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Topics: Abortion
Area of Life Affected: Family Relationships, Finances


A Second Chance

As a child I was brought up to be responsible, follow the rules, and make good choices for myself. So the years 1999–2005 appear to be, on the surface, completely out of character. Though there were some good times and a few wise choices made, mostly between the ages of 19 and 25, my life was a series of one disastrous decision after another.

“No amount of shaming by protestors could change the circumstances of my life.”

From choosing to attend a college based on the amount of the financial aid package to paying for my lifestyle with credit cards and eventually filing bankruptcy to moving halfway across the country after graduation without any kind of plan or contacts, I seemed to have developed a knack for making the wrong move.

By far the two most devastating choices I made during this time were 1) to be woefully uneducated about my recent diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease and 2) to fall in love with a giant red flag. Though I didn’t choose to get Crohn’s, I didn’t place enough importance on learning how to live with it until I wound up in the ER, a picc line in my chest and malnourished to the point where standing up exhausted me. I recovered, thanks to wonderful doctors and strong steroids, and learned from my mistakes.

Unfortunately I couldn’t help that the man I loved had slowly gone from committed student to spiraling addict. The drinks led to joints led to party drugs and eventually led to meth. Over the course of almost six years he became someone I didn’t recognize, a stranger sharing my home who resented me for not taking part in his new lifestyle and condemning his drug use. It took me a long time to realize, with an anguish I am not sure I will ever fully survive, that you cannot love someone into change and I left him, hoping to at least save one of us.

But actually there were three of us in this picture—I just didn’t know it until my lower abdomen became a small swollen rock and my pants stopped fitting. During my three-year battle with Crohn’s, it wasn’t uncommon for me to go for several months without a period and it wasn’t until I was on heavy steroids that it came back regularly. It still flitted in and out even when I was much better, and I was as shocked as the nurse when she told me I was six months pregnant.

She didn’t say the obvious and she didn’t need to. I had gained maybe three pounds in the past six months. I was being weaned off steroids for the first month and there was a chance this was a normal, healthy child growing in me but it certainly didn’t look good. I didn’t need time to think about my decision, I knew what I wanted to do and a week later I was leaving a clinic in Nebraska where they provided late trimester abortions.

It wasn’t a fun experience and I clearly remember wanting to beat the protestors with their own signs (because up until they appeared I didn’t feel any shame, right? I needed them to remind me what I was doing because otherwise I would have just thought it was a spa day). But I also remember feeling so much relief, so much gratitude. No amount of shaming by protestors could change that, just as it couldn’t change the circumstances of my life.

I regret a lot about my life from the ages of 19 to 25. There is so much I wish I could change, so much I am ashamed of. One of the few things I am not ashamed of, one of the few things I never had to forgive myself for, was having an abortion. One of the biggest mistakes I have ever made was getting myself pregnant when I was unprepared for it in every way and I am deeply ashamed of my own stupidity, but I have never had any doubt that I made the right choice and I am not ashamed of the choice I made. I didn’t find out if the pregnancy was healthy—I didn’t want to know. Because ultimately it would not have changed my mind. Had  I chosen to have a baby, I would have been a single mom.

At the time, I was already working two jobs and terrified my good health was a fluke, certain the other shoe would drop any day. My ex would not have been able to contribute financially, and if his current situation is any indication, he still would not be able to. I was not ready to become a parent and most of the responsibility, financially and physically, would have fallen on my own mother during those early years—a fate she herself was not prepared for.

Getting an abortion was one of the few good choices I made during this turbulent time in my life, and I am grateful that there is still a system in this country, however pounded upon and small it may be, that allowed me a second chance, the ability to make the right choice, and the opportunity to protect others from living out the consequences of my stupidity.

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