Saturday, May 24, 2008

An anniversary, of sorts

Eight years ago today I had an abortion. Colin and I had been married for nearly two years. I was on birth control, two forms of it. I had a lot of problems with birth control - they gave me migraines, interfered with my sex drive and made me lose weight. I had tried most of what was available at the time, and was transitioning from Depo-Provera back to the Pill; I got my last Depo shot, which would provide birth control for three months, and started the Pill at the same time. My thinking was I would be double covered and wouldn't have to worry about pregnancy for that first month on the Pill.

I was also taking St. John's Wart at the time; I have since read that St. John's Wart counteracts the Pill, but that wasn't known back then. It wasn't in any of the Pill literature and wasn't common knowledge. I got pregnant in March of 2000.

In April, Colin and I moved to a new apartment. In May I found out I was pregnant. Actually, Colin told me I was pregnant, that I should get tested. My menstrual cycle had always been unpredictable and untimely, so not having a period wasn't any sort of clue for me. He harassed me about it until I agreed to get a test, and he was right. I've always thought it was sort of telling about me that I didn't even know I was pregnant.

I immediately went into a depression about it. I felt sick, literally like I had a disease inside me that needed to be removed. Like it was cancer that needed to be cut out. I wanted to die, wanted to cut my own stomach open and pull it out. I considered killing myself if I couldn't abort; I didn't want to be a mother, didn't want to have a child. Colin and I had agreed in the first days of our relationship that we would not have children. Our agreement was that if we changed our minds we'd adopt a Chinese baby and raise it.

Something changed with Colin when we found out I was pregnant; he wouldn't look at me or talk to me. He wouldn't touch me, and started avoiding me after work. He would come home after work and change clothes and leave, not telling me what he was doing or where he was going. We didn't have cell phones then, and I never really knew what was going on. He'd come home late, often drunk, after I was asleep and we would never talk about it. I was going through my own issues at the time, and sort of ignored his behaviour.

He didn't go with me for the abortion. He went to work, and my mom picked me up and took me to the clinic. Everyone at the clinic assumed I was single, probably a teenager. When I told the nurses I was married, but that my husband couldn't get the day off work (a little lie to avoid saying he didn't want to come with me) they looked at me with such pity and anger in their eyes. I found myself wanting to justify his not being there, to stand up for him and talk about what a really great husband he was, and how he just couldn't be here for this. They asked me several times if my husband agreed to this, as though I was having a stealth-abortion without his consent. It was very uncomfortable.

I was on the last day of my third trimester, and the clinic almost didn't agree to perform the abortion. Afterwards, my mom took me home and Colin was there. He took care of me, got me all sorts of easy food and treats, and did all the things a husband should do. I resolved to believe that he just wasn't comfortable with the process, but that he really was as okay with the abortion as he said. He committed suicide three months later, and I often wonder if he wasn't okay with it at all.

I don't regret my decision. I don't buy into the justification that an embryo isn't really a person. I don't believe that it isn't "murder". I won't say that there aren't other options besides abortion, and I won't try to convince anyone that I was "right". It's the decision I made at the time, and it's the decision I'd make again. I'm not proud of it, nor ashamed of it. But, sometimes, I think of what that child would have been like. I never knew the gender, don't even think it was apparent. Would it have been like my side of the family, petite and dainty? Or like Colin, larger than life and a personality to fill up a room? It would have been smart, certainly, and probably very charming, for Colin was exceptionally charming.

They say that a fetus can sense love, that babies know when they are loved and wanted and cherished. If that's true, and I believe it is, they can also sense the opposite; they can sense hatred and anger and disgust. I'm sure they can sense un-want, just as they can sense want, and I was filled with un-want. Whatever, or whoever, that child would have been, it would have grown up without its father and with a mother who thought of it as a parasite. I wish I had felt differently sometimes, but I don't, so somewhere among the energy of the world is the soul of a person who was never allowed to be a person.

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