This is the story of ‘Grace’ and her decision to have an abortion after she had her first child. About 17% of the women in America who get abortions are married.
I realize that abortion is an incredibly polarizing subject. As always, respectful, articulate discourse and disagreement are welcome. Incendiary comments will be deleted.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 33, living in Wellington, New Zealand with my husband and our two-year-old daughter. I’m a stay-at-home mother, trying to fit my interests of reading, writing and dancing around the daily life of raising a child.
What’s your family like?
I’ve been with my husband for almost 11 years, married for just over one. He is incredibly caring, and he makes me laugh every single day. Our daughter is amazing. I’m sure every mother says that about their child, but I am constantly feeling blessed by how much joy she has brought to our lives. We have been very lucky in that she has been an easy going kid from day one. We’ve never had the typical parenting problems with eating, sleeping, clinginess and the like. She is a dream.
Growing up, what were your thoughts about family and pregnancy?
I’m from a big family, and for many years I thought that was what I wanted for myself. I used to say I wanted 10 kids. I always knew I wanted to be a mother. When I hit my late 20s though I was a little more realistic about what motherhood entailed, and became far less certain about the idea of having a lot of kids.
How have you found motherhood thus far?
Motherhood thus far has been great. I have, as mentioned, a dream child. I was surprised by the extent to which having a child opens your world. It is so hard to make friends as an adult, but once you have a kid you have this instant connection to every other parent. It’s like joining a club, and as a result of that my social circle has grown significantly, and I have met some wonderful new friends.
The toughest thing about being a parent is the loss of independence. You can’t just drop everything and take some time out. Ever. Every single major life decision I make from here on out will have to take my daughter into consideration. That can be frustrating. Your time and space are very rarely your own anymore.
How did you come to have an unplanned pregnancy?
I am ashamed to say that in my 30s I had an unplanned pregnancy. I wasn’t using protection. It was as simple as that. I had actually planned on getting an IUD around the time I fell pregnant, but was waiting until I could afford it.
When did you realize you were pregnant? And how did you feel?
I knew I was pregnant very early on, within two or three weeks of conception. I’d been feeling unnaturally exhausted, and my emotions were intense. I was in a bad mood that I just could not snap out of. It didn’t take long to realise something was up, and I knew even before I took the pregnancy test what was going on.
How did you make the decision to have an abortion?
As soon as I realized I was pregnant I knew I couldn’t have that baby. Luckily my husband felt exactly the same way. We both want our daughter to have a sibling, but we knew that financially, and emotionally, we were not able to support another baby at that time.
When I thought about having a second baby all I could see in my future was struggle and depression. I knew that was a bad sign, and the termination was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
Do you feel like there were any repercussions – physical or emotional – to your abortion?
No. Physically, I had to deal with fatigue and nausea for the 6 weeks or so it took to arrange the procedure, but as soon as it was over I was back to normal. Emotionally, I know I made the right decision, so it’s not something I’ve ever dwelt on or felt upset about.
If your daughter found herself with an unplanned pregnancy and was considering an abortion, what would you tell her?
I would tell my daughter that she is in charge of her own body, and nobody can make her have a baby if she doesn’t feel like that is right for her. Also, nobody can make her have an abortion if that doesn’t feel right for her. I would want my daughter to feel confident in her body autonomy. I would also make sure she felt supported in whatever decision she made.
What advice would you give to other married moms who are in a similar situation?
Being a mother is hard, but if you’re a mother already you’ll know that. If someone was in a similar situation to me, I would say look to the future. Do you see yourself coping with another child? Do you have the means to provide for another child? Most of all, do you want another child, at this point in time? Just because the timing isn’t right now doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future.
Make sure you consider all the options, but most importantly, make the decision that is best for you. You know what you can handle. I knew it would have been a struggle, but we could have made do financially had I had that second baby.
However I also knew that I would not have coped emotionally with the reality of bringing another child into our home at that point in time. My decision was based entirely on what I knew for sure I was capable of, and that’s how I know it was the right one.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Grace. Have any of you gone through something similar?
P.S. True Story: I’m an abortion doula