I was nineteen years old when I found myself pregnant a second time. My first pregnancy, I was seventeen and while I intended on parenting-I had a miscarriage at nine weeks and was secretly relieved because I knew I wasn't ready to be anyone's mother. I found I had a new lease on life after that close call with losing my life as I knew it to raise one and took full advantage of the opportunities around me with a new respect for just how precious time alone can be.
Everyone who knew asked me "Why did you get pregnant again? Didn't you learn your lesson?" Well, the first time I will admit I was using the withdrawal method-not the most effective option but no less a method. The second time I was using condoms, every single time. Conception with birth control is far more common than people seem to think. Also, regardless of using birth control-I resented the assumption that if a woman is having sex then she is, without exception, being irresponsible. I told my family because I lived with them and secrets don't stay that way long in my parent's house. No one believed I had been using birth control, and placed all blame on me because they felt I should have been on the pill or something more effective than condoms when the truth is, hormonal forms made me sick and barrier methods seemed to be a reasonable alternative.
I undoubtedly felt upset that this had indeed happened again, it was like I had already used my "free pass". I was let off the hook and here I was again, less than two years later facing the same decision. I was dating a different man at the time and had in fact ended the relationship with him days before I found out I was pregnant due to his emotional and sexual abuse. My first thought was "I can not have a child with this man. He will make both of our lives a living hell!" and that prediction was I'm sure no exaggeration. He made it clear from the start that he would deny to everyone it was even his, let alone support me in any way.
I initially thought "Well, if he really did just leave us alone then maybe I could be a single mom." but he then threatened me that he would abuse the child in every way possible in private hoping the idea of emotional scarring would discourage me from continuing the pregnancy. I won't say it worked but it did get me thinking about all that was at stake here. This man would, like it or not, be the father of this embryo I was carrying and that was an unbearable fact. He lived an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle that the child would be subjected to every other weekend. If his actions towards me were any indication of how he would act towards the child, I knew his threats of abuse were legitimate and probably emotionally uncontrollable.
There were many other reasons I decided to have an abortion aside from who I was pregnant by. I had also just finished a very successful first year of college that was just starting to lay down the path to a number of years of projected graduate work and career aspirations. I was just starting to come into myself mentally and emotionally, just starting to really discover what made me tick, what I want out of life, and of equal importance-what I didn't. I had a low paying job I was barely making ends meet on and the schooling I was obtaining in order to get me a better paying, emotionally satisfying position would almost inevitably be slowed to a crawl that would deprive everyone involved.
I also knew that with a history of major chronic depression going on five years when I found out about the pregnancy, I knew I wasn't in a mentally healthy state for a child. I realize many mothers can still be wonderful parents with depression but I knew I would not be that type. I even tried to commit suicide at six weeks of pregnancy because I didn't want to deal with the monumental choice hanging over my head. After drinking a cup of bleach resulting in nothing but a violent vomiting episode, I started to see that abortion would be the least detrimental path for myself, the embryo, and everyone involved.
To anyone who feels abortion is a simply selfish decision, they are terribly mistaken by this overly black and white view of the circumstances. I took everyone into consideration, perhaps the embryo more than myself in some instances because I had to reject my initial temptation to continue the pregnancy for the personally heart breaking one that just made the most sense given my circumstances. I absolutely want to be a parent someday and the knowledge that I can and will is what got me through the tough time surrounding the pregnancy.
If I had decided to parent, I would be giving birth in four weeks. That is a thought that is more terrifying than any fleeting wishes of "Maybe I shouldn't have..." because I strongly believe it's better to regret an abortion than a child. The abortion, I live with a little pain when I recall the memories and feel the regret of the situation, not the procedure. Parenting, many many people are affected by this choice which I'm sure wouldn't have left many hearts unscathed. I know that in time I will be an excellent mother but for myself, the embryo, and the children I will one day have-I know I made the best decision for all of us.
February 20, 2007
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