I was 21, had been married less than three months, I had plans to finish school, travel, be a newlywed with all of the joy that it brings to be young and in love with very little responsibility.
Then I found out that I was pregnant. After a minor panic attack as the pregnancy test lit up positive for my life spiraling completely out of my control I went to show my husband.
I’ll spare you the details, but getting accidentally pregnant had been a mutual effort and yet as I saw his face fall and his eyes widen with despair, my spirit sunk even lower, this was my fault, I felt instinctively, somehow I had messed up our lives.
Then came the phone calls. I had to call friends and family we were eager to impress with our wise choices, to tell them that while we had begged them to believe we were mature enough to get married so young, in fact, we hadn’t even been able to competently handle birth control.
We were serving in a restaurant living off of tips; we were alone in the world, hours away from any sort of support system. Tanner was in school for a career he no longer had any interest in pursuing and I wasn’t even in school yet and now I probably never would be.
Tanner’s hair started falling out in clumps from the stress. I was too nauseous and miserable to make it through half of my shifts at the restaurant.
That was four years ago.
Four years, two cities, three houses, two more babies, a lot of stress, and even more happiness.
I could have marched into Planned Parenthood; convinced myself every day for the rest of my life she was just a clump of cells and my abortion was just a routine, outpatient medical procedure; and time would have kept moving and somewhere around now I could be trying for my first baby as we had originally intended.
I will never know what my #shoutyourabortion could have said. Maybe it would have said “I was 21 and way too young to be a mom. A bachelor’s degree later I know I made the right choice. #shoutyourabortion” maybe it would have said “I had an abortion in 2010. Now I have a beautiful little boy and couldn’t be happier about how things turned out #shoutyourabortion”.
I wouldn’t have known about the soft brown curls, her twinkly green eyes that turn up at the corners, her impressive command of the English language. I wouldn’t have heard her sweet voice singing a room away, seen her streaking from the bath sopping wet, naked as a jay bird, and giggling like a lunatic.
I would never have known that she would be everything to me.
I understand that pro-choice advocates consider 2010 Viola just a clump of cells, just a potential child, not an actual one. The fundamental disagreement is that I believe she mattered just as much then, kicking in my uterus, with only me to protect her as she does now.
But if you want to remove the stigma from abortion by telling your stories of the choice you made at the same juncture I once faced, then I needed to share mine. I may never convince you that a baby’s life in the womb is more important than a mother’s bodily autonomy. I understand this, but I do want to tell you that there was a time when I was frantic and scared and angry at myself for ruining everything and I made the choice to protect the baby I had made rather than do away with it. And I was okay. Everything was okay.
Yes, Viola changed everything. Many things were made harder because we chose to let her live, but you know what I have learned about life? If it wasn’t an unplanned pregnancy it simply would have been something else.
I could have relieved my fear of ruining my new husband’s life, never told him I was pregnant and never worried that he was mad at me, I never would have had to swallow my pride and tell friends and family through tears of embarrassment that all of our plans were out the window, I could have started school again, I could have maybe even graduated, I could have gone on more trips, made more money, gone to more parties.
But I kept my baby and that has made all of the difference.
I don’t know what my #shoutyourabortion would have been, but if you choose death for your baby/clump-of-cells rather than life, you will never know what your #shoutyourbirth would be. Mine is this,
My four year old just used “suspicious” correctly in a sentence. I am rockin’ this mom thing. #shoutyourbirth