Pangs of guilt

This is one of the first stories I wrote after I began to think seriously about the possibility of me becoming a writer. It’s an attempt to personalize abortion, an issue that is most often condemned before its fully understood.

One of the theories that I constantly maintain is that people do not care about an issue until it happens to them. Also, they cannot fully comprehend something until a face is put on it. 

Go to http://1in3campaign.org/ to watch videos of women sharing their stories about abortion, and maybe, also share your own.

Make a pact to share any of the stories you heard with 3 people, and encourage them to do the same.

                          

It’s a slow Wednesday afternoon at work when Madison announces that she’s leaving to pick her 5 year-old son Christopher up from school. I was walking in the direction of the parking garage so I offered to walk with her. At the last minute, upon reaching my destination, I decide to go with her on her school run. It would give me a chance to see the little imp. He never failed to make me laugh. As we walked, we talked about Chrisie, how smart and funny he was, and how he different he was from every other child of that age that I’d encountered thus far.

Riding home after picking him up, Madison pulls to a stop at a red light and takes the opportunity to take out her gum and wrap it up.

“I get tired of chewing gum sometimes” she says.

“I do too. But instead I swallow it. I guess I’m just too lazy to take it out” I responded with a laugh.

The light turns green and we resume driving, lapsing into silence. It was Chrisie who broke it, startling Madison and I with an unexpected “I’m sorry mommy.”

“What for?” Madison asked

“Because sometimes I swallow my gum and you don’t know.” He answered quite innocently

Madison and I burst into laughter at this. I thought it was extremely sweet of him. The rest of the way home I listened to their banter, laughing at Chrisie when he described freckles as ‘polka dots’ and sang a silly song with meaningless lyrics. It was an afternoon of uninhibited laughter – something I hardly did anymore.

Watching her with him I feel myriad emotions. I feel mirth – he is a precocious child who has an opinion about everything, no matter what the subject is or how far removed from them his comments are. I feel wonderment – he is a 3-foot tall, brown-skinned angel with Asian features inherited from his parents. I feel a pang of longing – she tells me that living with him is an adventure and I can see that it is true; I want to have a wee one like him to love and to laugh with everyday. And lastly, I feel guilt for the one that I gave up. For the blessing that I carried in my belly for 2 months and 3 weeks before I decided that I couldn’t go on.

That decision will haunt me for the rest of my life. This is one decision that I will never forgive myself for no matter how many times the doctors, nurses and counselors tell me that me that it is ok to have had the abortion; it was a tough decision, but one that I had to make anyway because of my situation at the time. It is harder to let go because I am a Catholic – a religious denomination that is largely pro-life. A few months after my abortion, I opened my prayer book as I did   every day, only to stumble upon a prayer for the unborn souls of aborted children and the forgiveness of the sins of their wicked mothers.

I can remember the day I found out I was pregnant like it was yesterday. One month after a steamy, unexpected afternoon of fast-paced sex with Nate, my period was late. It had never been late before. I found myself chanting over and over again “Please God, don’t let me be pregnant. Don’t let me be pregnant. I’ll never have sex again. Please.” And then the cramps came and I sighed with relief. Cramps could only mean one thing – my period was on its way. But boy! Was I wrong. After two weeks of knee-buckling, face-contorting pain, the nausea began.

I could only think back to that afternoon when, in the heat of the moment, Nate had neglected to pull out before he came – the method we normally practiced when we didn’t use a condom. As soon as I felt his release inside of me, I knew. I couldn’t explain it. I just knew and I was scared. Why didn’t I take a morning after pill? You might ask. This might sound very dumb but, I just didn’t think it would happen to me. I never thought the day would come when I, Amelia, would become pregnant out of wedlock. My parents wouldn’t be angry – I already had two aunts who had kids in their early twenties and never married; they, as well as their children, were accepted and loved by the entire family. The problem was, I just couldn’t picture myself as a mother at my age even though I loved children and had always dreamed of having my own.

I told Nate, who said that he didn’t mind having a child. He said he’d be delighted to have a child with me. He even began apartment hunting – we were going to move in together and figure things out as the weeks and months progressed. But it didn’t feel right. He didn’t love me and I didn’t love him. He didn’t treat me right, and he constantly hurt me, I wasn’t one of his top priorities, just a warm body for sex once in a while. I’d be damned if I’d have a child with someone like him. I wouldn’t have the baby and hand it over to him either. If I was going to have a baby, I would make sure that it would be loved and cared for by both of its parents.

The weeks leading up to the procedure were extremely hard. It wasn’t the nausea or extreme mood swings that bothered me the most, but the fact that I had to fight my natural nurturing instinct. I wouldn’t let myself love my baby, not even a little bit. Once in a while, I caught myself rubbing my belly and cooing. I’d stop short and jerking my hand away in horror as I realized what I had been doing. At those times, I would break down and cry. I felt completely wretched. Once, when I found myself rushing to the bathroom to puke up a banana I had just eaten, I text Nate saying “This baby does not like bananas J We shared a mutual feeling of warmth that was completely natural in that moment, and then made its way into awkwardness, leaving us both saddened at the thought of what was coming.

Just like the doctor promised, the anesthesia rendered me incapable of remembering the entire procedure even though I had been awake. All I can remember is lying on the table with my legs in stirrups, staring up at the white lights of the operating room. The nurse injected me with something and seemingly, minutes later, I was being helped back into my clothes and escorted down the hall to the recovery room where there were five or six reclining armchairs. I was given Ibuprofen, crackers and juice that I all swallowed down, all the while feeling like a new-born kitten unable to tell its surroundings. Recovery took about a month and then I was back to normal, or so it seemed. I know that I will never be the same person ever again. Nate and I parted ways after a while – we couldn’t stand each other anymore. I was sick and tired of the way he treated me, and he was mad at me for having the abortion; he felt that I had monopolized the decision, forgetting that at the end of the day, it was my body and my decision.

However, I do not regret my decision.  I think about what my life might have been like as a young single mother, but I cannot picture it. Before I met Christopher’s mother, when I did see myself as a mother, it was as one of the harried looking ones with too many bags and a pram, strolling across campus. Now that I see how sweet life can be when you have a child like Christopher, no matter the situation in which you got pregnant. And I know that I will get the chance to try again, when the time is right. I know that I will have the chance to laugh at my baby’s silly comments, wordless songs, and enthusiastic mirth. And when those days come, I will remember, the first time he made me smile.

And now I watch him, back at work, playing a video game on the handheld device his mother bought him for Christmas; after doing his homework of course. He is so precious. He has the ability to draw everyone around him in, being so friendly that it does not matter if he knows them or not. Watching him I don’t get the impression that having the responsibility of caring for him is a chore at all; it must be nothing but fun and laughter at his house. I leave him to his exclamations of delight at victory and turn my attention to the work in front of me. 

  1. mynameishachi posted this