the uncertainty of any stable future, I had no desire to procreate. I was going to make something of my life! I was going to break the cycle of the lower class, uneducated, unemployed social status my family lingered in for decades. I wanted more for myself and I was going to do it come hell or high water! So, imagine my disappointment when I found out I was pregnant two months before my freshman year in college started.
I had only been with my boyfriend (the baby’s father and now my ex-husband) for about eight months. He was 8 years older than me and a college grad. He came from a good family which attracted me to him Initially. He was stable and I needed stable in my life.
I was not ready to settle down so I decided to get on birth control. I am horrible with remembering to take medication so my doctor and I chose to do the Depo Shot (a shot every 3 months with a 98.9% effective rate). Everything was going great until one day I got an ear infection that changed my life forever! Anyone who has been on birth control knows that if you take antibiotics your birth control becomes less effective for the duration of the med cycle. Information that now is imbedded in my brain BUT I must have not paid attention the day the doctor explained that to me.
It was July 4th, I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and just unwell. My breast were sore and I felt bloated. I had been feeling this way for a week but these are some side effects of my birth control so I thought I was okay until my first sip of my morning coffee. Immediately my skin turned green with nausea and I ran into the bathroom. As I am hugging the toilet, I start to get hot and flushed, my heart rate increases and I was riddled with anxiety. This cannot be happening!
As I walked into my local pharmacy I quietly made my way to the women’s health and hygiene isle (which is ironically conjoined with baby products which is a sick joke if you ask me). I blankly stared at the small pink boxes. I grabbed the three most expensive ones (there are MANY things I love a bargain on but this felt like I needed to deal with the top brass). As I walked to the register already feeling panic and dread there stood my best friends mom awaiting her turn in line. At this point I am panicked, dreading and completely embarrassed. We locked eyes and as she went in to greet me with a hug, she scanned my parcel of pregnancy tests, she gave me a look of disappointment I will never forget. It cut deep and I felt a new low. At this point tears are welling up and all I can do is put my head down in shame knowing at this moment everything is going to change and I am not ready for it.
As you can undoubtedly guess, all three were very positive and I was screwed. I told my boyfriend our dismal news and his shock was palpable. As I said before it was the 4th of July and we were expected to attend a family barbecue that day, trying to pretend that we were both okay was not an easy feat. I dug deep within me to find the strength to hold back tears. I am sure people knew something was wrong, but I was not about to unburden myself in front of my boyfriend’s whole family.
Over the next few days we talked about what we wanted to do and ultimately we decided to abort the baby, we both knew we should not have a baby at this time but as I think back I realize that we never really entertained any other options. I would never blame him for the abortion because I also didn’t want any children at that time but he was very persuasive and I didn’t feel I had options or room in my life for anything else.
One week later I am sitting in Planned Parenthood (a name I find completely hilarious considering they do not help you plan anything besides abortion) I am speaking to a women at the front desk filling out paperwork and it all feels very sterile and devoid of any compassion. When I am done with paperwork I go to sit down and wait. I am looking around the waiting area I observe people texting and reading the waiting room magazines, honestly I felt like I was waiting at the DMV. I was very overwhelmed with emotion and I tried to express this to my boyfriend, but he was little comfort. “We already decided and we drove all this way”. My head was spinning so fast I almost didn’t realize that the nurse was ushering me into a room.
They gave me the option of being put under general anesthesia or to get something to calm me down, I took the latter thinking “I am aborting my baby, the least I could do is be conscious for the procedure”. They gave me the medication, and as I sat there waiting for it to kick in, I had a change of heart. I got up from the chair grabbed my bag and started walking to the waiting area when I was stopped in the hallway by a nurse. She asked me where I was going and I explained to her that I change my mind and I want to think about it some more. She told me to hold on a second and she would get the doctor to come speak with me so I turned around and went back in the room and sat down. The doctor walked into a room and picked up my chart and started reading it. The atmosphere in the room was cold, almost like a giant rain cloud was filling the air. The doctor didn’t introduce himself or look at me, he just said that it was too late to back out because they gave me medication already. At this point, I was so exhausted, feeling very loopy from the medication, and intimidated by the doctor, the nurses and my boyfriend so I just gave up. I didn’t know why I was so upset, I didn’t want a baby and this was fixing that so just get it over with and forget it ever happened; easy enough. Except it was anything but.
All and all procedure went off without a hitch. I bore no physical scars or injury, But the emotional scars I was left with would last a lifetime. It was not easy to just forget. I couldn’t just erase it from my mind and I had no idea that magnitude of the decision I made all those years ago. But a few years later when I got pregnant again and delivered my son I understood. How could I be so crass in my decision to abort? Who did I abort? What would they have been? Would it have been the daughter I never had? Could she and I have had a bond I never had with my own mother? What did I miss out on but doing it? Better yet what in my life is so much better because of it?
These questions go through my mind even 20 years later. It changed me as a person. It made me unsure of myself and it caused me depression. It was a factor in the end of my marriage and it shames me anytime I talk about it. It’s not all about the baby I gave up on before it had a chance but more about the fact that I gave up on myself and took the “easy” way out. I was too scared about the consequences and I didn’t want to deal with it.
I now have three beautiful amazing teenage sons and I am grateful for them every day. I am remarried to an amazing man who doesn’t judge me (I do that enough for the both of us) he is there for me as my equal and life is good. I do not blame anyone for my decision because ultimately it was mine and I made it, but not a day goes by without me wishing I made a different one.
If I could help anyone struggling with this choice, I would tell them to pause and take a breath. Find someone who is objective and has your best interest at heart and talk to them first. Be informed of what your options are and make a list, weigh them against abortion and just be sure without a shadow of a doubt because it may seem like the easiest decision now but may turn out to be the most heavy and important in your life.