A Mother’s Most Difficult Decision

Note: The Exhale Pro-Voice After-Abortion Stories Hub includes people’s stories of their experiences and emotions, exactly as they have written them in. We do not edit these stories at all, and the content that follows this message is exactly as we received it. We know that people’s experiences are complex, and these stories reflect the many emotions they may be feeling after their abortions. From relief to grief, and everything in between, and all at the same time, we’re here for you.

Submitted by: R H

I am a mother of a 2 and 4 year old. I love them more than anything in this world. However, being a mom to young kids hasn’t been easy. I wasn’t ready to be pregnant again when I found out I was pregnant with my second. My son was only 13 months old at the time. I did not enjoy that pregnancy at all and had postpartum anxiety after her birth. Things got much better but I feel like I have been parenting in a fog of exhaustion and feelings overwhelmed. Things have gotten easier though, as they have gotten older, and maybe this is why I thought I wanted a third. I also think I wanted a third to make up for the fact that I wasn’t able to enjoy my last pregnancy. I wanted to do it right this time.

Fast forward to last month, my husband and I weren’t really planning to have a third but I ended up pregnant. We were both nervous but excited at first. However, over the last few weeks, reality started to sink in. That same feeling of dread I had in my second pregnancy started to return. I remembered how hard it was and, can be still, to enjoy my kids when I am exhausted and overwhelmed. My postpartum anxiety the last time took a toll on my marriage too. My husband and finally realized that we were both thinking this baby was not the right decision. My kids just went back to preschool after months of juggling parenting and working. I felt like I could finally breathe again and could actually enjoy being a mother to them. I did not want to sacrifice that, not for me or for them.

Last week I came to the final decision that a third child would not be good for my mental health, my marriage or my ability to be the best mom to my other kids. I had a medical termination at 8 weeks and my heart breaks over and over again everyday. I wonder who this baby would have been. Would it have been different this time? Made us happier? How can I love my other kids and have just thrown this one away? I worry I will never feel whole again and I will feel sadness forever. I hope this isn’t true since I have two kids that need me. Hearing from other mothers who have made the same choice is the only thing that gets me through. I hope someone reads this and reaches out. I need to feel hope that I will be able to move forward.

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12 responses to “A Mother’s Most Difficult Decision”

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is comforting to know there are other women experiencing this flood of emotions. The isolation can make things more difficult. I am a mother of 2 – a 4 year old and a 1 year old. I have been taking birth control pills since my daughters birth but changed from a progesterone pill to a combination pill when I stopped nursing. It seems that I got pregnant when I switched pills. I’ve experienced many of the same emotions – unprepared for a third – this was never part of our plan. Our kids are young and with our jobs, finances and physical space in our home a 3rd would be very challenging. We both felt we couldn’t be the parents or spouses we want to be having a 3rd child. We made the decision to have a medical abortion fairly quickly and I believe it was right but I am also experiencing a tremendous amount of guilt and shame. I can’t help but think that though it would have been challenging and certainly put a strain on many areas of ours, and our children’s lives, that of course we could have made it work. I feel selfish and keep thinking of who the baby would have been. I also struggle because my husband seems to be far less affected, like nothing really happened. I hope that you all find peace with your decision, and appreciate your openness.

  2. A.A.

    I am so sorry. I am a mother of two, ages 7 and 2, and I became unexpectedly (was stunned, actually) pregnant this fall. I had gone through IVF to have my 2 year old. After much anguish, I decided to have a surgical abortion. It happened this week. My husband and I are both in our mid-forties, and I just couldn’t tolerate the risk that we might have a kid with severe special needs, like severe autism, which there is no prenatal screen for. Ultimately I made the choice for the sake of my current kids, whose childhood and entire lives would be altered by having a special needs sibling. Of course I am mourning the third baby I won’t get to hold, to nurse, to snuggle. And of course there is a chance everything would have been fine with this child. But I know I made the right choice for my family, and now I can give my kids my all. Even though I’m hiding from them in the bathroom as I write this, ha. Hang in there. Xo

  3. K

    I know what you are going through and I wish I could say it gets better. I think perhaps you thought it through more than me. I decided in 12 hours in some dark anxiety tunnel I couldn’t think clearly. I had a 1 & 3 year old at the time. Now 10 months later I am infertile and going to begin IVF soon. I wish someone had told me “you won’t regret a baby, but you could regret this decision” but no one at the clinic talked about options to me just their solution.
    I blame myself. And i also really feel betrayed by the prochoice community for making abortion easier to get than a dentist appointment.
    I worry this has ruined my life, my ability to be a parent, ruined my marriage. All in all, I don’t recommend this to anyone. Nothing is worth this pain.

    1. F

      I agree, nothing can prepare for the agony of it. I had every reason in the world to do it. But it turns out it doesn’t matter. Its the worst psychological pain I have ever experienced

  4. Rachel

    Dear RH, I identify so much with your story. I have two children who I love with all my heart. I suffered from postpartum depression after my second, which was the hardest thing I have been through. I thought I could handle having another but when it happened, I was an absolute mess. Not sleeping, very upset, very scared, felt extremely trapped. I also have a lot of stress and fears with everything going on with COVID. I knew something was very off because in my other pregnancies I never ever had these feelings ever. I ended up terminating the pregnancy early. It just happened this week… and I am all over the place emotionally. I want you to know you are not alone. There are many moms who have had to make this choice. I think we do it for the love of our kids. I am struggling but hope I can accept it. Sending you love.

    1. RH

      Thank you for sharing. It is so helpful to know that I am not alone. That other caring mothers have made the same difficult choice as me. Sending you much love and strength.

  5. S M

    This is absolutely what I needed to read. My husband and I were in a very similar situation. He had a vasectomy after our second. We came to find out that it failed (despite being “cleared”). We made the difficult decision as well. We had the vasectomy for a reason and then this happened. But I’m feeling very guilty as well. My heart wants the baby but my mind knows I couldn’t have handled it. I’m believe I have postpartum anxiety as well- I’ve been unsure if how I’m feeling (anxiety wise) is normal or if I do need to reach out. Obviously this isn’t helping. Deep down I know we made the right decision but my heartaches. I am right where you are and hoping to be able to move on as well. You are not alone.

    1. RH

      Thank you for replying. It feels so good to know that we are not alone. Rationally I know I made the right choice but heart is struggling to catch up. It has been getting easier though so hopefully that continues. Hang in there! Sending you lots of comforting and supportive thoughts.

      1. S M

        Hey! Thank you so much for your kind words. I wanted to see how are you doing? I have been so back and forth this whole month. I know I will never get over this. It feels so dreadful. I’m having a tubal soon in hopes to prevent being in this situation again. It’s nice to know we’re not alone.

    2. Anon

      That just seems so unfair that your husband’s V failed. That must involve a lot of healing work for you both to process that. I mean, you two did everything “right” to not be in this situation, and yet you still got pregnant. And of course your decision is completely justified, makes so much sense, and now you’re left with the emotional aftermath. I hope you are slowly finding some healing and peace. Let us know how you are doing.

  6. K.

    Dear R H,
    There is hope! Among the pain that you might be feeling right now there is hope. I’m almost 4 months out and things are better. I wish I could tell you that by then all will be fine. My wish is that for you it will be. It isn’t for me but it’s easier to get through every day. It’s easier being around my children and being better for them, for my husband, for myself. It takes effort most of the time but sometimes it feels almost normal.
    I wish you much strength in these early days. Thinking of you…

    1. RH

      Thank you for replying. Your words are so helpful. I need to use this as a reason to make myself better for myself and my family. Take care of yourself.

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