When I found out I was pregnant with my fifth child, my first words were, “Oh my god, NO!” I was alone in the bathroom while my husband was on a conference call, and all I could think of was how my life was ruined.
I texted my brother, asking him not to tell our mother yet because I was debating on whether or not to keep it. He texted back a “wrap it up” meme and I laughed, but inside, I was panicking.
I texted a friend, then multiple friends.
I waited impatiently by the door for my husband’s call to end, and when he opened it, I practically threw the test at him. I can’t quite recall exactly what happened — except that there were lots of tears and he held me as I sobbed in his arms.
“I’m sorry I was selfish,” he said.
You see, I’ve been trying to get him to get a vasectomy for years. I was sick of hormonal birth control, sick of being the one in charge of birth control, sick of being the one tracking my ovulation, sick of the burden of me not getting pregnant being solely on my shoulders when he is an equal partner in the relationship. I had been on hormonal birth control for a decade prior to having children, and it wasn’t until I was off it that I realized the hormones had wreaked havoc on my emotional state.
There was no way I was going back to that.
“I know how babies are made,” I replied.
And it’s true. I do.
I’ve had 4 pregnancies and live births. I’ve written countless articles about pregnancy, fertility, and women’s health. I was a microbiology and molecular genetics major in college. I religiously track my ovulation and know its signs in my body, too.
I have always known I was pregnant either prior to a missed period or days after. Always.
This pregnancy was not a surprise. We both knew the risks of having unprotected sex — particularly after I remembered I was ovulating. However, after more than five years of this same scare (look, you can know all the things and also be stupid and lazy) and having false alarms, we got complacent.
I got complacent.
So imagine my chagrin when about a week after having unprotected sex, my nipples were sore and I’d been so exhausted that I’d fallen asleep twice before 8:30 pm.
I took a pregnancy test two days before my expected period and it was negative. The sigh of immediate relief (albeit, accompanied with a slight twinge of disappointment) coursed through my entire body.
Of course, I’d had thoughts of having a fifth child.
I love babies — children not as much — but I recognize that kids are the natural consequence of babies. My husband adores our children and considers them the best thing we’ve ever done (or will ever do). We’re financially and emotionally able to have another child. And yes, the thought of having another fat, chubby baby to snuggle and nurse and hold was tempting.
But, I have also only recently reclaimed my life from 4 back-to-back pregnancies. Prior to this pregnancy, I have been pregnant for 3 years and nursed for over 9. I will be 44 years old in two months and already have four other kids aged 12, 10, 8, and 5.
My body is tired. I am tired.
So when I had a positive pregnancy test 4 days after my period was supposed to start, I was severely dismayed. More than that, I was terrified.
I would be restarting the clock on when I would have bodily autonomy without being tethered to a tiny human who needs so much. I realize it’s my job and function as a parent to provide that — and also, my freedom will be severely restricted and I mourn that inevitability. They can both be true at the same time.
I will forever love and appreciate my husband for what he said to me after I finished crying. He said he was okay if I did not want to keep it — that he would support me.
We discussed it at length and decided we’d most likely choose to proceed with the pregnancy.
Roe v. Wade: Why I am telling you my story.
What if my husband hadn’t been so supportive?
What if I didn’t live in California, where it is legal up to 10 weeks pregnant to have a medical abortion (abortion via drugs) and 24 weeks for a surgical abortion?
What if I wasn’t regularly having conversations about abortion with both my husband and our kids? (Yes, we’ve discussed the topic many times with my kids — and in fact, when we told them about my pregnancy, I told them we might not keep it in order to normalize abortion.)
What if I still felt the effects of my Christian and sex-negative upbringing in regards to pregnancy and sex? What if I felt shame for even contemplating an abortion?
What if I could not afford to have this baby, did not have adequate healthcare, or did not have a vast network of people to help me?
I know that once this article publishes, I will receive hate emails and death threats because that’s what happens every time I, a woman of color, publish an article that the establishment doesn’t like. People will call me all sorts of vile names and threaten to report me to Child Protective Services (CPS).
But I also know that I have a lot of privilege in where I live, in being financially able to support this baby along with my other children, in having excellent healthcare, and in the fact that our livelihood is not dependent on me staying in the good graces of public opinion.
I tell you my story because I am confident that I am not the only person who is tired. I am not the only one who has children and has contemplated abortion despite being financially and emotionally capable of carrying a baby to term.
I tell you my story because I’m sick of people dying.
People who can become pregnant will die.
Ultimately, the consequence of overturning Roe v. Wade is that people who did not need to die for want of a medical procedure, will.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 930,000 abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2020, of which more than 1 in 3 were obtained in the 26 states that will, or are likely to, ban abortion. 13 of these states have “trigger” laws in place so that within days or hours of Roe v. Wade being overturned, bans were automatically enacted.
“Evidence also shows the disproportionate and unequal impact abortion restrictions have on people who are already marginalized and oppressed,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Guttmacher Institute President and CEO, in a recent statement. “Including Black and Brown communities, other people of color, people with low incomes, young people, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and people with disabilities.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade isn’t about states’ rights. It’s about terrorizing our communities with the threat of maternal death, lost wages, disability due to complications in pregnancy, and shame.
And let’s be real. The overturning of Roe v. Wade doesn’t stop abortions for the privileged. Those who have access to money and networks will always have options with unwanted or life-threatening pregnancies; it is unacceptable that someone with fewer privileges and less access will not.
I’ll be honest.
I did not want to tell people that I considered aborting this pregnancy, except I refuse to live in shame or hiding. I refuse to contribute to the further stigmatization of a perfectly reasonable option for a pregnant person, no matter what that reason may be.
If you are pregnant or can become pregnant, you deserve the option of easily ending a pregnancy. I know my story isn’t terribly dramatic or exciting — except that’s exactly why it’s important. Abortion does not need to be dramatic or exciting. It just is. If my story can can be one tiny pebble joining all the other pebbles rippling across the world to make abortion legal, safe, and normal, it will have been worth all my discomfort.