At the age of 17 I found myself pregnant. My boyfriend was 20. We were young and jobless. We discussed our options and decided to go to Planned Parenthood. The woman at Planned Parenthood made it sound like the baby wasn't yet a baby and that abortion wouldn't be like I was a murderer. At the time the only place to get an abortion was New York. My boyfriend borrowed money from his friends so I could fly to New York.
Here I was, a 17 year old girl, who had never been on a plane or been anywhere alone. To say I was afraid would be an understatement, I was terrified. I remember arriving at the airport and there were several other girls there getting picked up by the driver of the clinic. I remember one girl was with her boyfriend and all I could think was, if he really loved me he would be here. We all got in the car, all of us strangers, going to a place that would alter our lives forever.
I remember arriving at a house and going into the basement. There was a room with cots and we were told to change into the hospital gowns laid out on each cot. I remember hearing a machine in the other room which sounded like a vacuum. I was so scared I was numb. The nurse, who turned out to be the doctor’s wife, came in to give us each a pill. She said it would relax us. I couldn't take that pill soon enough. I was totally overwhelmed.
The next thing I remember was being in a room that looked like a surgical suite. I don't know what they gave me to put me under, but I remember the dream vividly. I dreamt I was in a space ship and there were aliens around trying to hurt me. The next thing I remember is waking up and being taken in to see the doctor. He examined me and said all went well and wished me luck.
I arrived home only to get lost in the airport. I couldn't find my boyfriend and was frantic. I must have walked the airport for an hour. As I was walking around I heard my name over the loudspeaker. He had the wherewithal to go to the help desk. I wish I could say that he embraced me and we held each other and wept, but that would be a lie. His first response was anger that I wasn't where I was supposed to be.
I remember going home and staying in bed for several days, full of sadness and loathing. On one of our first outings after the abortion we went to Chicago to the Museum of Natural History. It wasn't until then that I saw for the first time what a four month fetus looked like. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The guilt was more than I could handle. I remember praying to God to forgive me as I knew then and there the enormity of what I had done.
I believe that the decision to have an abortion was the catalyst for my alcohol and drug addiction. I used to say my goal was "oblivion" and I found it in the bottle and drugs.
For me, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to marry the father of that baby. In my mind marrying him and having a baby would make up for what I had done. Needless to say, the marriage didn't last. We did have a baby, but that alone could not make up for what I had done.
It is now 41 years later and I am still haunted by that baby. No amount of volunteer work, helping to raise my grandson and prayer has been able to remove the underlying sadness.