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Abortion is (Almost) Never Funny

Dear Robin:

Six years ago when I was first married to my husband, I became pregnant.  We were struggling financially and I did not feel at all ready to be a mother.

I terminated the pregnancy without telling my husband. He was raised in a strict Catholic home and I know he would have fought with me to keep the baby even though he often said he wanted to wait to have kids.

Now we are financially settled and I have the ideal job for working from home so we have started trying to get pregnant.  It’s been 6 months and so far no luck.

I am sick with guilt about the abortion and I wonder if that is why I can’t get pregnant. I’ve started obsessing over what the baby would have been like and wondering if that was my only chance at being a mom.

I am really struggling with whether to tell my husband and get this off my chest but I am terrified of what his reaction will be.  My sister thinks I should keep it to myself but that doesn’t feel right.

What should I do?

Anne 

Dear Anne:

You’ve really screwed up my day, you know that?

Abortion is almost never funny, and you know how much I need to be funny in this blog.

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I wish you could see me right now…I am pacing back and forth in front of my computer trying to decide which path to send you on.

I’m as torn on this one as Donald Trump’s mother when she considered abortion after an especially vivid dream about what kind of “man” her fetus would become.

Shit.

Talking Truth

Honesty is critical to a solid marriage, and you really blew it when you made that enormous decision without your husband’s input.  I’m as pro-choice as they come but I don’t believe in a situation like yours it’s ok to terminate a pregnancy without talking to your partner first.

He may have surprised you.  Perhaps your husband’s religious fervor could be dampened by the reality of his own personal situation. You didn’t give him the opportunity  to be a God-fearing hypocrite as most God-fearing folk tend to be.

I don’t envy the choice you had to make and I won’t belabor (ha!) the point because it’s clear you wish you had told your husband about the pregnancy.  The question is: what to do now?

While part of me wants to tell you to keep this secret from your husband, it’s only a little part.

It’s the part that aches for you when I think about how difficult that conversation is going to be and how angry and hurt he will be.  This could deal an extreme blow to your relationship because like honesty, trust is also instrumental in a happy marriage.  He’s not likely to trust you for a while and you can’t fault him for that.

However, you need to be honest with your husband about what you did.  The blowback will be difficult to take but less difficult than living with this lie for the next several decades, assuming your marriage lasts that long.

My old-school feminist side agrees this was your choice to make, but my post-modern feminist warrior® side believes the father of the baby should have been involved in the decision.

I struggle with myself sometimes.  It’s fun to watch if you get tickets in the good seats.

How to Impart this Unhappy News

Deliver the news in the PCB (“Post-Coital Bliss”) haze.  This is very important.

Studies I made up in my head show that men take bad news much better during the 3-minute time frame in which they have recently ejaculated but have yet to fall asleep.*

Tell him you were scared and made a decision based upon your fear he would insist upon you having the baby and your certainty you weren’t ready to raise a child.  Tell him you love him and this secret has haunted you for years, especially now that you are trying to get pregnant.

Find a therapist with whom you can discuss this issue on your own, because you need to forgive yourself for both the abortion and the concealment of it from your husband.  

Finally, once you give the bad news to your husband you should work with that therapist (or a different one) together.  I have a feeling you are going to be struggling with this revelation for some time and will need professional guidance to get through it.

I’m good but I’m not that good, and my time is limited.

The Pregnancy Project

I know you are eager to get knocked up ASAP given your rapidly-shriveling eggs, but I’d put that plan on hold until you are both certain you have resolved this matter.  The last thing you need is to be hormonal and hysterical in the midst of a major marital crisis.

Just saying.

It is possible you are so distracted and wrapped up in your anxiety and regret over the past that becoming pregnant is more difficult than it should be.  Stress can impact fertility so address this problem as discussed above so you can move past it.

Also, try to relax – you haven’t been trying to get storked all that long.  Becoming pregnant is awfully easy for teenage girls, but you are 36 and it may take you a bit more time and effort than a regretful drunken bang at a keg party.

Finally, assuming your marriage survives and you are still having difficulty conceiving, you should seek out a fertility expert.

Again, I’m good, but not that good, and I’m not currently licensed to engage in that practice.

You Didn’t Ask Me but I’m Telling You Anyway: Working from Home

You wrote of your plan to work from home right after the Potential Baby is born.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but when we chatted the other day you told me your plan is to put in six hours a day from home for the first six weeks, after which you will return to working eight hours a day.

Remember when I started laughing and couldn’t stop?  I told you my dog was humping the garbage can and I found it humorous.  In truth, I was laughing at you.

Sorry.  People tell me I can be a little insensitive sometimes and I’m working on that.

However, and I’ll try to put this as nicely as possible, I don’t think you quite realize just how difficult it is to take care of a screaming, shitting, narcissistic and psychotic little asshole.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Talk to some of your friends who have had babies and get back to me.  I admire your work ethic, I truly do, but I’d hate to see you set yourself up for failure and disappointment.

In other exciting news, you also may get hit with postpartum depression!  Yay, babies!

I bring this up not just randomly to be a bitch (although I’m really good at that) but because you shared you’ve had depression in the past.

Since this blog is in essence all about me, let me tell you what I went through when Jake was born:

I also planned to work from home, but instead spent every waking hour of every single day crying, recovering from crying, or preparing to cry.

I held him (as I sobbed) constantly because I was terrified of leaving him alone.

  • I held him as he ate.
  • I held him as he slept.
  • I held him as he cried.

We were quite a pair, let me tell ya.

My employer at the time, not realizing yet that I would be a disaster of an employee, generously gave me three months paid maternity leave, with the understanding that I’d get some work done from time to time and stay engaged with the office.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

After five or six weeks I couldn’t take it anymore.  I plopped my happy little accident in daycare and went back to work.  Remind me some day to tell you the story about my milk leaking out of my sweater during a meeting with my Mormon boss.  That’s a good story.

Sorry.  Back to you.

If you do become pregnant, alter your expectations for what work you’ll be able to achieve after your kid arrives. Focus on your mental health, recovering from the tear in your ‘taint, and keeping the little fucker alive for the first few months.

It’s harder than you think, and you don’t want to have to explain another dead baby to your husband.**

Best of luck and let me know how the conversation goes.

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*This is why I keep the Nordstrom bill under the bed.

**Too soon?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tamsen

    I’m not sure if I do or don’t agree with the prospect of telling her husband. I think if she ends up getting pregnant, that incident will no longer be as significant as it currently feels, and telling him could end up being the end of the relationship or certainly a traumatic event in the relationship, which is hardly what she needs right now. That said, i certainly agree she should’ve consulted with him at the time.

    What I’m ABSOLUTELY sure I agree with is that she will not be working from home 6 hours a day right after the baby, and then 8 hours a day after a couple of months. It WILL NOT HAPPEN. With or without Post Partum Depression, it is all you can do to manage a shower once ever other day or so. I ate standing up, danced constantly with mine on my hip, went for walks with the stroller to get her to take a nap twice a day and pretty much stayed on my feet 14 hours a day just trying to get her to eat, sleep (only when being walked in the stroller or put in the car and driven) and changed. My work paid me 50% for 6 weeks and I tried valiantly to do some (and I did negotiate an agreement when she was about 5 days old and screaming in the background, that was fun!) but I simply couldn’t work and take care of her. And honestly, I never would’ve been able to work even with a nanny at home, so planning on working from home even with full time care I think is also a very risky assumption.

  2. Soren

    Unless you had complications during the abortion, which is rare, an abortion will not affect your fertility!
    It’s a pernicious myth that an abortion hurts the woman. In fact you are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and birth, than during abortions.
    As for time, 6 months is not a causeri alarm. We waited 9 months before my wife conceived the first time, with number 2, she had her iud taken out on a Friday, and against the advice of the Doctor we didn’t use protection on Sunday, Tuesday my wife was sure she had conceived, which the test confirmed a week later

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