Rene’s Story

I got involved with a guy six years older than myself in the summer of 1983, a month or so after I graduated from high school. I met him of all places on a Greyhound bus while attending summer school at Hampton Institute in Hampton VA and he was in the Navy stationed in Norfolk. He was an abusive guy with no direction who would eventually get a dishonorable discharge from the Navy (let’s face it at 17 does any young girl have common sense when picking a boyfriend?)

I found out that I was pregnant the following year in December of 1984, I was only eighteen years old, struggling to go to a junior college back home (I didn’t stay at Hampton) and I was unemployed. Oh and he was unemployed too, living with ‘mama’ and he was already the father of a young son (a child he wasn’t taking care of btw) .

I knew I didn’t want to have a baby at nineteen. I knew I wanted to complete college and have a decent shot at a decent life (let’s refer to Oprah here). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you can’t have a decent life if you choose to have a child but FOR ME having a child at nineteen would’ve been crazy considering the goals I had for myself. It isn’t easy for African-Americans even with education, my parents knew it, my grandmother knew it and they always preached it to me. My grandmother used to say that having a baby when you’re too young is like tying a baby grand piano around your neck, jumping out of a window and trying to fly…enough said.

Anyway, my mother found out about the pregnancy. When she approached me, I didn’t even stutter. I told her the truth and told her what I wanted to do. I mean I was sick all the time. I had morning, noon and night sickness. I didn’t want the responsibility of being a single parent and marrying this guy was NOT an option. I hated everything about being pregnant because I was too young and I just wasn’t emotionally ready PERIOD.

So I scheduled to have the abortion in January; the year was 1985 and I had just turned nineteen. My mother went with me to the clinic and although I was scared and nervous about the procedure, a great calmness was with me on that day. Interestingly enough, my mother was more afraid than I was and it showed on her face as they called my name—in fact she told me that I didn’t have to go through with it if I didn’t want too…oh, I wanted to. The actual procedure was relatively easy and safe. I was surprised that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would and it was over relatively quickly. They even had a nurse in the room who just held my hand. I was nineteen years old and had never even had a GYN exam before and there I was getting an abortion. I’m not proud of it but this is my truth.

Sorry, but I’ve never looked back or played the what-if game. I was very, very glad…relieved really and NOT once have I ever regretted the decision to end my pregnancy. I would like to say that while my decision to terminate was a simple one for me to make I do understand why another woman would struggle with it. Let me put it this way… my decision to terminate was not a moral issue for me; it was a survival issue…mine. It took me thirteen years to complete an undergraduate degree childless; imagine what I would have gone through if I had had a child to deal with…I had to work and put myself through school and yes I’m going to be honest here and disclose that I’ve had multiple abortions (something I’m not proud of but again I AIN’T SORRY) The one thing I didn’t want was to be an unmarried, black woman with no degree trying to raise kids ALONE. There are too many of ‘them’ already and they will raise kids in economic poverty the way the system has designed it to be.

I will admit to being young and stupid and careless with my body. I lacked self-esteem and therefore made very stupid choices with the type of men I slept with but that is still no reason to sentence me to a lifetime of having to take care of another human being if I don’t want to. I”M NOT SORRY because today I have a MBA,; today, I’m a professional Jazz singer; today I own my own home and today, I’m in control of my life. I’m not a slave to ‘the system’ because I didn’t have to put my dreams on hold to support someone else. I’m single and I’m still childless but if I have a baby tomorrow it’ll be because I’m ready to take my body through that and because I want to be someone’s mother… it’ll be my choice as it should be.