On rare occasion, the World Wide Web does something positive by bringing people together. I got an email from Jennifer Rose (not her real name) who was asking for places to go for healing after an abortion 28 years ago. Something about Jennifer’s story really resonated with me. She doesn’t have other children–her aborted child was it. Could this not be any one of us? I consider how life goes in our “modern” world and I really feel her story could be me. Suddenly, you are 40 or 50 or 60 and you look back on your life and realize so many things you thought were difficult could have been coped with. We are all compelled to make our own mistakes and suffer the consequences, as if there were no older, wiser women to learn from. Must it be this way? Here’s one older, wiser woman, who would like to tell her story so that others can read it, hear it and change course if they are in her situation of 28 years ago.
Here’s Jennifer’s story:
I regret my abortion. It was 28 years ago and this is the first time I am writing about it. It is time to leave my head—to get my story out. There are many reasons why I made the mistake to end my pregnancy; fear, self-hate and ignorance top the list.
I was 28 years old and missed one day of my birth control pills. I was in a serious relationship. I believe I had the abortion at eight weeks. It was an unsettling and exciting time in my life. I had just uprooted the only life I had ever known and moved from one coast to the other, to be with the love of my life. He was starting a new job and we wanted to start a new life together. He was not happy for us when he heard the news. He had two older children from a previous marriage and our finances at the time were a shambles. He said he would leave if I had the baby. (He denies he said this.) I was too afraid to tell my parents back home. I wish I was happy with the news regardless of how my partner felt and whether he wanted another child. I felt so scared and very alone. I felt I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have a baby. Me? Having a baby? Being a mother? I panicked.
As a young, introverted girl, I rarely thought of growing up and having a family like a lot of my friends. I tended to talk about “deeper” things like why the universe is the way it is, or what the purpose of life is. Then when I was eight, my childhood came to an abrupt end and my family was fragmented forever when my oldest sister, just 18 years old, dropped dead from a heart attack. When sudden tragedy strikes I believe it depends on your age, stage in life and temperament as to how and in what forms you process the event. I lay in bed that night listening to the horrific wails of grief coming from my mother downstairs. That memory will always be with me. I was good at internalizing and over-thinking events even then and created the thought that having children must feel terrible because they die and you cry and hurt.
What if my baby died like my sister did?
I wish I could go back to my 28-year-old self and tell her not to make the biggest mistake of her life. If I could, I would have told her she didn’t need to feel scared or alone and to reach out to a supportive minister or counsellor for guidance and support—someone who would show her that her life was going to change for the better. I would have told her this was not entirely about her, that she must be brave, that this baby deserves a chance at life and even if she felt that she couldn’t raise the child, there is always adoption. If the baby was born with physical or medical problems that she would be able to cope with strength, love and courage.
I wish I loved and believed in myself more back then. I wish I knew then what I know now that everything will always be okay. Everything. I wish I had had my strong personal faith in God like I do now. I kept everything to myself. Thinking I knew best, I guess, I let my ego rule over my heart. I still remember as if it were yesterday when they put the oxygen mask over my face; I had tears pouring down my face. So, so sorry I was so selfish and stupid!
Now, I am 56 and childless. My partner at the time and I have since married and have stayed together. Through the years since my abortion, I’ve been angry at myself. I tried to cope by numbing everything with booze, but the pain and regret never really seemed to go away. I have been treating myself as an invisible visitor on this earthly plane. I tried propping my self-esteem up with pro-choice and feminist beliefs for many years after that because I was too afraid to face the ugly truth of what I had done. But my soul always knew and it has weighed on me.
My self-esteem was demolished—the day my sister died. I work every day with meditation, my faith and journal writing to save any innocent essence I have left. I pray daily, repentant, and I know I am forgiven. I am back on the path and walk in His grace and mercy every day.
We are women and we can bring new life into this bizarre and beautiful place. I want my story to be comfort and inspiration for some scared young woman who perhaps, like me, fears being a mother. I want to tell her to go for it: Jump into the unknown with love and know that there are people out there who care about you. Whether you intend to keep your baby or not, know that you are bringing a new life into the world who deserves to be here.
And to tell her that everything will always turn out okay. Everything.