Everywhere you look…Black, White, Young, Old they are there. Holding a memory as close to them as their next breath, afraid that if they exhale the secret they have kept will come tumbling out like skeletons from closets. For some, there is no shame, no guilt, for others they try not to think about it but in the stillness of the night, when the house no longer speaks, they remember. Try as they might some stories are just difficult to forget …
Such is my story. The day I found out I was pregnant with my second child I was filled with emotions. It had been just over a week with no signs of my period in sight and my breasts had taken on a life of their own. As a woman, you just know these things so seeing the lines on the pregnancy test were not a shock. Indeed, I had done everything “they” say you should do, just add baby and stir. I was married, had a decent paying job, healthcare, everything a pregnant woman should desire to bring a new life into this world. But I knew that I would be bringing a baby into chaos. My marriage was hanging on by a bent wing and a prayer. Already I was paying all the bills, physically I was tired and emotionally I was exhausted. Also, my daughter was already a teenager and I remembered the struggle of raising her on my own. The late nights, early mornings, never seeming to have enough of anything, the disconnect notices, the eviction, robbing both Peter and Paul to pay John with just a glimmer of hope in the distance. Yet somehow we managed. The most difficult days, I felt were behind me and now here I was, about to do it all over again, knowing deep on the inside, I would be alone and the thought of that struggle was insurmountable. Not again. Never again. Babies don’t save marriages and even if they did this one was beyond repair. Then the accusations came. He asked me, “How did you end up pregnant after all this time,” as if sleeping with his wife every night and his wife becoming pregnant was an enigma to him? I had just returned from being out of town and because of the turmoil in our relationship, he felt that perhaps I had cheated and gotten pregnant. I sat on the bed in shock. This was the nail in the coffin. Baby or not, I knew I would never look at him the same again. I had been faithful my entire marriage, offered more than I was ever given, even now offering his child, our child and that was not enough. His words were a slap in my face. At that moment I knew our marriage was over. The next day, I made the call to the abortion clinic. They asked me how many weeks I was and I had to think back to when I felt my body changing, attempting to do backward mathematics in my head while a million other thoughts ran through my mind. Was I going to hell? Was I a murderer? Would I be able to forgive myself? Was I selfish? Couldn’t I just suck this up and deal with it?
I made my appointment. My arrival time I believe was 7 a.m. My husband knew where I was going. He didn’t come with me. Remaining true to how he had been our entire marriage, I was left to make this trip alone. Perhaps some part of me wished he would stop me. Tell me that he loved me and we would make our marriage work. That didn’t happen. I climbed in my car, driving through the streets as tears streamed down my face, as I pulled up to the clinic. And that is when I saw them. The people, faces in odd contortions, screaming as they held grotesque pictures of aborted fetuses and signs scribbled on cardboard that I was going to hell. I was a religious woman, I loved God yet I never knew there were so many scriptures in the Bible to condemn me. I didn’t need to read their signs. There was no need to tell me that I was going to hell, the inside of my car felt like an inferno. I pulled around the corner and heard the chants all jumbled together, I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I could hardly see through the tears that spilled from my eyes and down my cheeks. I saw young ladies fighting through the crowd, racing to the arms of women with yellow vests on, escorting them inside the building. An escort banged on my window and shouted, “Do you need to be escorted inside?” My fingers gripped the steering wheel. It was all too much—the pictures, the shouting, the crowd screaming. I drove away quickly, crying as I raced through the streets. I called my friend and she met me at a restaurant for breakfast. I needed to talk to someone. Let someone remind me that I was human again even though I felt like I was in this vacuum of confusion. I couldn’t eat. Couldn’t think. Could hardly breathe. The pictures of those babies kept flashing in my mind.
“I guess you are having a baby,” she said trying to be encouraging.
“I guess,” I managed to say in a whisper.
I wasn’t happy with my decision. While ultimately it was my choice, I felt as if I was robbed of a fair choice. A choice without interruption. I felt forced into the decision. I didn’t make a choice based on what was best for my family and me. I made a choice based on intimidation and fear. Life however is not without its irony. Less than a week later, in a bathroom at work, I miscarried. There I was, once again alone as my child left my body and I went home to call my doctor with panties filled with blood and unrecognizable fetal tissue.
When I see what is happening across this nation when it comes to women and their right to choose, I remember that lonely drive on my way to make a decision that would alter the course of my life. There was no celebration, no high-five’s, no joy. The way men write, rewrite and disregard the laws already on the books concerning abortion make it appear as if women are licking lollipops, skipping to the abortion clinic. Believe me, abortion is not something a woman takes lightly. This is my body, my uterus, my womb, my life and my choice! There are days that go by and I do not think of the child I lost. But on some days, I still remember because forgetting is not an option. The memory is there, embedded in my being along with the memory of those contorted faces shouting outside an abortion clinic telling me that I was going to hell for my choice! When will women be allowed to make decisions for their bodies, their wombs without men in suits sitting in rooms to tell them how to feel, how to be, when to become a mother?
This story was the skeleton in my closet. Invisible baby bones that rattle and remind me why I fight for women to have a choice. Their choice.
Thank you for your courage and honesty.
Deep very deep!
Thank you, Drew for taking the time to read and respond. Love!
Wow! I don’t what say aside from wow. I can commend you on your writing knowing that no word I say can erase the pain in you. You are alive and fighting. That is a victory. God works in mysterious ways. Peace, Hannah!
Thank you, Sire. Indeed I am alive and fighting and I will always be a fighter!