Looking back on it, the pregnancy was my first and biggest "mistake" in my life. I was a goodie-goodie, a smart girl. I did everything right. I was working full time and going to college full time. I had just enough money to pay my bills and buy ramen for dinners. I was a virgin until I met the man of my dreams in college, becoming sexually active only after AIDS tests at the age of 22. I went on the pill immediately. What I didn't know is that sometimes nature intervenes. I had some ovarian cysts and the resulting hormone surge allowed me to ovulate, despite taking my little pink pills religiously. I realised I was pregnant during the toughest semester of my college experience, my Senior finals. I was in shock. While I struggled through work and studying, sleeping an average of 3 hours a day, I also grappled with my unhappy surprise.
I was only 23. I had been in a monogamous relationship for a year, but we were not any where near being ready to marry. My boyfriend had heard me lecture about how I was putting off marriage and families until I had faith I could afford to do it the way I always dreamt. He assumed I'd never get pregnant. When I did, he assumed I'd run straight to the clinic and have an abortion. When he realised I was actually wishy-washy about that decision he freaked out. He was scared. Perhaps he could have been more understanding, but I understood where his fear was coming from. He just didn't understand where I was coming from. I was the girl that didn't make mistakes, remember? And Having made a HUGE one, I was facing the possibility of making another doozy: abortion. I was afraid I might be in shock and make a mistake. I needed to be sure about what I wanted. I was suspicious that I felt noting maternal. I felt oddly numb about the pregnancy. I simply couldn't imagine me being a mother. I never got warm fuzzy feelings. I even went to the library and forced myself to look at pictures and descriptions of the actual development of the fetus. Still nothing. No guilt. I realised that I was not in shock. I just sincerely did not want this baby.
I waited a couple weeks to do anything about the pregnancy in order to finish college. I graduated with my BA with honors along side my best friend. I remember waiving goodbye as she drove off into the sunset to return to Chicago. It seemed so far from me. All of my boxes were on the sidewalk around me, we had just moved out of our apartment. I was graduated. I was homeless, as our lease was up. I had no job, since my position was a student position and I was no longer a student. I remember waving goodbye to her thinking: CRAP! I had no place to live, no money, no job, no health insurance, no car, my boyfriend and I were on the rocks, and I was stinking pregnant.
Luckily, the opportunity to house sit for a week for my older brother had come up, and I seized it. Secluded, I made arrangements for the abortion, made my boyfriend cough up the money, and made arrangements for my mother to take me. The procedure itself was entirely painless. My annual gynecological exams are more painful. But emotionally I was disappointed in myself. I couldn't believe I was there having an abortion, and I think anyone who knew me would have been equally surprised. I couldn't believe I'd screwed up so badly. I was ashamed, but so ready to be free. I felt like my body and future had been hijacked. I needed control again. Once home, lying on my brother's couch watching TV, I had one moment of sadness. It was when for the first time in two months, I realised that it was just ME. Not US. There was no baby, no US. I felt lonely for about 15 minutes. Mostly I felt relief. I said a little prayer asking the baby's soul to come back to me in the future, and I promised to be ready.
I will confess that pregnancy changes a woman, and you are never the same again. An abortion cannot take you back to the way you were before. It will change you. You become aware of a part of yourself you never understood before. A primal self. I would get jealous of pregnant women, or of newborns, and then seconds later laugh it off. It was the brain stem vs. the fore brain. I am just a human animal after all, and the woman in me finally understood and longed for pregnancy, while my mind better understood the value of family planning.
It's been 10 years since the abortion. I think I'm a stronger woman for my experience. Since then I have married that same boyfriend. Sometimes we marvel of the fact that we 'could' have a 10 year old now if we had made different decisions. But we don't have any regrets. We feel we made the right decision. Today we have great jobs, health insurance, cars and a big gorgeous home, with 3 empty bedrooms. ;) That's right, we are currently trying to conceive. I am finally ready to start a family and it's exactly as I always dreamt it would be. We are going to be great parents. The time is right.
Very few people who haven't experienced what we have would understand how big a difference it is to be pregnant when the time is right, vs. when the time is wrong. It's like night and day. I wouldn't have my life and the life of my future children play out any other way. I am so grateful that I had the choice.
February 20, 2007
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