My name is Brenda DeJardin and I had an Abortion 1991 at the age of 26. My abortion story isn’t sensational or unusual in any way and I believe most stories are not.
It starts as a mistake
I lived in Eau Claire, WI. (pop 60,000) and was going to college as well as working part-time. I met a man, had a sexual relationship with him and accidentally got pregnant. Yes, I was surprised by this because I had successfully NOT been pregnant and had been sexually active since my teens.
Seriously – I was very careful because I didn’t want kids without a husband. I wanted the chance to find out who I was before raising a child. I mean, what could I bring to the life of a child if I had no base and no security?
But somewhere, I’d made a mistake
One day I got sick and threw up and two weeks later I was still throwing up. My dad took me to the UW doctor’s office where I was pronounced Pregnant. I was completely shocked and overwhelmed as I remembered my mother’s horror stories about Hyperemesis during her pregnancy with me. My dad and I cried together and I told him that I was going to have an abortion. Then I told my partner that I was going to have an abortion.
I couldn’t give up my education and my life for a child. And I wouldn’t.
I came from a poor, uneducated family. Most of my cousins were pregnant in their teens and had never finished high school. I had ten aunts and uncles so I’m talking about a LOT of pregnant teen cousins.(Many of my male cousins also had babies in high school so they are currently co-parenting and paying child support.)
I had a friend who had an abortion in her teens, and I asked her where I had to go and what I had to do to get one. We finally found an abortion provider in Madison WI although it was a three-hour drive from Eau Claire and it cost my partner a hard earned $250. It was the closest facility and the only one to choose from. I asked my mom and my friend Susan to drive me there and we headed out.
I entered an unremarkable building and was met by a cautious staff. Abortion clinic bombings and shootings were really “In” at the time and women were afraid. So were the providers. The clinic staff were kind to me and carefully ushered me in, making sure I wasn’t followed by unwanted guests. There were about twenty other women in the waiting room.
Twenty. Other. Women . I wasn’t alone.
I was surprised though and asked the nurses if this was unusual. They told me that earlier that day the waiting room was packed just like every day that the clinic was open, because it was the only abortion facility within driving distance for many WI towns. The staff explained what was going to happen to me. I had already done my homework and knew how far along I was. I was at 6 weeks.
I had the procedure. It was somewhat uncomfortable but no worse than a penicillin shot at the doctor’s office. I was given a paper robe and asked to lay on a hospital bed with my feet in exam stirrups. A doctor came in with a nurse who stayed in the room with me as well. There was a stinging in my cervix and then the local anesthetic kicked in. A suction device like a tiny vacuum hose was shown to me and inserted in to my uterus. There was a noise like a vacuum as well, but it wasn’t gross or alarming and then the procedure was over.
They gave me orange juice and a cookie in case I felt faint, but I didn’t. I went home and surprise! I was physically back to normal. I didn’t feel bad or guilty and I wasn’t sick anymore.
What it’s really about
I have personally never spoken to another woman who felt bad about it. They felt as if they were being practical and that their lives mattered. Some felt that they couldn’t be connected to an Ex through a child, or couldn’t afford another child. Some were teens.
This issue shouldn’t be about an embryo that cannot survive without a womb. It’s about Women and their lives.
Women die from illegal abortion and some are dying as we speak from unwanted pregnancies and the desperate, dangerous steps they take to end them.
Some live in fear that their secret pregnancy will be discovered. Sure, you can blame age and education but people in general make mistakes. Receiving services without parental consent, at minimal expense and with ease of access helps to save women’s lives. This is about the women who have already established a life for themselves, like me and I’m not ashamed because human beings are imperfect. An embryo is not capable of having a viable life on its own BUT I AM. I am Brenda DeJardin, 49 years old, PTA mom, cancer survivor, McDonald’s cheeseburger eater and Game of Thrones watcher.
I went on to marry that same man four years later and we now have a son. My son knows I had an abortion because I told him when he was old enough. My husband and I have raised a young man who believes in a woman’s right to choose and knows that birth control is his responsibility.
I wish abortion was a black and white issue, but it is not. Abortion involves real people. Actual established people: Women who are living, breathing and functioning on their own with no outside “host” needed to live. These women who would be mourned and missed were already a part of our society. They cannot be forced into being a living womb for a baby they can’t have for whatever reason they choose.
I have a name and it is Brenda.
The embryo had no name.