When I was seventeen and staring at those two pink lines on my home pregnancy test, I already knew what I was going to do. "It's your decision," E~ had said, "I'll support whatever you decide."
I knew he wanted to marry me, that he fantasized about having children with me. I also knew that we loved each other, that he would be a decent provider and father. But I wanted desperately to get out of my small town, to go to college, to experience some independence. I didn't expect to be with him forever. And my decision was already made. "If I'm pregnant," I told him, "I'll have an abortion."
I never wavered from this, but in quiet moments alone, I marveled at the miracle happening inside me. I imagined a dark-eyed daughter I would never know. I knew I could continue the pregnancy if I really wanted to, but as far as I could tell, I didn't really want to. I felt sad, and guilty, and vowed to the spirit of that imagined girl that if she was willing and able, I would invite her back one day.
It wasn't until I'd lived another seventeen years, in December of 2004, that I saw two lines on a pregnancy test again. I was thrilled. My heart leapt at the thought of finally knowing the girl I had imagined and fallen in love with so many years before. But quickly, my heart sank again. I was with a different man now. Of course this would not be the same child.
After I miscarried, there were many empty months, and many negative pregnancy tests. My husband was often away on business, and ambivalent about having children in the first place. I felt very alone. I began to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake as a teenager, if my entire pathetic-seeming life from that point was an illustration of that fact.
It was at this time, while wallowing in confusion and isolation, that the phone rang and it was E~. We hadn't spoken in well over a decade. Through several conversations over the course of the month, something subtle and significant shifted for me.
I'll tell you all about it, I promise.
Tune in next time for My Abortion, part 3.