I wish I didn’t have to do this anonymously, but my family’s careers would be ruined. My mother married young, her and my father were right in the thick of their partying days in the late 70’s, early 80’s. My mom had me and thought that it would make them both settle a little more. It didn’t. My mom gave my dad an ultimatum, drugs or your daughter. He packed and left. What nobody else knew was that just before that ultimatum, my mom found out she was pregnant with another baby. When she saw how quickly things were falling apart due to addiction, she knew that raising me was going to be hard enough; she knew that she already wasn’t going to be able to give me everything I needed and couldn’t see how it would be fair to bring another child into the world as well.
Years later, my mom met her husband she is still with (though I will never understand why). He has always been abusive, mostly emotionally/verbally, but he has been physically abusive more than enough times to have been thrown away for a long time at this point. Unfortunately, the state they live in allows victims of domestic violence 24 hours to actually file the report and press charges against the abuser. One of the times she had gotten pregnant with this man (he would cause her a number of miscarriages later in their life together) happened to be a time at which the violence in the household was so bad that you could smell the fight coming when you opened the front door. She decided with that this was not the right time in their relationship to bring another child into the world. She did get pregnant and when things calmed down between the two of them (because he had started focusing the abuse onto me instead) and had my awesome little half brother – although he and I don’t have a relationship because I left and moved across the country to escape when I was 17.
I didn’t growing up knowing any of this. I found all of this out two and a half years ago when I was faced with my abortion decision. I had been on birth control forever! I had migraines really badly with one type so I switched to another kind. The other kind made me miserable. I had a mentor in my life who had always used the tracking method. She and her husband had been married for 12 years, never used condoms (after they were married) and when they were ready for a kid, she got pregnant on the first try. So, she got me a copy of the book I needed and I moved into my boyfriend’s place. Now, I had been living with another woman before moving in there, and she and I had synced our cycles while living together. I didn’t think about the fact that I was still relatively new to being off of birth control (it had been almost 9 months since not taking any, but I had been on hormone therapy since before I even began my periods). I also didn’t think about the fact that I was moving out of the only place my cycle had had a natural sync to my entire post pubescent life. The house I moved into was all men and my boyfriend’s mom who was starting menopause.
I thought my cycle would be the same as it had been just before I moved, so I charted for a month and used condoms based on the cycle I had already observed. Well, that didn’t work at all. I got pregnant within two months of moving. We were both on unemployment and food stamps at the time (we had a separate studio on their property we paid rent to his folks for). The whole reason I was moving in with him, instead of him with me, was because we both wanted to go to Law School where his folks lived. Knowing the situation we were currently living in, and taking into account everything that had happened in my life (things I’m keeping private) and that Law School was going to be the only option I had at the time to get out of the poverty I had been struggling for 10 years to escape, I made the best choice I could have. I had to wait. See, when I was 18, I was diagnosed with pre-cervical cancer. Between the 3 months they did the biopsy and the surgery, I was already at stage 3 pre-cancer. They ended up taking such a large chunk of my cervix that they had to stitch it back up. If I were to see a pregnancy through to the end, I would end up on best rest for at least the last 3 months of my pregnancy. This was not going to work, not now!
I went in to the clinic and I already knew when I went in to get my pregnancy test what my decision was. It wasn’t an easy one to make, by any means. I had always told myself if I was going to have a kid, I wanted it to be before I was 28… I had gotten pregnant EXACTLY 9 months before my 28th birthday. What if that was it? What if that was my last chance to be a parent? Being a parent raising a kid in the same level of poverty I grew up in, and had struggled to survive on my own through was not how I wanted to raise a kid.
I have ovarian cysts, migraines due to the hormones (birth control pills) that control those cysts, and an expected 3 months bed-rest with a pregnancy…having a child is NOT in my long term plans, yet my uterus is too small for an IUD, the implant literally made me into a crazy person, and the doctors say that even at 29 I am too young for a hysterectomy.
Although we use condoms for protection (since all of the other options have been tried and failed), condoms are not 100% (or even 99% for that matter) efficient and because of that I have to have the option of having an abortion available to me. I have spent my time in law school working on reproductive justice issues, and because of my own struggles, I plan to continue being a moving force in this battle to keep access available!