After Aborting Twins, 'I Fight Depression and Anger to This Day'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader shares her turbulent story:

It’s been 17 years and I’ve have still never told my mother. I hate the choice I had to make. I hate myself some days.

I was always one who felt abortion was only justified in rape, incest, or health risk. I came to feel that way in high school as a family member and another woman I attended school with used abortion as birth control. Each of them had at least four before graduation, as other females were struggling to attend school while having an infant at home.

The first time I became pregnant I was lucky and out of high school. Even though I knew it would be a struggle, since I wasn’t financially stable, I intended to have the child. The pregnancy was extremely difficult, from being toxemic, diabetic, and having eclampsia. I gained well over a 100 pounds.

Six weeks before my due date, one of my ultrasounds showed I had lost almost 45 percent of my amniotic fluid. Combined with all the other health issues, the doctor deemed it necessary to induce. Twenty-four plus hours of labor followed. When my child was in the birth canal, all contractions stopped and both our heartbeats were lost. The baby was ripped from me.

We both survived, and even though she was tiny, she was a fighter and I was in love.

A year later, I once again found myself pregnant.

Even though the baby’s father wanted me to abort, I could not. I took our daughter and moved back home with my parents. From day one I was treated as a high-risk pregnancy. During this pregnancy I was only diabetic and in the last trimester became pre-eclampsic. We went into the delivery room with no fear; I was healthier this time, so it should be a lot easier.

Labor was less then 12 hours but I was pushing for over two hours. As my son was born, my blood pressure spiked and I began to hemorrhage. They once again lost my heartbeat for a couple minutes.

My mom begged me to never have another child.

A year-and-a-half later, I once again found I was pregnant. Birth control just was not effective for me. I was six weeks along and my blood pressure was already through the roof. My doctor sat me down and said she couldn’t guarantee any survival if I continued the pregnancy. I had to decide if I wanted to risk leaving my two children motherless and even a third child. If I did choose to have the child, I would need to go to a different hospital for care, since I was too high risk.

At that moment I told her no way, no how; abortion was not for me.

Well I went home that night scared but determined—until my almost 3-year-old-daughter and 1-and-1/2-year-old son climbed into my lap for bedtime stories and my daughter said she loved me and I needed to stay. Where that came from I don’t know, as I had told no one at that time about my doctor visit. I silently cried and hugged my babies and told them momma was going nowhere.

The next morning I called the Obgyn and told her I had changed my mind. My appointment was scheduled, and even though I knew it was the best choice, my heart broke.

On the day of the appointment I went alone and barely spoke to anyone there; I was embarrassed and ashamed. The pills were given and the procedure done and over in what seemed to be merely minutes.

That night, I hurt not just physically but emotionally. The physical pain and bleeding began to scare me and I called the doctor to see if it was normal. That’s when the doctor broke it to me that I was pregnant with twins and that the bleeding would be heavier. My heart broke even more.

I know in my heart I made the best choice for the two babies I was already holding in my arms, but I fight depression and anger and other emotions to this day. Today of all days is the hardest, since 17 years ago to the day would have been my due date. I cry and I see the faces of what my babies might have looked like when I see my surviving children.

Yes abortion is legal, and yes it is a choice every woman should have the right to make. But it can come with a price. And those who have no regrets for the choice they made, they don’t have the true capacity of love, in my opinion. Maybe what they did saved a child from being raised in a home without knowing the unconditional love of a mother.

Today is a day I hate myself. Please do not use my name.