I had an abortion in my early 20s. In the sub-culture where I lived at the time, it was sort of an unspoken assumption that getting pregnant would be dealt with via abortion.

My boyfriend and I had never discussed the possibility of pregnancy, or what we’d do if it happened to us. We used what we thought was very reliable birth control, so it seemed like a non-issue for us. When I found out I was pregnant, I was shocked. I never hesitated about my decision, but the whole thing was a lot harder than I expected. My boyfriend went with me for the actual procedure, but was no help at all. He just complained that I was holding his hand too tight. When he wouldn’t let me hold his hand anymore, the nurse, bless her heart, held my hand. It was more painful than I expected.

After the abortion, I fell apart for a while. I didn’t realize what a struggle it would be to come to terms with it. I completely 100% didn’t want a child, and my boyfriend even less. But I’d been raised Catholic, and I guess I did feel, somewhere that I’d never acknowledged, that abortion was basically selfish and wrong. My boyfriend couldn’t understand what my problem was, and ridiculed me, then became more verbally abusive and manipulative. I think he started hating me. But I was such a mess that I couldn’t walk away from him for a long time.

Now, it seems to me that what got me was this cultural construction of the all-loving, all-sacrificing mother, and an idea that I should have looked harder to find that in myself. But, you know what? If I had had that baby, my life would have been a total mess for a whole lot longer than it was. I would have had that abusive guy in my life forever. I would have resented that kid, and I wouldn’t have had a clue how to raise him/her. My family would have shunned me, and I wouldn’t have finished school.

Most of all, I wouldn’t have found my current loving husband and I wouldn’t have had my amazing daughter. I wouldn’t have become the person I am now . . . loving life, and myself, and my family, and my community. Having the skills and resources to help other people (I’m a trauma counselor now).

I’ve grieved for my lost baby from so long ago, and put him/her to rest the best that I could. I know now that I did the right thing. Instead of following a moral code that would have damaged my life, my boyfriend’s life, and contributed another damaged soul to the world, I was able to follow my heart and become whole myself, help others heal, and raise a wanted child, in a way that allows her to fully blossom into the best person she can be.