understanding opportunity through sorrow

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.

It was a year and 3 months ago that I got a huge promotion and the opportunity to go away for 4 months of professional training. I worked hard for an opportunity like this.

When I arrived I was surprised to meet a man that actually interested me. I had given up on relationships and was focusing on myself after many failed attempts at love, but this man seemed different. He was cultured, smart, hardworking and spoke 5 languages. He was interested in me, made me feel special, and wouldn’t take no for an answer when asking for a date.

Unbeknownst to me, he was also a liar.

I spent almost everyday with him between work and dates and got to know the special, but damaged, man he is. I felt in my heart that we could live happily ever after. We started sleeping together and did not use protection. I have PCOS and have had a miscarriage and was never really careful about birth control, believing I couldn’t carry a pregnancy to term or even get pregnant easily. I think part of me was hoping to get pregnant so we could be together and live a fairytale life — but that isn’t reality.

2 months into training, I overheard his managers say that he lived with a woman and they had a baby together. I confronted him about it and he said they weren’t together and was planning to move out. After our talk he disappeared for over a week. He led me to believe that he wanted a future with me, trying to find new careers, talking about doing things in order to be with me.

I thought he was upset because I didn’t trust him. Finally he returned to work and apologized, but wouldn’t discuss what happened. Foolishly, I continued seeing him. Towards the end of training I became very emotional about him, crying over things I normally wouldn’t. My period was a couple days late.

I left for a work trip and he stopped responding to me, so I didn’t say anything. When I returned, I only had a couple weeks left. After a week of not getting my period, I finally approached him.

We were sitting in my car at my hotel. I expected him to be happy or supportive, but instead he said, “I was trying to protect you from me, but now it’s too late.” He wouldn’t even look at me. I asked him if he wanted to leave, and it crushed my heart when he said yes.

The next morning he insisted I take a pregnancy test, but I was terrified knowing the answer in my heart already. I finally built up the confidence before work, hoping to get it over with. It was positive. I sent him a picture and he called me angrily saying, “I didn’t want this, I didn’t do this on purpose.” I was scared and hurt.

My sister and mom were my previous support systems, but they both were against having kids with the state of the world, so I couldn’t go to them. Instead I reached out to my best friend. The whole situation was extremely stressful.

I was about to do my validations with the corporate bosses, pack up, go back home and start a new high-stress job. Now pregnant, wondering if I wasted all that time working so hard only, to lose it all for this tiny little life inside of me.

The father went back and forth between supportive and nonexistent. He claimed he didn’t want to make the choice for me, but made it clear by saying he wouldn’t be there when the baby arrived. Was I supposed to have a baby whose father disappeared when they needed him too? I thought of the lifelong damage that would do to a baby.

I finished my last two days, validating and passing with flying colors despite being in a constant panic. I moved back into my tiny apartment with my sister and 4 pets, pretending everything was fine. The nausea and exhaustion caught up to me. I threw up constantly, trying to work at my new job and pretend everything was normal. I knew if I decided to keep the baby, I wouldn’t be able to keep my job.

My employer invested over $30,000 for my training and had expectations that made my decision 10x harder. After a week of being home and 2 hours away from the father, he stopped responding to me despite my constant calls for help and emotional support. I decided to confide in my sister, believing somehow that she would support me emotionally. She was disgusted and told me that she wouldn’t be there for me. She urged me to get an abortion, even though I I wanted to keep the baby.

I played out scenarios in my head hoping I could make it work, but ended up at dead ends each time. Maybe my father and his wife could babysit, but they were racist (despite denying this claim) and the father was black. I felt they wouldn’t care for their grandchild in the way that they should.

My sister told my mother that I was pregnant. She was not supportive. She made me feel like a bad person and told me she would not be there for either. So my choices were to lose everything and keep this baby, or give up the baby and keep my life.

I called my doctors to make an appointment, initially just looking for advice and help. I called planned parenthood looking for a different response, but it was the same. They talked about the science of things, but wouldn’t help make my decision. I was alone.

I reached out to two of my friends that were single moms. One said she didn’t regret a single thing and loved her child. The other said she loved her child, but wished she had chosen a different path. When it comes to keeping a pregnancy, it’s so much more of a nuanced and personal choice than any human can comprehend until they’ve had to make it for themselves.

No one can do it for you, not one single person.

Time is against you. If you get far enough along, you have no choices. By early June I was estimating that I was 8 weeks along. I googled fetuses at 8 and 10 weeks and decided to make an appointment for an abortion before the decision became emotionally impossible.

The soonest appointment was 2 weeks out, so I couldn’t just get it over with. I had to make an excuse at work to take the day off because it was too late to submit an official request, but I didn’t think I could be honest about my situation.

My mother drove me to the appointment. Half of me felt relieved and happy to be on my way to getting it over with, but the other half kept wondering what I was doing. There’s no way to see your future and the cost of your decisions, and so hard not to think, what if? What if this baby is meant to be? What if I never get the chance to be a mother again? What if this baby would have changed the world? What if I had had a support system? What if, what if, what if?

I entered the lobby escorted by a guard to past the protesters telling me that they would adopt my baby. Total strangers thinking my better choice was to hand my baby over to them for a potentially terrible life? As if adoption hadn’t crossed my mind?

I went inside and checked in, paid the $575 and waited. When the nurse came and opened the door, my mom who I hoped would stay with me during the process, decided to wait in the car. I went through the whole process including the ultrasound where they asked if wanted to see it. I said no, despite my heart aching, because I knew if I looked I would have gotten up and left. I asked if the baby was healthy, they said the pregnancy “was viable” and to my relief, that I was only about 7 weeks along.

After that they brought me into the recovery room. There was other women in there who had just received their abortion and was in pain. It terrified me. The nurse brought me to the room, had me undress from the waste down, and lay on the table covered by a medical sheet. A doctor and a nurse came in and I told them I was scared as they gave me IV pain and relaxation meds.

I became exhausted and out of it as they performed the procedure. It really wasn’t physically painful at all but I felt a part of me die in my heart. They walked me back to the recovery room for observation, and after about an hour they walked me to the lobby where I was escorted back out to the car.

I don’t remember the drive home. The day after my abortion, Roe V Wade was overturned. All you heard and saw was news about abortion rights. For weeks — maybe months after my abortion I was suicidal and hated myself for what I had done. I couldn’t stand the person I was.

My sister and mother didn’t care to listen to me, so when no one was around or listening I would cry harder then I’ve ever cried in my life. I cried to let the pain out for months. I was so ashamed.

Eventually the pain got easier. It’s been 10 months now and I think about how I would have a 2 month old if I had made a different decision. In the end, I don’t regret my choice because I know I wouldn’t have given my baby the life it deserved, but my heart still aches for my loss and I mourn the child I so badly wanted but couldn’t have.

I hope someday I’ll get another chance, but I know if I do, when I see my baby, apart of me will hate myself even more.

I’ve wanted to tell my story ever since, but never had the opportunity. I’m so glad that I was able to find this outlet. Thank you for letting me tell my story so I can be free again.

Submitted by: Samantha

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