An Abortion Choice Revisited
I have already made a choice...
In High School Gail H. we will call her, was very popular. About 4 ft. 11 inches tall with very high 1970's hair and a cute little figure and big dark heavily made up eyes, Gail had one popular jock boyfriend and was therefore set with her social calander, except for perhaps those annoying pregnancies that would crop up every now and again.
Gail always put out her pouty lip and totally confused couldn't understand why this kept happening to her. You almost wanted to scream out "Hey Stupid, its the sex!" but that would have been cruel. Gail had 4 abortions in High School. We are talking about maybe a 2-3 year period. Was this abortion thing her new birth control?
I was in my first year of High School, 16 years old and anti-abortion. I know they call it pro-life now but then it was called anti-abortion and that was my stand on it. I secretly hoped that one day when Gail decided to have children of her own she would find out that her thoroughly confused womb no longer understood or knew how to contain a baby and she would have to face up to the fact that she had thrown her babies away in High School and those were the only babies she was ever going to get.
I have no idea if Gail ever did have children somewhere down the road. In retrospect, it was a mean thing to wish on anyone. I just felt she needed to be punished for being so careless, but then I was not the one to make that call was I?
I was 20 and I was in a violent relationship with D. as we will call him. D. was violent if I didn't come home quickly enough with his beer, he was violent when he found out I got to eat a meal at the restaurant where I worked as a waitress and I ended up eating from the salad bar and bringing my dinner home to him. On The fourth of July D. was wasted on something and I was making dinner for my nephew. He grabbed me, threw me over the couch and raped me. Fortunately, my nephew was only 2 and could be in the other room and not know what was going on. One hopes.
When he was done, I continued with the dinner as if nothing had happened. I didn't know what else to do. But something had happened. I conceived. I was pregnant. I was scared. I needed to go home.
I called my father and my step mother answered the phone. II told her what had happened and the conversation was something like this:
Diane (my step mom): "You can come home, but not with a baby"
Me: "I don't , what..I don't get it, how do I ...I mean the babies inside me...I can't.."
I was thoroughly confused,
Diane: "It's not complicated AnnaMarie, you can come home, but not with a baby, do you understand?"
Me: "well, no not really, I don't understand, wait, I can come home...but not with a baby..."
She was becoming frustrated with my inability to "get it". But she wasn't coming right out and telling me what it was she really wanted to say and I couldn't stand her vagueness.
Finally a lightbulb went off in my head "Ohhh!!! You mean have an abortion"
She refused to say the word or admit to having even brought it up, "All I am saying" she continued "is that you cannot come home with a baby in this house"
I nodded. She wouldn't say it, but she meant abortion. Ok, ok, I got it. I hadn't thought of it until that moment. Okay fine, I will go to the hospital and schedule an abortion. As long as I would get home. Be in the safe sanctity of my fathers home. My father, my rock, would be there for me. He always was.
I went home and immediately went to the local hosptial to schedule my appointment to have an abortion. They did a test and we waiting for the bell. In the meantime, she asked me all kinds of questions. Then 'ding' and she turns and looks at me in her barbie doll body and says matter of factly "It's a reality". Deep breath. It's a reality. Yes, I thought so, now what do I do?
We made an appointment like one makes a dentist appointment. I walked out of the hospital and crossed the busy Turnpike. I couldn't see, my eyes were filled with tears. This zygote, embryo, fetus thing will never see the light of day. It will not be my baby. Not now.
I could barely cross the street. I bucked up on the other side and walked the mile back home. I will be fine, I will be fine. At times when I felt I was out of control and losing my mind, I would convince myself that I was just fine. Self soothing.
I got home and immediately went to my room. I needed to get over the experience. It felt funny having something in my stomach on a temporary basis. I had never given this much thought. Each day was a new experience. A feeling, a change in my body. It was an adventure in self-discovery. I don't understand how people don't want to experience this. Was I doing the right thing? Where would I live if I had this baby? Who would help me? My own family made it clear that that was never going to happen. I couldn't have this baby totally alone. No, no, a decision had been made. I had already made a choice.
The Night of the Appointment
I thought I felt movement.
"I think I feel something moving" I told my sister.
"That's impossible" she said on the phone "You're only what 3 months?"
I thought a minute it was early October. "Yeah, a little over 3 months".
"Nah, too early" she said confidently. Was I imagining things?
The third week in October was the abortion. I had to be admitted to the hospital the night before to be "prepped". They would do the procedure first thing in the morning. I paced the hospital floor and a young blonde woman in a robe came in. "Hi I'm Shelly"
I smiled "Hi, I'm AnnMarie".
"This your first abortion?"
"Oh God yeah" I said shocked at her question.
"Mine too" she said "I already have a kid, but I can't afford another one"
I just nodded as if I understood. "Are you married?"
"Yeah, my husband Bobby should be here any minute. He went to McDonalds to get me something to eat, I'm starving, how far are you?"
"Far? Oh, uh, 3 1/2 months"
"Wow, I am like a little over 2, thats not too bad right? Your just a little past the first semester".
Did it matter? And it was tri-mester Shelley who looked about all of 15.
Shelley seemed so calm and carefree. As if this were no big deal. I walked to the hospital window and stared down at the town. It was a busy street, the Turnpike and well lit up. I thought about all the people down there. All the lives. They were living their happy normal lives and I was up here in this hospital to have an abortion. I wondered how I got there, how I could change my life to make sure I would never be here again. What was I going to do with my life anyway?
My friend Donna showed up to offer moral support and a Chocolate Shake. I was so happy she came to distract me from my thoughts. After about an hour Donna had to go home to see her boyfriend who was waiting for her. She had such a wonderful perfect life. She would never be stupid enough to get herself pregnant. She had a nice life, a nice home with great parents and a father who was a banker. They had some money, they were comfortable, she wanted for nothing and got a car at 18. She was cute and little and had a boyfriend she adored who adored her. What a great life. This was all that consumed my thoughts. I had screwed up my life and all the better lives that I did not have. That was all I thought about that night. Fixing my life.
The next morning they injected me with something and told me I would be feeling relaxed soon. Wow, was I relaxed. They could have done anything and I wouldn't have cared. Then they took me into the operating room strapped down my arms on both sides, put in the intrevenous and said "Count back from 10". I got to 9.
I woke up and immediately fell back to sleep. I woke up again and my stepmother was there "My God Anna" she said "You're so pale".
"I didn't think you would be here" I told her.
"Well daddy is worried sick and he had to work, I have to call him to assure him that you are fine".
I smiled a little and nodded. Then I fell asleep again.
I woke up to find D. sitting there beside me with a stuffed animal, his head resting on my arm. He would have to go!
"Sugar, babe..." he said in his emotional suffering feel pity for me voice. Did he even know my name? He wanted me to go home with him. I was still exhausted. I take easily to drugs, everything affects me strongly so I was out alot longer than most and couldn't leave until dinner time. I left D. at the hospital and got into a cab. "Go home D." I told him. I was getting stronger already.
I went home and lay in bed. I touched my stomach. Nothing was there. I was empty again. I started to cry. Whoever says women who have abortions just don't give a damn or use it as birth control have never experienced it themselves. They don't know what they're talking about, they are just making blanket assumptions. This was the hardest thing I had ever done.
It was so easy to be anti-abortion. I had no clue. I wasn't pregnant, I had never been in that position, I never had to make that decision. I sat back in my smug self assured arrogance and mentally crucified every woman who dared make this choice and here I was.
I liked thinking that someday I would have children. When the time was right. I would never have another abortion. I would never go through the horrible emotionality and pain and struggle again. But I will tell you this. I thanked God for my choice. I thank God that I did not have to have a baby alone with no one to help me or be forced into staying with an abusive boyfriend because I had no where else to turn.
I am married and have two boys, 20 and 10. I thank God for them, That I was able to have them and that are healthy and intelligent and loving kids. They came into this world the right way, with loving devoted parents that could care for them properly.
I know there are women everyday who have no choice but to do those horrible things and suffer terribly. I was lucky I lived in a state and in the decade I did that had the laws to protect my right to choose. I wished it had never happened, but it did. I had to do what I had to do for me. It had to be what was best for me. I have never regretted my decision.
Shortly after my first son was born in 88 I went on a March in Washington to protect women's rights to choose. I felt strongly compelled to do so to sort of repay the women who came before me and helped me to be able to have a choice.
I walked through the streets of Washington with my sign held high with the National Organization for Women (NOW). I listened to Jane Fonda speak and stared out at the sea of people behind me. I was lucky to be here. I was lucky for so many things. I no longer thought about the lives of others being so much better than my own. My own was pretty damn good. On the bus ride home I listened to my Walkman and couldn't wait to get home to kiss my 3 year old son good night and snuggle up against my husband. This was my life.
The Life I chose.