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100 non-medical reasons...

April 2, 2019

“100 non-medical reasons: That's how I decided I would tell anyone apart from husband about choosing not to go forward with this pregnancy. There were actually only 24 reasons (so far). ‘Choosing not to go forward with this pregnancy’ - that's the flowery way to express it. ‘I chose to have an abortion’ is the politically charged, emotionally saturated and conversation-halting way to say it. I had just turned 42 when I failed to perform the vaginal film insertion procedure perfectly, and I got pregnant. Apparently, my eggs are made of gold, or my near-40 husband has super-sperm. In retrospect I should have been so extra careful with birth control. I got pregnant extremely easily with our other two children but was 42 - the likelihood of getting pregnant naturally from all I had read was .0002%, or something like that. My maternal grandmother lived until she was 104, which likely indicated some damn good genes, which makes for damn easy baby-making, apparently. And I remember my mother saying once, subtly, that my younger brother was completely unplanned.

 

So here I was, in a situation I never thought I would be in (such a cliché, sorry) - calling planned parenthood and making an appointment. I should have known. We have two beautiful, healthy boys aged 4 and 9. Ironically, my husband tried to get a vasectomy at 21, he was so convinced he didn't want children, but the doctors wouldn't let him, in case he changed his mind as he got older. When we got accidentally pregnant and decided I would have to go through a ‘procedure’ to end it, he was on the hook to get that vasectomy finally scheduled, 20 years after he tried the first time. I would say there were 100 non-medical reasons we did not go forward with this pregnancy, but hyperbole is unnecessary - even 1 reason, if it is your reason as a woman, is good enough. For us, it came down to protecting our two sons, preserving the health of our marriage and, strangely to me, since we both have full-time, well-paying careers in an affordable city, money.

 

At 6 weeks, I was exhausted, and thanks to not yet having lost the weight from my 2nd pregnancy, even though I had just recently made a commitment to finally do so, most definitely overweight. I even felt like I was already showing at 5 weeks. After a couple of fantasies of telling my coworkers that I would again be absent for a few months, reality set in. Due to already stretched finances and the added cost of daycare, my husband was convinced (he's the money guy, and the bread-winner) that I would just have to quit and become a stay at home mom in order for us to afford a third child. I am in a field that would not be easy to re-enter if I had to be absent for 2 or 5 years. Additionally, I would have to try to re-enter as a someone in her mid-40s, maybe even closer to 50. I know ageism is illegal, but it certainly would play a role in me getting back into the workforce at a reasonable salary that would allow us to send our children to college.

 

Lost attention to our 2 little boys due to me having to spend almost all my time with the baby was probably the number one reason why I knew that ending this unintended pregnancy was the best choice for both me and our little family. They need me, and it would break my heart over and over again every time they wanted or needed to be with me and I would be feeding or comforting the third child, or sleeping when the baby was sleeping. Our 9-year-old still has nightmares, and is just beginning to start to navigate through more demanding phases of friendships and school. He needs me. Our 4-year-old loves to cuddle and loves his mommy. He needs me. My husband is wonderful and hard-working and needs a lot of alone time to re-charge just like I do. He needs me. He needed me most desperately, because if I had to be with the baby almost 24 hours a day, that would mean he would be responsible for caring for the two boys almost all of time, which would have been incredibly hard on him and likely would have turned him into a bona fide alcoholic. Though he would have done it, because that is the type of wonderful man that he is.

 

A day before I was scheduled to have my appointment, I was especially unsettled and stressed. However I had a realization that made me feel so much more confident in my decision on that day - for a while I felt horrible that I would be denying my sons a sibling, but then I realized that if I went forward with this pregnancy, I would be denying them their mom. The quality of life of four people was at stake here. I was a middle child between 2 brothers with parents who had to have full time jobs 30 mins away just to keep us afloat financially. I never got any one-on-one time with my mom. And in retrospect, that was a loss for me and my brothers. Granted, it was the 80s - parents weren't expected to be as involved with their children back then, and kids were left alone all the time. However, I know now that having three children was incredibly difficult on my parents financially and emotionally and that difficulty was constantly present in our home, even though they tried to hide it form us.

 

Having made the decision to not go through with this pregnancy, I called planned parenthood as soon as possible, since I wanted to end it before the embryo became a fetus or hopefully before any heartbeat could be found. Most of me was just wishing I would miscarry, or the clinic would find that it was an ectopic pregnancy or otherwise un-viable so I could take this decision off of my conscience - this did not happen, and now it is strange for me to think that men do not have to officially make this decision, and therefore, do not have to worry about having this decision, on their conscience. There was a local PP office in our city, though they only offered medical abortions (the pills), if a woman preferred to have a surgical abortion, she was required to travel to 2 hours to a clinic that provided that service.

 

Planned Parenthood was wonderful, non-judgmental, and apparently a little insecure in the medical staff department because the appointment I had scheduled for a surgical abortion had to be re-scheduled for 10 days later due to them losing the services of one of their doctors. This was devastating, to say the least. I had arranged to take off work and arranged for a hotel and to do the trip alone and have the 4-6 hour appointment all at once, so having them call to say that it needed to be re-scheduled (and that the baby would be even more developed) was soul-crushing. Thankfully, planned parenthood referred me to a women's clinic in town, that was actually just a block from where I work and that I had passed a thousand times, noticing but barely pondering the protesters that often walked along the sidewalk outside on nicer days. In hindsight, being able to do the appointment locally, over two days (one day of information and paperwork, one day for the surgery) was so much "better" than having to drive hours by myself to a clinic where I would have to do everything at once.

 

Although I knew that I was incredibly stressed about the situation, I thought that I had my anxiety under control. Obviously, that stress was real and large and manifested itself physically when to my surprise, I became woozy and vomited when they tried to take my blood. I had not been nauseous during my other pregnancies, and I was not squeamish about giving blood, so getting sick made me realize that the amount of stress I was carrying was enormous, and that I was incredibly thankful that I could go home, recuperate, and come back the next day for the surgery.

 

Many women attest that their abortion appointment and procedure was the most positive medical experience they had ever had and I would agree with that. The cost was clear, the staff was so wonderful (they even had a special staff dedicated to comforting you during the procedure), and the entire process was professional and compassionate. I was so grateful and impressed that I put myself on their annual mailing list since the organization is a non-profit.

 

1 month later, life is going on - we are busy with jobs and raising our two wonderful sons. Some days I'm worried that I'll forget that I went through this; but other days I'm worried that I'll remember. I am coming to the end of my fertility - should I have grabbed the chance when I had it? Was it a special miracle that a 42-year-old woman got pregnant naturally and did I just end something that was 'meant to be?' Then I sheepishly remind myself that these questions are pointless because those statements are mostly about me and thinking that me reproducing is somehow an exceptional event for the world. It is not. It is simple biology. It is a species having evolved in such a way as to make the possibility of reproducing as likely as possible. In fact, not adding to an already overpopulated, warming world was my 23rd reason for not going through with this pregnancy. Reason 8 was that the baby could have been unhealthy (again, I'm 42) and I would have had to go through this anyway, much farther along in my pregnancy. Reason number 17 was that I could have died in childbirth and left my sons motherless and my husband alone. It was not lost on me that both planned parenthood and the other clinic I went to were required to give me information 24 hours before the procedure that included at least three sentences about how it was 12 times more likely that I would die during childbirth than during the abortion.

 

Reason number 24 on my list of reasons why ending this pregnancy was the best choice for me, our family, and the world at the time that I had to make this decision was that I wanted and deserved to be happy and healthy after just finally surfacing from the deep dive of being pregnant, going through childbirth twice and mothering very small children. A dive that had lasted for a decade of my life. I wanted to dedicate the next decade to my husband and two precious boys, who need me desperately. Thank you for reading. This is the only time I will be writing this all down. I hope my story comforts the hurting heart of just one other woman going through this stressful experience.” - Anonymous

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