An Unexpected Abortion

I’d had an abortion before. I was 20 years old, in a toxic and unhealthy relationship with my ex, and I had about $20 to my name. It made sense back then. I don’t remember feeling any particular way about it. I had just felt it was the right choice for me and I was lucky enough to have the support of my family. As I grew and matured I was fortunate enough to have access to great birth control which protected me from having to make a decision about abortion. Years went by and I had decided that there wouldn’t be a reason for me to ever have an abortion again. I had imagined the only reason someone would have an abortion is that they are just not in the position to have one at that time. I decided that the next time I got pregnant would be because I was ready to be a mother. At age 29 it happened. This news came as a beautiful surprise for me and my partner. It truly felt like destiny. I can only describe the first trimester as bliss. As new parents we purchased clothes, a bassinet, diapers—you name it. We were thrilled. In order for us to find out the gender early, we decided to take a genetic test. It also tells you the risk for chromosome abnormalities, which wasn’t something we were concerned with, being low risk for these types of complications. Right around the time that we had taken our “Pregnancy Announcement” pictures, we got a call. This is a call that would change my life forever. “We’re getting numbers that your baby has T21. That means Down syndrome.” The following days were a blur. Scrambling to get appointments for testing consumed all our time. I begged and pleaded with receptionists to give me an appointment to confirm the diagnosis. I remember speaking to receptionists who treated me like I was being dramatic. I remember reaching out to an online pregnancy group and having a woman say “I hope for your baby’s sake that you make the right choice and keep your baby.” I remember going to the diagnostic procedure and seeing my baby at 17 weeks moving all around. I remember being told there may be other complications on top of the T21 diagnosis. I scoured the internet searching “How can I know if my baby will be a high functioning T21 or not?”, “What risks of abuse are there for people with T21?”, “Can people with T21 live on their own?” The tragedy is I knew my daughter didn’t deserve this. I knew that I should take on the burden of pain so she didn’t have to. I knew I didn’t have the money to give her everything she would need. I knew I didn’t have the time. And we made the call. We decided to terminate the little girl. It still gives me chills to type those words. We felt she would be too pure for this world. We wanted our baby to be able to travel the world, find independence, fall in love, have children of their own if they chose. We knew that even if she could survive past a particular age, she wouldn’t have these opportunities. Saying goodbye to our baby was the hardest thing we’ve ever done. However, I’ve found my sanctuary online. There I’ve found women who have been through something similar: terminating a wanted baby. Here I learned, I had it easy. Some of these women were pregnant with babies who had a 1% chance of survival. Some of these women had complications that could put mom at risk during pregnancy and at birth. There were couples who couldn’t tell their vehemently pro-life families and friends the truth. There were couples who on top of having to mourn their loss also had to travel across borders to terminate later pregnancies. There are people who would want these women to go through with a birth they know isn’t viable, instead of providing women with the support they need during these challenging and unexpected times. But I am one of the lucky ones. I have had access to abortions. I have had access to the finances it took to take the tests so I could make this choice. I have a family that supports my decisions. To think, that I am one of the lucky ones, is the direst of it all. This part of my life story cannot be told without a vast array of emotions. There is deep sadness and grief, but there is also gratitude that I had a choice. There is also anger that these abortion stories are not told. That we are so often a silent group, suffering in secret. I think of every woman who has had to make this decision. I think of the burden of shame that we carry for the choices we have made. When I speak for myself, I speak for your mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We exist.