Telling this story is a huge step for me. It’s one that many people in my life don’t know, because it’s one I’m afraid to talk about. But in light of the recent political tug-o-wars, I think it’s time I shared my personal story with crisis pregnancy. It’s a bit long, and a lot vulnerable, but stick with me.
Here we go.
When I was 19, I got pregnant. (It bothers me when people announce it this way, as if getting pregnant is something accidental that can happen randomly. Like, “I was walking through Target and poof! I got pregnant,”. But I don’t know how else to say it.)
It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at A&M, and while arranging shoes at Payless where I worked part-time, I noticed I was really dizzy. Again. I had been dizzy for about a week, and just feeling ‘off’. After another week of feeling dizzy and queasy, I took a pregnancy test and spent the rest of that night crying on my bathroom floor.
“I’m too young to be a mom! I can’t do it!” I repeated over and over and over to my cheap linoleum floor. Floors really aren’t that empathic, it turns out. It stayed just as cold and harsh as it was before. I eventually got up and called my mom (a conversation I never want to re-live) and I was in the doctor’s office just days later.
I was 8 weeks pregnant. I was scared, ashamed, angry, and confused. I kept thinking that this baby would ruin my life, that I would have to quit school and get a job, that I would never become what I wanted to become. I thought I had ruined my boyfriend’s life, too. He would have to support a mom and kid, and probably couldn’t finish school either. Because of choices we had made – teenage hormones should really be harnessed to create weapons of mass destruction or something – we found ourselves sitting in the doctor’s office thinking the same thing but too afraid to admit it:
We didn’t want this baby – it was too soon. It was too complicated. But at the same time, I didn’t want to abort it, not really, but the selfish part of me really just wanted it to go away somehow.
When it came time to do the ultrasound, I could barely breathe. But when they told me they couldn’t find the baby and started using words like “ectopic” and “emergency surgery”, my breathe came out in a woosh, and I was terrified.
I was taken to the emergency room that night for more tests. I spent the majority of the evening getting poked and prodded and stuck with needles of various sizes. The nurse was uncaring and cold, and my phone got no reception, so I couldn’t call anyone. I was alone, freezing on the exam table, and thinking my life was over, and that this new baby that I thought I didn’t want, was dying. I couldn’t do anything to stop it.
The tests were inconclusive, so I was sent home with instructions to check in every day with my doctor. They said at any time the pregnancy could cause a rupture, and I would need emergency surgery before I bled to death.
Scary news to a teen girl.
None of my friends knew what was happening. I was terrified that they would judge me, that I would lose them all. So I stopped talking to them, and spent my time at work, school and home with my cat. I only talked to my boyfriend, but even then we just spent most of our time fighting.
Weeks later, another ultrasound finally found my baby, but his heart wasn’t beating anymore. I remember looking at the black and white image of a little bubble, and thinking, “My wish came true…” Only I didn’t wish it anymore. I wanted that baby back! I didn’t care that it would have changed my whole life. I didn’t care that it would keep me attached to a man who wasn’t good for me. I just wanted that tiny little bubble to keep growing, for its heart to start with a flutter, to feel it growing, safe and happy.
But I couldn’t have that anymore. Instead of a gurgling bundle of joy, I got surgery, pain, and more crying than I’d ever done in my life.
And now, years later, I still mourn that loss every February 14th (his birthday) and June 28th (his death day). He would be 7 years old today, going into 2nd or 3rd grade. And I will always miss him.
I was lucky that during that time in my life, I had a few people telling me it was going to be okay, that I could have a baby and still have a good life. They believed in me. They supported me. They lessened my fear and helped me accept what I wanted all along: to keep the baby. My fear in the beginning was so big I didn’t see that truth, but with their encouragement, they helped me embrace it. Even though I lost my child, I am grateful to them for believing in me.
Soon after this experience, I began mentoring teen moms. I encouraged them and listened to them. I built them up and told them they could do it. I saw them thrive in difficulty, and I had the privilege of seeing them get through school successfully. They were all beautiful, strong young women who loved their children fiercely.
I tell this story now because Texas is in the midst of political uproar in regards to abortion. I tell it now because I want to help women like me who were stuck in crisis pregnancies. My heart breaks when I hear women like Sen. Wendy Davis tell those women that they should abort the lives thriving within them. What I hear when she speaks is, “You aren’t strong enough to have that baby. You can’t do it. You’re too weak.” She’s telling them to give up, to add on more injury to an already stressful experience. She doesn’t believe in women! If she did, she wouldn’t support healthcare that causes them physical and emotional wounds. She’s telling them that they should be able to choose when to be feminine or not. She has bought into the idea that in order to be successful and happy, we must make our bodies like men, that we must be free to choose to throw away one of the greatest gifts of womanhood: bringing new life into the world.
The truth is that women deserve better than abortion. We can’t allow the world to tell us to kill our children, to take away the true gift of our femininity. We can’t buy into the lie that our fertility is a curse, or a burden on society, because FERTILITY IS THE REASON WE HAVE A SOCIETY. We don’t need abortion – we need to love women and children. Abortion is not love. Abortion is pain and tears and scarring. There is no dignity in abortion. There is no respect in abortion. Humanity deserves better.
“When we consider that women are treated as property it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton