I got pregnant when I was 20 years old. I decided not to keep it. To some, aborting a child seems like an easy out. You go to the doctor and after three hours the consequence of your slip-up, poor judgment or predicament is eradicated. That wasn’t the case for me.
Choosing to end my pregnancy was one of the most distressing decisions I ever made. I wasn’t just thinking about myself. I was consumed with thoughts about what type of life I would be able to offer my child. I was riddled with anxiety over whether my partner and I would be able to stay together for the long run, and how that would impact our baby. Last, I was worried about what my family would think. Here I was, their baby having one. They’d cobbled together their last bit of something to send me to college, when neither of them had the opportunity go.
So I chose what I thought was best, not the easiest. Though my child only spent a few weeks in my belly, his spirit remained ever present. Yes, I had his life sucked out of me, but I was impregnated with something else: an immense sense of guilt. I felt like I failed on all levels. One carefree, sexcapade-filled night change my whole life. I was consumed with feelings of inadequacy as a daughter, partner and mother. It took years for it to leave me. Did I still function? Yes. I went to school. I worked. I even maintained friendships. Still, I knew I was functioning in the midst of depression.
After I graduated from school, my partner and I decided to wed. Eventually, we had two beautiful children together. As my other children grew, so did my shame. Watching them develop and mature only consumed me with sentiment for what I robbed their sibling of. Finally, I chose to make a change. Though my spouse, family and friends were a great support, I knew I needed additional help. I found that via counseling.
In time, I learned that I wasn’t just punishing myself, but due to regret, I was also grieving the loss of my unborn child. Therapy helped me accept that I made the best decision I was capable of at the time. It also allowed me to bring closure to the experience by creating an identity for my child (a son), asking for his forgiveness and openly professing my love to him — hey, it may sound kooky but it worked for me.
Today I am balancing accepting all of my choices as a mother. Many years ago I made a decision that birthing a child would not be best for any parties involved, and I will always experience some sadness over that choice. Most important, I learned the significance of not creating circumstances that will forever impact my life and the lives of others. That lesson — and my unborn child — will stay with me always.