After my daughter died, I got pregnant again why I chose abortion.

Many people assume a pregnancy after a child’s death is a miracle,’ but this one felt wrong.

I was 19 when I got pregnant. I drank whisky, sobbed in the woods, and yelled at my lover in college. Just a few months had passed. As kids, we were careless and used underhanded methods. My boyfriend called his father, who sent us $300, and we terminated the pregnancy a few weeks later in 1999.

We used a spermicidal diaphragm after that.

Six weeks later, in Maine, I feared I was pregnant again. When I saw two lines on the pregnancy test, I fell to the bathroom floor in our tiny apartment—calling my lover. He dropped when he saw the test. We kept quiet. It’s quiet. Both of us knew we’d have a child.

We left Maine fast to rent a house in Arizona and become parents.

Antonia was born at home in Prescott, Arizona, following a 12-hour labor on Feb. 3, 2000. Our parents tried to talk us out of home birth, but I had read “Spiritual Midwifery” and felt linked to a sacred process. The midwives ordered pizza, cleaned up, and did washing after Antonia was born, then left us to form a family.

For two days, her dad and I took 24-hour shifts. I don’t know why someone must always be awake. My partner was on the phone with his dad one night, telling me how exhausted we were from this pattern. His dad remarked, “If the baby is asleep, both of you can sleep for God’s sake!” We were young, cocky, and clueless.

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For the next year, we juggled classes, work-study jobs, babysitting support from friends, and financial aid from our parents. Antonia, the first granddaughter on both sides of the family, was doted on. Giggly and chubby-cheeked, she grinned often. I slung her and we coslept. She was divine. Youth and love boosted us.

My daughter Antonia died at 18 years and five months

She had just graduated high school. A fever and headache sent us to the ER three times before she was admitted. When asked to evaluate her pain from 1 to 10, Antonia responded with 15. A medical accident and unsuccessful meningitis treatment led to her death. My past, present, and future were all hers.

Child death is a desert of emptiness, deprivation, and suffering. Ich wurde vernichtet. I starved, cut, and drank vodka heavily in vain. No miracles. No reason to live.

Two years into this torment, I entered trauma treatment. A nurse questioned, “When did you self-harm last?” Today was my final self-harm. Until then, I wasn’t honest about my actions.

At the beach, a friend observed scabbed scratch scars on my forearm. I stated another friend’s dog had done it. None doubted me. It hurt! “Yes,” I answered. Crazy!” The mayhem stopped when I told on myself.

Once I finished counseling, I dated a 10-year-old. He was freshly clean and depressed, but I believed we’d help each other heal; construct a life out of our sorrow and tragedy. His mom died: yes. The daughter died: check. After a year of separation, we made out for hours, had intercourse, watched a movie, and slept. On waking, nothing was healed.

It was winter in Maine. Icy, brown, slushy sidewalks and isolation made me depressed and hopeless. Antonia is gone.

And I was pregnant. Even though I had Plan B, I thought I was too old, too underweight, or too broken. Like a horrible joke.

Saying the man whose sperm fertilized this embryo wasn’t a dad is an understatement. I grew up with a schizophrenic, drug-addicted father whose mental conduct plagued me. He would often bolt, go black for days, and eventually admit to using again. I knew I wouldn’t sleep with or have a child with this man.

Many people think a pregnancy after a child’s death is a “miracle,” but this one felt wrong. As a social worker, I could never afford full-time daycare. I had to rely on food handouts and credit cards to raise Antonia.

How could I care for an infant in my damaged, grieving state? I wanted back my daughter, not this baby.

When I was stranded, a friend told me I had an option.

I had a Planned Parenthood-assisted abortion at seven weeks. After telling my nurse’s mother, I headed to her house for the procedure. It was a long, painful night. I writhed in my mom’s bed and then vomited, exactly as Antonia’s head agony led her to vomit in the hospital. I sensed her pain, writhing, and vomiting, all the things I couldn’t save her from, which triggered my PTSD. The sorrow was terrible, and I wailed and cried, yearning for my dead daughter, as the waves of pain peaked. I took pain pills, puked, and passed blood. By 5 a.m., I had slept.

The end of suffering might cause unexpected euphoria. I woke up high. The leaky ship stopped sinking. Coffee had just enough cream. A medically-induced miscarriage, even a painful and traumatic one, was minor fry compared to what I’d undergone since Antonia’s death.

In the weeks leading up to my choice, the patriarchal notion froze me that a woman must bear a child, even at the sacrifice of her well-being. It took hours on the phone with a friend before I realized I had an option. This revived something profound, like personal salvation.

It took a year to start eating and stop utilizing alcohol and men for fuel. By prioritizing my healing by saying, “No, I can’t; I lack the mental health and financial stability to ensure a positive, viable outcome for this pregnancy,” I saved my own life.

I’ve sworn off men, vodka, and other behaviors I used to distract myself from my grief in the two years since I had the abortion. I’ll always be a mother without a daughter, but I choose myself. While I still goof up, I keep trying. I think Antonia will like it.

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