Have you ever stood in a bathroom, hands shaking, eyes wide with fear, heart pounding, head exploding — as you look at the positive pregnancy test in your hand?
And I don’t mean shaking with joy. I mean shaking with pure, blinding panic. Panic at the knowledge that you’re kind of — well — fucked.
Your life is now over. All plans — gone. Vaporized.
You see one extra pink line and everything has been swept away. In one moment.
Abortion was the very first word that came to my mind when I was standing in Ernesto’s bathroom of his studio apartment. Not — I’m pregnant. More like — I need to find a clinic and get this over with NOW.
I was a single mother with two children. I was in a very serious relationship, yes. But far from a situation conducive to bringing a child into this world. I had just finished school. I didn’t have a job. I still lived with my dad. I already had two mouths to feed on zero income and minimal child support — even though I had help from my family.
It was a bad situation.
Then Ernesto walked into the room. I told him. He freaked. I took another test. It was positive. I cried. He took a shot of whiskey. I smoked a cigarette. And the question hung there in the air. Hung over our heads like a thick, black cloud.
What are we going to do?
I told him that this was bad. Real bad.
Sitting on his couch, shoulders hunched, my hands tucked between my knees — I said, “Maybe an abortion?”
I can’t remember his exact words, but I remember it being along the lines of It’s your decision and I’ll support you in whatever you decide to do. But he wanted this baby. I could see it clear as day. I understood. I kind of wanted the baby because it was our baby. A precious combination of our DNA — a strange ghostly thing deep in my belly — an idea of what was to be our child was growing inside me.
I think we discussed it for all of two minutes.
Him: I think we can do this.
Me: An abortion would be the smart thing to do.
Him: I don’t want to pressure you. I want you to make the decision.
Me: But it’s our baby.
Him: This is so fucking weird!
Me: I can find a clinic. There’s a Planned Parenthood downtown.
He nods silently.
Me: I wonder what this baby would look like.
Him: I know.
Me: I wonder if it would have your black hair and my blue eyes.
Him: I think we can do this.
Me: You think so? What are going to do? We need to move in together. How am I going to find a job while I’m pregnant?
Him: We can make it work.
So I decided that we could make it work. I was terrified. I called my mom. He called his parents. I was 31, but felt like a teenager.
I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I was so irresponsible that I got myself into this situation. What the fuck were we thinking? How is keeping this baby a good decision?
I was five months pregnant before I got used to the idea of having another child. I was an angry pregnant woman. I loved my baby, but I felt fucked over at the same time. Fucked over by my actions. Fucked over by my husband’s actions. I went back and forth between being excited about the pregnancy and terrified of miscarriage — to indifferent and even angry about the pregnancy.
But my son is here now. I love him with all my soul. He has my blond hair and blue eyes, and has his father’s smile and furrowed brow. We have our own place. I have a decent job. We’re stable enough. The kids are happy.
This isn’t some post where I’m saying — See? I had the baby and everything worked out fine! So you should have yours too!
Because it was HARD. It’s been stressful. Our lives are chaotic. Wonderful — yes. But chaotic in the way that only having three children can be chaotic.
I understand why women have abortions. I went forward with my pregnancy with the faulty reasoning that I already had two children — what’s one more? Might as well go for it.
I’m in no way saying I don’t love my son. I’m not even saying that I wish I had aborted him. He’s adored beyond measure. I guess what I’m saying is — pregnancy is so complicated, so sacred — not because I think an embryo is sacred. Pregnancy is sacred because it takes place within our bodies. Inside us. Mothering changes everything — affects us to the very core.
We should be able to make that sacred decision. That choice. Without government interference — without anti-abortion ideology being thrust upon us.
Every pregnancy should be a pro-choice pregnancy. A pregnancy that is wanted. A pregnancy where the woman has made the decision to keep her baby based on her needs, her desires. It’s not selfish. It’s common sense. A happy pregnant woman who is happy about her pregnancy will more likely be happy about motherhood – and this more often than not, results in a happy baby who turns into a happy, well-adjusted child.
So what’s next on my to-do list?
A tubal ligation.