Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Choice: Part One

If I got pregnant today, I would have an abortion.

I don't want to be a parent.  I have never wanted to be a parent.

I have bipolar disorder.  At the time of my daughter's conception, it was undiagnosed and untreated.  I had been off and on antidepressants, but they didn't help and made me gain weight so at that time I was off.

I loved the energy, but I hated the downs.  I was suicidal and unstable.  Most Sundays were spent in fits of tears and rage.  If I was upset, I resorted to cutting.  It was my release and had been since I was twelve- before self-harm was recognized anywhere outside of a therapist's office.  It was also my little secret.  I never cut where anyone would see.  

I was 24 when I got pregnant after a week overseas. I knew I was pregnant before going to the doctor's, but I waited until a Friday when the work week was over to confirm.  I asked where I could get an abortion.  The doctor told me I still had time to decide and gave me a list of obstetricians.  I threw it in the trash.

I couldn't bring a baby into my world.  My baby's father lived overseas.  I was estranged from my family.  I would be doing it alone.  I was in no condition to parent a child.  I feared that I would be abusive.  I feared that I would resent my child.  I didn't want a lifelong commitment that I didn't feel equipped to deal with.  I didn't want to be a parent.  No one should have the right to force that on me.

But the seed had been planted that adoption was a choice. I was an adult. I didn't think that adoption would disrupt my life.

So I made careful plans. When my daughter was born, I handed her over to someone else even as every cell in my body screamed that I was a mother.  I wouldn't wish the pain of adoption on my worst enemy.  It did disrupt my life.  After my daughter's birth, I was more depressed than ever.  The pain doesn't go away.  It comes and goes unexpectedly.  A song, a word, an ignorant portrayal in a book, TV show, or movie, holidays, and of course any contact with my daughter and her family.

Adoption permeates your life.  It's not just my daughter and me who are affected.  She and I both have entire families who will forever feel the ripples of my choice.  It's forever.  And by placing my daughter for adoption, I didn't fix an unwanted pregnancy, I added a lifelong responsibility.  I changed my life forever.  No one who doesn't want to be a parent should be forced to parent.  No one who doesn't want to parent should be fed the lie that "adoption is the loving choice."  There is nothing sweet and happy about adoption.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I love my daughter.  I love her family.  I'm glad to have her in my life. I don't wish that she had never been born.   But I don't think women should be fooled by the lie that adoption is the cure-all for an unwanted pregnancy.  It is life-altering.  I wouldn't want to go through that again, but I don't wish I had parented instead.  

If I got pregnant today, I would abort.  I still have bipolar.  It's treated.  I am stable now, but a pregnancy means going off my medication or risking harm to my unborn baby.  There is no guarantee that the same medication would work after the baby's birth.  It took me years to find one that did work.  I can't go through that again.  I need my job.  I need to be able to take care of myself.  I need to do what I can to keep my marriage healthy, and if I did have that child, I would need to be stable enough to parent.  And there is still the same issue that I do not want to be a parent.  Being a parent is forever.  Being a parent involves a commitment I'm not willing to give.

Call me selfish.  Call me heartless.  Feed me with the guilt of "if my mother had aborted me."  You know what?  I don't care what someone else thinks.  It's my choice.  It's my body.  It's my life that gets changed.  It's me who has to deal with whatever the consequences are of going through a pregnancy and bringing a baby into the world.  If I don't want a baby, I shouldn't have to have one.  And if I don't want to be a parent, adoption shouldn't be the only other option.

If people really cared about reducing abortion, they would support sex education and contraception.  They would give teenagers a way to get birth control without going through their parents.  They would offer more support to women who do want to parent, but can't.  This country would offer paid maternity leave and  affordable daycare.  But the same people who cry out that abortion is murder are against all of those things.

Some people say that having a baby makes women turn anti-choice.  For me, it was the opposite.  I am more pro-choice than ever.  The decision of whether or not to continue a pregnancy should be up to the woman.  She is the person that lives it.

I support a woman's right to choose under any circumstances.

Read part two here.


IlyssaS said...

You are not alone: I never wanted to have children, either. I've started to take the label of "selfish" as a compliment; we may be selfish, but at least we're smart enough to recognize it, to recognize that we're not cut out for parenthood, and to take the steps necessary to avoid it. So many people jump into parenthood without thinking it through and then realize after the child is born that they probably shouldn't have been a parent after all.

On a different note, I'm so sorry that you had to go through such emotional trauma. I hope that you find a way to heal from it. <3

Tameka said...

As an adoptee who searched for and found her mother and other family members I can truly relate to your story. My situation was different as I wasn't the one who had to make the choice of having a baby, but as the product of adoption I know too that it is not all roses and carnivals. Your honesty is refreshing. Bless you going forward. Thanks for furthering the conversation on this important women's issue. Please visit Venus Blogs as they also promote stories and issues that enlighten the masses about women's topics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story! Everyone needs to hear it and it was important that you shared. You describe it all just as I thought it would be but so much more vividly than one imagines.