I was secretly excited for the ultrasound. But they couldn’t see it. They said I could let it grow and go back for the procedure, but I couldn’t stand the idea of letting it grow. I went into this refrigerator of a room, with a tiny poster of a tropical island pasted on the ceiling, and this middle-aged white lady nurse told me to breathe and hush. I wanted to sock her in the face. A couple days later, I found out I was still pregnant. The amoeba—my baby—was somehow surviving. The next time, I kind of hoped it wouldn’t work. I kept saying negative things to myself, like, “Stop being such a baby.” Afterwards, I felt this mix of regret, relief, gratitude, and I had a new sense of control and determination about my future, like, I’m going to do this and this and this. I tracked the whole pregnancy online, living in fantasies about how big my belly would be. The only people who would listen to me say I had any emotions were people who wanted me to fall down on my knees and ask for forgiveness. I saw a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, but she gave me an icky feeling. There’s no room to talk about being unsure.
The story I want to tell first is of the abortion I didn’t get. Three years ago, I knew I couldn’t afford a baby on my own. My son was 6. I made a clinic appointment for the next day. Outside, protesters shouted, “You don’t need birth control, you need self-control!” One woman followed me and said in my ear, “You’re never going to forget.” In the waiting room, I looked around at the other women. A teenager, who looked about 14, was crying. I kept thinking, Who do I think I am? I wasn’t raped. I’m not underage. I just don’t want to have a baby. It was too early, and I needed to come back in two weeks. The clinic required you to have someone to drive you home, so I needed to tell someone. I told my friend who I thought was kind of liberal, but she refused. I never went back for that abortion. When the baby was little, our lights got turned off. I got depressed, kind of suicidal. Sometimes I’d think, I didn’t need to have this kid, and now he’s suffering with me. Last year, I got pregnant again. I knew how to deal with the opposition. The clinic rules had changed, and I could drive myself. Afterward, I went on birth control, but it failed. I didn’t have the money for an abortion, but the clinic gave me a number for a fund. I told them I had kids. They covered half of it. The clinic gave me copies of the ultrasound, and I keep them in a drawer. I never cried about it. I don’t feel guilty. I know being a parent isn’t all stars and sprinkles.