I Almost Had an Abortion and Became Pro-Life
By Vanessa Palencia
When I first found out that I was pregnant at 16, I was terrified. I never thought that something this drastic and life-changing could ever happen to me, but there I was sitting on my mother’s bed with my phone on speaker mode and hearing the words, “The result came back positive.” I knew my mother was both shocked and angry when she heard this. What happened after that was pretty much a blur. I remember all the drama that came with delivering the news to the rest of our immediate family, but I remember facing the decision of whether to keep the baby or not the most.
This topic is sensitive, I know. It’s why it’s still a highly debatable topic and one that can create wedges between even the closest friendships and cut ties with even the most trusted family members. Yet, at just 16 years old, I was faced with this heavy decision. My then-boyfriend and I took a few weeks to debate this question by hanging out at parks and weighing our pros and cons, as if such a weighty topic could be answered by a mere list of positives and negatives. We’d spend hours discussing the possibility of abortion. We knew that through our careless actions, something this severe shouldn’t be easily erased with an abortion, but at the same time we knew we weren’t ready. We were 16 years old for goodness sakes. And coming from a Christian background, where I was raised to be pro-life, I had entertained the thought of giving the baby up for adoption. To me, it was a way out without compromising my beliefs. But the thought of having my flesh-and-blood child in this world and not raising the child myself troubled me. So I quickly shot down that idea.
I didn’t know what to do. I guess I was hoping that I’d stumble upon an answer in a teenage pregnancy guidebook sold at the local bookstore, but there wasn’t a solid answer. With life, there never is. I was left to figure it out on my own.
At some point amidst all the heartbreak, tension, and tears, I had opted to go with the abortion. I can’t exactly break down my thought process for you, because I don’t remember it, but I can tell you that I was desperate to erase this huge mistake and move on with my life as if nothing had happened. I wanted my childhood back. I wanted to live my life as a normal teenager.
So I made the appointment and went in.
In the week before the appointment, I remember my mother feeling disappointed in my decision. However, she still tried her best to support me. But as the appointment date drew nearer, my mother sat me down in front of a computer and showed me abortion videos to demonstrate how grotesque the procedure was. I was horrified, but I was still headstrong in my decision. The idea of having my body and my life completely skewed terrified me even more (I blame that ridiculous fear on teenage hormones). But on top of that, I had my then-boyfriend manipulating me with promises of a puppy. He kept reiterating that he was getting me a puppy, and that I could get him after I had the procedure done. I was too in love at the time to notice what a shitty move that was. I was morbidly confused, but I still stuck with my decision.
When the day came, I had asked my mother to accompany me. I didn’t want to be alone. We walked silently to the procedure room, and my mother sat beside me on the guest chair while I undressed and put on the hospital gown. I sat on the hospital bed and waited for the doctor to come in. The silence between me and my mother was deafening.
When the doctor and nurse came in, I felt the air thicken with tension. Their faces were indifferent, no sign of emotion in place. My mother sat on my right hand side. Her face was down. I knew it was because she couldn’t bear to see any of this. I looked over to see the nurse quietly put all the tools in place on the tray and set it before the doctor.
The doctor sat down, introduced himself and the nurse quickly, and then proceeded to tell me how the procedure would go and what to do after it. I nodded my head but stayed silent. The doctor propped my feet on the stirrups and put on his gloves. At this point, my heart was pounding against my chest.
This was it. Once this was done, I could never undo this. This kind of erasure is permanent.
I looked over at my mother, but her head was still down. Except, this time, I saw a tear drop from her eyes. I looked over at the doctor and saw him grab an abnormally large cotton swab. With my heart still racing and fear setting in, I raised my hand and yelled, “Stop!” just as he was about to insert that large cotton swab inside of me. The doctor froze mid-air, looked up at me, and asked if everything was okay. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something along the lines of, “I don’t want this anymore.”
The doctor looked a little annoyed, took off his gloves, and told me to come back when I was ready. Right before he had left, he said, “A second later and it would have been too late.” Those words have never left me. My future and my son’s future was balancing on just a mere second. It’s both haunted me and given me the enduring faith I have today.
Reflecting back on this significant moment in my life, I can’t tell if it was a series of things that motivated me to walk away from the procedure or if it was entirely my own choice. All I know is that I walked out of the hospital feeling like a heavy weight had been lifted.
I’m a strong believer that our life struggles are meant to teach us a lesson and help us grow, and my almost-abortion is just one major example. Prior to this, I had considered myself a pro-life supporter. But this experience proved to me just how delicate the whole situation can be. I can’t speak for all women, but I believe that I represent a small number of women who face this emotional plight with a heavy heart.
Yes, I’m a pro-life supporter that only reaffirmed and solidified my own beliefs, and I will never force my beliefs down someone else’s throat. However, the experience itself gave me a taste of how detrimental the experience can be. Because first, in order for a young woman to even consider abortion, there has to be some high stakes or personal affliction at play. For me, that was being way too young and not financially or mentally ready. Secondly, whichever choice that woman makes will be a choice that they carry with them for a lifetime. Because I chose to grow the life within me, my future was forever changed; I became a mother. But for those who choose to abort, it’s the loss of potentiality that weighs on their conscience for a lifetime. I would never wish that sort of trauma or guilt on somebody, and I’d never wish for that sort of ending for the little heartbeat inside.
I can’t tell you how much lighter I felt. I was scared for this huge change in my life, but I was also eternally grateful. When it came time to deliver this life-changing news to everyone else, I was calmer. Many people were shocked, but I wasn’t affected by their reaction. I had shifted my focus to the bright and adventurous future ahead of me as a mother.
And in case you were wondering, I never got the puppy promised to me because he was angry at me for choosing life. But I didn’t mind. I still don’t. Everytime I look at my son, I am filled with immense gratitude. This boy has taught me so many things that I wouldn’t have learned without motherhood, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. A second later, and my whole life would have been different. A second later and all the memories, laughter, and love that my boy has given me wouldn’t have filled my life. A second later and I’d be in an entirely different place. One second made all the difference.