I was 23 when I got pregnant. It was not from rape, but also not fully consensual. I had internalized not only a “you can’t say no,” but also a “you will die if you try to resist” mindset after a brutal rape a few months earlier. So, even though my partner asked, and I said yes, I was aware that my yes was tainted.
I told my partner, once I was fairly certain, and he immediately said he’d pay for an abortion. It would have been so easy. Do it on Friday of a long holiday weekend, be back at work on Tuesday, just a blip in my life. My career aspirations still in place. No harm, no foul – as far as he was concerned.
But I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew the baby I carried was a boy or a girl from conception, that traits like hair and eye color and an ear for music or a talent for athletics were in place well before I suspected pregnancy. I also knew that I would not be able to live with myself if I aborted, that I would commit a slow-motion suicide of descent into depression and drinking and self-loathing.
So, I refused my partner’s offer. I spoke with a lawyer friend about private adoption, but it felt like selling my baby to the highest bidder. I couldn’t do that, either.
I finally decided to keep the baby and raise him or her myself. I was a Registered Nurse, had resources and, I thought, supportive friends.
I quickly learned otherwise. My friends in a nondenominational Christian group, with one exception, shunned me. My parents disowned me. My partner, now that I’d decided to keep the baby, decided that either neither of us would have contact with the baby, or both of us would. He proposed marriage; terrified and alone, I accepted.
Long story short, after a rocky start, and some rocky years along the way, we are still married. Our daughter grew up to be a pilot in the Air Force, and a Lieutenant Colonel. We had two more children, much loved, and a miscarriage, much mourned.
The world is a better place for the children we brought into it. Our daughter, who does not know about the pressure to abort her, is a strong, compassionate, loving person with amazing leadership skills. All three kids know that the ashes of our miscarried son will be buried with the first person in our family to die. We’ve tried to live out our Catholic Christian beliefs in our lives. I have come to peace with all that transpired all those years ago and, today, I have much compassion for young women who are pressured into abortion.
The pressure is real, perhaps even more so today. I hope that anyone who reads this understands that none of this journey was easy, but choosing life made all the difference for a remarkable human being – and for me, as well.