I learned from my mother, indirectly, that if a man is attracted to you, you are a success, you are ok. So when my boyfriend wanted to have sex with me after a fight, I went along because I was sure it meant he loved and approved of me. I didn’t use protection because I was afraid if I hesitated, we would fight again, that he would make me feel lousy about myself again.
When I found out I was pregnant, we both agreed that having a baby was not an option. We were broke undergrads living in a studio apartment. I was 20. I called my mother to find out if I could still use the insurance policy she had for me. She wailed out, “Oh, I was afraid something like this would happen!” Was she bemoaning her lack of teaching or my behavior? I think a little of both. I told her I was considering an abortion. She told me she didn’t know what else I could do (she wailed this, too) and gave me the insurance information.
The day I was scheduled to go to the doctor, my boyfriend tried to get out of taking me and picking me up. Then he imagined out loud what having actually having baby would be like. I hadn’t gone there – my pregnancy didn’t feel real.
After the procedure, the doctor leaned down to me and said, “Maybe next time you’ll think twice about being so free with who you have sex with.” He angered me into silence.
I broke up with my boyfriend and went home. My mother could barely stand to have me in the house and kept suggesting ways for me to move on – to get on with it. I was broke, sad, unwell.
Even now, my mother is very vocal about how awful it is that people have abortions; how awful those people must be. She’s been vocal about it at family gatherings. No one knows I had an abortion, but everyone knows my brother and his wife can’t have children. She pairs that lament with her condemnation of women who kill babies. She talks about all the alternatives to abortion – alternatives she never mentioned when I told her I was pregnant so many years ago.
A year or two after my abortion, I found a copy of The Farm cookbook. In the back there is a picture of three women of different heights holding on to their pregnant bellies. It’s beautiful. It says community. Somewhere I read about how The Farm welcomes every pregnant women – and if you don’t want your baby, they’ll take it. I don’t know if that’s true, but for awhile, I needed it to be.
I would have welcomed that level of support regardless of my decision. I’ve wished I could have gone to The Farm. But the reality was I had no way to get there. And I didn’t want to be pregnant. I was alone, rejected, and scared.
When I decided to have children, I went through pregnancy and birth with my partner and my lovely midwives. I felt empowered, cared for, and loved – the way every women should feel, regardless.