Doreen’s Story

In a world in which one hears of parents flinging children off cliffs and bridges, I cannot be convinced that abortion is wrong.

Mine was twelve years ago. I am always conscious that I could have an 11 year old child, but I am not plagued with regret. When I see struggling parents, I know I am lucky.

I don’t believe this is anything but entertainment, but a friend coerced me into calling a psychic, who told me I’d have a daughter. Whenever I imagine myself with a child, it’s a girl. This mental picture has been with me since I was fifteen, and its hard to shake. A lady at my grocery store, during the time I knew I was pregnant, called me by a name I likely would have named my daughter, though this lady had always known my correct name, before. Yes, these are meaningless coincidences, but they stay in memory. Still, my decision to terminate was empowering, and one of the best that I made for myself, even against the wishes of my boyfriend, who has religious beliefs that differ from my own. Despite the hurtful conversations we’ve had on this subject, despite the fact that I still carry shadows of resentment about his attitude, we are still together.

Since then, we have lived through a second unplanned pregnancy that ended in miscarriage, and the loss of two precious, much-loved guide dogs, who were our family. I am just now beginning to feel that I may be ready for motherhood.

Twelve years ago, I was not ready, even though I was certainly old enough, at 25. We had just moved to another state, far away from our families, and I had no local friends yet. I knew I’d have no support, and that without it, I could not cope with an infant.

The relationship was not a new one; we’d been together for a few years, and had grown careless about using condoms. If there is anything shameful, it is that foolishness that makes you think, “It won’t happen to ME.”

My cycles are longer than the average; 35 days or longer is normal, so it didn’t occur to me that I might be pregnant until the seventh week. I was never sick. Aside from the absence of my period, I had no symptoms.

I was home alone, lying in bed one Saturday night, listening to big band music from the ’40s, when the possibility struck me. Sleep was impossible after that, so I got up and went online, to read stories of other women’s pregnancies, planned and unplanned, and about abortion. I was brought up to believe it is a sin, though I never quite took that belief to heart. I just thought it was something I’d never do.

But I didn’t really believe that I was pregnant, and it took me a week to go in to Planned Parenthood and get a test. It seems ridiculous, but I was surprised to hear the “positive.”

I’d done enough reading by that Friday to know that I wanted an abortion; although I tried to be open-minded, and had the conversations with my boyfriend. I liked life as it was; I didn’t want it to change. We didn’t have enough money to support another person, and even if we could have managed, I simply had no interest in children. My gut feeling was just an overwhelming “No!”

When I was told the results of the pregnancy test, I would have undergone a procedure that day, had it been possible.

It was the 4th of July weekend, and so I couldn’t call the other clinic for an appointment until the following Tuesday. It amazes me now to know that I was only aware of the pregnancy for five days, before it was ended-it seemed like an eternity!

When we weren’t arguing, my boyfriend was very sweet; he even went out in the middle of the night to get me an apple pie. I won’t ever forget that thoughtful gesture.

I spent those five days reading. I found encouragement in all sorts of places. – In songs: Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” of all things, but it has great lyrics.

I came across an article by Jayne Anne Phillips, entitled “On Not Having a Daughter,” which I saved in my journal.

Months later, I saw the episode of “Maude” from the ’70s, where she chooses abortion. While it made me laugh, and made me feel some sadness, it also was a tremendous comfort, and is meaningful to me. I’m so grateful for the courage of all the women of the previous generations, who helped make this option possible. Even today, I get choked up, thinking of it. For a sitcom storyline, Maude’s situation wasn’t predictable. It reassured me that I had a right to choose as I did, that the details didn’t matter, as long as the choice brought me peace. It is a right any of us has, at any age, and in any circumstance, no matter the opinions or criticisms of others, and that really is a gift.

The procedure itself was unmemorable. I’m glad not to have been awake. Everyone at the clinic was considerate. I wish I hadn’t needed to go through it at all, and that is the only source of my regret, now. I’m sorry that anyone has to go through the turmoil of an unplanned pregnancy.

My boyfriend didn’t understand why I was so emotional even months after, since the abortion was entirely my choice. It undoubtedly has something to do with your system righting itself, and probably should be expected.