Updated: Jul 16
As I opened the door to the car and got into the passenger seat, he turned to me and asked are you ok? As I choked over words and fighting back tears, I simply shook my head and said no. He turned the car off and just wrapped his arms around me and let me cry. I cried for what seemed like eternity. As I pulled my arms down to use my shirt to wipe my face there it was. We both looked at the thick rubber band around my wrist. In that moment I remember the message that accompanied it just a few months prior when I left for basic training. That message read “Like a rubber band, remember inside you resides the ability to be pulled and stretched to your breaking point and bounce back. And even when that break happens, because occasionally it does, a rubber band can always be reinforced, tided back together and stretched again. Here’s a pack of 100 rubber bands to get you through life. You’re the most resilient person I know and I’m so proud to call you my sister. Love you S.G.T. Lala. Love your little twin brother”. I gently pulled on the rubber band on my wrist and no other words were needed. I wiped the tears from my face, turned to him and said I’m ready, lets go home.
That moment was one of the most defining moments in my life. One which would influence how I judge the men I’d let in my life moving forward. See in order to fully understand that moment, you have to first understand how I got there.
It was my junior year of high school, and I was just getting out of a relationship. I was pretty heart broken and was talking to someone I trusted about how broken I was feeling. We would go to the beach most evenings and just talk about everything going on in our lives. One night he grabbed my face and kissed me. I’m not sure I mind the kiss, I just wasn’t sure what was behind it. We didn’t talk about it and continued our walks and talks. Pretty soon the walks became more than walks, I never said No, and kisses led to other things. Before I knew it, I was over my ex and falling in love with someone new. Except this someone new was someone I shouldn’t have been falling in love with, and definitely not sleeping with. We kept our relationship a secret for so many reasons and that should have been my first sign that something was wrong. But I was young, naïve and in love, with blinders on.
Fast forward to the end of my senior year and him and I started making plans for the future together. A future where we would get married when I got to my duty station, and he would join me and we would live together happily ever after. I wrote him a letter almost every day in basic training and called him every chance I got. I was in training over a holiday period, so my unit allowed me to go home for a week. Well during that week I of course got with what I thought was my fiancé and we had unprotected sex. We weren’t trying to get pregnant or anything, we just thought the pullout method would work. A month later I found out it didn’t.
Here I was. Not a month out of training, new to my unit, stationed in the middle of nowhere, pregnant with my first baby. Ok, I thought to myself. I called my boyfriend who didn’t really have much to say, which should have been my second red flag. I continued to make my calls. I told my siblings, and they were all excited and happy for me. As I begin making wedding plans and talking to my boyfriend about moving the timeline for everything up all he would say is ok, no suggestions, no feedback, just ok. He did ask me once if I was sure I wanted a baby right now and I remember telling him, what other choice do I have?
See I grew up in a culture, in a home where abortion was not acceptable. Up until that point I looked down on anyone who had one. I always thought girls were so evil to make that decision. My faith made me believe that I would go to hell if ever I had one. I made it clear to him in that moment that abortion was not an option even if he didn’t want to be in my life anymore.
A few days later I received a phone call and on the other end of the call was someone asking who I was. The conversation went like this.
Her: Who are you?
Me: Excuse me, who is this, you are calling my phone number, who are you looking for?
Her: Well, I just happened to pull up my husband’s phone log because our bill went up this month and I see your number all over it? Do you know my husband? And she said her name
It was a name I knew. A name that I asked about often as I was being told that they were separated and at the final stage for divorce. So, I told her who I was, and that her husband was my fiancé. Neither one of us believed each other so we put each other on three way calling and took turns calling him. And there he was, living 2 lives, telling us both lies. What the F*** did I get myself into is all I remember thinking? For the next few weeks, we talked everyday trying to answer each other’s questions. Trying to make sense of the situation we were both in. I started feeling guilty for believing the lies even when I noticed they were indeed lies. I was so blinded by my feelings that I ignored the signs.
My Captain came down to visit me and go over family care plan information with me and that meeting shed so much light on how unprepared I was. I remember her little notebook and her being such the mother type. She was simply making a list to see what resources she needed to look into for me, but as her list grew, so did the lump in my stomach. I instantly felt sick. Everything I had worked my entire life for up into that point was for nothing. The good grades, the scholarships I turned down, joining the military to get my twin brother through college, getting my parents out of poverty, being an example for my nieces, my dreams, my goals. Everything would change. What would that baby’s life be like? What would my life look like? I had nothing to offer. Love wasn’t enough. I grew up poor, I wasn’t going to bring a baby in this life without being able to give it more than just love. I had nothing, no car, I’m living in the barracks, no savings, making E3 pay and now single without a support system around to help. I have a wife calling me everyday telling me I ruined her life and her family and a ex telling me he doesn’t want another baby or to be father right now.
I finally decided that I needed to do this for me and free myself from this situation. I remember going to the clinic in Reno for a consultation and setting up an appointment to come back after payday. The day came and when I got there, I couldn't get the procedure done because I was further along and the cost was more than what I was previously quoted. I called my ex to ask for help and was told he wouldn’t be able to help, till the following payday. That would put me in another price bracket, and I would be in the same predicament, needing more money. I looked at the cost to get the procedure done in FL and it would cost one third of the price it was costing in Reno. I looked up the tickets to go home and the costs for the procedure and together it was less than what I needed to get it done in CA. The only problem I had now was that I didn’t have any available leaves days to go to FL.
I called my NCO and talked to him about what was going on. I remember him telling me that he wasn’t allowed to let me go in the hole without it being an emergency. I remember telling him these exact words. “This is an emergency. I can’t even afford to get this procedure done; how can I afford a baby? I messed up. This isn’t a decision I’ve taken lightly. The rest of my life depends on this decision and right now I just really need” before I could finish my statement he said, “only you and I can know you are going for this purpose. Your leave form is going to say emergency to be with family. Life’s not about being perfect. I’m going to let you go in the hole for leave, how many days do you think you need? Promise me you learn from this, when you get back focus on getting that work center right and promotion ok”.
The next weekend I headed to FL. The procedure had to be done in two days. Day 1 was counseling and dilation and day 2 the actual abortion takes place. During the Day 1 visit you sign all of these documents and questionnaires and I remember staring at question #5 and pausing. The question pretty much tells you that you may never be able to have kids again and can’t hold them responsible. In that moment I came to the decision that it was worth it. If that’s the result of this predicament that I find myself in, then I’ve live with that.
It was Day 2 and I was in the recovery room waiting to be picked up by my ex. I remember the nurse asking me to call my ride because they were an hour late. I looked down at my phone and wonder what was going on. He knew the time and promised to be there to pick me up. I called him and he said something came up and he was about 15 minutes out. As he signed the released documents in the nurse rolled me out to the car in the wheelchair, I looked up and there she was yelling at him from the front seat. As he tried to assist the nurse to get me into the back seat because I was still drugged up she yelled to him, “you better not fucking touch her”. The nurse looked at me and sensed something was wrong and asked if there was someone else, she could call to pick me up. I looked up at him and he said its ok, I have her and helped me get in the back. For the entire 45-minute trip I laid in the back seat praying for forgiveness and praying for this nightmare to end. Lord just get me through this and I promise to live my life in your light and be a better person. They argued in the time finally came. We got to the parking lot and there it was. I’d never been so happy in my life to see my twin brother. I got in the car and after so many moments of being the big sister, the protector and defender, it was my moment to be weak. My moment to not be perfect. My moment to simply be held and told it’s going to be ok.
For the next few days my family came and went visiting me while I was home. My soul died on the inside each day as they would touch my belly and I too afraid to tell them that there wasn’t a baby in there. I got back to Fallon, and a few days later told my mother I had a miscarriage. I know I couldn’t tell her the truth. I couldn’t tell any of them the truth because I was afraid to lose their love. Afraid to become the girl that had an abortion they now hate. Afraid of judgement I lied. My mother told my siblings, and her sisters, who in turn told my cousins and call after call to check on me, I felt like I was living hell on earth. Forced to tell the lie over and over I finally stopped answering the phone. I was broken, I was sad and I was alone. I had no one to talk to because I was too ashamed to admit what I had done. Until months later I met my husband and like the many other things I dumped on him, this was part of that load. He understood why I couldn’t tell my mom. He was a Haitian so he knew the fear I faced. Later that evening he picked me up and we went to the lake. As your friend listen to me when I say this. You need to make peace with this and I hope this is a start. In his hand was a poem he’d written for me and a bouquet of white and yellow roses. I went to the water read the poem and used the rose petals as ashes. I prayed for forgiveness and prayed for God to ease the pain and guilt I felt. I still remember that day because it was the day I realized that it wasn’t for the world to forgive. It was between me and my God and I didn’t owe anyone here on earth an explanation. I don’t regret the decision I made, and still believe I made the best decision for myself, and my unborn child.
I share this because so much of the discussion today is about choice. So many people that shouldn’t have an opinion do. There’s also a stigma that only bad people or people without faith have abortions. I don’t consider myself a bad person. This isn’t true at all. People in all walks of life have made this choice for various reasons that make sense to them and their families. I no longer allow my faith to judge others for the way they live their life. I choose love and support. Because regardless of what you personally believe, you may be the angel here on earth that can save someone’s life in their darkest moments of need. 17 years ago I’m happy I had the choice. Because of that choice I am who I am today.