When I was 26 years old, I was in graduate school, and fairly depressed.
I had left a year long relationship and was just starting a new one, with someone I fell madly in love with. At the start of that relationship, I realized I was pregnant. Actually, my new boyfriend noticed my symptoms first and suggested I take a test. I was shocked that it was positive, and I was pretty sure the child was my former boyfriend’s child. I was struggling with my graduate program in an environment that was not very supportive. I was in a different state from any of my family, and I felt totally unable to support a child by myself. The friends I had and my boyfriend all told me I should have an abortion and stay in school. So I did. My boyfriend paid for it for me, and went with me to the doctor. It was a standard multi-services clinic, and they did a poor job, overall. I was very sad about having this abortion. I wanted to have a child badly, and I wanted to have a situation in which I could have a child and support myself and that child. I felt like the economic value our society placed on the things I had to offer was so scarce, so conditional, that I would be poor forever if I had that child.
A few years later, I got pregnant again unexpectedly, and the father, and all my friends again told me, no way can you have that child. I was still in graduate school. I had quit and returned, unable to find a good job. This time I went to a specialty women’s clinic, and they were experts. They had some mandatory counseling, and I was still extremely sad that the father clearly did not want the child. The clinicians were compassionate, and they asked if I wanted to see the tissue they removed. I did. The procedure was much more efficient and less painful at the women’s clinic. Neither place held any judgement of me as a person, but the regular doctor visit was just less organized and proficient at making me comfortable.
I now have one child. I always wanted two, but that never happened. I wish we had a society where I could have been a single mom and been successful– if that was the case, I would have had those babies. But the reality is that I was on my own.
I did have a child in graduate school. The third time I became pregnant, I actually made a mistake with the birth control, and the father was interested in keeping the baby, though we never married. I was just not willing to forgo motherhood again. I have changed to a new program, but I stayed in school and had the baby. I traded with another TA to work double time for half the quarter, and then took the second half of the quarter and the next quarter off. I went on welfare for 3 months to pay rent and eat while I stayed home for maternity leave. Then I want back to school full time.
It turned out graduate school with an infant worked out OK. The childcare assistance for students helped pay for full time high quality early childhood education. Her father reimbursed the state for the welfare I claimed later, when he briefly held a job. When I graduated, I was unemployed for over a year, on two occasions. I was poor until my child was in middle school, when I finally met a man who would make a solid family with me. Now we both work and have joined the middle class.
I don’t regret the first two abortions, but I am very glad I did not have a third. I finished my doctoral degree, and teach as contingent faculty.