Saturday, November 05, 2005

What is, and what could have been

I would be lying if I said that I now go about my life without ever thinking about the difficult, difficult decision that we made over nine months ago. In fact, it comes to my mind often. How often is often? Well, how often is too often to consider and appreciate the impact of such an event? Life went on, and kept on going, after my last entry. And though I don't think about what happened every day, I am reminded of it at least weekly. And it is still with deep gratitude that I think back on what happened -- gratitude for the fact that my fiance and I were able to make the decision that was right for everyone.

Theological and philosophical beliefs aside, the results of my abortion are positive, on the whole. We experienced a profound sadness at terminating our pregnancy, and still continue to grieve, and always will in a part of our hearts. However, my fiance -- the love of my life, perhaps of many of my lives -- and I now are uncompromising on our contraception method. I no longer have the adolescent, invincible self-image that I once had, and I no longer think of myself as invulnerable to the tragedies and ills that plague the world and all its billions of people. I no longer take an uneventful existence for granted. And more than ever before, I value life: the life that we have now, the lives of others in our lives, the lives of every human being in the world. I think more now of the lives of people in developing and least developed countries, and wish I had billions of dollars at my disposal, so that I could help them all. I should, by rights, have become a vegetarian by now, but love of food has always been my weakness, so I buy organic, free-range, and say Buddhist mantras for each bite.

I look back and think upon how different these past nine months would have been, had we not had the choice to terminate a pregnancy for which we were utterly unprepared. The relationship between my fiance and I would have been tested to the limit, and probably would not have survived the stressors of school, family, future, costs, and a lifetime of dedication to another human being, for which we were not emotionally prepared. (Even a relationship with the love of your life needs to be nurtured under minimum satisfactory conditions. Nothing is guaranteed.) The marriage proposal in May probably would not have occurred. Had we not been able to make our own choice, we would both still be wracked by shame, desperation, and resentment. How long might it have taken for us to truly accept these feelings and overcome them? How much damage would we have done to the little one as he/she grew older and absorbed my/our resentment, subconscious or overt? And how much more damage would my little one have passed on, as a result of my unpreparedness to take care of and love him/her as well and as much as he/she deserved? I am not being a pessimist in saying these things, only a realist. Perhaps we in the western world have been spoiled by a society too full of choices, but I never imagined that we would have had to make this choice, and every day I am thankful of the fact that we had the right to make this decision for ourselves.

My fiance and I are building a home together, step by step. With his stable income and my sporadic one, we aren't living hand-to-mouth, thankfully. But had I been forced to carry the pregnancy to term... Well, he probably wouldn't be my fiance right now, first of all. And life would have been extremely complicated from that point forward. I do think of motherhood, and of the love that would have existed, but the time was not right, and we felt that we owed it to our children to bring them into this world when we were ready to love them and give them our best. My fiance and I still have dreams and goals that we want to pursue, one of which is to bring up our children in a stable family. And a stable family we would not have been, so soon after we met, before we even started working, right after grad school, and so unprepared for the idea of parenthood...

Some may think that I'm just trying to rationalize our decision, still. Actually, just as I have from the beginning, my goal is merely to offer my experience to those who may have been in the same place we were when we found out about our unplanned pregnancy. I felt lost then, not having anyone's experience to learn from, not having any friends with whom I could really talk about these things, about my decision, about my sadness, and about the consequences.

So, life goes on, and we have been irrevocably changed. I hope that those reading my blog have been able to learn from it, and that it helps in your own decision making process. As for me, I will probably leave this blog until we do welcome a child into the world, into our family. It may be another few years, but it will happen, and when it does, I will come back and ask everyone to celebrate our parenthood with us.

P.S. -- My best friend had a successful pregnancy and a smooth delivery. The baby is a healthy, bouncing, happy boy who is the spitting image of his father. I am very happy for them all, and I look forward to the day he first calls me "Auntie."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Reflections

It has been almost two months since I elected to have the abortion, and not a day goes by when I don't think about how thankful I am to have been able to make that choice for myself.

I visited my friends and their new month-old baby (not the same friend who did IVF), and it was a joy to see them all: mom, dad, and baby daughter, all so happy to be with each other. It didn't hurt, nor did it make me regret my decision to terminate my pregnancy. I had known from the beginning that I wanted to be a mother, but not under current circumstances. I want stability and security for my children, and by that, I don't mean that I want to have kids only when I've earned enough money to buy a house in California (which is a monstrous amount of money by most standards). I mean that I want both my partner and myself to have a stable living when we make the decision to start a family. One can argue that nothing is predictable, and that the future is uncertain, but I want to make sure that the odds are in our favor at the moment in time when we decide to have children. That's the least I can do for everyone involved.

I am so grateful to Planned Parenthood for providing the services that they do, not only with pregnancy counseling, but with health care, yearly check-ups, exams, and blood testing. I can't even imagine what I would have done, had they not existed. I will definitely be a life-long donor as soon as I graduate and find a job.

After all that's said and done, I am even more pro-Choice now, and it is regretful that most people on "the other side" have selective comprehension regarding that term. Pro-Choice is not "pro-death." Pro-Choice, to me, means just that: I am for giving everyone the choice to make for themselves one of the most personal and fundamental, life-changing decisions of all, without any pressure on one side or another.

I'm never going to say to someone who got pregnant accidentally, "You should have an abortion!" That's not what Pro-Choice means. I would say, "You should think about where you are in life right now, and whether you are ready to provide for this child everything that it needs for a good chance in life. If your answer is yes, then go for it! I'm behind you every step of the way and I will rejoice with you when you welcome your child into the world. If your answer is no, then I will be behind you as well, and I will be there for you so that you know you're not alone in this difficult decision."

No one has the right to presume to make this decision for anyone else. No one. This decision is the inherent right of all women to make for themselves. Yes, mistakes may be made. It may be as much a mistake for one woman to opt for an abortion as it may be for another to opt for having the child. But there is no qualified judge of that except time and the women themselves, and the mere fact that mistakes may be made is no excuse to take this right away from anyone.

Do I wish that circumstances were different enough that I could have kept the baby? Yes, of course. Do I think that I made a mistake in terminating the pregnancy under the circumstances which I face? No. And that's unequivocal.

My partner and I regret that we had to make the decision that we made, but we will never regret that decision. It's a subtle difference, but it's as important and undeniable as life itself.

Monday, February 14, 2005

When All Is Said And Done

Five days after the termination, I am feeling pretty stable. There have been moments of sadness, but I am not overwhelmed, mainly because I can now move on with everything I've been putting aside since the discovery, but now, I have a renewed purpose.

Good news from my best friend: she was able to see her baby on the ultrasound, 7 weeks, 4 mm, and saw the heartbeat. Out of four embryos implanted, one took. There's still some danger of miscarriage, but I have a good feeling about this. She doesn't want to tell everyone until the end of the first trimester. My thoughts and best wishes are with her, and I have a good feeling about her pregnancy.

My own pregnancy lasted four weeks, exactly -- if not a few days less. It has changed my life, the way I see things, and the way I see my future. Before, I took everything around me for granted, my present and my future. I would, as a matter of course, find a job and eventually marry. And have a family at some point. All very well and good before you really have an idea of the true impact of these things, what these things mean.

Now, I see everything in a whole new light. I am not doing anything because it's what's expected of me anymore, or simply because I had some vague idea of having to do those things because everyone did them. I choose to fulfill my career aspirations and pay off my student loans before I get married to the love of my life. I choose to spend more time with him, alone, giving us time to cement our bond and work out our issues.

I feel as if I have been given a second chance to do things right, and I will be forever grateful for this chance.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Days 1 and 2

I am now in the middle of Day 2.

Yesterday was Day 1. The nurse came in and talked about contraceptive options with me, and I decided there that no principle of being natural and not using hormones on a long-term basis was worth the risk of getting pregnant again. I felt like a weak, undisciplined person in admitting that the only thing I can see myself reliably using 100% of the time as directed was the Nuva Ring. But life has a way of getting so hectic that you forget about or overlook the most basic necessities: 8 glasses of water a day; god knows how many servings of fruits, fibers, and proteins; and one little pill. Why is that? Such a simple, little thing. So easy to forget, and yet so crucial.

Short of getting my tubes tied right then and there (and even *that* isn't 100%!), the Nuva Ring was best. I accept my failings as a spoiled-ass woman of modern Western society. I can face a flawed self-identity, but I will not allow myself and my life's companion, the love of my life, to face another accidental pregnancy.

Anyhow, Day 1 arrived. We went to the clinic. More paperwork. I'd read through all of it the night before, but somehow there was always more. After the nurse left, having done her duty (for which I am grateful) and made me face the need for a method of contraception that I won't have any excuses for not using, the clinician came.

All day long, and even the night before, I was calm and ready. It was time. And so, with somber acknowledgement of my choice, I took the pill, and there was no turning back.

The rest of the evening was uneventful, and I didn't feel many side effects other than having a bit of indigestion, but that always happens when I'm nervous. And I slept fitfully. I would be lying if I said I didn't wake during the night and wonder what was happening inside me. I thought of the cycle of life and death in which we are all entangled, and I thought of the lessons that I will take with me to my next life. I looked at my love, lying next to me, and I was comforted by his presence.

Today is Day 2. There won't be much to write about, really. Everything that happens from now on is to be expected. There will be pain, both physical and psychological, since I will carry the responsibility for this for the rest of my life. But I feel blessed by our shooting star, our guardian angel, which came to humble me and shake me out of a misinformed existence, one in which I believed myself invincible, in a way. "That would never happen to me -- I'd make sure of it," I used to think. No more. I am sorry that it took something this drastic, and that it took such a grave sacrifice for me to learn this lesson. But learn it I have, and our future family will never take our guardian angel for granted.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Moving Forward

We weathered a busy weekend, full of classes and coursework, and could almost forget that we were still pregnant. At this point, it makes more sense to use the pronoun "we" than "I," because it affects my life companion (too sappy?) every bit as much as it affects me.

The appointed hour came, and we went back to the clinic. This time, the doctor (a different one, though no less warm and friendly) looked over my history briefly, and then proceeded with the ultrasound.

I forgot to ask how many weeks along I am, but I suppose I couldn't be more than 5 weeks. All that was visible in the picture of my uterus (I peeked after it was done) was a dark, ovoid shadow. She said that it was the beginning of a yolk sac. That was all they needed to see to move forward.

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with how large the embryo is right now. I suppose it's because I've seen too many drawings of huge embryos at different stages, and I wonder whether I wouldn't be so dismayed if I knew just how big they were at this stage.

Knowing the date when we first had unprotected sex, I know that the embryo can't be more than five weeks. In fact, it can't be any more than 4 weeks at this point. Any older, and it would have to have been an immaculate conception.

In searching for descriptions of the stages of embryonic development, it's difficult to wade through pro-life websites. It angers me, really, the tactics with the thousand-times-enlarged diagrams of embryos and the base, emotional appeals which place the value of an unknown (for no one really knows for certain whether these beings have souls until they are born) over that of an entire network of existing lives and souls which would be changed forever, regardless of the decision.

Anyhow, I manage to find here that whatever was visible on the ultrasound, it was probably 10 millimeters. 1 centimeter. Entire species have gone extinct without any hue or cry, and there is so much furor over such a small being.

The more emails come in testifying to their authors' unspeakable regret about their choice, the more people write about how I have no right to be making this decision, the more determined I am to prove that this was not a decision made lightly or rashly, to prove that I will not be consumed by grief and regret for the rest of my life, to prove that this is a sacrifice that will not be taken for granted.

As far as I'm concerned, the people who have been through what I am going through and have gone on with their lives confident that they have made the right decision for themselves aren't going to spread their grief around the internet and the world in general because there is no grief to spread. I expect that there is relief and gratitude for a second chance at parenthood the way they intended it to be: planned and welcomed. They don't go around telling people to have abortions the way pro-lifers go around telling people to continue their pregnancies. Why? Because they know that it was a difficult decision to make, and that no one can make it for anyone. And they respect the dignity, intelligence, and right of other women to be able to make the right decision for themselves. If anything else, I would expect that the ones who truly did make the right decisions for themselves in choosing abortion, and who are well-adjusted after the fact, would be even more staunchly pro-choice afterwards.

I'm taking off the email link because there is no point to it. People offer me prayers for my soul which I don't need, when they could be praying for themselves and for an end to starvation, war, pain, and suffering. I will no longer continue to justify myself or the right to choice here. But I do have to admit that those who wrote me email have unwittingly done me a valuable service: they have given me and mine an even stronger determination to live with our decision, and to live well.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Knowledge At Last

I had a restless night, dreaming of being stuck in traffic and getting sideswiped by a hit-&-run driver.

Morning came, and it was a gorgeous day. I showered, dressed, and left for the appointment. Unfortunately, the conditions were ripe for a mass release of pollen into the air today, and I sneezed and sniffled the entire way there.

At the clinic, there was more paperwork, but the receptionist was nice, and the nurse from yesterday seemed a bit less under stress. We watched the morning shows on TV as we waited. It seems that they cook a lot in the morning.

There was a sullen-looking couple there, along with a number of women by themselves or with friends, and one or two men. A family with three rambunctious children filed in as we waited, the father seeming young enough to be one of my students, if I had become a teacher right out of college.

Names were called, people filed in and out.

Finally, it was my turn. I walked in and got weighed. Only 1 pound heavier than I expected. Emptied my bladder in the bathroom as instructed, and went into the exam room where a brief history was taken. Boyfriend was instructed to wait outside, which made me apprehensive because I had expected him to be allowed in there with me the entire time. I suppose it's a good policy, though, since they need to get an accurate medical history without the man in the patient's life listening in.

The nurse left, I got undressed, and in came the doctor, a ray of sunshine in a rather dreary time. She was warm, friendly, and personable. At last, he was allowed inside. Would I like to see the screen? She asked. I said no. Turns out, it wouldn't have made a difference. I was too early in my pregnancy to see anything.

I hadn't expected this. I thought that once you were pregnant, even three or four weeks into it, there would have been something visible. Maybe I should have told the doctor that I have a long cycle.

We would have to return in a week's time. Somehow, it is comforting to know that things wouldn't be happening as quickly as we had both envisioned, from reading all the literature available. And I hadn't expected that we would need to see the embryo on the ultrasound before anything could take place. It makes sense, though, to ascertain the location of the pregnancy before terminating it, in case it's not even in the uterus -- in which case, you have to reconsider your option of methods for termination.

Somehow, I feel calmer now. The news has sunk in, and we have accepted that this is what we need to do.

I couldn't imagine having done this without my life companion by my side. And right now, I feel that I must be among the luckiest people in the world, to be going through all of this with the support and understanding of someone so close to me in every way.

We are still saddened by the circumstances, but we believe in responsible, planned parenting. It's not just about buying diapers and baby food, it's about beginning a lifelong commitment to the raising, nurturing, and education of a human being who will be vulnerable and wholly dependent upon us emotionally and pragmatically for years and years. We want to do it right, and now is not the time.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Barrage

I had no idea that my blog had been linked from a pro-life site. I was hoping it would remain non-partisan, merely a record of my own experiences for others who may be in my position in the future to look at.

I did get a lot of email, mostly from those who were trying to persuade me not to go through with the abortion. Only one email was supportive in a calm and rational manner, not overwrought with heartrending descriptions of their own regret or pleading with me to keep the baby.

I got angry. I'm still angry. There are strangers out there who are trying to project their feelings of guilt and shame upon me -- people who don't even know my past or present circumstances other than what I've revealed. What do they know? That I'm pregnant, that it was unplanned, that my partner and I have decided it to be for the best that we postpone parenthood for another while yet.

Yes, I could feel the emotions behind some of the emails that were written, but at the heart of most of them were this idea: "I was naive like you, and now (years later), I am torn to bits about my decision, and you will be, too." That's a bit condescending, in my opinion: to believe that what applies to you will apply to others without exception. As far as I'm concerned, if you are consumed with guilt, you must do what it takes to move beyond that. It does not behoove you to try to keep other people from making their own, informed decisions. And if those people end up suffering in the same way, then they need to do what it takes to move beyond that, too. There is too strong of a religion of guilt in this country. And I don't mean "religion" in the sense of gods and worship.

Part of personal responsibility is to be able to move beyond the guilt, because feeling guilty is also a form of self-pity. That may be an armchair psychologist point of view, but I stand by it. If I end up regretting this decision, which I probably won't, then I will deal with it and do what I need to do, personally, to move beyond it. But I won't actively seek out other women and say, look at me -- I was once like you. If you don't want to be like me one day, then you should stop what you're doing!

Why would anyone want to do that to themselves? Why would anyone want to view themselves as so powerless over their own fates?

Make peace with your own demons, but do not hoist them unto others. They are yours and yours alone to suffer and -- most importantly -- to conquer.

More Waiting

I need to find a new term to call my boyfriend. It sounds too informal, too nonchalant to actually reflect how important he is to me right now. My soul mate? Too corny. I stopped believing in soul mates once I outgrew my teenaged fantasies of being rescued from my droll life by a figurative knight in shining armor. Back then, I thought that if I only had someone who loved me the way you saw only in books and movies and poems, I -- we -- would be able to weather anything. At some point, after too many disappointments and failed relationships, I let go of that idea. As I cast about for descriptions more appropriate for our bond, though, the term "soul mate" seems the most fitting.

Last night, we held each other, and talked and laughed and smiled and cried. Reality sank in for me, and I felt a bit more comfortable with our decision. And I realized that I have to keep this blog un-updated for a while, until it's all over, so that my thoughts and emotions during this time can be his and mine alone. I will still write here, but I will not publish them until it is all said and done.

But today, we went to the clinic, and stood in line with a few other people, mostly women -- some with children, some obviously young and alone, or with a friend. When my turn came, I was informed none too kindly that the nurse on duty for today's walk-in was not trained to do ultrasounds. I almost panicked. I had been told yesterday the next appointment wasn't until the 10th. What was I to do until then?

The receptionist said that there was nothing she could do today, but that she could give me an appointment tomorrow. How does that work? Yesterday, there weren't any appointments until the 10th, and today, there's an appointment for tomorrow?

We made the appointment and left the clinic. We held each other for a long while before we headed back. I had expected to be treated with more sensitivity, but I suppose the clinic workers see this everyday and get a little numb to it all.

The rest of the day beckons. There are classes to attend, and work to be done. Keep moving.

Monday, January 31, 2005

End of Day Three

Another day gone since I had the positive. I'm tempted to try another test before I go to the clinic tomorrow, just in case. But the signs are pretty obvious: my breasts are still swollen and tender, and my appetite has already increased. I ate three huge meals today -- I usually only eat two.

After a rough start, I got into the groove of things. Working, homework, papers, research, etc. I suppose acceptance is a gradual process that is helped by trying to move on and move through the sadness.

Tomorrow will probably be a tough day. I'm so glad that I have the love and support of my boyfriend through this. He's probably getting tired of hearing me say that by now, but it's true.

The Official Stance

Planned Parenthood's Report on post-abortion psychological effects. Very helpful.

One passage that rang true with me was that in cases where guilt and sadness were felt, and I'm sure it was felt in many cases, it was usually guilt over the unwanted pregnancy rather than the abortion itself. I don't know if this is just another example of hair-splitting, but it's true. The sadness and tremendous guilt I feel now is that this is a sudden, unplanned, and unwanted pregnancy.

Parallel Universe

My best friend, the one who was waiting for her IVF results, got back to me. Her results were very positive, with high HCG levels. She has an ultrasound scheduled for two weeks from now.

I joked with her that I wished I could have one too, so that they could be playmates. Somehow, it made me feel better to mention it, even though I know it can't be.

I'm genuinely happy for her, and I think that this is the way a pregnancy and birth should be: full of celebration and joy, not "Oh my god, what are we going to do? We're not ready!"

Next time. It will be so next time.

Surreality

I went to class and couldn't concentrate. Suddenly, nothing seems to matter anymore. It didn't help that the topics we were covering that day were the mind-health connection, and a brief history of genetic studies.

I wonder whether I can confide in one of my professors that I'm going through some rough spots. The thing is, I'd rather not tell, even hint -- and these past two years have been so tumultuous that they might think I'm just feeling sorry for myself and whining.

I think it's the waiting that's the worst. Waiting for the walk-in hours tomorrow, waiting for the appointment, waiting for probably another appointment for the actual procedure itself.

In the meantime, everything else in my life has been suspended, at least from my point of view. Classmates and professors go about their business, discussing our assignments and group work. Traffic goes by. The clouds crawl across the sky.

Sometimes I entertain the possibility of keeping it. The entire process should be joyful, not so full of sadness and heaviness like it has been. Would that change, had my decision been different? I don't know. Perhaps I still have time to decide otherwise. But I suspect that if I decided to continue the pregnancy, I would be even more distracted and scared. In termination, the end result is certain. In continuation, there is no end result. It just keeps going, the changes, the surprises, the fear and uncertainty.

I suppose I just answered my question.

The First Call

I was awake by 7:30 a.m., and I'm usually someone who stays in bed and rejects the fact that I should wake up until the last possible minute, and beyond.

I could remember dreaming of being in a fancy restaurant and hotel with my boyfriend, and asking to reserve a September 8th wedding date there. Why September 8th? I don't know. That's what my boyfriend asked for. But the deposit was too high, and it was non-refundable, so I whispered in his ear that I didn't want to get married in a stuck-up snob hotel anyway, and we left.

I lay awake listening to the sounds of the house, the sounds outside. Finally, at 8:15, I made the call to Planned Parenthood.

The receptionist was friendly, and perhaps she could hear the trembling sadness in my voice as I asked for abortion counseling. (Funny, I can't bear to type the word abortion. Abortion. I can say it before I can type it. Abortion. I must face that fact and use that word, with all of its emotionally charged connotations and meanings.)

It turns out I first need to have an ultrasound. There were no appointments until the 10th of February. But I can walk-in and get my name on the list for a walk-in appointment tomorrow.

My cell phone dropped the call in the middle of it, while I was on hold as the receptionist double-checked some information. There's no significance to this bit of information, but I just recall everything in such stark detail.

I called my boyfriend afterwards. I can't believe I seriously considered doing all of this on my own. He's been my shield and rock for the last couple of days since we found out.

There's nothing to do today except go about my day, go to classes, work, and study group. It may be callous, but I have to keep moving, keep going about my day.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Friend In Need

Tonight, I called a friend whom I've known for most of my life. We've seen each other weather breakups, depression, unemployment, and other messy life situations, and cheered for each other's successes and joys. I hadn't talked to her in a few months, so it was nice to catch up with her.

I hadn't planned on telling her, actually, but of all of the women in my life right now who comprise my close friends and family, I knew that she would be the most understanding and supportive. I don't want to tell my sisters because I fear that they would pity me. "Poor, poor you, having to go through such an ordeal. We never thought that this would happen to you. How could this happen?"

Again, irrational fears, keeping this most personal of decisions from those who should by rights be among the closest to me. But I'm not ready to share this with anyone in my family -- it's too weighty a secret to ask one sister to bear alone. I have my friend, and my boyfriend, my life partner, the love of my life. And that's enough for me, for now.

My sincerest gratitude to my friend for her understanding, caring, and vast wisdom.

And of course, my gratitude to my boyfriend is inexpressible. He alone knows how much his strength and presence by my side means to me in these times. I thank you, my love.

The Irony

Meanwhile, my best friend and her husband have been trying to have a baby for about two years now. They've just gone through round 1 of IVF, and are waiting for the implantation results as we speak.

And for me and my boyfriend, it was as simple as not using condoms for five days.

They are hoping for positive results, while I am heading to the clinic to terminate one.

Oh my god, this is life? This is it? That's life...?

I am to be the godmother of my best friend's child. If their IVF is successful, the due date would be around the same time as mine would have been.

I will cherish her child even more, and hope that I can make it up to my guardian angel in this way, if even in an insignificant way.

His Response, My Response

If it's possible, I love him more now than I did before I got us into this.

He has been as supportive as anyone can ask for in this situation. We spent hours together, talking about our future together, our hopes for each other, our hopes for our family... And his support for me now.

It was difficult, at first, to get him to go beyond the expected "I will be there for you no matter what." I know that it's true, but I didn't want him to harbor any resentment toward me for being the one with the power to make the final decision. I asked him late that night what he wanted me to do. "I want you to do what's best for you, and what's best for us."

"Do you want me to have this baby?" I asked. There was no tiptoe-ing around it. I felt that it was necessary to ask this question. I would respect his decision, and perhaps change my decision for him, if he felt strongly enough.

He thought for a moment. "I would like this baby, actually. Very much so. But at the same time, I know that we don't have what it takes to be good parents right now. We both have a lot of debt, we're still in school, and we don't have any jobs lined up yet. I don't want this baby being born into a family that's not able to take care of it the way it deserves to be taken care of."

I cannot bear the thought of my child being born into this world without any sort of security from the parents. And to give the child away?

It is selfish. This decision is wholly, entirely, relentlessly, unforgivably selfish. We know that.

I have seen sites on the net masquerading as pro-choice sites, showing arms and legs of fetuses in pregnancies terminated at 9 or 10 weeks. But I have also seen Body Worlds, where the fetus was really not discernible as having human form until well into the second trimester. Why does that matter? Somehow, it does.

I believe that souls and spirits do not enter the body until the baby is about to be born. Nonetheless, I believe that there is a potential life inside of me. It is not a mere collection of cells. There is no satisfactory justification that can be made for the termination of this potential. I can only say that, weighing the welfare of us, and us and an unplanned baby which I have no means to care for, I must also take into account the future children which we want to have, and the welfare of the family as a whole.

We have been sent a guardian angel in the form of a shooting star. We will never forget the one which we could not have, but we will treasure the ones which we will have all the more because of it.

Tomorrow, I will make a call to the clinic. My boyfriend has offered to accompany me to the counseling session, but I don't know if I want to subject him to the atmosphere of desperation that permeates these places.

We are both a decade older now, within the space of a day, and more sober in our perspective on life. When you have to face a decision like this, I suppose you either numb yourself to its implications and consequences, or you accept them and allow them to affect you and age you.

What Now? Do I Tell Him?

To tell, or not to tell?

It's difficult to sneak around behind a man's back with a urine test in your hand, trying to look as if your entire world hadn't been turned upside down. I was at my boyfriend's when I took the tests and got the positive.

I had concocted a very gallant plan in my mind when I saw the second line on my test, indicating a positive result. It had been my idea to use the ovulation predictor kit. I talked him into not using the condom during those five days. (Five days, five times! That's all it took! Afterwards, we went back to using condoms so as not to tempt fate. Ah, the irony of it all!) As far as I saw it, I was the one who was solely responsible for this accidental pregnancy. And I was going to bear the consequences to the very end, and carry this secret with me to my grave.

We went on a short field trip with a mutual friend, and I thought I was doing quite well, playing the role of a girlfriend with no secret to hide. He asked me once or twice what was wrong, but I just said, in my usual, cheerful voice, "Nothing, why do you ask?" I smiled at him, and he believed me. Oh, I felt so guilty. He trusts me. He believes me. Should I not trust and believe in him, too?

All during the trip, my mind was distracted with plans of how to conceal the consequences from him. There was no question, of course, of whether I would be continuing or terminating the pregnancy. We are both poor, with huge loans from school, and no jobs in sight. His family is thousands of miles away, and mine is a conservative one of Asian heritage which would not support such a reckless undertaking as plunging headlong into parenthood without even the slightest bit of security for our future child. I knew what I was going to do, but the question was now whether I would do it alone, or with him by my side -- or risk losing him altogether, whether from the consequence of having hidden it from him, or from having told him in the first place.

We came back, and were alone again. I asked how much he trusted me. Implicitly. I asked him if he wished me to be completely honest with him, or if he would understand that there would be times when I wouldn't be able to share things with him. He said he would understand, but that he hoped that I would trust him enough to be able to share things with him.

He had an idea of what was going on, I think. I had been looking through the drawer with the pregnancy tests that morning, as he got ready to shower. What is it? He asked. I couldn't answer. Should I lie again, and say "nothing" yet again?

I smiled and looked away, and he said, "Pregnant?"

I shook my head, sadly. "I'm so sorry," I said. I don't remember the next few minutes other than saying "I'm sorry" over and over again, and crying into his shoulder, and feeling his hand stroking my hair, trying to comfort me.

"It's my fault, it's all my fault," I said. "I was the one who insisted, I was the one who did all the research into this and thought it was safe and convinced you."

"It's no one's fault. I agreed to it," he said. "It takes two." Even at a time like this, we could laugh at ourselves. But there was another to think of now. "It was an accident. Not even condoms are 100%..."

"I'm so sorry." I cried and cried.

I am so, so sorry.

What Happened?

I screwed up, that's what happened. It's as simple as that, and I don't deny it.

I wanted to give my boyfriend and myself the intimacy of having sex without having to use a condom. Mind you, we are committed to each other, so don't start yelling about STD's and AIDS. They're very real concerns which do not apply in this case because we were and are both clean and reliable, and committed to keeping each other that way.

Anyway, I researched on the net and decided that an ovulation predictor kit would be the most scientific, safest way to avoid pregnancy without going back to the pill, which I was on for about 10 years and had trouble staying on schedule with. It's an irrational desire not to be on birth control pills, I think, but after 10 years, I was done being a slave to a pill dispenser.

My natural cycle settled back in at around 32-37 days. The ovulation predictor kit would show me, through crystal ferning in my saliva, whether or not I was fertile. It made sense: people seem to have such trouble conceiving these days, and I didn't think that I would be the exception. Scientifically, women are only fertile for six days of the entire cycle, according to the studies cited by the ovulation predictor kits. So the reasoning seemed sound that if we avoided unprotected sex during and around those six days, we would be fine.

I dutifully examined my dried saliva daily under the microscope, as the kit instructed. And sure enough, there it was: crystals, first sparse, then densely packed and beautiful as snowflakes, then disintegrating, and finally, nothing but blobules from my spit. I thought we were safe. I showed the results to my boyfriend, who trusted me, and we made love to each other in the most natural way.

I tracked my saliva daily, and crystals began to creep back in, but only a few. The booklet had said that some women would show crystals a few days before the period, due to hormonal changes, so I wasn't worried. I certainly didn't think that I was pregnant, since the booklet said that the crystals would remain if I became pregnant. For me, the crystals had disappeared completely before we had unprotected sex, indicating that I was in a period of infertility. so when it came back, I wasn't alarmed and was waiting for my period to begin.

Since my cycle ranged from 32-37 days, I went about my days without much concern. My breasts had become swollen and tender, but I thought that it was the regular PMS, as before. But by day 38, I was worried. My breasts were more swollen than they had ever been before, and they hurt more than anytime before, too. I still didn't think I was pregnant, since I had faith in the ovulation predictor kit, which was still showing only minor crystallizations at this point.

So on the night of the 38th day of my cycle, one official day after my period should have begun, I used a home pregnancy test (HPT). The second line was so faint that I doubted that it was there. On the other hand, we had gone out for a few drinks at the pub before I tested, so my urine was pretty diluted. I decided to test the next morning.

The second line was darker this time, and there was no doubt that it was there. Somehow, I had gotten pregnant despite following the directions of the ovulation predictor kit.

Perhaps there are too many variables to the saliva kits, and too much margin for error due to having to visually interpret the presence of crystals. Perhaps if I had used the urine predictor kits, it would have been more accurate. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. One thing was clear, though, I'd screwed up, and got us pregnant.

A Bit of Background

I am a 29 year-old grad student in California, as is my partner. We met and fell in love while in school, and we are months away from graduation, but have no certain job prospects yet. We're both independent-minded, but committed to staying with each other through thick and thin.

Ever since the first day we met, it was obvious that we were meant for each other, and I mean that in the least cliche'd sense. I never believed that it would be possible to fall so deeply in love with someone in so short a time. The thing with being in the same grad school program, though, is that one month of "real-world" time is the equivalent of three months on the inside because we have so many more opportunities to see each other than "normal" people, who may meet at a gathering and then have to work around each other's schedules just to see each other once a week, or more if they're lucky.

We saw each other nearly every day, and spent as much time with each other as possible since the first. There have been none of the usual problems that we've faced in our earlier relationships, the criticizing and nagging, the misunderstandings, the unrealistic expectations. We somehow accepted each other and enjoyed exploring our similarities and differences, and made light of what differences of opinion existed. Our outlook on life, our goals, our desires, and our dreams were all compatible or complementary. It was, simply put, an amazing experience.

By the time we found out, we'd pretty much decided that we were meant to be together. What follows will, I suppose, be the test of that conviction. Everything has happened so quickly, and we're going through the experience as we speak.

My purpose in posting this blog is to provide other women out there with my own experience and share my thoughts with you. There are so many religion-driven pro-life sites out there masquerading as objective, informational sites for women facing one of the most painful and important decisions of their lives that I couldn't even bring myself to trust even the ones which looked legitimately like non-partisan or pro-choice informational sites. So many sites utilize scare tactics and are dishonest about the state of development of the embryo/fetus during the first trimester, and so many are geared toward the young, alone, and frightened.

I am none of the above, except perhaps frightened. I am almost 30 years old; I have formed my own decision on the abortion debate over the years; I have the full support of my partner in my choice; I do not fear the wrath of God, for I believe that we are here to be accountable to ourselves and those whose lives we touch, not some intangible entity which exists in countless permutations in the minds and hearts of hundreds of millions of people.

Personally, I believe that I am a pro-life Pro-Choicer, not because of any religious affiliation (I was raised as a Buddhist and have consciously chosen to continue on that path as I grew older and was exposed to other religions), but because I believe that every life has the right to the most favorable circumstances possible for its existence, including those which already exist (aka pregnant women). I am even more staunchly Pro-Choice now than ever before because I cannot even comprehend what it would be like to have this very private, personal decision taken from me, either in the form of forced termination *or* forced pregnancy to term.

That being said, I'll talk about the events of the past couple of weeks and how this mistake came about. I will be honest, and I will admit my errors freely not only for my own benefit, but for that of my partner, and for anyone who might come across this blog and who may take away a few lessons from my mistakes.