Twenty-five years ago, I was a nineteen-year-old college student in California and in love for the first time. We graduated from the same high school (he was a year ahead of me) and enrolled in the same college Ė USC. We didnít begin sleeping together until I was at school for about 2 months, but despite being on the pill I was pregnant within the first few weeks. I already knew I didnít want to have a baby.
I went to an off-campus womenís clinic and was given a pregnancy test. When it came out positive, I was taken into a side room with a female counselor in big glasses and a red and white pantsuit. (I donít know why I remember a detail like that!) She encouraged me to have an abortion because I had a bright future ahead of me. She said I was at a stage in my life when I could go in any direction I wanted and could have anything I tried for Ė and that a child would limit my options. I made an appointment for the next day because I needed to go to the bank for money.
Nobody knew what I was doing and I paid with cash, using a fake name. I showed up for the appointment in sneakers and loose clothing, as instructed. I went in through a back door because of protesters from a local church. It was ironic that I was getting a back alley abortion even though what I was doing was totally legal.
I put on a loose cotton hospital gown and lay back on a surgical table. A female nurse prepped me, tuned a little radio to my favorite station, then sat up by my head and explained that the doctor would remain anonymous because she also had privileges at a hospital nearby. The doctor (a middle-aged woman) came in and began the procedure. There was a lot of sharp pain on my left side and then it was over. They wheeled me to the recovery room and gave me soda and crackers after a bit of time had passed.
I remember feeling emotionally numb Ė feeling the need to process what I had just done, questioning my reaction because I thought I did the right thing and wondering why it was bothering me. Maybe it was a reaction to my anesthetics, I just felt like I was hitting a wall when I tried process the situation. I even tried to make myself cry so I could have some emotion, some feeling.
The nurse aid came in at that point, handed me a packet of cookies, and said I was free to go. As she helped me up, I started to flood my pad with blood. They rushed me back to a surgery room and did an ultrasound. I had clots, so they had to redo the abortion, which was very painful this time.
I went home hours later, after they got the bleeding under control. It was a long day, so I slept until late that night and canceled a date with my boyfriend the next day. I coped with myself by denying what I had done. Since no one else knew, it wasnít hard to hide.
My boyfriend noticed that I was distant with him and had a short temper. He responded by taking me to his familyís cabin for a special Christmas and proposed with a beautiful diamond and ruby ring. We married on the following Valentineís Day at the courthouse with close family and friends in attendance. I felt guilty but relieved that I was able to fit into a slim, lace-trimmed white sheath dress Ė something I couldnít have done with a growing belly.
A few weeks later he took me to Catalina Island for a wedding trip, since we didnít have a proper honeymoon. He made a joke about conceiving a ďhoneymoon babyĒ and I almost told him. Out of guilt, I tried to become the perfect wife. I had spotless house, cooked gourmet meals, and held a part-time job. (I quit school to be a housewife.) We tried to conceive a baby for years, but nothing happened.
About 7 years into our marriage, we went to a fertility doctor to be tested. When the results came back that my husbandís sperm had low motility, I broke down and told him about the abortion. I didnít understand, why we could get pregnant once, and then never again. I had blown it. It was that moment, in the doctorís office, which I realized I had indeed killed a little life growing inside me. That was the day I lost my baby. The regret was physically overwhelming. At a time when I needed my husbandís support most, he couldnít stand the sight of me. He left me at the doctor that day and didnít come home until the next afternoon.
I talked him out of leaving that day, but we separated a few weeks later. I wanted to get closer to my husband and share my grief with him, to work it out. He said he didnít hate me, but that he had never known me. Only once did he get physically violent. He slapped me across the face and told me I killed his only child, that he would have married me before anyone else knew, and supported us as a family. He said he had to get out of the marriage for our safety. The divorce was final about 8 months after that.
I canít say with any level of truth that Iím at peace with myself over what I did. There are still days when I look in the mirror and just literally canít believe the choice I made. What was I thinking??? I will always regret killing my unborn baby.
Thank you for your account of abortion, Maggie. So often people write in and tell me their experiences with the abortion industry or crisis pregnancy, but only a few brave souls are willing to put their heart out there for the world to see. Thank you for your courage; it may save a life! - Rebecca