I’ve had a number of chances to have another baby in the last 18 years since my son was born, but none of them have worked out for me. Though I did get pregnant during those years, I chose to terminate a few of those pregnancies and have suffered a few losses due to issues with fibroids and severe pregnancy-related anemia. But as terrible as this may read, and I mean it with great respect for all the strong women who have dealt with either the agony of a miscarriage or abortion, I was grateful none of those pregnancies came to pass.
I wouldn’t have wanted to be connected to those ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands for the rest of my life.
I have been married three times, and in the past year, aborted the two babies conceived with my third husband. God knows I loved him. God knows I still do. But it was his drug and alcohol addictions and the abuse I suffered from him that made it impossible for me to see myself stuck with him for the rest of my life. I figured the marriage could be undone, but our children would be forever, and they deserved a better father and a happier, healthier mother. He knew about the first abortion, which I had before our marriage, but I told him the second abortion was a miscarriage. That was a month after we were married, and I was terrified of what he might do if he knew I’d willingly aborted the child he begged me to have.
I have never regretted that decision.
As a single woman, I never had a yearning for more children, and even in my prior relationships and marriages, a part of me knew I was in the wrong place and that bringing children into that place would only have been detrimental to both them and me. Most of those men were abusive, or users, and none of them ever truly loved me. And when I am honest with myself, I can admit that I never truly loved them, either, except maybe for one. I had always been looking for something, though I was never quite sure what. Still, when I couldn’t find it, I tried to mold each and every one of those men into the sincere, generous, loving man I always wished I knew.
And I failed.
Fast-forward to right now, and I am in love with a man who I actually want to have a family with, but the funny thing is, my quest for improved fertility has less to do with him and more to do with my need to forgive myself for the miscarriages I have suffered in the past and the one abortion I have always regretted.
It happened in the time between my second husband and my third. He was more than 10 years younger than I, but he was an old soul who fed me spiritually and shook me to my core. I cared for him. But three years into our relationship, when I found myself pregnant with his child, my lover — who was not yet 25 years old — panicked. I thought if I had the abortion, I could save us, but it destroyed me, and I could never bring myself to talk to him again. I would give anything to bring that baby back.
I had those three abortions with the assistance of doctors I’d never seen before.
I needed strangers to perform them.
I’d been seeing my regular gynecologist for more than 10 years; he runs a small private practice with his wife, and I have come to think of them as family, in a way. They are a sweet couple, and they care so much about me, and I care so much about what they would think if I came to them for one abortion after the next — one with a young lover I could never be with and two by the man I vowed to be with forever.
I couldn’t bear being brought into his office, by either him or his wife, and asked, “Are you sure?” Or seeing the hundreds of photos of all the babies he’d delivered over the past decades, smiling as he held each new life, proud to have cared for them from implantation to birth. I didn’t want my doctor or his wife to be disappointed in me, handing over the abortion pills because it’s part of their job, but quietly wondering why I kept doing this to myself.
But, now, here I am.
I want to have another baby, finally. I want to have a baby with the man I’m with, but more than that, I want to have a baby for me. When we first talked about starting a family, we did so with no urgency. It was important that we didn’t rush into getting pregnant for all the wrong reasons. We’ve taken our time, and there is still more time left to take. We wanted to be sure we were doing it because this is what we wanted, individually and together. We wanted to be sure we weren’t doing it to save face or prove we were normal and happy, or because it’s just the thing couples do. I’ve seen people do that — get pregnant on a whim to prove things to the world — and they always end up miserable.
I never wanted to be them.
And I guess that’s what I could have said to my doctor, or I could have just said nothing at all, taken my abortion pills, and went along my merry way. But I couldn’t look him in the eye after he had looked me in the vagina, and feel proud of myself.
So, I cheated on my gynecologist (and his wife).
But now, now that I’m preparing to have the baby I want with a man I don’t mind being tied to for the rest of my life, it’s time to visit my real doctor. I trust him with my health and to always tell me the truth. I trust him and his wife to emotionally support me, never making my visits seem clinical or rushed. I want my baby on that wall, damp with amniotic fluid, crying into the ether, being held by the best doctor I’ve ever known. So, as I prepare for pregnancy, I am preparing to go back to him.
But, I’m afraid. I’m afraid he’ll take one look at my cervix and say, "Good God, woman, what have you done to yourself?!” It’s silly maybe, but I have this fear that everything inside me is a mess, torn to shreds from three abortions, even though only one of them required a D&C after the abortion pill failed — a dilation and curettage during which I came out of anesthesia to feel the tugging and scraping. I was emotionally traumatized by that abortion, in that strange clinic, with that unknown doctor, and as I dozed back into twilight, I remember saying, “Please take care of me.”
I guess a part of me worries that my doctor will see all this emotional trauma manifested inside my lady bits, as if there are lines carved into my flesh by the lost inhabitants of my uterus, marking the days and weeks they spent there before the end. It’s silly and it’s untrue but, in my mind, there is some gruesome telltale sign, some karmic graffiti that will show where I’ve been and what I have done before I ever get to tell him...
..."I’ve had a few abortions."
And I guess it’s not so much the abortions, but the fact that I didn’t trust him to help me through them, that makes it hard for me to make my first appointment with my gynecologist in well over a year. I know he'll ask why I didn’t come to him, and I know I might be afraid to admit that I didn’t want him to think less of me — because that’s just silly, isn’t it?
Just as bringing a new life into the world is the right choice for me now, those other choices were right for me then. And the reason I’ve been with my gynecologist for so long is because he has always honored my choices and guided me through them. So, sure, I’ve had a few abortions.
Now it's time to have a baby.