10 Years Ago
by: Alexia Gaiță When I first told her I wanted to talk to her about her abortion she only said:
“If I would have thought 10 years ago what I think now, I would have probably kept the baby. I have suffered for too long with my conscience loaded and it’s time to voice my regret.”
The woman I interviewed came across as a very open and sincere person, willing to share all her past and current experiences on such a controversial topic. During the discussion there was a lot of tension in the room, coming out of deep memories stored in her heart. Nevertheless, she shared her story full of hope, because she believes that her story can help a lot of young girls and women struggling with the same decision. The first thing she told me was that she was 32 years old at the time and the man that she was pregnant with was 47. She mentioned that the age gap wasn’t a problem for her. The both of them had been married for several years and they loved each other very much. The news of her expecting another child hit in a moment of difficulties with raising their two children, taking care of their aged parents, all while both going to full time jobs and moving houses. She told me that she wasn’t alone in her decision and her husband knew about it and supported the abortion. She described it rather as an unexpected and panic-inducing situation, her husband had an older child from a previous marriage, who was studying at university, and they had just managed to raise him. She also had a toddler from another marriage and they struggled a lot with accommodations, all the while also not receiving any help from the children's grandparents because they were sick. "The situation was risky" she sighed, mentioning that her husband was rather risk averse, and because it happened so quickly and unexpectedly,
"he didn’t have time to take a well-thought-out decision and think about consequences...".
She started to cry and told me: "I wanted to keep the child, but I didn’t want to have to go through the same horrible situation again". The explanation behind this fear is that the father of her daughter had left her and the child right after she gave birth, claiming that "a child is a big responsibility that I don’t want to assume." He had given her a choice between him or the child, but she decided to keep the baby. Next thing she knew, she was alone with the kid, no money and no place to go. "I don’t regret that I kept the child that time, the father wasn’t worthy of such a blessing’’. However, the second time around, she was scared of the history repeating itself, so she decided to go through with her abortion. "The day I went to have the procedure, I went alone, but my husband came after me to try and change my mind. It was too late and he couldn’t find the room I was in, because I was already in surgery." Because many teenage girls are struggling with this decision, I wanted to know more about the conditions inside the hospital and how the procedure went, in an attempt to make this information available to everyone. "The doctor that delivered my first child was also the one that was in charge of my surgery." The abortion was free and was carried out surgically. The mother mentioned that she was scared of people judging her and only later realised that it was ultimately her choice, no matter what others thought.
"Don’t be afraid to do what is best for you", is her advice to other girls struggling with the same problem.
The hospital conditions were good and everything was sanitary, according to her. The fetus was only a couple weeks old and she became aware of the pregnancy very quickly: "I had already gone through one pregnancy, and as a woman, you notice it almost instantly; I had missed my period and was feeling nauseous all the time". The first person that found out about the pregnancy was her husband because she did not have a close relationship with her mother. Although she was an adult living out her own life, capable of making her own decisions, she knew that her mom would be judgmental and she didn’t want that additional source of stress. I asked her if she went to therapy after the abortion and she admitted remorsefully: "At first I didn’t talk to anyone. I was ashamed. Years later, I talked to my psychologist and even though it was too late, I realised it had affected me all this time." I asked her a very interesting question and I waited a full five minutes for her answer: If you hadn't had the first child, would you still go through with the abortion? "Tough question...I have always loved children and wanted more, even used to dream about having 4 or 5. But you know, things happen that are not supposed to and life tends to have a lot of surprises for you. 10 years later, I would not have energy with or without my first child. You know, raising a child is stressful, I had to keep my job and I felt exhausted. Now, I would not dare to start from scratch again. 10 years ago, when I had the abortion, I was young and time was on my side, so normally, I would have kept the baby, but being pushed from behind and finding myself in a rough situation I had to make this decision." She told me that she was never against pro-choice, despite the fact that she is a religious person and having an abortion is typically against Christian beliefs. She considers that in risky medical or traumatic situations, abortion should always be an option, only so the mother can prioritize her life and well-being. She also told me she believes having 10 children but not the possibilities to raise them and give them love, support, and shelter is a far worse crime. "What is a bigger crime?", she asked me looking worried, "Abortion, or hurting your kids, raising them to become delinquents, criminals or worse?" Taking a step further in the details of the situation described, I was really keen to understand how it feels 10 years later after the decision. She answered me in a quiet voice: "Yes, I do regret it, but I hope someday I can be at peace with what I felt had to be done. Some nights I wonder if my life would be different, or if my child would have grown up to be different, but you know, for every decision you make there is an infinity of other options you avoided. I think I can slowly understand and forgive myself as time passes by. I focus on my child and I love him like no other." After the abortion, she had a hard time talking to her mother and her family about the past event. She explained every reaction they had: "My mother was a strict and practical person and knew what my past was like so she just told me to not keep the child if it weren't something I felt like I could handle. She said that she loves me and wants what's best for me, to be safe and focus on raising my child well. My decision created some conflicts between me and my husband. I think we both kind of regret it. I was mad at him for being so scared but now he is very understanding. I think the biggest mistake I have made was not telling my daughter earlier, but she was curious, like any teenager. She found out and was very mad at me at first, we had a lot of conversations about this subject to heal the past wounds. I was so afraid of being judged by my own daughter but even at that young age, she understood my reasoning." She added that she did not talk about this to any of her friends and kept it in the family, due to personal decisions. However, she advises women in similar situations to try to speak up, either to family or friends, and get the best advice and emotional support possible in such situations. I finished the interview by asking one important question, not only something that I wanted to know but that also seemed crucial for really understanding her opinion. If your daughter was in your position, what would you advise her to do? She smiled, having expected the question: "Keep the baby, but if an accident were to happen and the pregnancy was a result of rape, or she had a medical condition that was seriously complicating the pregnancy, I would always support abortion. It’s a trauma versus trauma type of situation. I love my daughter and I will always want what is best for her, I want to see her happy and all grown up, so yes; I would always support her decision.” “I hope that by sharing my story, which isn't an easy thing to do, I could at least help some other girls and women in the same position, and make them see that they are not alone. Always talk to your family, but always follow your heart, because ultimately, it is your decision, whether you ever regret it or not. If you went through an abortion, stay strong, you will find peace with yourself one day."