I am right in the middle of my 5th
abortion. I took the early option
pill this morning, and tomorrow night I will insert the misoprostol to make
me start to have cramps and bleeding. I'm 7 weeks along this time.
I think FIVE abortions
I am really tempted to berate myself for it. I mean,
how can an educated woman find herself in this spot five times by age 31? How
could I be this careless? But you know, lack of caring had NOTHING to do with
it. Every single time I have found myself pregnant my situation has been radically
different, and every time, I believe I have made the best choice possible. I grieve
about it, and want never to have to make this choice again.
been pregnant 7 times - I have two great children.
The first time was when
I was 17. I had just arrived at college, first time away from home. I'd left a
very pro-life boyfriend and a very pro-life family behind, and was dreading the
truth my body was telling me. I was thankful, though, that I'd come to a town
where an abortion provider was available. I was terrified. I felt I was committing
the first knowing mortal sin of my life (yes, Catholic),
but I had a sister who'd been nearly destroyed by giving up a baby for adoption
the year before, and I wasn't about to screw up my scholarship, my illustrious
future, or my parent's approval. I borrowed money from a high school friend, and
leaned gratefully on my very sweet dorm roommate (who'd only just met me 2 weeks
prior), and had a suction procedure
at 8 weeks.
Given my inability to tell my parents or my sisters or my boyfriend,
and my belief up till this situation that abortion was the option of selfish people,
I was quite traumatized by the procedure, even though it was not especially protracted
or painful. My distress was all emotional. I spent the entire time with every
muscle in my body locked up, and I kept whispering, "I'm sorry," and
I probably permanently scarred the nurse's wrist by squeezing it so hard. Afterwards
I stayed in a fog for about a month. I worked two jobs and took classes full time.
My grades were decent, but I was scared to sleep, because at night I had dreams
full of the noise of that machine, and murder, and children screaming. I spoke
with a priest and cried, and admitted through all the sadness that I still felt
I had done the right thing. He said it was all understandable, that even my inability
to regret it was not incongruous with forgiveness. I began to heal.
months later, I told my boyfriend. He reacted with a bizarre combination of anger
and superstitious b.s. and sadness and caring. He came to visit me. We did not
break up. We continued having this long-distance relationship for years, warped
now by this underpinning of sadness and unevenly distributed guilt. We'd occasionally
cheat on each other, and regretfully confess, but we seemed to cling to this idea
that the relationship we had with each other was the 'real' one.
(3 years later) I found myself once again pregnant. My 'real' boyfriend was not
the father, and I was leaning towards abortion, an idea with which the father
concurred. But between my terror of the procedure and my guilt over the first
one, I told my boyfriend about my situation. He was adamant that I should not
have an abortion. He said even if the child was not his, he would help me, he
would marry me, and we'd raise this kid together. He also said that if I went
through with the abortion he would never speak to me again. Looking back at that
I can see how much arm-twisting that was, but I took his promise to make a family
with me as true, and we were married, and I had a son.
My husband had misgivings.
He was absent a lot, and unfaithful a lot. We had a daughter 15 months later,
also unplanned, but believing we were a family I went ahead with the pregnancy.
Eventually I went back and finished college, even though when I look back at those
years I see how depressed I was. Increasingly, I was alone in all the family responsibilities.
He didn't want to think of me as his wife any longer, and I became his 'partner'
and then even less than that. He moved out and left me with two toddlers in a
house with no electricity and no hot water. I went on welfare, and moved into
subsidized housing, and still tried to preserve my wretched marriage.
person cannot hold a marriage together single-handedly. I found out his girlfriend
was pregnant, and that he went with her to get an abortion. I wondered why this
was suddenly acceptable to him
maybe the realization of his stunning failure
as a father made him wary of encouraging any more parturition on his behalf? Maybe
her future in his eyes was more valuable than mine? I'm not sure.
winter I had a transformation in my spirit. My husband was planning to study a
year abroad, as if none of us existed. I worked up the courage to tell my parents
all the secrets I had not revealed. They called me a 'murderer' but then apologized,
and we all cried and tried to understand why. I cleared the slate with them, decided
to stand up for myself and be my kids' best defender. I cleared the slate with
myself, more importantly, and came to terms with the fact that my decisions had
damn good logic behind them (except for when I got married), and I was ready to
stop feeling guilty and ashamed.
My son was 3 at that time, and my daughter
was 2, and with a university degree, I could not accept that they would grow up
in poverty. I got a job as a copy editor, my first real job. Within a year, I
was no longer eligible for food stamps, or for an apartment subsidy. I moved into
a tiny little basement apartment where my kids shared a bedroom. I made improvements,
and found my strength. Eventually I filed for divorce, bought a small house, and
made the three of us a family.
I vowed to myself that I would not ever
have a child unless I could be certain of the love and respect and support of
the man who would be that child's dad. And with two kids already, that is a tall
order. Of course I also vowed that birth
control would always and forever be used.
My second abortion was after
a one-night 4th of July reunion with a guy I'd dated briefly. Since I hadn't been
involved with anyone, I was not using any birth control. There was no way I could
consider having the child, and I informed him of the pregnancy and my decision
in the same short conversation. I haven't spoken to him again, by his choice.
I had an injection of methotrexate,
glad of an option that didn't involve an invasive procedure. This time I was not
destroyed with guilt, though I still did grieve.
About a year and a half
later, I found myself pregnant again. This time I was in a relationship that had
lasted about 15 months. I was on the pill,
but I had come down suddenly with pneumonia, and had to have IV antibiotics, and
wouldn't you know it
this was the first time that I actually talked the decision
over with the dad. We agreed that neither of us was prepared for parenthood again
(he had 2 kids from a previous marriage). My misgivings were largely based on
scary tantrums this guy would throw from time to time. He was borderline abusive,
and watched my every move suspiciously, and I was pretty sure I didn't want to
co-parent with him. But at least I felt supported this time.
I was right
about him. We stayed together, and within a few more months his behavior continued
to worsen, until I got a restraining order against him. I wasn't about to become
an abused woman, or stay with someone I was increasingly scared of, even though
I loved him. I wasn't going to subject my kids to that kind of attitude. So I
got him out of my life.
A week after the cops escorted him out of my life,
I realized I was once again pregnant. I'd been on the pill, but with the chaos
of the relationship I was in, the senseless arguments, the pressure to continually
forgive him, and the depression I was slipping into from being so controlled by
this neanderthal, I apparently wasn't consistent enough with taking it. This fourth
abortion went along with my grieving for what I'd once thought was going to be
a lasting relationship. It was also supposed to be the last time.
brings me to now. I am planning on graduate school, and my son is 10 years old.
My daughter is 8. I'm working at a university as a writer and editor. I broke
up with the abusive guy a year ago, but I stayed in touch with him, unfortunately.
It's hard to totally turn your back on someone. While he was with me he was working
and keeping up with his bills, but afterward he pretty much fucked his life up,
and hooked up with this drug user, and became one himself. He ended up in jail
for a while (for hitting her), and he wrote me a lot of letters, and I started
to believe, ridiculously, that he was something other that a total loser. He got
out of jail, and stupidly, trustingly, I let him stay at my place while he got
back on his feet. We had very sporadic sex. In fact, in the whole last month he
lived with me we only had sex once. He got back together with this junkie, and
never got a job, but was getting by purely on shoplifting, if you can believe
that. I lost all faith in his decency, and finally pleaded him out of my life
again. And a week later, I was expecting my period. Ha.
I've had it with
loving unlovable men.
I give a small apology to the embryo inside me again.
I know that every one of the embryos that I have aborted have been every bit as
unique and special as the two I decided to keep and raise. I take small rationalizing
comfort in the knowledge that the cerebral cortex does not begin to transmit impulses
until about 25 weeks, meaning that there will be no pain for the little one, just
a simple failure to thrive. I will try, in wonder and fear to spot the grayish
embryo in the clots that I will begin passing this Sunday, and if I find it, I
will give it a burial. I am glad that there are earlier, non-surgical
options available to me and to other women. I am pro-life in the sense that
I respect and revere life. There is nothing easy and nothing comfortable about
this decision, even though I have come to it before.
But you know, it is
not miraculous at all to conceive. It happens constantly all around us, and for
a woman built like I am, to bear and nurse many children, it is not the breathless
wonderment we try to make it out to be in our culture. We shroud it in this shaky
reverence, but without a sustaining love between the parents (or a solid commitment
on the part of the woman to be a mother regardless of where he stands), it is
only a biological event.
I've considered having my tubes
tied, but I love my reproductive capacity.
And I'm only 31. There's still reason to imagine that during or after graduate
school I'd meet someone I'd want to have another child with. What I can do is
stringently recommit to birth control, and I think I will have an IUD
inserted, even now while I am involved with no one, even though it is usually
reserved for people in long-term monogamous relationships.
I can only imagine
that anti-choice people are probably reading this with much gnashing of teeth,
but you know, if every woman with an unwanted pregnancy gave her child up for
adoption, we'd have orphanages full of the unwanted
all around us. You're not going to find enough adoptive parents for all those
conceptions. Moreover, we'd have women who had to knowingly turn over their child
to that unknown fate, and live their entire lives knowing that somewhere their
child lives, maybe lacking in love or in basic needs, just so that she could live
free of them. I'd rather know that I could fully provide for those I chose to
bring into this world, since raising them is my responsibility and should be my
reward. Sometimes I look at my two kids and think they are awfully lucky to be
the ones that got born, but you know, the embryos I aborted are not suffering,
and did not suffer when I ended their development. If they were assigned a soul
yet, that soul has gone straight back to God, and I know that God understands
the choices I have made as a foolish and emotion-addled human being.
So anyway, that is my story. Thanks for having the patience to read it. I hope
that you can see that at no time have I felt flippant or careless or apathetic
about the idea of ending a pregnancy. Being a good mother is the best thing I
have accomplished in my life so far, but I hope to do a great deal more with the
opportunities that lie ahead of me.
I pray for the strength of women to
shoulder the most difficult choices we humans must make, and for the fearlessness
to look at a situation head on, and to decide what's best. Monica
4 June 2002
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watch, all of you men. I'll show you what a woman can do... I'll go across the
country, I'll race to the moon... I'll never look back."
- Edna Gardner
Whyte, regards her first solo flight, New Year's Day, 1931.