Haunted by Abortion


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 in Michigan

Dear Anne:

You’ve really screwed up my day, Anne.  Abortion is almost never funny, and you know how much I need to be funny in this blog.  Damn you!



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 Octomom’s ‘taint.  Shit.

Honesty is obviously one of the most important pieces of a solid marriage.  You really blew it when you made that enormous decision without your husband’s input based upon your perception of how his Catholicism may override his feelings about postponing parenthood until you both were ready.

You may have found out that like many others, 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!


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?

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

However, please keep in mind you haven’t been trying all that long.  Getting pregnant is awfully easy for teenage girls, but you are 36 and it may take you a bit more time than once in the back of a pick-up truck at a keg party.


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 will likely 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 really 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.  While my feminist side agrees this was your choice to make, my post-modern feminist warrior side believes the father of the baby should have been involved in the decision as well.  I struggle with myself sometimes.


When you tell him, deliver the news in the PCB (Post-Coital Bliss) haze.  Studies I made up in my head show that men take bad news slightly better when they have recently ejaculated.*

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.

I strongly suggest you 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.  Once you deliver (ha!) the bad news to your husband you should work with that therapist 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.


As for your pregnancy project, you may want to put that on hold for a while until you are both sure you have resolved this matter and can put it behind you. The last thing you need is to be hormonal and hysterical while you are in the midst of a major marital crisis.

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.

Finally, I note you 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 6 hours a day from home for the first 6 weeks, after which you will return to working ten 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.

I don’t think you quite realize just how difficult it is to take care of a screaming, shitting psychotic little asshole.  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.


You also may get hit with postpartum depression, especially since you told me you’ve had depression in the past.  Since this is all about me, I’d like to impress upon you what I went through when Jake was born.  I also planned to work from home, but spent every hour of every day crying and holding him while he cried.  We were quite a pair, let me tell ya.

If I were you I’d try to just focus on your mental health 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.


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

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Tamsen

    Wow, quite a dilemma. Personally, I’m all for the right to make those decisions, but inside a marriage, it is very difficult. I will avoid any further comment on that subject. I will concur with Robin though that if your efforts to become pregnant work, and you have a baby, the concept of working from home with no help is pretty seriously ludicrous. You will find that if you have a chance to take a 10 minute shower it’s a good day.

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