I couldn't believe it when I got the news.
I knew it was true, but I DID NOT want to think about it.
Wrong time. Wrong place. Absolutely the wrong person.
I was pregnant by a man I didn't love and I didn't know who to tell and where to go and was feeling very alone.
My boyfriend Robert was repulsed by my unexpected pregnancy. We had been dating for several years, and when we met he had certainly been coming on strong with the flowers and nice cards all the rest. We had been talking about marriage for quite some time. When I told him that we were going to have a baby, he responded with a coldness that shocked me.
"Take care of it," he told me, "I don't want to be bothered with it."
Any love I had for him died right there. Things were already falling apart in my life, and it was absolutely the wrong time for me to be pregnant. My mother was out in Pennsylvania. I had had to move out of my apartment and I was temporarily living with my aunt. My boyfriend and I were having serious problems, and I really didn't know where to turn.
I was 25 and a nurse in a regional health facility in Oregon. I remember my pre-natal development class -I certainly knew my child was alive and very real.
I asked my sister what to do, and she told me the same thing as my boyfriend: "Go do it now, if you're going to have an abortion." A few day's later, Robert's mother invited me over to the family house. I went over there, and she sat me down in the kitchen and told me point-blank, "Get an abortion."
I felt abandoned, as if I was some sort of bad person; as if I had gotten pregnant all by myself and ought to be ashamed. But I didn't want people handing me a quick solution that would haunt me later. Somehow I also got the feeling that my family wanted an easy solution for themselves --even if it was at my expense. People offered me help with a price tag -they wanted me to end my child's life.
There was one person who did listen to me, though: I had read a bulletin insert that told about a pregnancy help center in a neighboring town. I gave them a call and made an appointment to come in. They gave me a follow-up pregnancy test and one of the ladies there talked to me about where I could find help. I asked about adoption information, because I was thinking about that for a time, and the woman connected me with Catholic Charities.
Later on, I changed my mind and decided to raise my daughter myself. The important thing is that I had the support to do this. I was going to figure it out. No matter what it would take, I was going to make it work.
Funny thing is that after I decided that, I met many people in the community who were willing to help. A local family let me come over to their house and use their swimming pool (It was a hot summer). I went boating with them. Something I would like to say to other women who are facing pressure for an abortion is that if you just decide to hang in there and tell people that you need help, there are a lot of supportive people. It's just when the pregnancy is kept secret and you feel like you don't want anyone to know.
The ironic thing about all this is that Julie is now the apple of everyone's eye. She looks just like Robert, and when he takes her on holidays, he reminds us all of that fact!
Robert's family loves her, too They takes her on trips. Robert's mother, who had told me to end her life, now spoils her with cookies and dolls and loves to write stories for her. After Julie was born, Robert's Mom and I had a talk. She was so elated at having a grandchild.
One thing bothers me when everyone fawns over her at Robert's house. I still can't reconcile that with the fact that they all pushed me so hard to destroy her when she was in my womb. Is love so selfish that people only give it when they "feel like it"? I just don't know.
What I do know is that many people in my family and in Robert's family have had a big change of heart about Julie being in the world. I'm SO glad I didn't let their "well-intentioned" advice get to me!
Why the switch? I am so sick and tired of hearing the "pro-abortion" slogans that basically called for the death of my daughter. I knew enough to stay strong when I was pressured to kill her, but I can't help thinking of other unwed mothers who buckle in to the pressure.
I've drawn a few conclusions from all this: Pro-choice? Sure seems like a lot of people who don't want to be "caught" push abortion! --Guys who make love to a women and then reject her when she turns out pregnant-I think that's going on a lot, and that a lot of guys are hiding behind the "pro-choice" line when it comes to taking responsibility. Many of my friends who have had abortions are really bitter at men. I think I know where they're coming from. Anyway, I'm glad I stood up for life for my daughter.
Terri Saunders now lives in Eastern Oregon with her daughter Julie and a wonderful circle of friends. Robert takes Julie on visits on weekends, and Julie is a regular visitor at her grandparent's house on Platt Hill. Terri advises any women experiencing a crisis pregnancy to reach out and call a local Crisis Pregnancy Center in her area.