What Came Before
Despite my best efforts, I sometimes still feel like I need to preface every new introduction with the fact that I had an abortion at 17. Just in case anyone might want to hate me for it. Once you've had an abortion, you must always be on the defensive, because something as innocuous as a government textbook or a bumper sticker might just leave you in tears.
That is because once you have an abortion, you cross the ultimate invisible line, one that separates you, for some people, from even the most passionate supporters of choice. You are seen as a bad girl, killer, sinner. If you are lucky, you can stagger, wounded, to be embraced by a gaggle of teary-eyed girls who make blankets for "the babies in heaven". Yes, you were a bad girl, they will tell you, but you don't have to be bad anymore.
That, however, was not me. After finding out I was pregnant again, less than a year after my abortion, even my fellow sinners shunned me. There was no crossing over for me, I was forced to settle down and open up shop. A lot of people were surprised when I decided to continue with my second pregnancy, but for me there was no decision involved. I knew from the beginning that I was not going down that path again. But there was pressure, and lots of it.
From friends, family members, asshole ex-boyfriends. What's another abortion when you've already had one? they asked me. A whole fucking lot, that's what it is. Abortions aren't like Halloween candy or drunk girls at a frat party. The more is not the merrier.
Many people asked me, "How could you let that happen? How could you be so stupid?" as though I hadn't asked myself that question a million times before. As though I'd been using trial and error to find out where babies come from, and the light bulb in my head was just then getting hot. The only answer I could come up with was, "I don't know. I was stupid."
Was I, though? Was this purely an accident? Or was some part of my brain in cahoots with my uterus, hatching this lovely little plan? I will never know, but to be honest, I'm kind of glad it happened this way.
To some people though, I shouldn't feel glad. I should never feel glad.
There should never be a time when there isn't a tiny little prick in the back of my head saying I had an abortion; a hidden bruise contaminating any sort of joy.
Should I feel grateful, that the powers that be gave me another chance to become aparent? Yes, but not more so than anyone else who was able to experience the miracle of life first hand. To feel as though I should owe a little more gratitude would mean that I think that the choice I made was wrong. And I don't. It took me a long time to get here, but I've finally arrived. I have reasons for doing what I did, but they're mine.
Ironically, my son has helped me through all of this more than I ever thought possible. I thought that being pregnant would be harder on me, that I would constantly be reminded of what "could have been," but it actually enabled me to recover from an experience I had resigned myself to never getting over. For so long I searched for forgiveness. From God, from Man, and anything in between, but the only thing that I really need forgiveness from was me.
I found it. In a pregnant belly, a sketchy black and white sonogram picture, the quiet rhythm of a kicking fetus, a dilating cervix, a 9lb 6oz baby boy, I found forgiveness. I found peace.
Sometimes I think of his predecessor when I look at him, but more often than not, I just think of HIM. He is my first child, my only child, and he shouldn't live in the shadow of something that never was. It makes me sad to think of how it would have been if he were really a "younger brother," but that involves a different frame of reference all together. The past is neither here nor there anymore, it just simply is.
So yes, my name is Julie, and yes I had an abortion when I was 17, but more importantly, I am the pro-choice mother of a beautiful baby boy. If you want to hate me for the former, go ahead, but isn't time we all started focusing on the latter?