When I got pregnant the second time I had a one year old son. I was still suffering from postpartum depression and my boyfriend (my son’s father) was less than supportive, if not already abusive. I agonized over the decision. We’d been careful and had maybe had sex twice since our son was born, but…bam…there I was, pregnant again. I had a choice between risking a pregnancy during which I felt like killing myself and my children’s father mistreating me or having an abortion. It was not a decision I took lightly.
I have a long history of eating disorders and bipolar disorder and, at that point, postpartum, so I had no doubt that the pregnancy would be difficult if not impossible to carry on to term and was frightened for my own well being as well.
I decided that the best thing for all of us would be to terminate the pregnancy. Surprisingly the father was supportive of this and we went about finding a clinic where we could talk about it and get an appointment. Being in northern Indiana, we were very limited choice-wise. I found a clinic that would speak to me and would perform the required ultrasound (an awful experience, considering that it wasn’t that I didn’t want the child, I just couldn’t see myself carrying it to term given my bulimia and PPD, etc.) and we did that and scheduled the procedure. It was a harrowing few weeks of mood swings until we could drive the nearly 200 miles to a clinic that would perform the actual abortion.
When we arrived, it was hard to tell, because the outside looked like an abandoned auto shop, to throw off protesters, I’m sure. The rest was a blur of Demerol and the pain that seeped through the Demerol. I was 8, almost 9 weeks by then. I remember having yet another ultrasound and the doctor not speaking to me nor looking at me, but a kind nurse holding my hand and stroking my hair the whole time. I remember crying. I remember a nondescript pain in my hip.
Then I was high and I was ushered out into a room full of other women who’d just gone through the same thing. We watched Liar Liar on a tiny TV in a tiny waiting room until another nurse called us over to offer us birth control, which I accepted (with no means of refilling, on minimum wage and no health insurance).
We drove home all those miles, me messed up on Demerol in the passenger seat and crying, him stone faced at the wheel. And I’ve never questioned the decision. Not so many months later he was full on verbally and emotionally abusive and soon after that it turned physical. Instead of a pregnant woman being slapped across the face doing dishes, I was a woman with one child.
I never stop to think at least once a day about that experience and I’ve kept the printout picture from that first ultrasound as a reminder. Had I not made that difficult decision, I have no doubt that I’d have stayed and things would have escalated even further.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through; the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I’m thankful every day that I had the right to make it. Every time I look at my healthy, well–adjusted son, every time I look at our little apartment, every time I look at my wonderful fiance, I think…this all almost wasn’t.