My heart still pounds and races when I think of the 22 year old me, nearly 2 decades ago who stared at the stick with the two lines...my breasts tender, nervously chain smoking, calling my best friend for some kind of magic advice.
I was in grad school, from a middle class white family and I was given all the sex education and birth control options in the world. I had a family that probably would have swooped in and provided financial or logistical support for a new baby.
This child had been conceived drunk with a former abuser of mine. The relationship was...complicated...although now consensual (I know, I know). He lived in a different state. His family was very religious and rife with alcoholism and abuse. His mother had been adopting children lately and he assured me that if she found out about this baby she would do anything in her power to make sure it ended up with her.
And even after that day with the pink stick and the calls and the tears and the terror of not knowing what to do...I drank. Like a fish. Like I always did when I didn't know how to deal with life or make a decision. Did I drink to excuse ending the pregnancy? Maybe. Did I drink because I had a problem that was out of my control? Likely. Did I truly believe having an abortion was the easy way out and needed to be atoned for? A little bit.
I went to a clinic in South San Diego and had a less-than-positive experience which I will save for another day. I was deeply shamed by the Planned Parenthood counselor at the after visit for not "appreciating the risks this doctor took to provide me with services." Well, I guess current events make that more true than ever but it certainly didn't feel good at the time.
You notice I referred to this pregnancy as a child. I do believe that I can be pro-choice and mourn the potential life that could have been. I can be pro-choice and still know that my mental health and decision making processes led to unsafe sex and a "situation" that could have been avoided. I can be brutally honest and tell you now, 16 years clean and sober, that as a mother by CHOICE of 3 amazing children - no one should be forced to carry and deliver and care for a new life. The burden is too great.
Perhaps that child would have been ok; maybe the responsibility of birthing a new and unique little soul into this world was the event that could have gotten me sober. Perhaps that child would have thrived in my care and not gotten all the ACES that I feared it would. I can never know the answer to these kinds of questions but every time I read about the baby left to die outside in a hot car while mama is in the dope house or a child locked in an animal crate so that mom can turn tricks, my stomach sinks, my heart hurts, and I cry tears of GRATITUDE that one less unwanted child was given to this world.
I still love and talk to that little baby that wasn't meant to come to me at that time or place. I mourn all the women in this position because as a friend said it so well, "for fucks sake, no one likes having an abortion". I live in the grey area of knowing that this was the absolute right choice for me and realizing I have moral and ethical sticky feelings about it. If it was purely a medical procedure, it wouldn't have the emotional or spiritual weight it does. It wouldn't have the secrecy or shame. I still don't know if I should wear this proudly or quietly some days. But all days, I wear it. And I am truly thankful for that.