Monday, January 21, 2013
When I was 19, I got pregnant.
My two best friends, who I called immediately after the positive home pregnancy test, supported whatever decision I made. I sobbed on the floor of my bathroom for half an hour, got dressed, and went to work a double shift at my crappy job.
The third person I told was a manager at work. I couldn’t keep it in and I needed a “real adult” to talk to. I didn’t expect anyone to bring up abortion unprompted, especially given that they didn’t know the complexity of the situation. As I stood in the office terrified, silent tears streaming down my face, munching on banana nut mini-muffins, and focusing on breathing in the silence after “I’m pregnant.” The first words out of my manager’s mouth were low and gentle. “You don’t have to be, but that's your decision. You know what's best for you, and if you're confused, there are people you can talk to about it. You can do this - either way.”
I will never forget what it felt like in that moment – feeling freedom, understanding, true compassion from someone who only understood that I was very upset, had a very erratic life, and wasn’t remotely prepared for something like this.
The lighthearted but sincere and intimate conversation helped me feel better (including a personal story about abortion), but I didn’t say anything about the circumstances. I was terrified more than I’d ever been in my life, and I was ashamed. The fifteen minutes I spent in that office were the only comfortable and honest moments I experienced in the following weeks.
The following weeks, not a single person said those words to me or brought up that conversation again. People treated my unplanned pregnancy as something exciting and happy, but I didn't think of it that way. Over and over again people, with good intentions, cruelly told me how great it was, how happy they were for me, and no one understood how frustrated, confused, and guilty I felt.
I didn't have an abortion, and if I could go back and change things, I don't know what I'd do. I just know that from now on, if anyone in my life ever tells me that they're pregnant, I will listen and not push my opinion, even accidentally or indirectly. Listen to the women in your lives. Don't judge them. Don't tell them what's best for them or what they need to do. Direct them to an appropriate, judgment-free third party with unbiased counseling experience.