I had an abortion. This is my story
I’m stark naked, huddled into a corner of the top floor bathroom. I’m in my parent’s house, shaking in terror. Silent tears of helplessness gush down my cheeks. I stare in disbelief at the tiny blue column which has formed in the middle of the test’s white strip. There’s no more denying it. My premonition was correct — I am pregnant.
A thick lump forms in my throat, making it hard to breathe. This is not the kind of physical reaction I’d anticipated for such an event. Isn’t this supposed to be the happiest moment in a woman’s life? Aren’t countless women dreaming about this? But for me, this feels more like a death sentence than a reason for joyful celebration. I have other plans.
Two weeks earlier, I had given up my apartment in Stockholm, packed up my belongings, and left the country. I was on my way down to Germany, to visit my family for a few weeks before my boyfriend and I would embark on a long trip. Thailand, Bali, Australia. Far away from the cold northern winter. I’m homeless now, a nomad. How could I be pregnant?
I admit that I have been more trusting than vigilant, relying on a new little machine to keep track of my cycle. It should be marking the fertile days on which we shouldn’t have sex. Well, that didn’t work out.
In three hours from now, my partner will be waiting for me to pick him up at the train station in Leipzig. WTF? Who orchestrates these synchronicities?
I sit in the bathroom weeping for what seems like hours. With the intensity of my sobs increasing, my mother comes in to see what’s going on. I show her the test. She’s shocked but understands. In her nurse-like way, she comforts me. “Whatever you choose to do, I’ll support you.” I’m so relieved by her reassurance. Right there, she gives me an imprint of a mother’s unconditional love.
But I don’t want to be a mother. Not now, anyway. I never did. At least not until this one fateful day only seven weeks earlier, in July of 2010. I still remember it as clear as day. A native American shaman was traveling through Sweden. I met her at a large festival of spirituality and personal development. She was the most sought-after keynote speaker that summer.
I adored this woman. It was obvious to me that she was connected to something much larger than herself and the human realm. One day, she’d hold a special ceremony for a few select participants. She’d move around feeling into each person’s body, delivering a private message for every one of us. A lot of the people in the room started crying as she touched them, opened by her transmission. She must be speaking the truth.
When it was my turn for communion, she placed her hands on my womb-space, asking if my children had come to me yet. I shook my head ‘no’. She whispered: “They want to come to you. Your son will lead the world. He will be so strong in his masculine because his mother is so pure in her feminine.” Then she stared at me with such intensity that I felt intimidated. As in “Do you get what I’m telling you?” Her green eyes shifted to a dark hazel color, something I’ve never seen anywhere before. “Who is this person?”, I wondered.
I wanted to ask her more questions, but she had already moved on to the next participant. Thoughts were racing through my head as I was trying to make sense of her words. I felt grateful, humble, loved, overwhelmed and confused, all at once. I waited out the rest of the ceremony, then rushed into the forest to meditate and pray for further guidance.
Once my inner storm had settled, I went looking for my partner. I told him everything. He smiled and thought the story sounded sweet. Had she mentioned anything about the father? No, she hadn’t. But here we are now. Six weeks later, I am pregnant. Unintended. Coincidence? I doubt it.
Upon his arrival, I take him to one of the biggest churches in Leipzig. I need a quiet space to talk, and what could be a better place than the house of Mother Mary and Jesus? Again, he smiles and says he’s happy about the news. “We’ll work it out.” Is this another sign from life that this is somehow all meant to be, and I should settle into my new role of motherhood?
Deep inside, I am lonely and anxious. Anxious to the point of panic. Like I’m inside a glass house, screaming for help, but no one on the outside can hear me.
Where are we going to live? How are we going to earn money? I had graduated from university with a Master of Arts in Literature and Film. I’ve never had a real job in my life! I don’t know what I want to do. My man is lacking direction as well, clinging on to the idea of going traveling like a stubborn child. Is he even clear what all this means?
My father’s polemic against us supports my deep concerns. When we tell him, he rolls his eyes, angry, blaming me in his typical dad-like way. “You Hippies! Why can’t you take the pill, like any other normal woman? You have no plan for your life!” Then he stops talking to me and pretends that I don’t exist.
The familiar pain of shame and humiliation creeps up on me again, making me feel worthless and stupid. Here you are again, shadow. Welcome to the table. When my boyfriend takes his flight back to Sweden one week later, I’m on my own. Anxiety and depression, old friends from the past, come visiting again.
Despite debilitating nausea that comes every morning, I try to stay functional. I write a list: find a job, find a home. This is the responsible thing to do, right? Do what you’re expected, grow up, stop being such a child. After all, you’re going to be a mother.
But when has anybody asked me if I actually wanted this child? Do I get to choose here or not? The thought of having an abortion hasn’t even crossed my mind yet. I still believe that this is not about me, that I’m somehow to fulfill my divine duty as if I owed something to God.
My mother comes home with baby clothes. I can’t take this anymore and burst into tears. She had no idea what I was really feeling. Seeing my suffering, she encourages me to consider other options. “You don’t have to do this,” she comforts me.
It’s not too late to have an abortion. The mere thought of this elevates my spirit as if a heavy burden was lifted off of my shoulders.
I am now about nine weeks pregnant; if I want to end this nightmare, I need to be expedient. I call the clinic to make an appointment. Better safe than sorry, I tell myself. But they need me to see a counselor first.
The next day, I am sitting in the office of a (Catholic!) counselor. She is a kind woman in her early sixties, with grey hair and a gentle attitude. There is no judgment. She listens, and we talk for an hour. I’m still not sure about my decision, so we agree that I come back a few days later.
In the meantime, I see my homeopath, a healer I’ve known and respected for many years. Her job is to help me with my autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s and various allergies). When she hears the news of my pregnancy, she is delighted. She puts me under a treatment to help me land in my womb-space and enter deeper into the space of motherhood. Feeling unseen and misunderstood, I resolve to never see her again.
When my father hears about my considerations, he softens and starts speaking to me again. He opens up, and the situation becomes bearable again. He confesses that he had no idea that I was in such anguish, and of course he will support me in whatever I choose to do. This heartfelt meeting brings redemption to the both of us. Sometimes life needs to take us to the edge before we’re willing to let down our guards.
Although I am relieved, my decision is now final. I will not keep the baby. My body is screaming too loud for me to ignore her anymore. This may sound counterintuitive, but my intuition is saying “Stop!” Shaman or not, I cannot base the most important decision of my life based on what other people want, think, or feel. This is my life. My. Fucking. Life.
I call my boyfriend on Skype to inform him of my decision. He’s excited to see me, and proudly shows me a yellow knitted romper he’d bought from the local thrift store that day. When I tell him, he breaks into tears. He’s desperate, begging me to reconsider, asking me to come and see him so that we can discuss the matter in person. But I am running out of time.
If I want to go through with the abortion, I have to do it within the first trimester, and there are only two weeks left. It cannot wait. Telling him not only breaks his heart but mine too.
I feel like the worst girlfriend in the world. I’m drowning in guilt. I wish I could be there with him, hold him, and that we could cry together.Instead, we just glance at each other through the computer screen. For a long time, we sit quiet, saying nothing. Silent sadness fills the empty space between us, as we each mourn our son’s certain death.
How do I know it is a boy? It’s too soon for the ultrasound to detect the sex, but in my heart of hearts, I know.
“What’s wrong with me?” I wallow. “I have a beautiful man and a healthy baby in my belly, why can’t I be happy? Why do I have to hurt and disappoint everyone around me?” The guilt is eating me up from the inside. But my partner is soothing me, saying that it might not be the right time now, that we’ll try again in a few years, that it’s okay. Damn, how can he be so good?
After getting an okay from the Catholic counselor, I schedule an appointment with the clinic the following day. The place is tucked under the roof of a huge building in the city center, also hosting a shopping mall and a car park. The staff is friendly and professional.
I’ve decided on a medical procedure, which seems less scary than the surgical option. They ask me one last time if I am sure about this. I nod ‘ye’s and swallow the little pill that will end my baby’s short life.
I comfort myself by believing that the soul has not yet entered into the body. Shamans say that this usually happens during the second trimester. Is this why I haven’t felt any tangible connection to the baby during this whole time?
I am sent home to rest and return early the next morning. Now it is time for part two of the procedure. Little did I know that this would be one of the worst days of my life. A middle-aged female doctor slides the suppository deep into my vagina, close to my cervix. She then sends me off to a large and sterile room to wait for the body to go into labor.
What happens then is hard to describe. I have never been so sick in my whole life. My belly and lower back ache like they’re hit by a sledgehammer. Cramps become so severe that I have to throw up. The blood is running out of me so fast I can hardly keep up with it, making me look like a ghost. The onslaught of diarrhea makes me crawl to the bathroom, where I pass out in pain on the cold tiled floor. My mother has to break in and drag me back to the bed, fearing for my life.
The nurses aren’t of much help, all they do is check my pads for the bleeding. If I was more conscious, I’d feel humiliated and embarrassed, but there is not a bone in my body left to care about any of this. All I want is for it to be over. I pass out a few more times until the pain’s intensity subsides.
A few hours later, the nurses hand me some sleeping pills and put me into a pink room to rest. When I wake up, I’m dazed and confused. I notice dark blood which has made its way all the way down my leg and into my sock. I couldn’t care less. Mom comes in and hands me a glass of water and a sandwich. When I’m stable enough to walk again, she ushers me back to the car.
As I am tucked into bed at home, tea on nightstands and hot water bottles on my belly, I regain my consciousness. What happened? What the fuck have I done? As my memory comes crawling back, I am faced with the bleak, glaring emptiness of this new reality. My belly, which was once full of life, is now barren and hollow.
A huge wave of grief and loneliness flushes over me, and I cannot stop weeping. This would be my default emotional state for the next six to twelve months. Depressed, numb, and utterly alone in it all. But why? I cannot make sense of it. I wanted this abortion. It was a conscious decision. I am sure I made the right choice. But I had not expected it to be this difficult.
I meet with a close friend who had written her final thesis on abortions. She advises to give myself as much time as I need to heal and to never judge myself for what I am feeling. She also points to the adage that “A couple who abort their child also aborts their love.” During her research, she has found that many relationships end as a result of baby-loss. Great. That too.
Another wise girlfriend, who has been through a similar experience, suggests that I perform a goodbye ceremony. So into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. I pick a tree and sit beneath it for meditation and prayer. I soon get the message that
“It doesn’t matter if you give birth to me now or in another lifetime; I am always with you. I will wait forever. Having a physical child is a choice and a commitment. Whatever you choose, the decision is yours and your alone. I will always love you.”
There, there. This is the atonement I’ve been looking for. The unconditional love of God and the sweet and gentle nature of the Soul. It never judges, never condemns, and never extends blame. This is like a soothing balm for my battered mind. For a brief moment, I am free.
I give thanks to my son’s soul who has visited me and assure him that I welcome him back into my life at a later point. I name him Jonas and give him a symbolic place under that tree. When I am done, I gather my things and head back home.
My partner returns to Germany a couple of days later. In his suitcase, a pair of goggles, flippers and a snorkel. Okay, looks like we’re going traveling after all. I have zero interest in the event. I’d much rather spend the autumn at home, letting nature’s seasonal decay reflect my own inner gloom. But I don’t have the strength to object, so I willingly trod along.
Could the eternal sunshine and white sandy beaches of Thailand that I love so much help me heal my body and being? I had sure hoped so. But no. While my boyfriend explores the colorful reefs and learns how to surf, I spend hours and hours on my own. I sit alone in my room or on the beach, staring at the ceiling or writing in my journal. Journaling has always been therapeutic for me. But now, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make sense of my inner life.
Days and weeks pass, and I see the world around me through a thick haze. I’m isolating myself more and more, withdrawing from the man I once loved and the people we meet. The blue sky and warm sunshine feel like an insult, like they’re ridiculing my total lack of meaning and joy in life.
I suppose going on the anti-baby pill adds to my hormonal fluctuations. Submitting to the advice of my doctor, I had finally agreed to take it. But my body and brain reject this new and powerful hormonal invasion. I hate it. After only a few months, I cannot handle it anymore. During one sleepless night in Bali, all my anxiety and rage from the past months resurfaces. With all my force, I stomp those pink little suckers into the wooden floorboards. Away with you! Stop controlling my body!
The next morning over breakfast, I realize what I’ve done — thrown them all into the trash can. Hurrying back to our straw hut, I discover that the cleaning lady had come before me. The wastebasket is empty. Alright, condoms it is. One thing less to fret over. But I’m allergic to latex, so I need to find toxin free ones.
Thankfully, I discover tantra just a few months later. In tantra, the goal of the little peak orgasm is avoided altogether. Men hardly ever ejaculate, which makes contraceptions and condoms obsolete, at least for me.
Warning: I’ve heard stories of other women who tried this method but still got pregnant. This, like any other method, is not 100% trustworthy. Always rely on your own good judgement when making such important decisions.
Am I afraid that I may never be able to get pregnant again after the abortion? No. In fact, I tried to get pregnant about eight months later, with another man. The relationship with my partner did not last. We weren’t strong enough to survive the abortion and my depression and anxiety. A few months after our return to Sweden, we end our relationship in love and friendship.
I am still healing from these losses when I met a new, much older man. He already has a child from a former marriage, but he wants more. Not only with one woman, but two. At the same time. He dreams of a polyamorous lifestyle with several women and kids of his own. A nice harem fantasy, but hardly liveable in real life.
But in my vulnerable state, I am too gullible to notice those red flags. This all sounds so new and exciting. And all my body wants is to get pregnant again, no matter what. I’m craving to have my baby back. Still grappling with my loss, I cannot think straight. My hormones are out of whack, and I am not the one in control of my body. I am actually hoping to get pregnant with a total stranger, someone I met only four months ago.
How could I have any idea who this person is? We’ve only touched the surface of our young relationship. It is way too soon for me to be dating somebody new. But my ego does not want to hear about any of this.
As time passes, the old wounds start to heal. Yet I still can’t conceive with my new partner. Instead, I am gaining back my old clarity. As I start to see more and more of his dysfunctional personality patterns, it dawns on me. This man might not be the right person for me to have a child with after all. We stay together for a couple more years, but in the end, I can’t bear it anymore. The pain of being with him is greater than my fear of loss. I leave him.
During the past eight years, from when I first got pregnant up until now, I’ve worked through many layers of healing and forgiveness. On a physical, emotional, and spiritual level, I am stronger now than ever. I feel eternally grateful for everything this process has taught me. Without it, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I know I took the right decision for me, and I have no regrets. I am at peace.
I haven’t felt a huge desire to have a baby again for years, but the longing shows up from time to time. I’ve had an intuition that I’ll be pregnant again when I’m 37 years old. I’m 34 now and in a stable place in my life, married to a wonderful man whom I trust with all my heart. Chaos has made way for order.
So if this sweet and gentle soul I’ve connected with a couple of times now wants to come back into my life, I welcome it. If not, that’s fine too. I have no desire to force things into being. I intend to live life from a place of trust and surrender, welcoming the experiences my soul is guiding me towards with faith and devotion.
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