I stood in my room, surveying the damage. My closet had been ripped apart. Clothes were strewn all over the floor. My mattress was also across the floor. My makeup and hair tools swiped off my dresser, scattered across the carpet. It looked like I had been ransacked and robbed.
But it was just my father.
He stood in the doorway, still wearing his army flight suit, dark with anger. He’d gone through my closet while I was out and found birth control. It was just before my sixteenth birthday. He clutched the pills and condoms in his hand and demanded, “Where did you get this?”
Looking at the floor, I muttered, “A clinic.” I was then informed me that I was grounded, indefinitely. Not just from TV, telephone and going out, but also from wearing makeup, doing my hair or wearing contacts. I’d be relegated to wearing my glasses and “being a kid again”.
I lived in Alabama with my father. While Mom and I had had talks about sex, Dad preferred to largely ignore it in regards to his kids and kept the household very strict. Meals were eaten with family at the same time each night. I made my bed with hospital corners and could bounce a quarter off of it. Curfew was 10 p.m. sharp on weekends and no socializing during the week. I called everyone “sir” or “ma’am” and always said please and thank you. And…I had floor-to-ceiling windows in my bedroom I’d sneak out of to see my boyfriend. I would describe him as a decent looking redneck football player. He introduced me to drag racing, Hank Williams Jr, four-wheeling and a few recreational drugs. I don’t think I even liked him that much. But he had a car, which got me out of my oppressive household of drinking, violent mood swings, early curfew and a strict military upbringing.
A few months later I was so tired, I could barely stand up. I had been granted the privilege of wearing makeup again, but began skipping it, because I barely had the energy to get to school. Normally a sugar fiend, I lost my craving for everything except protein. I’d scavenge our refrigerator for all the meat and cheese I could snack on between meals. I was nauseous all day long and dropping weight. I thought, “I don’t know what’s wrong, maybe it’s mono, but maybe I should take a pregnancy test just to make sure.” I dragged myself down to the nurses office, and when she came back with a “you’re pregnant”, a flash of hot terror sliced through me. FUCK. Fuck, fuck, fuck. What the FUCK will I do? My dad will KILL ME. He thought nothing of completely trashing my room over just finding condoms. This would be my end.
I now know that kind of severe sickness is called hyperemesis gravidarum and women usually end up in the hospital due to extreme dehydration for most of their pregnancy.
I needed to think. The clock was ticking. Every day that passed, I was running out of time to make a decision, as I was already past the two month mark and hurtling towards last call. Twelve weeks was the cut off for termination.
The sheer panic and stress over making this decision is unlike anything you can ever feel unless you yourself go through it. To this day, I’ve never experienced that same kind of gut-twisting panic. The boy and I had been seeing each other for 2 years. We talked and were on the same page as far as deciding that neither of us was in the position to take care of a child at this point. Our only option for abortion underage was to get married or tell my parents. I was so terrified of my dad, we decided to get married, but we’d have to do that in Georgia, since Alabama didn’t get underage kids get married. We planned it and I felt even sicker and what a fucking mess my life had suddenly turned into. I had ten days left.
I was stuck between a two very bad options, but I didn’t think I could go through with marriage at age 16. I knew I had to tell my Dad. It was the only way. I sat there, sick to my stomach with cold sweat for hours, trying to work up the courage. I casually walked by him sitting on the couch and said, “Dad…when you have a minute, can you come into my room? I need to talk to you.”
I sat on the bed and waited. My heart was pounding in my throat; my palms were slick with perspiration. He appeared in the doorway. I looked at him, took a breath and blurted, “I’m pregnant.”
He stared at me and didn’t say anything for a full minute. Then, he started to cry. I had NEVER seen my father cry. I was horrified. Through losing friends after Vietnam to a terrible divorce, he had never cried in front of me. Gutted, I realized how bad I was hurting him. Worse, I’d disappointed him. He turned his back to me and went into his room. I just sat there. He returned to my room and said, “Tomorrow. 8 am. Be ready.” He’d made an appointment at a clinic in Montgomery, a distance from us. Clearly, he didn’t want anyone to know about the trouble I’d gotten myself into.
“Okay.” Relief washed over me.
“I want more for you than this.” He stood in the doorway, tall and intimidating. “You’re too young and way too smart to waste your life. You can go places. But not this way and not tied to this guy. You would be tied to him and tied down for life. For LIFE. And I am not raising another kid. I raised mine.”
I didn’t have the courage to say, “Well, you’re the one who took away the birth control. I was being responsible. Any idea how hard it was to get that being underage, with no job, no money, and no car? Not fucking easy. I think it was pretty goddamn resourceful of me. What did you THINK would happen?” I just sat there, saying nothing. I probably didn’t have to say anything. He knew.
Early the next morning, it was a near silent drive up to Montgomery from Enterprise. It was an all-black clinic. I’d never really been exposed to many other races before except Koreans on the military base. He paid the extra fee for a local anesthetic. A big Jamaican nurse sat down next to me, and patted my hand. “Look, chile…it’ll be ok. You’ll be fine. You have plenty of time for this later, after you live your life first.” I went in to a sterile, bright white room, got on the paper covered table and the doctor inserted a cold speculum. I heard the sound of suctioning. In less than 5 minutes, it was done. I got up; they put me in a cold recovery room with Cheezit crackers and a soda. I found out I had an extremely tipped uterus and was RH negative. The reason I was so damn sick is because my body was trying to get rid of the fetus naturally, and it was likely RH positive. They gave me an injection to change my RH factor. I was told to wear a pad and how to avoid infection. I was given birth control pills and told this procedure would not affect any future pregnancies. (It didn’t.) I made the judgment that all black people were kind and nice.
It was a surprisingly not unpleasant experience and the very first time I didn’t feel sick, stressed and wound up with anxiety in weeks. It was in Dad’s hands now and my stomach finally stopped churning.
On the ride home, “I’m sorry.”
I felt better the next day. Human. The weight had been lifted. It was not a decision I’m either proud of or ashamed of. It just was.
Some of my friends have had children very young. They love them dearly and their kids add much to their lives. However, the story is usually the same. “I wish I could have waited longer.”
You wouldn’t be reading this blog if I’d chosen to have a baby. You’d have never seen me wrestle. You’d never see me model. I don’t know what I’d be doing, but it wouldn’t be this. No one has to live with the decision except me…and probably my parents, because they WOULD have had to step in. I went on to go to college, travel and do interesting things people pick my brains about (usually in awe) all the time. I wouldn’t have seen a lot of the world or experienced life as I’ve been able to.
For me, it was the right choice. I wouldn’t change a thing. And I’m grateful that I had a choice to begin with.
This was a hard blog to write. I know some will be offended, but again…no one lives with my decisions except me. I later found out I have rapid cycling Bipolar disorder, which is genetically passed on. My father had it. I would never want anyone else to have to live with this. It’s a hard, hard thing to manage.
The old boyfriend emailed me several years ago. He said he was doing random construction in Mississippi and has had a “shitty life”. My friend back in Alabama said he’d been in trouble several times for beating his wife. This, I know is true…I’d been on the receiving end of it a few times. It made me think that despite what we think of our parents when we’re young – or how much we THINK we know, that maybe, just maybe they really do know what’s best for their kids after all.
COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
Photo – Chris Freeman Photography
12 thoughts on “Chapter 2: The Choice.”
Excellent and honest post, from someone I admired and adored watching as a young boy “knock a bitch’s head off”. I love strong women: women wrestlers and women writers definitely are on the top of the list. All that you have done requires great strength, and telling this story and all the others, as well as dealing with the loss of a loved one, requires greater strength still. As someone who has had to be a pallbearer twice in 2012, I give you nothing but love and respect. Keep writing!
WOW. It takes plenty of strength to share something this personal. I’ve had some trials n my life, I think I’m inspired for my next blog.
You have a great deal of courage young lady. I am a middle aged 56 -now single- Canadian and father of two wonderful young men. When in university-age 20- I went through a very similar experience from the other side and I agree it was neither good nor bad it just was. Nonetheless it defined me in ways I never expected, both favourable and not so much. But I am still here and breathing so that is good.
I just wanted to say thank you, your story really hit an old deep note in me I have not listened to for sometime. PH
A dear friend of mine has a son who was diagnosed a year and a half ago with Bipolar II. Helping her deal with how to best help him meant understanding the ‘manic-depressive’ world. If I didn’t have a whack of respect for you before…and I’m sure you know I do, even just given ‘Counted, But Not Out’…I certainly do now. Your post just reinforces my belief in you being a tremendously talented warrior…whose life -and career- has only just begun. As the Brits are wont to say, ‘Well done, you!’
It isn’t my place to judge people in matters regarding reproductive matters. But I do wish you joy and peace and fulfillment.
I was raised in a dysfunctional family, and I have lived the hell of having an unreasonable, hateful and abusive father. It takes more than an ounce of raw courage to just to talk about a dark chapter. My brother was shoplifting before he became ill. My parents were divorced for a time, but remarried later on.
Your ability to overcome emotional pain and torment is inspiring. I’m not much into pro wrestling (baseball and football here), it shows that you’re a human being under all that glamor.
Loved your baby pic.
That was a beautifully written, emotion provoking blog. I can imagine the amount of soul searching it must have taken to pull that all together. I also offer my sincere heartfelt sympathies for the loss of your mother.
Both times I have had the pleasure to meet, I was amazed at what a funny, and creative person you were. Now I learned how deep and soulful you can be.
You really have a remarkable writing talent. Now if only you could sing……
Hope you have a happy thanks giving
Another great blog, I understand your decision and my mom did the same thing before I was born. My dad was a military vet also and he was very strict with me also. It’s weird how similar some peoples upbringings are without even knowing it. I was so scared to date that I didn’t date until I was 19 and out of my Dad’s house. While he was strict and tough, when he died in 2004 it killed me, because even though he was the way he was, I loved him. He was my dad, and to die of Cancer the way he did, just made it worse. Thanks for sharing April. Reading your blogs is a great inspiration and a real insight to your life that you don’t have to share but do. Thank you.
Expanding on my comment above, similar to being Bi-Polar, I have been diagnosed with OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and I take an Anti-depressant for those conditions that works fairly well. Every since I have been on the prescription (diagnosed in 2006), I have been a much happier and easy going person. Having Mental conditions is no fun, my wife (before me being diagnosed) was miserable being married to me and when she was pregnant (right before diagnosis) it was the worst with me and the anxiety attacks, and that’s what finally got me to get the medications. But the point is that never feel like you are alone, their are tons of us out there that have mental issues, and many that don’t talk about it much, I guess because we don’t want people to think we are looney or crazy or something.
That was an incredible read. You were right, you hold nothing back, it is what it is and for that I applaud you. I see you have been through quite a bit in your life and this is only chapter 2. I can’t wait to read chapter 3,4,5 and beyond. You have a way of eloquently putting things, I find myself drawn in no matter how emotionally gut wrenching the passage may be. You have a gift for words and hopefully will continue the path that includes writing as part of your massive arsenal of talents that you share with the public. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
I’m very proud of you, this was very hard for you I am sure. It does open our eyes when we realize when our parents do know best-scary how we develop that talent—believe me. All they wanted was the best for you, you to be happy and do what you wanted and believe in-you have and you’re like a hero to me xoxo
Hi there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my
zynga group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really
appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thank you