Karen’s Story

I am a 40 year old, soon-to-be-divorced, single-mother of two boys ages 5 and 8. Ever since having my second son I have been 99% sure that I was done having children. Then when my husband and I separated 2 ½ years ago, any speck of doubt that I had about wanting another child evaporated along with the marriage.

About 6 months ago I re-entered into a relationship with a man (we’ll call him S) that I had been dating on-and-off for most of the last 2 years. When we first started dating I was right out of my marriage and had no idea of what I was looking for in a man—mostly I was just really horny and wasn’t concerned with questions about commitment, sustainability, and stability. My relationship with S fumbled along in this non-committal, highly sexualized way for over a year with numerous drama-filled break-ups along the way.

Then after being apart for 6 months S was in hot pursuit of me once again. He has always been the most interested in me when my attention is turned away from him and/or there is another man in the picture. So basically S is motivated by jealousy and fear of loss—at least this is my assessment after two plus years of knowing him. For reasons that are too complicated to go into in this essay, I agreed, once again, to get involved with him under his conditions—no strings, no commitment.

This time around my tolerance for his emotional immaturity and ambivalence was lower than it has ever been so we were on the verge of break-up every few weeks. About 3 months ago I said that I was not going to continue this unless he could make a commitment to me, which meant that we wouldn’t see other people and that neither of us would run away at the first sign of conflict. He agreed to give it a try and he even came to my therapist with me once (a big step for him!). My hopes rose a little more every time we were able to come to one of our familiar stumbling blocks and find our way to the other side. Trust was finally building and I felt that we were touching places in each other that had previously been kept safely guarded and hidden from the other.

We had A LOT of sex and stupidly did not use protection a lot of the time. I was so confident in knowing my cycle and when I was ovulating that we would use condoms during that 7-10 day period when conception is most likely. So imagine my surprise when, after having sex one morning, I noticed that familiar tight tugging feeling in my abdomen and noticed that my discharge was just like when I’m OVULATING! Somehow my cycle had shifted, or had been shifting, and I just didn’t notice it. I immediately called my friend whose husband is a doctor and he called in a prescription for the morning-after pill. I take the pills and cross my fingers that all will be well. It wasn’t. It didn’t work. So I waited. S knew about everything and knew how worried I was.

A couple of weeks later—just around the time that I should be getting my period—S decides we shouldn’t go out anymore. Two days later I take a home pregnancy test. I’m pregnant, 40, and dumped. Ouch! The choice for me was clear although still a difficult one to come to terms with.

It has been 2 ½ weeks since the abortion and my body has mostly returned to normal. I feel relatively peaceful about the whole thing and am certain that I made the right decision. There is no way that I would have been able to provide a calm, and stable environment for another child to enter into. I am a single parent with my own struggles with depression, anxiety, and financial stability. And I certainly wouldn’t have been able to count on S to be there for us. He did say he’d support whatever decision I made but he is who he is, and would continue to create instability in my life, even if he made an effort to be involved with our child.

S continues to be in the picture—we are both having trouble letting go. Our relationship is challenging enough as it is. I am so grateful to not have the complicating factor of an impending child. It just wouldn’t have been fair—not for that little zygote, not for my 2 beautiful sons, not for me, and not for S. I made the right decision and I’m not sorry.