My son was 8 months old when I accidentally got pregnant again. I was on the pill, but I was a sleep-deprived young mother and didn’t always remember to take it.
We were out of resources. Approximately half of our groceries were provided by WIC. We had troubles paying bills–that year our electricity was shut off by the city twice for non-payment. But it was not just that we could not afford a second child. We were out of other resources too–energy and emotional resilience. My son was a very bad sleeper. My life partner and I were functioning on much lower than normal sleep. We were completely devoted to raising him in a way that was patient and loving–we were up with him every night rocking him until 2 or 4 in the morning. I was working full-time and my life-partner was full-time care-giver and finishing his college degree. We knew we could not continue to provide for our son–financially or emotionally–if we had a second child at that time in our lives. We were not willing to compromise on his well-being or on the care we were able to provide for him. We were both in total agreement that having an abortion was the right decision for our family. Even though we never wanted to have to make that choice, we have never regretted the decision.
Before going to the clinic, I had to listen to a recording on the phone about the different stages of fetal development. When heartbeats start, stuff like that. It was a law in Texas that I listen to this and wait 24 hours before I could actually seek an abortion. We couldn’t get a babysitter–mostly because we weren’t telling any of our friends or family about the abortion–and kids weren’t allowed at the clinic, so my partner couldn’t accompany me. He dropped me off as close to the building as possible, but I still had to walk through a wall of protesters to get to the clinic. I was very angry with the protesters. I was jealous of the other women there who had a partner, a mother, or a friend with them–I felt like the only one waiting alone. Before going to see the doctor, I filled out a questionnaire and spoke with a counselor. The questionnaire asked me to check boxes about my feelings surrounding the abortion. The two things I specifically remember checking were “I never thought this would happen to me” and “I feel empowered to make my own decision.” I hadn’t really felt empowered until the moment I read that option on the questionnaire. However, as soon as I read it, I did feel empowered. Empowered to make decisions for myself, my body, my family.
I had a lot of feelings before, during, and after the abortion. Honestly, the main thing I felt was angry. Angry that I was in the position to begin with, angry about stupid Texas laws that tried to shame women, angry at the protesters, angry that I had to wait alone in the clinic. But I also felt a lot of gratitude–I was grateful to have insurance that covered the cost of an abortion, grateful that we discovered the pregnancy early enough to get a medical abortion, grateful that there were abortion providers in my town, grateful that I could take the time off work necessary to go to the clinic. Over the years (and it has been nearly 7 years) the anger has subsided, but the gratitude has only grown. I am grateful that when I needed it, I had the ability to choose whether or not I would have another child.