It’s funny how the minute you tell people you are pregnant, they think it’s okay to ask, “weren’t you using birth control?”
a) Obviously, if we didn’t want a baby yet and weren’t trying to conceive, there were some preventative measures put in place.
b) Have we ever discussed my sex life before? No? Okay, then I would really rather not start now.
Maybe this whole ordeal made me feel incredibly exposed, like I was having to share details of my life that should have been between myself and my boyfriend alone, and I’m just griping about nothing important. In our case, we had substantial evidence to convince us that we would never be able to have children, and so we became kind of lax with the whole prevention thing. Whoops.
This was, however a double-edged sword. We had two false alarms in the past, and even though neither of us felt ready to start a family yet, each time those two sad, parallel blue lines showed up on the pregnancy test, my heart would sink a little as I would realize that I may never see that oft-coveted plus sign. So, when a few weeks ago I saw that third perpendicular line, screaming at me loud and clear, I wasn’t sure if I was filled with joy or filled with terror. Actually, I was numb. Until about two minutes later when, shaking, I was telling my boyfriend. (The shaking at this point was not entirely out of fear. I remember having to suppress a smile for about two seconds before I said it out loud. There was obviously a part of me that really wanted this.) Then I took a deep breath and sat in complete silence for a few minutes. He was pretty silent, too. I was proud of myself for being calm. That didn’t last long. A couple of hours later, I peed on another stick, just in case. Damn, that plus sign was dark. There was no mistaking it. Then about two minutes after that, I was panicking, saying “of course I can’t keep it, what on Earth will I tell my parents, we’re not even married, you don’t even act like you ever want to marry me, our relationship has been anything but stable, how can I bring a child into THIS?!?!”
But then something shifted. The next morning, when I woke up, and suddenly my sore breasts and the overwhelming nausea had meaning, I smiled. I wasn’t horrified at the thought of being pregnant. I began to cherish knowing that I had the beginnings of another human being inside of me. How fucking awesome is that??? Pretty fucking awesome, I tell you. And when I say “awesome” I mean it in its true sense – it inspires awe, this little thing inside of you that was once two separate cells that merged, and now it’s a tiny little thing with a beating heart and the beginnings of eyes and a nose and tiny arms and tiny legs and… sigh.
Having been through false alarms before, I had already thought about what I would do should I find myself pregnant in the situation I was in (this is not a relationship blog, so I will try to sum it up quickly: living with my boyfriend, not having told my parents he even existed, not knowing if we would make it long enough to get married, but working on the relationship with the hopes that we would grow old together, because damn him to hell, I love the man. He’s been my friend for much longer than he’s been my lover, and I adore him, despite his excruciatingly annoying habits). So, when faced with the situation as a mere hypothetical one, I would always state rather bluntly, “I’d have to end it,” all the while wondering to myself if I would have the heart to end a pregnancy.
Well, I just found out the answer to that question the hardest way possible. I didn’t have the heart. Until the very last second, when the nurse was putting an I.V. into my arm, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through with it.
A lot of people will talk to you about empowering women with choice. I think they fail to mention that it is not a choice that women ever want to make. They should just have the option of doing what is right – for themselves, for those around them, and for the potential child – even though it might never be a choice they will truly, willingly make. Sure, there might be women who can march right into a Planned Parenthood and get that thing sucked right out like it’s a tumor, and walk out feeling relieved. I’m sure they know, even in their nonchalance, that they are making a serious decision. I am not one of those women. I cringed at the thought. I cringed just now, writing that sentence – calling an embryo a tumor and picturing it being sucked out – and had to stop writing to lock myself in the bathroom and sob for a while. At the risk of making an entirely inaccurate generalization, I will say that I seriously doubt most women can be so cavalier about it. It goes against our natural instincts. Even the most left-wing, liberal, militant feminist pro-choice advocate would have a tough time fighting off her maternal instinct – not to mention those wickedly powerful mommy hormones – with her rationale.
So to my sisters out there reading this, hoping for some glimmer of clarity in a confusing time, I say this: don’t think that because it seems like an impossible thing to do, you can’t go through with it, and that you won’t be okay afterwards. It might hurt like hell, I won’t lie. I am hurting still (well it’s only been a day since the surgery), and I expect to be hurting for a while to come. But if you truly think that it is the RIGHT THING TO DO, don’t hate yourself for doing it. The fact that it hurts is, in itself, proof that you are not a monster. You are a mother – even if you don’t keep it, you will have been a mother for a few days or weeks or months, being the sole protector of what is growing inside of you. And even if you choose not to let this one see the light of day, it doesn’t mean you are being hateful or unfeeling or murderous. The day before my abortion, a counselor at the clinic said something that summed it up beautifully – “either choice you make, to keep it or let it go, will be a choice of love.” Don’t forget that, and don’t stop loving yourself either, because you need that love now more than ever.