Updated: Jan 4
My husband and I already had two beautiful, healthy children that were well into self-sufficient ages. Two children were all we could afford and all we were planning to have. At the time I was the only one working and fully supporting our family of four. I had just started my own business, so the income was meager and we didn’t have insurance, but we were getting by. It seems society has this impossible expectation of women to work as if we don’t have children and to mother as if we don’t have work. And so many of us are doing both – working and mothering. It is exhausting to try and do it all and I often feel as if I am failing at all the things, with never enough hours in any given day.
Since we were content as a family of four, we planned for him to get a vasectomy so I could get off birth control. Unfortunately, our order of operations was off. I jumped the gun on stopping birth control, so we went back to using condoms. He kept procrastinating on making the vasectomy appointment. Then there was one passionate evening, after extended time apart, when we didn’t grab a condom. That evening resulted in a third, unplanned, and unwanted pregnancy.
Having a third child would have changed everything; the life we had built and the life we still dreamt of. After considering all our options and the myriad of factors at play, the decision was made to have an abortion. My husband fully supported the decision. He honored that it was my body and my choice.
He went with me to all the appointments, but I still felt very alone and so much shame. During the days between the positive pregnancy test and taking the abortion pill, he was the only one who knew. He was “there for me”, but only as much as a man can be. He finally made the overdue appointment to get the vasectomy.
While I do not regret my decision to get an abortion, I often wonder how our lives would be different had we chosen otherwise. I wonder who that mass of cells might have become. Annually, I recognize both the expected due date and the date of my abortion. They are moments in the cycle of each year that always give me pause and intense emotions.
Since my abortion, I have shared my story with a couple of close friends. It has been healing to finally be able to talk about my experience. Only when I began to share did I realize that many women have had their own and similar experiences. The shame and stigma around abortion is so isolating. I hope as more women begin to share their stories that we can overcome that stigma and we can all begin to heal. I know my healing continues as I share my story through this project-- though my healing intermingles with both rage and heartbreak. The rage I feel when I acknowledge that my daughter is coming of age in a world where she has less choice and bodily autonomy than the generations before her. The heartbreak I felt when I realized she will have to consider the status of reproductive rights when making decisions about higher education or travels after high school. The journey to get back to where we were is going to be long and arduous. Luckily there is strength in numbers, and I know my daughter will be by my side just as I will be by hers along with many others passionate about being on the right side of this moment in history.