The Choice

The Choice

Ten years ago this fall, my entire world changed forever.  I was in the very beginning of a relationship when I found out that I was pregnant.  Twenty-two, underemployed, and in an unhealthy relationship, I was terrified and faced a difficult decision.  Though I'd always been pro-choice, I felt that abortion should only be used in certain circumstances.  I never once considered it as an option but I seriously considered adoption.  In the end, I made my choice and struggled with it right up until the day my son was born. 

Motherhood changes you.  It changes your priorities and perspective.  It opens your eyes to things that you'd never seen before.  No one on the face of the earth has had more of a role in shaping the person that I am today than my son.  Though my life could've been full of so much more excitement, it would never have been as fulfilling.  While we've had some very difficult times, I've never regretted my decision even once. 

Four years ago, I unexpectedly found myself pregnant again.  Once again, I faced a difficult decision.  It was the same decision as before only far harder to make.  Before my son was born, I had convinced myself that motherhood would be easy.  After all, I'd been helping raise my godchildren and had taken care of my younger brother.  How hard could it be?  I quickly found out that all of my experience with other people's children meant absolutely nothing when it came to dealing with my own.  There was no giving them back when they got too fussy or letting them eat whatever they want with no thought to the gastrointestinal consequences.  This was a tiny little person that I was solely responsible for.  When I faced the decision again, I knew what I would be getting myself into.  I knew about the sleepless nights, the days home from work, the tantrums, and the curious fingers.  I knew how expensive diapers, wipes, bottles, clothes, formula, daycare, and other necessities were.  I knew that I was already struggling to care for and feed the child I already had.  I also knew that I would be doing all of it alone. 

The other party had made it abundantly clear that they intended for me to terminate my pregnancy and that they didn't want anything at all to do with a child.  Even a member of my own family tried to coerce me into having an abortion.  This time around, I did seriously consider it.  Very seriously.  I was terrified and alone with no idea of what I was going to do.  I didn't want to take anything away from my son and, at the time, I couldn't imagine my being able to love another human being the way that I loved him.  I didn't consider adoption because of the difficulty in explaining a very adult situation to a borderline autistic five year old.

I stressed myself out over the situation for several weeks until I had a conversation with a friend of mine that put things into perspective.  She had found herself in a similar situation at seventeen and was struggling with her decision as well.  Many around her had been telling her that she was too young and urging her to abort.  Others were urging her to keep the baby because abortion was a horrible thing.  Out of the crowd of voices, only one told her to be true to herself and do whatever she felt was right because, at the end of the day, no one else had to live with the choice.  Only her.  She reminded me that the person who gave her that advice was me.  It didn't matter what anyone else said or thought about me and whatever I chose, I was the only one who had to live with it.  I was the one that had to sleep at night.  I was the one that had to carry it with me for the rest of my life.  Only me. 

Given the recent events in Texas, Kansas, Ohio, and here in North Carolina, I felt compelled to share my story.  There are many brave voices speaking up for choice that share personal accounts of their decision to abort.  While my story does have a different ending from theirs, it highlights the issue that so often ends up being overlooked in the debate - personal choice.  The decision whether or not to have an abortion is a deeply personal one and should never be glossed over or tossed aside.  Some women make the decision easily, others do not.  Some regret their decision, others do not.  However, each and every one of those women have to live with the decision all on their own.  They alone have to sleep with it at night.  They alone have to carry it with them for the rest of their lives.  To have so many legislators continue to submit these bills with no thought to anyone other than the fetus is a slap in the face to those of us who have or may yet in the future face that choice.  It's dehumanizing to know that my own representatives don't think I'm capable of choosing on my own whether or not to have another child, representatives who think that any child I may carry in my womb is more important than me and that I should be forced to give birth regardless of the consequences.  They seem very quick to forget that, unlike fetuses in this country, I am both a taxpayer and registered voter on top of being a living, breathing human being.

The direction our state and nation have taken these past few years has made me very concerned about the world that will be left for my children and the troubles that they will face.  The very thought that my daughter may be reduced to being a second-class citizen simply for becoming pregnant sends chills through me.  That is not a world that I want either her or her brother to live in.  Until the legislative tide turns from attempting to regulate abortion out of existence to promoting comprehensive sexual education and other methods of reducing the need for abortion, I'll continue to stand with my feet firmly planted on the ground and fight for our freedom to choose.