Damned – A personal abortion essay

That’s how I felt then, trapped and damned.

Photobucket  He didn’t want the baby.

He wasn’t even sure about me after a year.

I understood the fear he came from, the betrayal he felt when he and Jill fell apart. I loved him so, and he would leave me if I had it. Maybe. He said he wasn’t sure, but he was positive he wasn’t ready to be tied to a child with me. We had little money. We weren’t even living together. He thought himself too unstable, I thought him the most sane being, the most enlightened being on the planet. I suppose in retrospect, with the adults I grew up with, he was by comparison. I was 22, he was 37. He had a thousand reasons, and let me know every one of them.

I always wanted a dozen kids. But I knew this man was my soul-mate. Knew upon knowing it was he that I would spend my life with, believed with all the certitude and bravado of youth. I couldn’t lose him. Couldn’t. He was my world, and introduced me to so much more of the world than my sheltered past had. He was my guide, my mentor, and I suppose a bit of the father figure that I lacked.

He claimed that I loved him now, but would tire of him as we aged, that I would be too young to want an old man later. He said he had taken lousy care of the kid he already had.He said abortion was really the only option. He railed on it, endlessly.

Finally, after many tears, he conceded it was my body, and ultimately my choice, but not to count on him in it.

I needed time to think. I had other concerns going too….

My mother had died of a heart attack, and my Dad found out about his Parkinson’s, which added to his already troubled heart attack history and diabetes. Once I had him stablized and used to living alone without a woman to take care of him, I had already made the bold and unheard of step of (gasp) moving out without being married unlike my sister.

I had already about stroked him out by dating a man 15 years older than me, a long hair no less. He was already fragile, and if I came home and told him I was pregnant at 22, it would kill him. God knows the last argument he had with my brother the summer past had given him another heart attack. Hell, he was hoping against all odds that I was still a virgin. He wasn’t really all that far off on that mark.

Now I felt like, “Kill my baby, or kill my Father?”

Especially given that I couldn’t save my mother. I almost did, but it wasn’t enough. You see, at 22 at was long from realizing that I couldn’t take that burden of guilt on.

Trapped and damned. How could God give me a choice like this? I wanted my child.

I was on the pill. How the hell could this have happened? I never missed one. Shit, I had continued taking those pills that whole month, too.

Then I passed out the first time. Bartending a Friday night with a full bar, wham. Thank God for rubber mats, or the floor may have finished the job the cooler’s edge did on my head. Suddenly I was looking up at people, asking, “What the hell happened, and how did I get on the floor?” I had never passed out before, fainted or anything near it.

I thought it odd and frightening, and had to work another half hour until another bartender came in. Later that night, the half-dollar sized clots started passing. I thought I was miscarrying, but they stopped.

A couple of days later, again, on the floor, this time in the upper flat I was renting from a friend. Now I had to admit it was related… and it was time to make an appointment. I had no insurance, so called a woman’s clinic over by the airport, a good 45 minutes away.

They did an ultrasound after hearing my history. “This pregnancy is not normal, your baby is not developing normally.”

I asked if there was a chance the child would be normal, and the answer was that it was far too early to determine for sure, but the passing out and clots, as well as the ultrasound said the chances were slim.

I drove over to tell my boyfriend right after. “That’s it. You’re having the abortion. I can’t even take care of a normal child, Diane, what the fuck would we do with a handicapped one?” I wanted to wait longer, I wanted to wait until they were sure. He reiterated, “The price goes up with time, and we can barely scrape together the $300.00 it takes now.”

I went home devastated. Now I was sure that I would be in hell, that no God would ever forgive me, sure that I somehow did something wrong to make the baby not ok. Was it the joint I smoked somewhere before I knew? Maybe. Had I done a line in the last month? No, I hadn’t. I racked my brain, I cried endlessly.

I passed more clots. I felt dizzy, off and on the next few days. I fainted a couple more times.

I could feel that something was wrong now, seriously wrong. I felt absolutely anemic and not myself. My baby was somehow wrong.

Finally, I made the appointment. He drove me there, but said he couldn’t come in. He reiterated that this had to be my decision, that it had to be my choice. He said he was not going to take the blame for it later, so I had to walk in alone.

Like I had a choice? My Dad, losing Him, my baby being somehow “wrong”???

They gave me a shot, ran us through like a assembly line. All these frightened women waiting in cots, until they called “Next?”

They blessedly took me in a room alone, I was afraid they were going to do it enmasse. The shot didn’t do much, the pain was horrible. I felt like they were slicing me up. No reassuring words, in fact they didn’t talk to me at all. Perhaps too many years of crying women I thought, easier to let us just be meat to them.

They handed me a cup of orange juice, and told me to go back to the next “group” room and lie down until I felt strong enough to leave. They only asked if I had someone to drive me. I nodded, the silent tears still pouring down my face. I too, hadn’t uttered a word or sound there. They would get nothing from me. I was already damned, what difference could the rest of it make, the pain, them, anyone?

I got to the next room, looking at the sobbing women, young and old (to me old) and just walked out. Fuck that.

He was in the car reading a book, and I startled him by how quickly I returned. He asked if I was ok, and I could see him wanting to ask more, his concern at how I imagined I looked: pale, dazed, angry and hurt. I just said, “Take me to my house, I can’t talk right now. Please. Don’t talk to me.”

The next few years, as I underwent emotional changes and came to grips with my childhood, it came up a time or two. Not much, because he could tell I still had animosity toward him for feeling railroaded and forced, even before the abnormalities became apparent. Once, in a drunken weep, I told him he was glad it was that way, it gave him an excuse for forcing me to not have our baby, our daughter, who would be 2 by now. They never told me but I knew it was a girl, like I knew Jake was a boy. Positive.

He had grown too, and told me there wasn’t a day that passed that he didn’t regret it, and the tears in his eyes showed the truth in it.

Years passed and I got older, wiser, and needed to redefine our relationship for it to last. We were now living at the Napier house. I was no longer a little girl who needed “direction” or a “Daddy” to guide me, and I had enabled him into being just that: domineering. I am pretty passive by nature, but it was certainly time to not be told what to do.

It took breaking up for a year to make him realize that. He was relentless in wanting me back, offered to marry me. After a while I took the ring, but never felt the need to actually do it. We had claimed commitment to each other years ago, and my own words were enough for me.

We decided to try for a baby. I went off the pill.

Nothing. Nothing.

Then the miscarriages started. 11 of them, one late enough to almost hospitalize me, keeping me hemorrhaging in bed for days.

I had more than begun to lose my religion, but I could not help but think that God was punishing me for “throwing away” the first baby he gave me.

We tried for years. I was sterile, or couldn’t carry.

We were doing well financially, had a house, a life, jobs, music, friends, had made peace with our pasts. We were ready.

We both wanted kids, but finally gave up.

The miscarriages stopped, but no more pregnancies.

Not enough punishment, in my thirties, the irregular periods and false pregnancies started. By now, my Dad was in the final throes of his illness, leaving me driving the 40 mile round trip daily to take care of him. We had a visiting nurse, but no Hospice yet.

I made an appointment anyway. Cancer and precancer on both ovaries, explaining all the prior trouble. There were other causes too, but that was the biggie. Now my Dad’s prognosis was weeks. I postponed the hysterectomy surgery. Weeks became months, as we got call after to call to come to the hospital for “He won’t make it through the night, come say your goodbye’s,” only to have him rally a bit and go a few more days.

My Dad, my Dad, the man who said rosaries every day of his life. The one who made peace and amends to me before he left. I never told him about the abortion, but I wonder if my brother (who said I would go to hell for it) did. “Diny, you should really have kids,” he would say. “We’ve tried Dad,” I would answer, “I can’t.”

I never told him about the cancer either.

It was a worry he didn’t deserve.

He died in January of 98, and by June I was pregnant. I didn’t actually realize it for a month or so, since I was so irregular, but when I KNEW I KNEW. I had to wonder if my Dad went to his God and begged another chance for me, being the only one of his children who took care of him those last horrifying five years. If those rosaries were for me.

I finally made another appointment with my Doctor. He was floored. All the cancer was GONE, and I was pregnant.

This time, he was pleased, but scared. I was 36, he was 50. “Jesus, I’ll look like his Grandfather, he will be cheated because I’m too old to run with him, do all the things…” But he was glad, and loves that boy more than life.

I had the easiest pregnancy ever. Or maybe the usual stuff didn’t bother me because I was in a perpetual state of elation. We were going to have a son.

Jake IS my miracle Boy. I remember holding him, and thinking “Finally, God forgave me.”

I still can’t help thinking that.

I can’t have any more kids. The cancer is still gone, but the damage is done. It’s broken beyond repair, my uterus.

In my quiet moments, this is why I cannot deny God, even knowing that knowing is years of brainwashing and programming.


My shining, angel boy.

Proof that there is redemption even for the Damned.


Skip to comment form

    • Diane G on June 6, 2009 at 23:12

    but fuck anyone who says that choice is easy, for anyone.

    • rb137 on June 7, 2009 at 01:20

    A meta comment — maybe if we can beat down the anti-abortion crowd and make it safer for doctors to perform abortions, it will be a little bit kinder for all. Women who need these services are not cattle, and they’re not evil people. They need support and comfort.

    For you, Diane, I am so glad that Jake arrived. Maybe you weren’t damned at all during that difficult time — maybe Jake just wasn’t ready to arrive yet.

    What a gutwrenching story. I am amazed at how strong people can be.

    • Viet71 on June 7, 2009 at 01:48

    Have no personal problems with it.

    But wonder about the species.  Is the species better off with unwanted children?

    I observe wanted children in an upper middle-class town.

    These kids will grow up to be conventional lawyers, doctors, managers.

    Kids who will serve the establishment.

    I don’t know.  I want a rebel.

  1. really, an amazing story and well told.


    • Diane G on June 7, 2009 at 13:00

    who listened and shared with me.

    My story is not unique, in that most women face hardship in making their decisions, and unfortunately, we also in the past had men pushing decisions and judgments on us.

    It is time to assure women and their doctors make their own tough choices without interference.

    Thanks again,


Comments have been disabled.