Motherhood and P.A.D.
Post Abortion Depression (P.A.D.)
Life is a journey that doesn’t always make sense. It plays with you, it teaches you, it guides you, it has the ability to elevate you to the heavens and bring you to your knees in one foul swoop.
Becoming a mother is something I’ve yearned for throughout most of my life. I held an idea, a longing to create a family filled with traditions and love.
As a child, being the caretaker, the leader, the bossy one, the sassy wise one, it was embedded in me as the eldest of three and first granddaughter of twenty-seven grandchildren that I would help take care of everyone.
Caring for others became my superpower, a way to ensure that those I loved most would feel cared for and never feel what I had felt, alone and abandoned.
This was the birth of my codependency.
Codependency is an all too common behavior where one’s needs are sacrificed for others regardless of the consequences and often to the detriment of oneself. Learning to meet the needs of others was an innate maternal blessing and curse which created a pattern of me constantly abandoning myself.
The need to feel needed can be a deep and challenging process of re-learning how to consistently come back to yourself. Being a recovering co-dependent, setting boundaries and advocating for myself are essential for my growth and sanity.
Learning how to shift my natural reactionary response to help, or run be it out of fear or panic to a place of empowerment asking…
What do I need? How do I feel? What do I need? How do I feel? What do I need? How do I feel?
As we are collectively navigating a global pandemic that has everyone in self-isolation and social distancing with lots of time to sit in stillness and contemplate life, personally, I am thinking about motherhood. I have had two abortions and one miscarriage and as I sit here typing this I am currently going through my third abortion in my late 30’s. This one has hit me the hardest in ways I could not have imagined.
Over the years, the maternal yearning I had to create a family started to feel like societal pressure to achieve an accomplishment. The fantasy I had imagined became a crushing reality as I began to focus on my career instead of finding a husband, slowly over time, I started to convince myself to grieve the possibility of ever becoming a mother and having a family. Of ever finding love in a romantic partnership.
My life had been a series of traumatic tragedies and painful losses. A series of never the right time, many, not much, not enough, toxic entanglements with unavailable and inappropriate people, power struggles with people in positions of authority and unhealthy amounts of responsibility.
At some point yearning to be a mother became pressure, pressure to check a box to prove my womanhood. Pressure to be alongside all the woman around me who were busting with bellies and celebrating motherhood milestones. But instead of checking societal boxes to prove my worth as a woman, I continued to feel like I was failing to meet these societal milestones. I continued to find myself in positions where the misalignment in what I wanted and what was happening made itself known by slapping me in the face as I sat on the floor waiting to figure out what I wanted and how I felt.
What do you want Giustina? Because you will continue to get what you don’t want until you find your truth.
Sometimes it takes a massive curve ball to make you meet the part of yourself you have buried and tricked yourself into now wanting, because the wanting without receiving hurts too much.
This time I wanted to keep the baby, this time I wanted to try. This time I didn’t want to choose death.
This time we were being forced to stay home, with limited income and everything uncertain.
Sometimes choosing to have an abortion is a clear choice and sometimes it’s not the easiest choice but the right choice for right now.
This experience has forced me to confront what it means to be a mother, to be a partner, to be me.
While I am still sorting through the emotional and physical aftermath of choosing not to bear a child during this global pandemic, I also want to talk about what is not being said.
Post Abortion Depression (PAD. It is a real thing. And I want to shed some light on what is still considered a taboo topic and the potential aftermath because I haven’t found much information on it other than some of the signs and symptoms which are similar to clinical depression and can include:
· Regret or remorse
· Numbness and apathy
· Low appetite and libido
· Sleep problems and bad dreams
· Relationship issues
· Loss of self-esteem and/or self-confidence
· Feelings of isolation, loneliness, emptiness
Choosing to have an abortion can be a painful and conflicting choice to make and it can also be a relieving one. Whatever your experience is, be it private, sacred, open or honest I am sharing my story in the hopes that anyone suffering in shame and judgment, regret or remorse doesn’t feel alone. There is a level of unspoken awkwardness, fear and secrecy surrounding this whole topic which surprising still exists. From the moment of taking the pregnancy test, to telling your partner, to making the decision on what to do, to making the doctor’s appointment, to deciding which procedure to go through, to filling out forms while people stare, to walking down the hall to put on the gown, to being awake, to being asleep, to the bloody pads, heart breaking tears and the walk of shame out the door afterwards. Reading stories of other women who expressed similar experiences have helped me find compassion toward myself as I continue to reflect on what it means to be a woman. A woman who has had three abortions.
Throughout it all, I chose to love myself and the experiences that have made me, unapologetically me.
If you, or anyone you know who has experienced an abortion, miscarriage or trauma please feel free to contact me at The Journey Inward Project. firstname.lastname@example.org
You are not alone and I am sending you lots of love, virtual social distancing hugs and space to feel whatever you feel.
With a conscious heart in hopes that I will bring you home one day,