Last week I talked about my undesired and unexpected pregnancy at 18 on the post My Body, My Rules. After talking to my boyfriend and discussing it with my mother, I was faced with a decision that could only be taken by myself. And I would have to live with it for the rest of my life. In both scenarios – keeping or getting rid of the embryo – I would be the one to deal with remorse, guilt, satisfaction and relief. My body, my life, my rules. But which were my rules?
1 – I was an 18-year-old girl trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become.
2 – I was in a fresh new relationship for the past four months with a boyfriend.
3 – I wanted kids in my life, absolutely. In the future.
4 – I had the full support of my parents and boyfriend.
5 – As I lived in Brazil, where abortion has always been forbidden, I would have to risk my life to get an unsafe abortion. Spend hundreds of dollars.
I was only six weeks pregnant when I decided to go ahead and have the procedure. My sweet mom never judged me – when I asked, she helped me make all the arrangements. And they were not easy: we needed to find a clandestine clinic with a reliable doctor. Thankfully, my mother had always been very resourceful and savvy.
When I told my boyfriend about both the pregnancy and the scheduled abortion, he kissed me and said that he loved me. That he would support my decision, any way it went. He cried with me (he has always been a big crier), held my hands, and took the best care he could. The procedure was scheduled for a Friday morning, on April 23rd. It was a gloomy day outside, but inside of me, it was really dark.
My mom and I took a taxi there. The clinic looked normal, besides the fact that it was completely underground.
“We are here for the skin treatment,” mom told the receptionist, as instructed to on the phone.
“Did you bring cash? We only take cash,” the short woman whispered.
My mother took out the neatly arranged bills in a white envelope and handed it out. The receptionist started counting it.
“You may take a seat,” she pointed to a white couch.
“Ms. Malin,” a nurse called me, shortly after.
I stood up. Mom stood by my side.
“Just the patient, please?” the nurse made it clear.
“She is my daughter…,” mom insisted.
“You’ll have to wait here.”
My mother hugged me, very tensely, and then the nurse took me inside. I was brought to a small OR room and got heavily sedated. I woke up one hour later, microscopic embryo gone. I felt groggy and sad, confused, a little bit numb from the drugs and the stress. But all went well during the procedure, and the illegal underground clinic was as safe as it could be.
Back home, my boyfriend was waiting for us. He had brought flowers, chocolate, and written the most genuine sympathy card I had ever gotten.
“My love, I am devastated. I am confused. I want so badly to be one, to have not only this but many babies with you. I know I am not ready to be a father, and you are not ready to be a mother. But my love for you has never been stronger and I accept that we have to fully experience other things before we get ready for it. I just love you with all my heart.” He was only 17 years of age.
My loving boyfriend took care of me for the rest of the day, and the week, since my mom had to fly back out of town, where she was working at that time. The first time I went to the bathroom to pee, I pulled out of myself three feet of gauze filled with blood. I stared at it not knowing what to do, in shock, realizing, for the first time, what had really happened there. Blood and gauze, all that was left.
Back then, I had very little religious connections. I knew, deep in my heart, that I believed in God - but I had no metaphysical education. Being raised in the biggest Catholic country in the world, I had learned how to pray with my neighbor, so I didn’t feel like a fish out of the tank. On the other hand, I had been raised a lot Jewish by my father’s family, having spent some months in Israel I considered myself a Jew soul. In reality, I was neither.
After the procedure, I felt, more than ever, the need for a spiritual connection. So, a week later I went to a spiritual healer of Umbanda background to clean up my spiritual mess. Somehow, I really knew I did something wrong against this beautiful seed of life that was inside me, but I did not regret it. I just felt penitent so I decided to volunteer in hospitals, hoping to help some souls.
The very odd thing about this abortion happened exactly eight years later. It was another April 23rd, 2001, when I gave birth to my first daughter. I really think she tried to come to us in 1993, and she kept waiting for all those years to still be our daughter. And yes, I was still dating the same boyfriend.
This is not to say (only) that what is meant to be, is meant to be. This is to say that I was fortunate enough to have the saddest day of my life erased and reconfigured into the happiest day of my life, the day Luisa was born.
The first time I held my baby, I kissed her and whispered in her ears “thanks for being understanding and waiting all that time for us to be ready for you. You deserved better parents than we were when you first came to us. We were not ready. I am grateful that I got to become a better person so I can be a better mother, to welcome you in the right time. Thank you, my love.” Luisa is the sweetest being on this planet, and she is known for her tremendous patience and innate kindness. I love her with all my heart.