A Pregnant Pause

A harrowing situation from the past still haunts me to this day

Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RF

My girlfriends and I were having lunch recently when we found ourselves chatting about our favorite subject. And if you've ever watched one episode of "Sex in the City," you pretty much know what that was. Of the four fiftysomething women gathered at the table, two of us admitted to not having sex in the past 10 years! I'm happy to report that I was one of the other two.

I have a very healthy sex life, thank you very much, but it's certainly much different than it was when I was younger. When I turned 50, I stopped getting my period, so I no longer needed to worry about birth control. Deciding between an IUD or condoms was also a thing of the past.

That, of course, wasn't the case when I was 16 — and pregnant. There was no MTV show with that name that made it cool to be knocked up. In fact, I don't remember being very cool at all, although my boyfriend was. Al and I had a lot of downtime back then. There was no Internet, no cell phones and only a few channels on TV, so mostly we just hung out. And smoked a lot of pot. And had a lot of sex.

I don't remember exactly what I had known about birth control back then, but I know we didn't use any. What was I thinking? Like a lot of teenage girls at the time, I obviously wasn't. And then the inevitable happened — I missed my period.

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I was one of those girls that got her period every 28 days, like clockwork. No deviation from the cycle. So when the first month passed and there was no blood, I told myself, "Lots of girls skip a month ..." even though I knew the truth. After another month went by, there was no denying it. My breasts were huge and I was always exhausted. When I told Al that he was responsible for my "situation," he said that we'd "take care of it." But how? He was 17 — what did he know about being pregnant? I knew I had to talk to an adult.

That night I called my mother into my bedroom and told her the news. She hesitated and then asked, "Do you want to keep it?" Not even for one second did I consider that option. I couldn't imagine being the girl in school who was shunned by everyone, and I certainly wasn't moving out of state. The next day, my mother made an appointment with a gyno, but it was my father who took me to the doctor's office because, from that moment on, my mom stopped speaking to me.

The doctor said I was too far along to have a traditional termination, so I was admitted to the hospital and made to deliver the fetus. I didn't have a clue what was happening, only that I had screwed up pretty badly.

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When I got home, I immediately broke up with Al. No explanations, just a phone call telling him we couldn't see each other any more. And then I simply went back to my life. I don't know if you watch "Mad Men," but there's a scene early on, right after Peggy has her baby, when Don visits her in the hospital and basically tells her "to move forward like it never happened." And that's exactly what I did. My mother, on the other hand, took a while longer before she would even talk to me again.

My baby would've been 36 years old today. Sometimes I think about how my life would have turned out had I decided to go to term and have a child. I'd almost certainly be a grandma by now, and a very cool one at that.

What I also found out at lunch that afternoon was that two other women at the table would've been grandmas by now, too.

Tags: abortion

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