A Tale of Two Abortions

by Diane

September 10, 2018

I had my first abortion when I was 24 and I’d just gotten married. We returned from our honeymoon and my period was late. I don’t remember much but I remember knowing for sure that I didn’t want a child. My husband and I were young and we were living abroad and about to spend several months traveling. It was a beautiful period in my life. Wonderful friends, a beautiful country, wild nights out, fantastic trips and adventures all the time. I couldn’t imagine a baby, a child, interrupting this magical phase of my life. As soon as I told my husband that my period was late, he asked me what I wanted to do and I said I didn’t want to keep it and he said he agreed. It was that simple. We never discussed it further, we just found a doctor in that country that would perform the abortion and that’s it. I don’t remember how we found the doctor or anything. I remember telling my employer that I’d be absent because of a medical issue I was having, and tearing up as I said it. I remember the doctor being nice but then waking up in a room with a giant jug that looked like it was full of blood. But, honestly, in the ensuing years, I gave this abortion very little thought. I never once regretted it in the slightest, and I rarely thought of it at all. I have zero doubt that it was the right choice.

My second abortion was many years later, when I was 36, and I was married to a second man. This pregnancy was planned, somewhat. I’d taken my IUD out and we’d decided to see what happened. My husband really wanted another child, and I thought I might, too. At this point, we had two perfect children, the youngest of whom was 3. I realized that I was pregnant in an almost mystical way: I felt the same strange sleeplessness that I’d felt with my other two pregnancies, and I experienced the same wild, vivid dreams. I knew I was pregnant, and I shared the news with my husband via Skype because I was visiting family out-of-state when I finally took the test that confirmed it. He was delighted. I, however, began feeling a niggling sense of doubt that gradually crowded out every other feeling. It became too clear: I did NOT want another child. I could not do it. I fell into a sense of despair. My husband and I traveled to another country (his home country) and I was despondent. Finally one night, in a house by the sea, I told him I could not keep this pregnancy. Him agreeing to take me to get an abortion when we got home was the only thing that gave me the spirit to go forward. When we returned home, I had the abortion. This was in a small, dingy clinic in Baltimore. There were protesters outside the clinic. Seeing them made me feel angry, but I also felt very vulnerable. I felt a sense of guilt and shame that I hadn’t felt at my first abortion. Now I was older, I should have known better. My husband had really wanted another child and I felt sick for not being able to give him one. And now this was my second abortion: hadn’t I learned? It was much harder this second time–but not so much that I doubted it was the right decision. A very nice man, the nurse, administered my anesthesia. The doctor was very kind. I woke up very groggy and with terrible cramps in a room with lots of other women who’d just had the same procedure. I remember just wanting to keep sleeping, but being urged to wake up and eat something by the nurses. We went home and I felt a tremendous sense of relief tempered only by my husband’s sadness. My feelings about my second abortion were undoubtedly more complicated than my feelings about the first one. I can’t say that I’ve been haunted by regret–I really haven’t–but I do sometimes wonder what my life might be like if we’d had that child. This is not a question that consumes me, but rather hangs over my life like a smoky question mark that I’m only sometimes aware of.

I am grateful that I had access to safe abortions. I’m grateful for the life that I have, and I ultimately don’t regret the choices I’ve made.

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