Eleven years ago, on a hot June night, my daughter was passionately conceived (her middle name is June for a reason). I skipped a period, freaked out, made haste to my local grocery store for a pregnancy test and had half a second to knock over a box of cereal inside my cart to hide the 99.9%-accuracy label before I ran smack into my future mother-in-law (I kid you not.) I went home to my apartment where I was nightly sharing a bed with John for the past two months (a time I now refer to as the ‘courtship-quickie’) and found out that I was in fact harboring a fetus. I quickly pounded a glass of wine so I could secretly wrap my head around the abortion I would be scheduling in the morning.
I was twenty-five, not vehemently attached to any ideal for my future, but wise enough to know that babies needed 100% of what you had to give. I hadn’t had any aha moments confirming that I was actually even a grown-up yet. There were only two options: be miserable and have a baby, or don’t think about it and have an abortion.
The thoughts confirming that pregnancy yields misery were readily available; I would be a disappointment to my new boyfriend. I would be sabotaging our careless nights of drinking, and whimsical weekend warrior trips. I would resign my body to be transformed by pregnancy in every way that society dictates women shouldn’t be: fat, hormonal and unattractive. In the long run, I would be alone raising a baby, committed to giving up my life as an individual, poor and on welfare. These were the only thoughts I could conjure, because this is what I had witnessed in my community of women.
In retrospect, there was another community of women that existed; the ones who had pruned despair out as quickly as it had sprouted. Society didn’t promise them any favorable support as a single mother. Society sexualized them and packaged them, and one unplanned pregnancy later, they were left without any headspace to visualize themselves as successful mothers. So in some instances, terminating a pregnancy can be a choice, or it can be something that you do without ever being able to think about it. Not thinking, is assuredly the quickest way to give up your liberty as an individual woman.
In my terrified attempt to save my individuality, I would have hastily made a choice, and then had a lifetime to think about it, after the fact. I am whole heartedly speaking from my own perspective. And although I did not have an abortion eleven years ago, I am no stranger to the effects that an unthoughtful abortion may have on a woman’s psyche. My two sisters and I were fertilized eggs in a time and space that encouraged my mother as a successful pregnant woman. But before us, and multiple times in between us, there was no abundance of support. And I watched my mother deteriorate as a woman after each successive termination.
That night as I crawled into our shared bed, John put his arms around me and held me in the darkness. I couldn’t stop the thoughts. I had no idea that I was a brave, grown woman, capable of doing difficult things. The revelation that I existed when others had not, would have led me to the obvious answer if I’d only known I could ask it; did I want this baby? I wasn’t able to get there. I was shutting down. That is when John’s whisper broke the silence.
“Emily, are you pregnant?”
“Yes” I responded, “I’m sorry. You don’t have to worry, I’m not going to keep it.”
“Why don’t you want to keep it?” He said, “We could have a baby.”
In that moment I realized “we” could maybe do it. Once I knew I wasn’t alone, every rational thought of success flooded my veins, filled my heart and poured life into my growing baby. This was my aha moment. I was physiologically vulnerable now that I was pregnant, but any lack of confidence I may have had about how this world would receive me was null once I knew that I wasn’t alone.
My story has a happy ending. And the reality is that many women won’t find a safe space to ask themselves what they want. I recently read an article by Sherronda J. Brown, White Women in Robes, that shed light on the so called choices that many pregnant women are given in regards to their pregnancies. I stand by reproductive rights with my ladies, but I can clearly see how “pro-choice” for many unsupported pregnant women leads to only one choice. If you have time to give it a perusal, I would love to hear what you think. https://werdbrew.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/white-women-in-robes/