Zila’s Story

When I was eighteen, I got pregnant. I don’t think I’d heard the word “childfree” yet, but I never wanted children, and even if I had, I wasn’t ready for one then. I’d just run out of the Pill, and he wasn’t wearing a condom. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think I’d get pregnant. I wasn’t uninformed, but I’d been sexually active since I was fifteen, and I just didn’t think “it would happen to me” in a week or two without protection. That’s all there is to it. I should have been more careful, but I messed up, it’s in the past, and my story is no less valid just because it was “my fault.”

My then boyfriend and I were seniors, and we’d dated on and off since ninth grade. We were in color guard, and we were getting ready for the end of the season at the annual event in Wildwood, NJ. Two or three other girls and I were featured in a rifle sequence in our show. I’d joined guard in high school and I’d never done any serious extracurricular activities before, so I was always sort of behind. I was the funny one who talked too much and goofed off during practice, so being showcased doing horizontal rifle tosses was a big deal for me. My director from sophomore year on pushed me extra hard to reach that point. In the practices leading to the final competition, though, I could no longer do the work the way I’d been doing it. I’ve never been in great shape, but I was exhausted after every run-through, and my horizontals were incomplete because I suddenly lacked strength in my arms. My director was mad because he thought I was flaking out, but I just thought that I wasn’t getting enough sleep.

By the time we got to Wildwood, I was sick every day. I thought I had a bug. Although I’d been known as the girl who could charm her way through mediocre work with her stage presence, I completed my last guard show without dropping a toss or fumbling a move-or truly smiling, or performing. I felt like I was moving through a haze. My director was disappointed in me, but also relieved that I’d pulled the technical aspects together. On the bus ride home, I made the driver pull over so that I could throw up. I still didn’t think that I could be pregnant until I got back on and saw my mom’s face. I knew what she was thinking.

After we got home, she took me to the local clinic. I was in a daze of denial. I have since been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and looking back, that was the first time that I ever really dissociated from reality, something that I’ve become uncomfortably familiar with. I don’t remember anything between arriving at the clinic and being told I was pregnant, but my mom must have left me at some point because she wasn’t with me when I found out. I started sobbing and begging the nurse to tell her how upset I was, because I was actually more afraid of her than of being pregnant and I’d latched onto the idea that she’d “go easier” on me if she felt bad for me. I guess that I was in shock, because I couldn’t perceive the severity of the situation.

My mom basically informed me that I was going to have an abortion and go to college, and I feel like that was the best way to handle it because I would have had one anyway, but her “deciding” it for me made it easier because I felt so confused. I would have had an abortion right away, but the doctors were concerned about the herbal supplements I’d been taking, so they pushed it back. The weeks leading to graduation are a blur. I remember singing a solo during my chorus’s medley of Les Misérables. People came up to me after the concert and said that I was so believable that I made them cry. They didn’t know that I really was sad, because I was pregnant. I also remember lying on my bed with my then boyfriend and asking him to just hold me. He was more distant than he’d ever been, and he knew that I’d been off the Pill when we had sex, and I knew that he didn’t want me to have the baby, but he acted like it was so rude of me to go and get pregnant or something. He’d always been an okay boyfriend during the fun times, and the fact that he refused to be there for me when I was so depressed and scared really made me see him differently. We broke up before graduation.

At the clinic, I was given an IV to put me under. The doctor told me to start counting, and I said, “Thank you for being so nice to me.” He aawed and patted my cheek, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in a recliner wearing a thick pad. A woman with curly red hair was crying next to me, and I had curly red hair at the time, so I felt connected to her. I went over and said, “It’ll be okay, you didn’t do anything wrong.” Actually, that may not have happened, since I was coming out of anaesthesia and could have been hallucinating, but it’s what I remember.

I’ve read some stories on this site from some really strong women, and I wish that I could say that I’ve always felt good about my abortion like I do now, but that would be a lie and I think that that’s the most important part of my story. My mom made a big deal about not telling anyone what happened, saying that no nice guy would want to be with me if he knew. After I graduated, I went to a Catholic university, and I suffered through a lot of anti-choice propaganda. For those reasons, I struggled with my abortion for a while. So many people tried to make me feel like abortion is something to be ashamed of that I didn’t want to talk about mine. If pro-choicers who’ve had abortions are afraid to admit it, we not only buy into that false shame, we promote it. I know now that I never felt bad about my abortion because it was “wrong,” I felt bad because I was told that it was wrong when I wanted support.

Finally, I’ve always been a spiritually minded person, and about two years ago, I started to identify as Christian. I share that because anti-choicers want people to believe that you can’t be pro-choice and believe in any kind of god, but I am more pro-choice now than ever before. I can actually see God’s hand in the abortion that I had as an agnostic four years ago. If I’d had a baby, I wouldn’t have become the woman I am now. I have grown so much in such a short amount of time, and I’ve seen how my mother, who had an unwanted baby at eighteen, has only really started to come into her own over the last decade. My ex-boyfriend and I tried to stay friends, but he was manipulative and verbally abusive. He recently ended our friendship, and I’m just sorry that he beat me to it, but I thank God that I didn’t help contribute his genes to the human race. Above all, if I hadn’t had an abortion, I probably wouldn’t have gone through the chain of events that caused me to meet the man I believe God meant for me, a “nice guy” who knows what happened and doesn’t judge me and is going to marry me. I never regretted having an abortion, but I do regret that people once made me feel like I should.