This month marks the 9 year anniversary of my first abortion.

I hear that this is something that a woman keeps a secret, a private issue.

For me, it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to be open and honest about. It’s not that I don’t feel shame. I do. Of course I do. I’m human, I’m female, I’m a mother.

I found myself pregnant when my firstborn was four months old. My boyfriend was a wreck, completely unstable. Our relationship was wild, crazed, psychotic. I was madly in love with him, but I knew that there was no way that I could keep a clear conscience and bring his child into the world. He was in no way suitable for fatherhood. And then there was the simple fact that I already had one infant that I couldn’t support, and his father was just as bad.

We made the mistake of telling our parents. They were crushed. They begged me to change my mind. His mother told me she’d take custody. Mine wrote me a heartwrenching letter and pleaded for the life of their second grandchild. Adoption was the answer, they said. It was unthinkable. Keep the first baby but abandon the other? My own adoption issues kept me from considering the option. I wouldn’t send my child into the arms of strangers, have her raised with identity and trust issues, feeling rejected and alone. I know what you’re thinking–better to kill her, right? I focused on the fact that I was barely pregnant at the time of my appointment. 6 weeks they estimated, the earliest an abortion can be performed.

Someone tentatively gave me the money to cover the procedure. She was afraid that I would grow to regret it and I would resent her for making it possible. I never did. Not once. And not to say it wasn’t a traumatic experience. There isn’t any easy way to go about playing God.

In the clinic, a nurse met with me beforehand. She wanted to know if I was sure. She asked me why. I told her about my son. She asked me if I was a natural redhead. I wasn’t, and I asked why. She said that in her experience, redheads were emotional. They had a hard time with the procedure, but I would be okay.

On the exam table, legs spread and placed in the stirrups, I was shaking. My teeth were chattering. I had asked for a sedative by IV. It was slowly making it’s way into my veins, but not nearly strong enough. I doubt that anything could have calmed my nerves. The doctor was old, short, bald and round. He had an accent. Russian maybe. I had heard that the sucking noises would be the worst. I stared at the poster on the ceiling and tried to drown them out. The nurse and doctor talked during the procedure. They gossiped about the girl in the next room who was on her fourth abortion. I couldn’t believe how unprofessional they were. But what did they care? What was I going to do? At 19 years old, was I going to make a complaint about the rude conversation that ocurred during the procedure that sucked my baby out of my womb? Of course not. I was going to go quietly and hope to God I’d never have to come back. Afterwards, the doctor told me not to have sex for 6 weeks. I could “suck dick but no sex” he said. I was shocked, taken aback. And yet I just nodded, numb. I walked out, into the waiting room where my boyfriend was waiting. His head was down. He was crying. It was the hardest moment of the entire experience. He drove me home and put me to bed, and in my dreams I named my child. China. Doll-like. She would have had fair hair and porcelain skin, bright blue eyes and dark lashes. I knew I had conceived a daughter. I felt sure of it, and knew that if there was a God, he would never allow me to birth another daughter. I had thrown away the greatest gift he could give. Nine years later and here I am with two more children. Sons. And I cannot shake the intense desire to keep trying for a girl. I guess I have to believe that God will forgive me, or that better yet, I will forgive myself.

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