Dee's Story

I've been reading the stories here for a while now. I wish I'd found the site when some of these women were looking for support. My story is from many years ago. 36 years ago is where it really begins.

36 years ago a beautiful, witty and strong young woman was trying to start a career. She met a man and feel deeply in love with him. Somehow, the details aren't fully know, she became pregnant. 36 years ago there wasn't any choice for her. She gave birth to me without the support of my father, and she always made sure I had a lot of love. It was hard for a long time. People are cruel, and she had trouble getting the usual desk jobs as a single mother. She did a great job, though, and here I am, 36 years later.

17 years ago, I was with a man, a very special man. My first adult love, and my first lover. I was 19 and I thought I had all the answers. We would get married and someday we'd have babies together. We had a rocky relationship, fighting one week, head over heels again the next. I was never really worried about STDs or pregnancy because I had been on the pill since I was 13. Mom made sure of it. I'd been totally faithful and so had he.

My Dad, though, hated the man. He didn't like the way my boyfriend was treating me and made that very clear. At one point we had a huge fight about my Dad's influence on me and broke things off. My boyfriend went off to school for the military and I tried to just get over him. A few weeks later he called. He'd just gotten back from school and claimed he wanted to work things out. I found us an apartment and he paid the rent while I tried to explain things to my Dad. I gave up when Dad made it plain he didn't understand and went to the apartment intending to start over with J. Dad followed shortly after I left and asked me to come back home. When I refused he told me "Don't ever darken my doorstep again.". I was deeply hurt by my Dad's words but I thought he'd probably get over his anger after a while and things would be ok.

I turned my focus to getting things right with J that night. In the weeks we'd been split up I had run out of my birth control pills. I never went to get more because I had intended to stay celibate for a while. I told all of this to J because he made it plain he expected us to have sex that night. I asked him point blank if he would be there for me if I got pregnant, and he promised he would. We went to bed and after we made love, he fell asleep. I ended up getting out of bed at some point and going to sleep on the couch because I just couldn't fall asleep.

I knew that very night I was pregnant and I was excited and happy. The next day, J went out with some friends while I visited with a girlfriend and she cut, permed and styled my hair. I wanted to look really great for J when he came to pick me up. When he got there instead of being happy to see me, he wouldn't let me even kiss him hello. He said he'd just "wanted to get laid one more time" and he didn't want to see me anymore.

I told him to go away and just leave me alone. I was devastated and terrified all at once. I didn't think I could go home after making my Dad so angry, and I was sure I was pregnant. I sat at my friend's house for a while and she kept telling me I needed to go talk to my parents. Finally she drove me to my parents house and told my Dad what had happened while I sat in the car crying my eyes out. Dad came out and pulled me out of the car and into his arms, then very gently guided me in the house and told me he was sorry for what he'd said and that I was hurting so bad.

A few weeks later, I started getting sick. My ritual was drinking about two cups of coffee every morning and chatting with my mom. About halfway through the first cup I'd get sick and then be fine. That's when mom started to wonder. I told her I thought I'd gotten pregnant and that J wouldn't be willing to help me with anything. It took three weeks of calling just to tell J and then he pulled the usual "How do I know it's mine?" bit, all the while knowing there hadn't ever been anyone else. I went to the clinic for a pregnancy test and had to wait for two days for the results. I thought I'd go crazy waiting but they put me on prenatal vitamins just in case and we waited.

When I called the clinic back and the nurse said the test was positive, I just dropped the phone and fell to my knees. I remember shaking and crying and asking my mother what I was going to do, and how was I going to tell Dad.

She was right there with me and she kept telling me "You'll know what's right, hon, it's going to be ok. Daddy's going to be disappointed and maybe even angry, but he loves you." He was angry all right! Angry with me for being so trusting, and angry with J for treating his daughter so badly.

I'd always been pro-life and never even wanted to hear the word abortion, much less consider having one. I'd given an antiabortion speech in my speech course the year before and had a lot of kids seriously considering their actions. I'm still very proud of that speech because I heard a lot of kids saying they were going to be a LOT more careful about their sexual activities. Still, there I was 19 years old, jobless, about to lose health insurance and pregnant.

My parents and I sat down and talked that night for a long time. Dad said "I'll give you the shirt off my back to support whatever decision you make, but please, please do the sensible thing!" My response to that was "Dad, I can't kill this baby. I want to have it." He asked how I was going to take care of it and I told him I was thinking of adoption. That one simple statement hurt my Dad deeply. He asked me "You mean you'd have my first grandchild and then I'd never get to see it again?" My heart broke then. I thought of all the people who would be hurt. My parents, my sisters, my grandparents, J and his other 2 kids from a previous marriage. It was just too much. I agonized for two weeks about what to do. It was all the time I had left to decide for a first trimester abortion. I talked to lots of people and didn't find much support.

I finally decided I couldn't put my baby through the things I'd known as a child, the insecurities, the fears and the emotional hang-ups I still have from my father abandoning us. I couldn't hurt all those people for someone that wasn't really even a "someone" yet.

I don't remember much about the abortion except that I felt a little like cattle being herded into a boxcar, and that it hurt, and boy did it hurt. Back then it was just a local anesthetic in the cervix, and that didn't do a thing for the horrible cramping the procedure set off. It was only about 5 minutes, but it felt like forever, and it was the most life-changing 5 minutes I'd ever experienced.

I knew then why women fought for the right to stop a pregnancy. I could never go back to the judgmental know-it-all antiabortion fool I had been. I had been in their place and come out the other side with knowledge and wisdom I lacked in my youthful ignorance.

For any woman, young or old facing this situation... know that you may feel guilt, sadness, grief, and there is nothing wrong with these things. You may even figure out you made a bad choice. Just please remember what is bad for you is not always bad for other women. And above all else, if you believe you made a mistake by aborting a pregnancy, forgive yourself! If you have religion, turn to your God/dess(s), know that you are human and make mistakes and that you mustn't give up hope that things will be ok again. They will. I'm living proof along with my 13+ year marriage and my three beautiful children. Any mistake can be a learning experience. Make this one of them for your own sake and for those who love you.

5 February 2002

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"Our way is not soft grass, it's a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun."
- Ruth Westheimer