The Abortion by (2 Stories)

Prompted By The Road Not Taken

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I was born when my mother was thirty years old, so for some reason I took it into my head that it was important for me to have a baby when I was thirty. So here I was, twenty-nine-and-a-half, without any good prospects for marriage and fatherhood. I was dating a guy who was good looking and smart, so he had good genetic material, shall we say. He was also kind of an arrogant jerk, fine for the short term, but certainly not someone I would want to spend my life with. But there was nobody else on the horizon. So I just decided to use him as an unknowing sperm donor. I stopped using my diaphragm. I thought I might have to make a pretense of putting it in, or maybe cut a hole in it. But he wasn’t one of those guys who was conscientious about birth control, he just assumed I would take care of it.

I stopped using my diaphragm. Not surprisingly, I got pregnant.

Not surprisingly, I got pregnant. I didn’t say anything to him for awhile, not until he commented, appreciatively, that it seemed like my breasts had gotten bigger. I said, “do you want to know why?” He said, “sure,” not having any idea what to expect. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m pregnant.” His response was, “did I have anything to do with this?” which was such an obnoxious comment that I slapped him.

He asked about an abortion, and I said no, I wanted this baby, and I was going to have it by myself, he didn’t have to have anything to do with it. Not too long after that we broke up.

At first I felt good about having the baby by myself. I had a good job, great healthcare, I owned my own little two-bedroom house, and I had enough money to cover whatever expenses there might be. But after a while, I started getting nervous about it. What would the people at my office think of me? In those days, unwed motherhood was still considered kind of scandalous. What would my family think? I began to wonder if I was brave enough to do this.

There was a guy I had been involved with previously, whom I still loved and he loved me, but for various reasons it hadn’t worked out between us. I invited him over for brunch. I told him about my pregnancy. I said that I had always thought that we would get back together someday, and I wondered if my having a child would make any difference in whether that happened or not. He was very sweet and supportive, but said he didn’t know what would happen in the future, and that I shouldn’t make any decision about this based on him.

I knew I had until the end of the first trimester to get a safe and uncomplicated abortion, so I figured I would make my decision then. I also knew exactly what date I had gotten pregnant, and I was counting the three months from that date. What I didn’t know is that pregnancy is measured from the date of the last period, not from the date of conception, since probably most women don’t know exactly when they conceived. So what I was considering the end of the first trimester was actually two weeks into the second trimester by the way doctors calculate.

To make a long story short, when my decision deadline came, I chickened out, and decided I couldn’t go through with having this baby. However, the abortion turned out to be more complicated than it should have been, either because I was already in the fourth month or because the Kaiser doctor was incompetent, or both. I was sent home after the procedure, but ended up hemorrhaging and having to go back to the hospital for several days. I was lucky to have good friends who took care of me, while I was in the hospital and after I came home.

So, the road not taken? I still sometimes wonder how my life would have gone if I had had that baby. A few years later I did get married and have children in a more conventional setting. That probably would not have happened if I had already had a child, because I wouldn’t have been dating. I like to think I would have found a communal living situation with other mothers and children, and my child would have grown up to be amazing. Maybe there would have been men in the commune and I would have fallen in love with one of them. But on the other hand, I might have ended up living alone with my child in my cute little two-bedroom house, and it might have been pretty lonely. Either way, it would have been hard. I think I made the right choice.

Profile photo of Lily lily

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Well, well, Lily. Every young man’s nightmare — love your straightforward approach to your calculations! And your lines: “He was also kind of an arrogant jerk, fine for the short term…” and “he wasn’t one of those guys who was conscientious about birth control, he just assumed I would take care of it.”

    Great characterization. Also liked the way you described your ruminations on the topic, unrolling your thought process with ironic and gentle humor. Classy treatment of a delicate subject and of your very personal decisions.

    Also like the “what if” segment at the end, a universal question!

    • lily says:

      A few years later the arrogant jerk got another woman pregnant, and she DID have the baby, and he ended up supporting it for 18 years. I wouldn’t have made him do that, in fact I wouldn’t have wanted him to have any involvement with my baby.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Lily, very brave story to share this. I appreciate your predicament, as I’ve had a complicated gynecological history myself, including an ectopic pregnancy followed 9 months later by an abortion, though I was married at the time. You share your story in a straightforward, no-nonsense way.

    I suspect you were smart to not follow through with your original plans on single motherhood, though I ache for the complications your procedure caused. As you know, raising children is rewarding and tough and challenging. Sharing it with a spouse can be helpful. I hope you are content with the path you chose.

    • lily says:

      Yes, I am content with the path I chose. I do think it is important for women who have had abortions to talk about them, because a lot of anti-choice people who think they don’t know anyone who has had one would be surprised to learn that they actually do.

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