The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Abortion & Ex

What do you do when you run into the man you had an abortion with, and you’re with your new baby?

His hair looked greyer, and he had gained some weight. It was clearly him, though, and he was coming towards me. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. There was a look of recognition on his face, and a look of resignation on mine.

I was about to run into a man I’d had an abortion with thirteen years ago. And I had my eighteen-month-old baby with me.

I realize that for some people this situation might not feel quite so awkward. Many people have relationships -- most of those relationships don’t work out. Sometimes an unwanted pregnancy happens, some of those pregnancies end in abortion. Couples break up, they hurt, they feel bitter or lonely and then they heal. They meet someone new, they move on. With some luck they marry or move in with a more compatible mate.

Life continues.

The story of this relationship is different. I did find my mate in the ever after, but I’m not so sure my ex-boyfriend ever will. Diego (not his real name) is a paranoid schizophrenic, a man who lives on a limited income provided by Social Security. When off his medications, he is given to paranoid delusions, believes that people are sending him secret signals, when in fact they are merely picking up a pencil that they dropped on the ground or cleaning their eyeglasses with a bit of tissue.

While a smart and kind person, Diego often suffers from poor judgment and insight. Friendships are difficult for him to maintain. So are romantic relationships. Although it’s difficult to connect with people, he has a strong desire to make those connections, to get married, have kids: lead a “normal” life. He is not alone in experiencing these problems. Many schizophrenics complain of similar difficulties, and some are driven by their loneliness to commit suicide.

Diego did not want me to have an abortion when we learned of my pregnancy. He clearly hoped that we would raise a child together in subsidized government housing, supported by Social Security and welfare payments. He argued for us to begin a family, tried hard to reassure me that it would all turn out okay, that we could get by. There was no genetic history of schizophrenia in his family, he said, reading my mind, because I was afraid to say, “I don’t want to have my children live like you do.”

Then I did a thing that many people would consider cruel and unethical: I moved unilaterally. I had two close girlfriends pick me up and take me to the clinic, where I endured a cheap, and therefore painful, abortion without general anesthesia or sedatives. Afterwards, we drove to the Mission where they bought me burritos while I sat on the curb, cradling my head in my hands over the gutter, ready to vomit if it came, but hoping the nausea would pass and I wouldn’t have to. I never did puke that day, nor did I touch my burrito. They ate theirs, gave me hugs, and dropped me off at my apartment shared with two male roommates, where I changed my Maxi Pad, took my antibiotic, and curled up on my bed.

I don’t remember exactly when I told him, but at some point I did, and he responded with the sadness and disappointment one would expect of a man who had clearly stated that he wanted to be a father and had been denied the opportunity. There was no slamming of doors, no raised voices. This was not the first time this had happened to him and I don’t think he was terribly surprised. He was obviously sad, though. An opportunity lost not just to be a father, but to be “normal.” To do what the world has been doing since the dawn of time: bringing forth and nurturing a future generation.

On the street I pled my case for early release. “It’s good to see you! Where are you living now? So sorry, but I’m in a big rush. I really, really have to go.” He would have liked to linger longer, but let me go on, forever powerless to control the people around him, forever doomed to believe that they are controlling him.

By Ellen Catalina

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What a tragic and complex story. I could've read the intricacies for a long long time -- if you need any prodding to consider opening it up as a bigger piece. Excellent writing, compassionate voice. You have a meaningful story to tell.
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