There has been a lot of discussion about abortion lately. Talks that don’t take into account any aspect of what it means to be a woman. Talks that don’t include women voices at all. Hours of meetings and tweets of ignorant men spewing out words of hypocrisy never taking into account how difficult of a decision it can be for a woman to decide to have an abortion. Now more than ever it is important that we share our stories and shift the narrative. With that, I introduce to you all, Lily. This is her post abortion story.
When I got pregnant, I was probably wearing this matching lingerie set. I was sleeping with two men. Both I thought I loved, but differently. One I thought was everything I wanted. The other I loved how he fucked me. I got with him before I broke up with my ex, and once we started having sex, it was like I got to be a virgin again. I told myself this was the physical manifestation of my sexuality changing; it was biological. I was 25, and my body was ready to have children. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant.
Condoms, we tried, but they were too small. More of an irritation than something I felt was non-negotiable. I had just ended a long-term lesbian relationship, so birth control had not been a part of my life for the past four years.
I remember being confused. I wasn’t aware how many weeks late I was, even though I have always been regular. I was searching for an explanation for the nausea. “Did your girlfriend miss her period when she was on the Whole30?” I asked co-workers who were familiar with the diet. I read testimonials online from older women. I blamed it on the dietary changes. But all the signs were there. I felt so exhausted some days I couldn’t get out of the car.
Finally I made an appointment to be tested for STDs and pregnancy at the Planned Parenthood in Birmingham.
When I found out, I was already six weeks.
Right after I left the clinic, I drove to Milo’s for fries. My pregnant body was starving for carbohydrates; the diet I had been on made me so nauseous. I researched everything I needed to eat; what things I had to start and stop doing. I was mad at myself for drinking, eating raw fish and tuna, everything I had already done wrong. But I kept working out, running. I loved the body I had just started coming into. I had lost 40 pounds recently. I felt attractive and was getting a lot of attention from men. I felt so special being pregnant, but I wasn’t ready to lose my fitness, where I was at right then.
Even as I took care of myself and enjoyed my pregnancy, every day I woke up I knew it was a ticking time bomb. Even as I talked to everyone, mostly people I couldn’t trust; even as I used every possible tool to figure out if having my baby was possible; even as I imagined every possible path, thought of every angle; I think I knew from the beginning.
I couldn’t have my baby because my circumstances did not support me.
I chose not to have my baby because I am committed to raising a child healthier than I was raised.
I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t willing to risk not being able to give my daughter what I didn’t have.
My baby needed things I didn’t have for her and could not acquire quickly.
I asked for her to wait for me. I told her how much I loved her. I pleaded with the universe. I was tormented that this was what was meant to be and I was destroying it.
Finally, I had to make the decision to send her back.
It took every shred of strength that I had to make that decision; and it continues to demand all of my strength to keep going.
Whatever gave me this strength, will give me the strength to build the life I want to have – the one that will eventually support another pregnancy, and having a child.
No one wants to make the decision to have an abortion and survive; but I would never erase it from my life. Mostly because I would never erase her. I hold on to her, still, in so many ways, she is profound, forever a part of me, never having been able to separate and be on her own.
Only I know what I went through, physically and emotionally; all the options I considered, all the paths I drew out, all the worries, all the non negotiables, all the prayers and the rituals and the pleas I made to the universe to let my daughter wait for me, to open up some path that would make this possible. In this context, anyone else’s opinion simply does not matter.
Defensiveness, yes, I still have this. I think I will for a long time. I even have to remind myself that yes, I knew what I was doing. I made the decision I knew I had to make. This is grief. Your life is not over. You did not ruin everything.
I have an incredible sadness, and an explosive anger at the world. I don’t rest or relax well. Sometimes, when I allow myself to own that I made the best decision for my baby and me, I feel proud. And what gives me hope, sometimes just enough to stay alive, is that I can help someone because of my experiences and my honesty. Sharing my story could save the life of someone like me.
I hope that my story can start to change the narrative. “I’m pregnant and I’m keeping the baby.” Not all pregnancies result in live births, but we are mothers if that is the experience that we feel we had. I have no child with me, but I have my post pregnancy body, all the ways she took up space, all the ways she demanded that I change.
Written By: Lily Andrews