Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Right to Choose

I guess I should apologize because I don't think of you often. Once or twice a year, the thought of you will appear. I never really know when it will hit me and it leaves nearly as quickly as it came. When you finally cross my mind, I wonder if I'm a rotten, uncaring person because I don't think of you more.

I wonder what you'd look like today. Tall? Short? Fat? Skinny? Would you have my nose - would I describe it as a ski slope with a snowman at the end? Would you be blonde like me or have dark hair like your dad? Would you love sports or would you love to read or maybe a combination of both?

After I spend a little time wondering what you'd be like, my thoughts turn to me. Selfish? Maybe. I wonder if the decision I made affected me later. Were the babies I wanted denied me because I decided I didn't want you? I've spent more time wondering if God has punished me than I have regretting my decision.

I don't know if you were a boy or a girl. I don't have a name picked out for you. There's no tombstone or marker I can visit when I want to mourn you. I never held you. Never heard your heart beat.

The truth is I made the decision I thought best for me at the time. Marcus was only six weeks old when I discovered I was pregnant with you. I was single. He had left us and the thought of supporting two kids 11 months apart terrified me. I worried what my mom would say. I worried about seeing the disappointment on my dad's face. I worried whether or not I'd be strong enough to raise you both.

Getting pregnant with Marc was easy. Getting pregnant with you seemed even easier. I was alone, unwilling to discuss my situation with anyone and so my decision to terminate you was made. I remember walking into the clinic and the hideous people outside pushed little plastic fetuses into my hand, asking me if I've considered the life I'm about to end.

And the truth is that if even one of those people had been kind to me, maybe invited me to coffee to soothe my nerves, they may have actually persuaded me to change my mind. Instead, they forced me into the clinic, hurrying to escape their judgment.

I walked in alone, walked out feeling even more alone. But I felt in control. Confident I had made the right choice.

And six months later, I found myself facing the same decision. I had just moved to Boise. Your dad and I had another failed attempt at making it work when I found out I was pregnant a third time.

This time my decision was harder but I chose to lean on your "father." He explained and rationalized why we were both better off without another baby. We loved Marc with all our hearts but we were in no position to raise a second child.

This time when I walked into the clinic, there were no protesters. The "procedure" was done in a doctor's office, not a seedy clinic that distributes condoms at the same rate they dole out abortions. The doctor looked nearly 80 years old and "tsked" me for being so irresponsible.

For years, I didn't think of either of you. You never ever crossed my mind.

Then I wanted more kids. I wanted children running around me, happy, carefree. I quickly discovered pregnancy was much more difficult if it was something you actually wanted. I miscarried. and miscarried again. And miscarried again. And then, once again. My next pregnancy was an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured, sending me to emergency surgery. As I was prepared for surgery, I wondered if I wasn't being punished.

The truth is, I don't regret my decision. I made the decision I thought was best with the information I had. And the truth is I believe that decision is every woman's right to make. The truth is that I'm very glad no one had the control to stop me from making my decision.

But the truth also is that if you told me you were considering the same, I'd try and discourage you. I could tell you that occassionally you might feel guilty, or regretful, or sad.

The truth is I made my decision because I didn't think I was strong enough or capable enough. The truth is I made my decision because I feared what others would think.

The truth is I was. I was strong enough, capable enough to rise to the occassion. My 35-year old self can look back at 20-year old me and realize she had what it would take to do what needed to be done. She was strong, capable, courageous.

The truth is if I had it to do over again, I'd make the same decision. 

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