I was 20 years old when I found out I was pregnant for the first time.
I was one week late when a friend bought a home pregnancy test for me. I waited for the dark hours of the morning to pee on the stick. Two lines.
I was less than 2 months away from leaving Belize to go to Nursing School in Florida. I could not have a baby. I was living at home with my parents and working a reception job to pass those months at home before I left.
I remember telling my boyfriend. Desperate for him to know the right answer.
Should we keep it? No. He wasn’t ready. What took two, was left to only one. I went numb.
But I was not ready either. I had to leave Belize. The place that is now my sweet escape at that time was 4 walls closing in on me. I wouldn’t be able to leave if I had a baby.
As I laid in bed that night, my hands circled my tummy, I was pregnant.
I was also alone, confused, scared and mortified. This wasn’t what I thought being pregnant would feel like.
I went in for an ultrasound. I was 8 weeks.
What the EFF was I going to do?
My mom had passed 4 years prior and telling my dad and stepmom was not an option. I knew if I would have told them, the choice would have been taken and then made for me. Whatever that choice would have been, I would have fostered resentment towards them. I would have blamed them. This was my choice. The only person to blame would be me.
I decided I was going to have an abortion. Not only are abortions illegal in Belize but I was also raised very catholic, which meant I was going to hell.
We don’t talk about abortion in Belize, not at that time of my life. Unless, to condemn anyone who had had one. Nor do I remember resources being available to me. In that panic, I don’t remember seeking them out either.
However, we all knew a friend, a co-worker, somebody who knew somebody that ‘dash whe ah pikni’. That’s how I was able to get a hold of an abortion pill.
I remember having my closest girlfriend and confidant stay with me the night I took the pill. Unbeknown to my parents I was just having a sleep over.
I took the pill with an unknown name and touched my belly one last time. I went to bed in hopes that when I woke this nightmare would be over.
Hours later I did wake up but in agony, burning with a fever and bleeding.
The pain was one that invaded your insides and violated the most sacred part of you. It is a pain that is etched in my memory.
I cried in that fetal position and reminded myself-this was my choice. No crying.
I did not choose to have it in unsafe circumstances but nonetheless, this pain burning through me was my penance.
Several hours went by and my fear of the abortion trickled over into complete panic of my parent’s finding out because if I didn’t stop bleeding, I would have to go to the hospital.
Then it stopped.
I was empty. The secrecy, the loss, the shame if anyone knew, the knowing that I wouldn’t find the courage for years to talk about it stared at me in judgment.
I remember trying to call my boyfriend, he was not available. A volleyball tournament took priority. In the years to come, I would continue being the second option and I stopped playing volleyball.
The next day, it so happened that the ultrasound technician was available. Living in a third world country meant that sometimes these resources were not available.
Ready to finally be done of this situation I got an ultrasound under the complaint to my doctor that, ‘I just started bleeding out of nowhere.’
The ultrasound showed an incomplete abortion and I needed to have a D&C (Dilation & Curettage) immediately.
And on a regular morning I dropped my brother at school, said I was off to work and got on a plane to the city to have surgery. For. The. First. time.
All I remember is waking up in the operating room grabbing the nurse’s hand and screaming for my baby. She held me and said don’t worry you’ll be able to try again. Someone else mumbled to her that it was an abortion. She looked back at her knowingly, let go of my hand and I fell back asleep, alone.
I went back home, went back to my reception job.
I did not allow myself to grieve pass the fact that I named the baby and knew for sure it was a boy. Silly, I know.
He would have been 11 this year.
I often wonder if he would have looked like me. Don’t they say boys look more like their moms? What would his personality be like?
Did he forgive me?
What I’d give to find that girl stripped of the last of her innocence on the floor that night…
To hold her and say that she’ll be okay, that she finds love but not in the way she thought- she’ll find love of self and she’ll have a beautiful daughter, that because of her she’ll dive into the world of great healing.
To tell her I understand her choice, she did the best she could and as the Ho’oponopono goes,
October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. It’s a time dedicated to not only grieving, but to talk about and empower those who have lost an infant from stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS or any other cause during pregnancy or infancy, for me this year, it includes abortion.
October 15th is the International Wave of light, where you join the world at 7pm for one hour by lighting a candle to honor the babies gone too soon.
I have never participated. I believed I never had the right to grieve the loss of my baby. The pregnancy that I choose to terminate.
I did what I thought was best for me at that time. Today, I still believe that I made the right choice.
My choice, however, was laced in consequences and the loss of my first pregnancy.
I am finally at this safe space in my life that I am allowed to feel the full magnitude of this loss.
That I have a voice and it says, I had an abortion. That this does not define me. I am allowed to grieve. I am allowed to have this conversation.
That we all need to have this conversation- with our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Agree to disagree but TALK.
The campaign’s slogan for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month is, Now I lay Me Down to Sleep #NILMDTS , and to be frank the campaign though its verbiage is inclusive, still makes me feel like I don’t deserve a seat at its table.
But I take a seat anyway.
I am taking this campaign, to lay the deep loss I felt on that day down to sleep. I am doing this in the way that sets my soul free-talking about my experience, being open to the impact sharing this information will have and all in hopes of raising awareness and creating a space that is safe to grieve this loss… not only for me but for every woman who has had to walk this road with me.
Signed: A Healing Woman
Here is a list of statistics released by the World Health Organization, September 25, 2020;
Database from 2015-2019
- Between 2015 and 2019, on average, 73.3 million induced (safe and unsafe) abortions occurred worldwide each year.(1)
- Among these, 1 out of 3 were carried out in the least safe or dangerous conditions.
- 3 out of 4 abortions that occurred in Africa and Latin America were unsafe.
- Each year between 4.7% – 13.2% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion.
- Estimates from 2010 to 2014 showed that around 45% of all abortions were unsafe. Almost all of these unsafe abortions took place in developing countries.
- Around 7 million women are admitted to hospitals every year in developing countries, as a result of unsafe abortion.
- Almost every abortion death and disability could be prevented through sexuality education, use of effective contraception, provision of safe, legal induced abortion, and timely care for complications.
Belize Specific Resources
· Belize Family Life Association
Free Online Abortion Support Group