Allison tell me something about the guy and your relationship
“I always knew he wasn’t the man I wanted to have a long-term relationship with.” She said. “Yet for some weird reason there was something about unprotected sex with him that I let be acceptable. I wasn’t on the pill, so I would always nudge him to remember a condom. He didn’t. Next thing I knew, really to no one’s surprise, my period was late.”
So what went through your mind when you realized your period was late?
“I started to ask myself the big questions: If I am pregnant, what am I going to do? Could I have a child right now? Do I want a child right now? Could I carry a child to term then put it up for adoption? What about having an abortion?” Allison went on with the story.
“Three weeks into lateness I bought a home pregnancy test. Positive.
Three days later I went to the doctor to be tested just to be extra sure. Positive.
I was definitely pregnant,” she said soberly and carried on.
“When I told the baby’s father, his instant reaction was he didn’t want it. And he was adamant. It was in that moment that I knew no matter what decision I made about the baby I was alone on this journey. Despite the mental fear, I started to get excited. Internally, bodily, and emotionally I realized I wanted the baby.”
So what did you do next I asked as I was genuinely curious.
Allison continued, “Though I was terrified I decided to tell my parents. I knew they loved being grandparents to my nephew, but my situation was so different than my married brother’s. I had no idea how they would react. I remember it was a Wednesday night. I got them both on the phone at the same time and asked, ‘So, how would you like to be grandparents again?’ Thankfully all I felt radiating through the phone was pure love, joy, excitement and a willingness to support me however they could. I was so relieved!”
So what happened to change your mind was my next question.
“A week or so later I noticed things inside me started to shift. The reality of keeping the baby set in – the financial, emotional, and spiritual implications of raising a child alone brought me back down to earth pretty quickly. But how could I have an abortion? Could I consciously choose to terminate a pregnancy? What would people say and think if they found out? I’m not 18 anymore, I’m a grown up so I should be able to do this. How would I live with myself if I terminated my pregnancy? What the hell am I supposed to do? All these questions raced through my head I felt scared, confused and really didn’t know what to do.”
She sat quietly as if remembering the exact moment and then carried on.
“I went back to my doctor and asked her about my options. We talked about abortion and parenting and she asked me some really good questions about how I envisioned my life and my child’s life. I sought counsel from an energy healer who I have been with for the last six years. I also got first-hand accounts from a friend who has been through a pregnancy termination.
After gathering all this information I found myself laying awake many nights for hours, tossing and turning, staring up at the ceiling, meditating and praying, dreaming and trusting the right decision would come through at the perfect moment. Finally one night, eight weeks into the pregnancy, the inner battle subsided and I came to terms with my decision, the decision I always knew I was going to make. In that moment of clarity I emailed the clinic to request an appointment for the abortion – two days later the confirmation arrived.” A few tears trickled down her face as she sat still in the memory of her decision.
Once you made the decision what was it like for you?
“I was scared, not just about what it would be like after the pregnancy was terminated, but that people would find out I was pregnant. What would they say? What would they think of me? What would I tell them after the pregnancy was terminated? I didn’t want people to know I was pregnant then have to turn around and tell them there was no more baby. I struggled with who to tell and how much of the truth I wanted to share. I was awash with understanding the intimate nature of my decision to terminate the pregnancy, and wanting to be open about what was going on. It was hard. In the end, I decided to tell only my immediate family and a few of my closest friends.” Allison related with a big sigh.
Tell me about the day of the abortion.
“Well, I woke up early, showered and put on my most comforting clothes – the bottoms of a set of scrubs that belonged to my Pépère, my grandfather, as they reminded me he was always with me, a man-sized t-shirt of the softest cotton that felt like a big protective hug, and my Zumba hoodie because it just felt good. My friend picked me up and we drove to the clinic.”
Allison’s voice cracked a little as she continued, “I was greeted by the medical staff with respect and felt as comfortable as I could be in an uncomfortable situation. I looked around the waiting room at the other women – some with girl friends and some with their boyfriends – my heart went out to the women and couples who were agonizing over their decision knowing there was no chance for a do-over. My girl friend and I talked about everyday things, as we normally would any other time, sometimes laughing too loudly, sometimes getting lost in our own thoughts, sometimes locking eyes with a deep knowing, understanding and compassion. I joked with the ultrasound technician about the cruelty of making a pregnant woman fast for so long. I shared with the counselor how my grieving had already begun
“My turn arrived. I was taken to a second waiting room, instructed to change, and given some Ativan to help me relax. The TV was on the infomercial channel. I sat staring, breathing, riding the waves of emotion that were coursing through my heart. I talked to the unborn child inside me – Little Man as I had affectionately named him. I prayed for strength and courage to make it through with ease and grace.”
She sat still for a moment remembering the events as if it just happened yesterday.
“A second nurse arrived and took me to the procedure room. She was petite with long blonde hair. I remember her loving, compassionate, tender energy. As she put the intravenous needle in my arm we made small talk about how long she’d been a nurse and why she chose to continue to work in the clinic. I wish I remembered her answer.
“The doctor came in; more drugs into my IV; start the machines; mask on my face; breath deeply; big twinge; bigger and deeper breaths; then it was done.
Empty. Baby was gone. Instantly I started to cry.
They said I did great and wondered if I was in any pain. None physically I said and in less than five minutes I was sitting in a recovery room, a heating pad on my abdomen, sipping Canada Dry, and eating cookies. “
Allison took a deep breath and carried on. “My friend came in. We cried together.
The recovery nurse gave me my package of post-care instructions and a prescription for antibiotics, and we were on our way home. On the way out I stopped – I was taken aback as I glanced around the waiting room – there wasn’t an empty seat to be found. I was shocked at how widespread the decision to have an abortion really was. “
Allison spoke about her recovery.
“The physical healing process was smooth and effortless. I feel lucky. I walked a little bit everyday, even if it was only from one end of my apartment to the other. I ate healthy food to maintain my energy. I rested a lot. Though I still felt like I was living in a foggy dream, my life slowly got back to normal – the minutes, days, weeks, and months have passed by. The absence of the baby in my belly makes it all feel like some kind of dream,“ she reflected.
“My greatest struggle has been to remember the whole event and honor the grief that has, at times, been paralyzing. I mourn the loss of my dream of starting my own family that I always thought would make me somehow feel more complete. The grief shifted from being solely about the baby and the abortion, to the loss of all the aspects of being a mom; breastfeeding, decorating a nursery, sleepless nights, and all those newborn sounds and smells, to the loss of the dream, “
Allison noticeably upset continued, “The emptiness in my uterus and the ache in my heart has been unbearable at times. There are still periods of extreme heartache, supreme anger, rage at the baby’s father, emptiness that seems to have no end, guilt for killing my baby, and frustration that I still find myself dipping back into this pit of darkness. “
Before I could ask she spoke, “Thankfully, to the depth I felt darkness and despair, I have developed a greater capacity to feel love and joy, what a gift! I also have a deeper understanding of myself, and my values. There is a lot more love flowing through my heart for myself and others that I never knew existed before. The love and joy continues to pour through me in my relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and with complete strangers walking down the street.” Allison beamed, “I laugh harder, I love more deeply, I have more gratitude for the simple things. I feel more peaceful and I live with greater clarity.”
In wrapping up her story she shared, “While this experience has been the most difficult of my life, the wins have been profound. I have realized there are many people who love me and who will support me. I have learned that it’s up to me to ask for support – it’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength that I choose to be authentic and vulnerable, and let the depth of all of my emotions be felt and seen by myself and others. I would never have planned this whole journey, yet in my heart I am grateful for the lessons that have changed my life forever.”