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The Freedom To Choose

Thirty years ago today I got an abortion. I was seventeen years old and just starting my senior year of high school. The father was in his twenties with many mental health diagnoses- including schizophrenia. He was a DJ at the local underage night club. Technically it was statutory rape - though I can't say I didn't enjoy the excitement of being with him. I told no one. I was embarrassed. I didn't want to get him in trouble. I knew better.

My gut knew better than to listen to a guy saying he simply didn't like the feel of condoms and if I just showered afterward we'd probably be fine. We were not fine. I was not fine. At seventeen I was asked to make the hardest choice of my life. And I made it. And I made the right one.

Ten years later as I was finishing up my Masters in Waldorf Education, I started to feel the pull. I wanted to have a baby. I WANTED to have a baby. I sat down with my partner and we talked about it and hand in hand excitedly said "yes!" to giving it a try. We got two for one! Raising these two children at a time when I felt financially stable, well educated about child rearing and, most importantly, more excited about it than anything in my life, made parenthood extraordinary. Talk about juxtaposition! In high school I was too young, totally afraid and hadn't even learned how to take care of myself much less another human. I, mean, I only passed the egg baby section of health class because I cheated. But later on... When I was ready and enthusiastic, well, I thrived at being a parent. It has been my biggest joy, my life's work and the creation(S) I am most proud of. My girls got and continue to get the best of me.

Story Alert! You may have heard this one...

Once there was a caterpillar who spun a cocoon for itself so it could become a butterfly. A little child came and saw the cocoon and remembered the story from school about how this tiny tomb would one day birth a butterfly. Impatient and naive, the child began to pull apart the cocoon in order to see the butterfly inside, but inside the cocoon - all there was, was mush... no caterpillar, no butterfly.

Moral of the story: Wait until it's time...

For me, becoming a parent at seventeen would have been forcing adulthood on someone who was NOT ready. I wasn't ready and the father certainly wouldn't ever have been able to support us in any way. It would have been a nightmare.

Abortions are horrible. Going through getting an abortion was horrible. It was physically painful, emotionally agonizing, isolating and traumatic. It was one of the worst times of my life. And it was still the best decision for that naive seventeen year old who was just barely embarking upon her dreams. It was the best decision for that life we accidentally created. Having a baby with that man at the age of seventeen would have entirely ruined my life and possibly many other lives as well. It would have turned everything in my life to mush. No caterpillar, no butterfly.

So what is called for here is empathy. Compassion. Breath. Acceptance of the good, the bad and the ugly. Even now, 30 years later, I say a quiet thank you and light a candle for that itty bitty soul who helped me in so many ways. Who taught me how important it was to advocate for my sexual protection and bodily needs. Who taught me how important and sacred my body is, how sacred life is and how important are the laws that allow for choice. Who taught me how important is is to trust my gut and speak my truth. Every year at this time I get quiet and reflective inside and still to this day I know I made the right choice. I am so glad I had a choice.

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