My story began 39 years ago when my husband, 2-year-old daughter and I were living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, across the street from Lake Superior’s southern shore. For me it was an amazingly beautiful, incredibly isolated locale that was more difficult for me to adjust to than I’d expected when we’d moved there the previous year for my husband’s job. My husband and I had just begun thinking about having another child when we found out that the I. U. D. I’d been using for birth control had failed and I was already pregnant. We were delighted. Other than morning sickness, which I’d experienced when I was expecting my daughter, everything seemed to progress normally. Except … I had trouble sleeping. If the slightest bit of daylight crept in the windows in the morning, I was wide awake. And, an avid reader, I noticed I was becoming unable to retain anything I read. And, I’d never been a “joiner,” someone who like to be surrounded by people all the time. But, I was beginning to feel anxious and uncomfortable with my own thoughts and looked for company more and more.
Around the beginning of my second trimester, my thoughts grew darker until one day I told my husband what was going on inside and said I couldn’t continue on without help. We contacted the local Mental Health Clinic and I was able to see someone immediately. I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and presented with two choices for treatment. I could meet with a psychologist for talk therapy three times a week at least until my baby was born; or, I could terminate my pregnancy, begin drug therapy immediately and also meet with a psychologist until my depression was under control. The drugs available at that time were harmful to unborn babies (I don’t know if that’s changed. This was in 1976). It was a hell of a decision for a severely depressed pregnant woman to have to make.
While abortion was legalized federally in 1973, the procedure wasn’t widely available. There was no facility in the Upper Peninsula so if that was to be my decision I would have to find one in Wisconsin, probably in Green Bay, which was 4 hours south of where I lived. My husband would support my decision regardless. He just wanted me well. I decided not to have the abortion, to continue my pregnancy and follow the recommended extensive talk therapy plan. What helped me make this choice was the fact that the choice was mine. It was a choice. It was my choice. No judge, no outside, intrusive legal entity forced me to continue my pregnancy. I chose. I made the decision. Me. And, once I made the decision I felt something I hadn’t for so long. Relief, and gratitude. I was so grateful I had the right to choose. Looking back, I believe my healing began at that moment, when I made my choice.