“I did not anticipate speaking on this topic for the whole internet to read, but it’s been weighing heavily on my heart for obvious reasons.
I hope my story can offer you some perspective regarding the complexity of making a life-changing decision and the dynamic emotions that help to make each and every one of us unique and individual.
This picture is from 2018.
I was 21 years old. I was depressed, anxious, and felt incredibly lost. I carried the weight of the expectations that had been laid out for me for my entire existence and I was struggling to come to terms with the fact that I was not meeting them. I felt like a failure and those feelings suffocated me daily.
I had just left the job I believed I was going to pursue as my career. That is until my workplace environment was no longer safe. I was (barely) navigating the idea of healing my past traumas which for so long I had convinced myself were a figment of my imagination. I was learning about boundaries and that I was worthy of them, but every time I drew a line in the sand my insecurities made sure I erased it quickly. My life constantly felt like one step forward and five steps back.
Between the constant arguments with my (then) boyfriend (now husband), the climbing credit card debt, sinking progress and the nonexistent light at the end of our tunnel you could say I was feeling pretty desperate. And very, very hopeless.
Then, in the thick of it all, I found out I was pregnant.
Two lines showed up as bold as they could possibly be. Two lines: one to cross through my (then) hopes and dreams and the other to underline what I believed to be my biggest failure yet.
My initial reaction was fear, then it was shame, then it was anger. And for the next 9 months, I would feel all of these, all the time, all at once.
I remember spending late nights alone Googling things like, ‘Is it normal to feel enraged at your pregnancy?’ I remember seeing pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement from women overjoyed to be adding new life into their family and I felt like a monster. A monster for feeling so much hatred at my newfound circumstances and for feeling so angry at the baby I was growing inside of me. Every day I questioned who I was and who was I to be so… mad? I knew women – I had personal friends in my circle – who prayed daily for a baby of their own and here I was doing everything I could just to keep my rage from boiling to the surface. All I could think was, ‘What is wrong with me?’
I was scared and my anger was fueled by my fear of the future. The future I truly didn’t believe we could offer a child. We were using credit cards to pay for bills and we were barely making it every month. How was I supposed to clothe and feed and find daycare for a child when I could barely offer myself the same? My mental health was shot; I was more depressed than ever and more often than not I believed I was better off dead. Who was I to bring a child into this chaos? The weight of the shame I carried was unbearable.
Desperate people sometimes look to desperate measures. And yeah, abortion definitely crossed my mind. More than once.
What if I just ended it?
What if I spared another baby another sh*tty life?
What if I just did it and told Alex I had a miscarriage?
How can I be a loving mother to a child who needs me when I don’t even know how to love myself?
Who am I to bring a child into a world of this much instability?
How can I go through with this? My life just started.
What are people going to say? How am I going to break the news?
How are we going to support a baby?
Do I want to bring a baby into this family when I’m trying so hard to break the toxic cycles that have carried on for generations? I don’t want anyone else to go through this.
I never wanted kids, I have no idea how to be a good parent.
What if Alex and I don’t stay together? What if this tears us apart?
I can’t be a single mom.
I can’t do this, I’m not ready.
Every day I felt so alone and so isolated. Never once did I ever (nor have I ever since) seen another woman post about such dark thoughts and feelings. I genuinely believed that there was something wrong with me. And most of the women I spoke with immediately praised my pregnancy, spouted off about what a blessing my baby was and how my life would never be the same ‘in all the best ways.’ They showered me with advice and opinions that left me feeling even more guilty about the true feelings I carried inside of me. There was never space for me to open up and be vulnerable with these women about how I really felt and I feared that if I tried I would be met with passionate rejection.
Ultimately, I decided to carry my baby to term and I now have a beautiful little boy. And he has been my saving grace in so many ways. However, the nine months leading up to his arrival were some of the worst months of my life. I constantly questioned my decision to follow through with my pregnancy. The guilt and shame I carried blanketed nearly every thought and feeling I produced from feeling like a monster for even considering abortion to feeling like a complete failure for getting pregnant in the first place. Not to mention the guilt I felt about the added stress I was putting on my body and my baby from the thoughts I was thinking about every day. To say I was a mess would be the ultimate understatement.
This is a part of my story that I’ve never shared with anyone, not even Alex. I carried the burden of these thoughts on my own for fear that speaking them aloud would unravel my relationship, reputation, and who knows what else. This is a part of my story that I’ve kept to myself because up until now I wasn’t sure what purpose it would serve in sharing it with you. But I think my story has a place today more than ever because I think today people need to realize how much more dynamic some choices are to make.
Life isn’t black and white. Life isn’t pro-choice versus pro-life. And this post isn’t meant to ask you to change your beliefs. This post is asking you to pause and listen to the people in your life who are speaking. To truly listen to their stories, their perspectives, and what they’ve been through. Because at the end of the day you will never know what another human has been through and experienced and how those experiences will influence their decisions.
Sometimes I look back and think if someone had just stopped me for a moment and asked me how I felt about my pregnancy, maybe – just maybe – that would’ve made space for me to open up about my true feelings. And maybe that conversation would have led to someone offering me encouragement and a perspective I couldn’t see for myself because I was so consumed by fear. Maybe that conversation would’ve filled me with joy and excitement and a feeling that, ‘Hey, I CAN do this.’ Because maybe someone would’ve reassured me that I wasn’t a monster, or psycho, or a complete failure for having the feelings I did. And maybe that conversation would’ve helped me to pivot my mindset so that I wouldn’t spend every day of my pregnancy filled with shame. Maybe I would’ve taken more than 3 pregnancy bump pics and I would’ve felt safe to feel joy about the new role I was about to fill. Sometimes I think if someone would’ve asked me how I was feeling – truly feeling – maybe instead of 9 months of declining mental health it would’ve only been a few.
When people talk about pro-life they talk about saving babies and putting a stop to ‘baby killers.’ What I never hear (or have never heard up to this point – feel free to change the narrative) in a pro-life conversation is a concern for the woman who is growing the baby. The woman who from the day the baby is born will never not be a mother will rarely spend a moment not thinking about her child, and will step up for this new life regardless of whether or not the father chooses to do the same. She will do it all and the world will continue to tell her it is not enough.
I rarely hear pro-life conversations offer a safe space for women to open up about the concerns they have for themselves moving forward. How their life is going to transform permanently. The independence and freedom they will sacrifice and the emotional toll this new reality may have on them. Oh, and how all of those feelings are valid. Generally, the conversation is snarky and blunt. Something along the lines of, ‘You made your bed now lay in it.’ Or some Bible verse they memorized in Sunday School. The lack of empathy in these conversations leaves a gaping wound in the hearts of so many women who at the end of the day are trying their best in a world that offers them little to no support.
I’m not against pro-lifers. Many of my friends, my husband included, take this stance and I love them. But in this post, I am asking them and everyone else who flashes this badge to pause and listen. To see the people you are so quick to shut down as human and complex individuals, not just vessels for carrying babies. I’m not asking you to change your beliefs, values, morals, or convictions. I am asking you to lend a listening ear, genuine empathy, and a safe space for the ones who are struggling with making a decision about their life. Because speaking from personal experience I likely would’ve stopped considering abortion much sooner than I did if someone would’ve just let me admit I was thinking about it. It’s amazing what the power of a genuine connection can do to influence the future of a person in need.
Roe v. Wade was overturned and many women are scared. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my own experiences and how truly privileged I was to have a choice. I chose life because that was the right decision for me. I accepted my decision and the responsibility that came with it. I was able to make peace with my decision because it was solely my own. My heart goes out to the women who don’t have the choice anymore. My heart cannot make peace with the idea of deciding for someone else what their future should look like. I truly believe that some decisions have to be between the individual and God. And just to be totally real here, this ruling does not stop abortions. It stops safe abortions.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I hope going forward you will make more space in your life for listening, regardless of the stance you take on this matter. Or any matter. After all, we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. I hope when you speak, you choose words that will break barriers rather than building more. I hope my story offered you some perspective and helped you to realize that most women who find themselves in a position like this – whether to choose life or not – are not doing so frivolously. For some women, they see no other way. And finally, I hope going forward you choose grace. Because you can shun those who have made a decision that is different from the one you would choose, but if you want to see real change and have real influence in this world rejecting those who are different from you will not get you there.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lex Shipley. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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