The Story I Never Imagined Would Be Mine.

by Katie

August 28, 2020

Anyone who’s known me for more than 5 minutes would likely be able to tell you how badly I want to be a mother. It’s something I’ve talked about for years with those closest to me, though I’m sure still obvious without being spoken. It’s in much of what I do, what I read, who I spend my time with. I have always been pro-choice but also felt strongly if I ever became pregnant, even unexpectedly or without planning, I’d happily welcome a baby into my life. I couldn’t fathom ever seeking an abortion myself. All of that changed when I actually became pregnant.

I had an incredibly difficult year but felt my luck had changed when I met this man back in February. He was kind, smart, handsome, somewhat shy which I liked, and very respectful. Our first couple of dates were some of the best I’ve had. My friends were excited for me and said things like “I have a really good feeling about this one”. I was excited and hopeful. But it was only a couple of months before he started to change, flaked on plans we had made, didn’t call when he said he would. Then quarantine happened. I decided to drive back to California to stay with my family. Our communication was dwindling. I was hurt and disappointed but began to let it go. And then I found out I was pregnant. 6 weeks 5 days according to my ultrasound. Looking back at the calendar I realized he had gotten me pregnant the first time we slept together. I was stunned. I felt such a confusing blend of joy, excitement, fear, sadness, worry, embarrassment. I felt bashful telling him I was pregnant over the phone, we hardly knew each other and he had clearly been backing away. This was probably the last thing he wanted to hear from me. Regardless, my feelings at the time were ‘this isn’t ideal but we’ll make it work’. I was ready to be a mother.

He faked his support, told me it was my choice, until I said I wanted to keep it. He spiraled, was adamant he didn’t want to be a father, said he was getting a vasectomy and couldn’t believe this was happening to him (not once did he ever consider my feelings or experience), said “who would bring a baby into the world right now? With climate change, the president, a global pandemic”, he made me feel selfish and crazy for even considering carrying this baby to term, he said he wasn’t in any position to raise a child and had no attachment to the pregnancy, that he didn’t see getting an abortion as any different than wearing a condom, that both were simply birth control. I was devastated but continued to weigh my other options. I told him he could forget about me, promised I wouldn’t ask for a thing, said I would move back home and raise the baby with the support of my mother to which he replied “and move out of state with my child? Absolutely not. I couldn’t have a baby exist in this world without being involved.” I don’t think I’ve ever felt so lost, confused, alone, heartbroken or uncertain of what to do. I agonized over my decision.

I called the abortion clinic and practically whispered through tears “I need an abortion”. I hadn’t realized just how much stigma I had internalized, despite my pro-choice stance. I could barely utter the word.

The day before my appointment, I wrote a letter to what would be my child. I wrote how sorry I was for not being ready for them. I wrote about the kind of life I felt they deserved. I asked them to please come back to me one day. I held my belly and cried harder than I’ve cried before. I then called the father and told him I was having cold feet and needed him to come over. I pleaded with him to discuss with me our other options, how we might make this work. But I think I already knew what I so desperately didn’t want to be true: This wasn’t the time. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t how I wanted to become a mother, with a partner who didn’t want me or the baby, with a negative bank account and a business closed due to covid, without any idea of how I was going to provide for them. My child deserves so much more. I knew despite my best efforts, they’d endure inevitable pain and trauma. They had a parent who already didn’t want them, who’d likely only be around out of obligation and would resent us both (if around at all). They’d have a mom that despite loving them so much and fighting for the future they deserved, was currently financially and emotionally unstable. Coming from a broken, traumatic childhood I knew I couldn’t do that to someone else. I knew I had to break my own heart. The father said “I know this is going to be incredibly difficult for you, but I’ll be here every step of the way”. Looking back, I know he just said whatever he thought might get me to follow through with the abortion. He ditched me the day after my appointment, delivering food only a couple of times as if I were one of his many chores. He offered no emotional support, had countless excuses about why he couldn’t be there, he was noticeably relieved and resumed his normal life as it felt mine had been dramatically changed forever. I laid in bed for almost three weeks after my appointment, wailing. I had never been so heartbroken and alone. I’m immensely grateful to my friends who checked on me, laid with me as I cried, encouraged me to go outside if only to sit in the sun and cry. Who held space for me to grieve. At the time I felt this undeniable bond (possibly some kind of trauma bond) to the father. I felt like I needed his support, the reality I had been manipulated and then abandoned after the abortion was too much to bear. It made the grief exponentially worse. I know now I’m stronger than I thought I was.

Since meeting him and since my abortion, I found out he had been dating a married coworker for over a year, got another coworker pregnant only 3 months before me (treated her terribly, dropped off money the night before her abortion and said “good luck”, not once asking how her surgery went or offering any kind of support, and then told everyone she was crazy), is currently on parole for something I find appalling (he tried to manipulate me into believing it wasn’t as bad as it seemed after I found his mugshot online), had been lying to me since we met. I learned of countless accounts of lies and manipulation from women he had previously dated (all who he had claimed to be “crazy”). He wasn’t the kind, handsome, shy man I thought he was at all. The whole experience has been so confusing, shocking, heartbreaking and infuriating but there’s one thing I know for sure: I am so grateful he is not the father of my child. I’m thankful to not be connected to him for the rest of my life. I’m thankful for the network of incredibly strong people I’ve met due to my abortion. The SYA community has been tremendously helpful and empowering, I’m constantly in awe of the strength I’ve witnessed and experienced because of this movement. I learned how common abortion is (1 in 4, I had no idea!), the stigma and shame I had internalized, the power in choosing a better life for my children, how strong I truly am. I know abortions are different for everyone. For me there is still deep pain and grief. This is something I’ll always carry with me but I hope for it to be associated with strength, compassion and resilience. Not shame.

I had a dream about her when I was pregnant. She was about two years old, swinging and laughing at the park. She was beautiful. Her name was Amaya. Having an image and a name has actually been helpful in processing my grief. I feel forever changed because of her, because of the pregnancy and abortion. I have more clarity about the kind of mom I want to be. I realize now I had always dreamed of having children but never HOW I wanted them, the kind of person I wanted them with, what I needed to do to make my dream a reality. I hadn’t been working toward the future I envisioned for myself. Slowly but surely, now I am. I’m making healthier choices about who I date and how I spend my time. I have her to thank for that. The heaviness and sadness is something I’ll have to navigate forever, I think. But I know it’ll change, become more tolerable, perhaps even more a source of inspiration and strength. It already has. I’m proud of the woman I am and the woman and mother I’m becoming.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!