Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My Abortion, part 2

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.


maarmie said...

I had an abortion when I was 23. I'm 33 now (almost 34) and I doubt I'll be having children. I have no husband, not even a boyfriend. But just when I start to wonder if I made a huge mistake back then, I remember that I was so screwed up then and that I probably would have ended up raising the child like my parents raised me. In that case, I did the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, BORN, that is such a great topic.

I have had two abortions, and wonder on both whether it was right for me now. It was right for me then, at the moment, but now I could handle and do welcome children into my life. I wish that for both pregnancies, someone would have given me the longer view, the bigger picture. From now on, if any younger person comes to me with the secret that they are pregnant, I will be that voices that says, think about it. Not for religious reasons, but just to be that one person who says, hold on a moment, maybe you can do this.

If after serious thought, they want to pursue it, great. But I will make sure they get an alternate viewpoint--mine--before they make that irrevocable choice. Because it is so, so, so irrevocable. Either way.

Pregnancy is a lot like any other huge change in life. It seems scary, impossible, just too hard when you are young and lack resources. But just like any other changes, like getting married (or divorced) or switching careers, or getting laid off and starting over, we often can do what seems impossible and wind up better off for it. That is what I want to share with the women contemplating their pregnancies.

Trope said...

Argh! Now I am in suspense! What did E~ say to shift you?

I've talked to a lot of women who just really wish they could postpone their pregnancy for a couple years. They are thrilled at the idea of a baby, but would be better off in two or three years beginning that adventure. I'm eager now to finish having kids because I want to know them for a good long time as adults. But I wish we could have some better answer to all the women who say "I want this, I just don't want it yet."

PS I'm interested to hear about your work situation, if there is any practical way to explain how it got resolved.

Trope said...

re: earlier question, that was what I was looking for. Thanks.