It had not been a good year. 1974 started with a tragedy, and was followed shortly thereafter by the heartache of a broken engagaement. Just when I thought I was getting my life back together, it appeared as though my year was going to end with an unwanted pregnancy.
Colorado was one of the few States at the time where abortion was legal, and although I found everything about the thought abhorrent, I was unmarried, pregnant, and scared. At the age of 21, I wasn't prepared for this. In a state of denial, I made an appointment to terminate the pregnancy.
Boulder CO was a progressive and liberal city, and there was a clinic near campus. If I told anyone I was pregnant, I wouldn't be able to go through with it. On the morning of October 17, I sat in the waiting area with a room full of teenage girls and their mothers, young girls who also found themselves in unwanted situations, who now had a legal avenue to pretend it had never happened.
A blur of sights and sounds, it was surreal waiting for the receptionist to call me for my 'procedure' to rid my body of my product of conception (POC, as it was commonly called). Having been raised in a strict Catholic family, I was going to be able to hide my ‘sin and transgression’ so no one would ever know what I had done ~ no one but me.
I watched the young girls with their mothers, laughing as though they were out for an afternoon tea, laughing as though we were not there to make life-altering decisions. I tried to make myself numb to my reality. If I didn’t think about it, it couldn’t hurt me, right? I'd learned that lesson at the beginning of the year, so I pulled my cloak of indifference around me again.
Finally it was my turn. They called my name and told me to follow the nurse to the back room. It wouldn’t take long, and it shouldn't hurt. Standing at the desk to pay to keep my secret, my focus altered. I looked at the receptionist, and at the young girls who seemed unconcerned with what they were doing. I looked at their mothers who sat with them, believing they were doing what was best for their young daughters.
Without a word, I picked up my coat and walked into the crisp autumn air. I found the nearest payphone and called my mother, knowing with that act, my child’s life would no longer be in jeopardy. I called the baby’s father who desperately wanted to marry me, and told him we needed to talk.
For the past 45 years on October 17, I have celebrated the Life Day of my first born daughter. When she was old enough to understand, I told her about the decision of her young mother that day. I tell her often how I never once regretted it, and how thankful I am that she's mine. Her Life Day is a special bonding time between us, and a time of rejoicing.
As we celebrate another year, and as I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I recognize that each day presents us with choices, and each of those choices has a consequence ~ good or bad. There's no way to show my special feelings for this precious life with which I've been blessed, but I'll never grow tired of saying the words, “I love you, Betsy, I’m so glad you’re my daughter.”
Here is a video of Betsy that I found from several years ago . . .