This story was submitted by Danielle Madsen.
It was exactly a week before my 36th birthday I had my first abortion; a year and a bit later I had my second.
My stats look like this: divorced, single sole-support parent of 3 where we all survived the trauma of domestic violence, full-time RN student, part-time PSW, and government assistance recipient because we've lived most of my kids' lives in poverty.
I had a boyfriend at the time of the first abortion. I thought it was a good relationship. Little did I know I had become a victim again! No way in hell I was going to let another man use me having his child as a way to control, manipulate, and ultimately fail at my goals. So in my first year of nursing school I had a surgical abortion. I was 10 weeks.
I was unprepared for the bleeding and hemorrhaging where I should have known better. It was also emotionally traumatic trying to reconcile loving a man yet knowing not having his child is for the best. I didn't regret it for a second though. I always knew I was grateful for the access only a 2-hour drive into the big city provided. I'm from a rigid Christian upbringing and everything in me knows I made the right decision. No amount of guilt or shame stops me from knowing deep down my path is for a purpose.
Fast forward to a few months ago . . . finally free of that abusive boyfriend who will resent me forever for deciding he wasn't going to limit me to my impoverished family life. And in comes an old love . . .
I knew I shouldn't have let him come around. One time was enough for me to get pregnant again. I was happy to say let's make this work but he made his decision; he had to leave and return up far North to follow his path and I knew loving him meant I had to let him go, I wasn't signing up for single parenthood again.
Nonetheless I made the trip back to the clinic. A shortage of the abortion pill meant I was having surgery again. But this time I was 4 weeks - almost too early to do anything. So I used my student mind to experience the abortion from a bio-medical perspective and I self-educated. I asked questions about why the nurses and doctor chose this field and I asked to see the embryonic tissue. I was much less traumatized, if at all, and strangely relieved that this procedure wasn't new to me. I wholly understood that the unrecognizable clump of cells was dispatched from my body in the same way a rectal fissure was removed. And I was so grateful to not be pregnant once again.
I have been honest with all 3 of my children about my choices. I pondered deeply if there was a need for them to know and where their emotional intelligence was at to gauge levels of understanding. I'm not sure why I expected to disappoint them but I was pleasantly surprised with the extent of their social justice knowledge. Also, remembering that I'm the leader and whatever example I set is as the adult in everyone's best interest. It brought me closer to my boys and I am now my daughter's hero.
I know it's not the same experiences for all women. I love women and therefore feel powerful about our autonomy. For some reason these abortions have become part of my journey. I now suffer from benign intracranial hypertension, which I believe is directly related to the hormonal fluctuations of pregnant/not, my age, and my weight.
So I have encountered all forms of health care now - from school and clinicals, to MRIs and abortions.
These decisions were not made lightly, but they were made conclusively. I can only hope that I can comfort or provide knowledge and support through sharing my story.