In December of 2012, I had just gotten out of a sexless, loveless relationship with a severe alcoholic who was both physically and verbally abusive.
Like most victims of abuse, I had given up my entire life and made my ex the center of my world. When we broke up, I began to build my life back up by spending time with girlfriends I had fallen out of touch with, exercising, traveling and enjoying my solitude.
Once I felt like I had my feet firmly planted in the ground and had regained some of the confidence I had given away in my last relationship, it was suggested to me that I begin to date again. I wasn't ready for anything serious, but given that my downstairs felt like it was gathering more dust than a VHS machine, I hit the streets like a cat in heat.
I met a man with whom I had the greatest sex I've ever had. He defied what I perceived to be my type. He didn't dress especially well, he wasn't tall and he didn't have the kind of body I loved. But when he looked at me, I felt like he had pierced my soul.
He was 33 and a carpenter, and for the purpose of retaining his anonymity and in honor of what he did for my sex life, let's call him Jesus.
Jesus gave me the kind of orgasms I'd only experienced vicariously and through a very specific genre of anime porn, which I still don't quite understand my interest in. The sex with him was the kind of sex you'd tell your grandkids about (if you were anything like my grandparents). I thought for the first time in years that I had everything I could possibly want. I had a life that was mine and mine alone, a man who provided for me sexually and an agreement that he left my room every night so I could wake up alone. I didn't need anything else.
Except for, apparently, a baby.
In April of 2013, I went to visit a relative in Utah. For the entire trip my breasts hurt, my bras were literally AT CAPACITY and I was so tired I remember thinking that I had gotten mono. The last time I'd seen Jesus was around Easter Sunday, and he had ghosted since then. If you think the Jesus comparisons have been lost on me at this point, remember: I'm writing them.
I had a nagging and unpleasant feeling that I might be pregnant. On the plane home, I felt extremely sick and threw up a whole lot of P.F. Chang's while flying 5,000 feet in the air. On the ground, I took a pregnancy test, which confirmed my fears.
I had never been pregnant before, I had never wanted children and here I was at 29: alone and standing at the brink of a brand new, unknown chapter of my life. Somehow, the news that I was pregnant made me feel more fulfilled than I had ever been before. Something about what was happening just made sense to me. I was excited.
I was excited until I shared the news with the father. When I called Jesus, he was less than thrilled. He was terrified, actually.
I didn't tell him how excited I was when I gave him the news. I didn't understand my desire to have the child yet, and I didn't feel it was appropriate to tell him about it. I wasn't asking for anything from him, but I wasn't sure if I could do this entirely on my own either.
His reaction quickly threw a blanket over the fire of my enthusiasm, and I made an appointment to terminate the pregnancy at Planned Parenthood for a week later.
I was at Planned Parenthood for three to four hours before I walked out. I couldn't go through with the procedure. They showed me a picture of the baby and all the thrill I'd experienced a week before came flooding back. I looked around at the girls who were there, all about a decade younger than I was.
I remembered being 13, driving in the car with my dad and asking him how he knew when he was ready to have children, and I remembered his answer: “You're never ready.”
I left Planned Parenthood determined to make a clear decision about whether or not I wanted to have a kid.
For three weeks, I walked around in the world pregnant, and to this day it was the closest I've ever felt to being Wonder Woman. It was like being in love, but without the misery of obsession. I was suddenly very aware of how powerful I was. I never had anyone to share that feeling with, but it almost didn't matter. Almost.
Jesus was checking in on me regularly, which would have felt nice if it hadn't been coming from a place of complete fear and a desire, however subtle, to control the outcome of the situation.
I had been so tied up in that magical feeling, I'd forgotten that months before all this, I had agreed to host a baby shower for a good friend of mine. In a last-ditch effort to prepare for the shower, I went shopping for baby clothes. I walked through the aisles of a warehouse full of baby supplies struggling to find even ONE thing I could afford. I tried to imagine what my baby shower would look like: me, surrounded by girlfriends, no man in sight -- and for the first time in my pregnancy, I was struck by the fear of what a baby would cost me.
I wondered if it might be possible for me to throw one baby shower per year, for every year of my kid's life, because that's what I'd have to do to afford having one. I imagined the birthday invitations: “In lieu of presents for Timmy, please bring money, cash or check, made out to [my name]”.
My heart sank. I wanted to have that baby so badly, but the hardest fact I had to face was that the timing wasn't right. I started to think about who and what I was having this baby for, and the answer was me, and the answer was because I didn't have anything else to do.
I wondered how many other mothers chose to have a kid for that very reason. I wondered what kind of mother I would be, what kind of wisdom I could pass on, if my child was my one-and-only purpose in life.
I had the abortion on May 11, 2013. Jesus-the-carpenter went with me and took me home.
I remember sleeping in his car on the way back. I remember feeling sad in a way that I could barely access. I remember feeling alone in a way I had never felt before that day or since. I remember feeling angry at what I could only assume was Jesus's relief over my decision. I remember the heartbreak of wondering if I had missed what might have been my only chance to have a child.
I woke up on May 12, 2013 to find that it was Mother's Day. In addition to feeling absolutely crushed by the irony, I awoke feeling proud -- proud of my mother for the sacrifices she'd made for the good of her children. I had a new appreciation of how difficult those sacrifices must have been for her. I saw for the first time that my decision to have an abortion for the good of my unborn child, in spite of how impossibly difficult it was for me, was a decision that a good mother would have made.
I started to see that in spite of the loss I'd experienced only a day before, I was a mother, too. I didn't have to feel left out.
Having an abortion made me aware of three things I had never before truly understood. I did want to have a child. I would make a good mother. I had a lot of work to do before that would be possible, but when and if it was possible again, in spite of what my father had said, I would be ready.