To my baby boy,
I loved you from the moment I knew you were growing in me. You are me and I am you, we are both one. The decision to terminate this pregnancy was the hardest thing I have ever, ever had to do. Wherever you are, I know you know all this, and that in the end, I did it for us.
The day I found out I was pregnant with you, we were so happy. I was struggling to get your 10-month-old brother to pose for pictures with the pregnancy stick and my only concern in the world at that time was making sure he didn’t put it in his mouth. Babies want to put everything in their mouth and your brother was no exception. My brain had already started the mental checklist of all the things we need to do to prepare for your arrival, including thinking about a bigger place, and your dad, always the rock in our family, brought me back to reality and reminded me to enjoy this moment of us all together. Celebrating you. We were so silly happy with joy to have you coming into our lives.
We eagerly waited as you went from the size of a poppy seed to a kidney bean and then went for the eight week appointment. As the weeks progressed from there, something wasn’t quite right. The doctor was talking to me extra carefully at our appointments; the number of pregnancy weeks on my medical reports wasn’t matching up with my own personal tracking. Call it all motherly intuition or something else, I don’t know, but I felt it. I brought it up with my family and everyone just said, “it’s fine, you might be overthinking it.”
At 12 weeks, my baby boy, you were the size of a plum. This is the societal norm of when families tell others they are pregnant. I went to my appointment with a renewed sense of excitement and got the standard tests done. Later that week, I had dinner with my friends and told them the celebratory news, we were having you my angel. That’s the last night I clearly remember and it was before my whole world went into freefall.
Just rearing the corner to week 13, you were just about the size of a peach, I got two missed calls from my doctor’s office. I was dealing with work related items, grading my students’ finals as we were at the end of the quarter, and your brother at home. I didn’t call the office back as I was sure it was just some paperwork or insurance information they needed. If it was urgent, they would have left a voicemail. The next day, I got more missed calls from the office and thought I would call later. At the end of the day, I got a voicemail from my doctor himself asking me to call him back, no matter the time. When I called him on his cell, he asked me if I was sitting down, and then proceeded to tell me that everything was, in fact, not alright. The next couple of weeks were a blur.
I went through additional testing to confirm what the doctors saw in the “standard” tests, that my journey together with you was short-lived and the longer I let things go, the more painful and complicated it would be, for both you and I. The chances you would even make it to birth, to meet the rest of the family, wasn’t something they considered as an option. You were the size of a navel orange and close to an apple. My beautiful little baby boy. I had to make a choice and I made the choice to discreetly terminate this pregnancy with the help of my doctors and with my husband at my side. No one at work knew I was pregnant. No one at work knew I went to have the procedure done. This was a choice I had to make and I made it for my baby.
I didn’t need you to be born to love you. You are me and I am you. We are two sides of the same coin.
I am not pro-abortion but I am pro-choice. But the thing is baby boy, until I had to go through this experience with you, I never fully understood the pain I would feel and the process involved. I struggled with accepting that there was nothing I could do to protect you. I struggled to let go of control.I struggled to come to terms with the fact that this wasn’t my fault. I struggled every day and I still do.
I am not pro-abortion but I am pro-choice.
The way people talk about abortion is like it’s a singular procedure, something that’s definitive – it has a beginning and an end. The way the media covers abortion is that it’s black or white. But that couldn’t be further from the truth: An abortion isn’t a singular choice of keeping the you or not. There are an infinite number of scenarios where an abortion can come into effect, and all of those scenarios include a journey, a decision and an ensuing feeling of, ‘what now?’
During our journey, I was fortunate enough to have your dad by my side, along with a team of medical professionals I was familiar, and comfortable, with. I cannot imagine navigating what I went through without my regular doctors by my side. I consider my medical team as the village it took to get us through to the other side. From the gentle, caring face at check-in during appointments, to the doctor that held my hand when I broke down post-procedure, to the educational moments of walking me through trying again, in fact encouraging me to try again, because my pregnancy hormones were already stimulated and due to my age, waiting may complicate things.
Baby, thank you for teaching me a lot about control, resilience and empathy. You reminded me that I can’t always be in control and make things happen the way I think they should. You reinforced my resilience in a way I never thought possible. You taught me to have empathy for people as things like an abortion are not always black and white. There is no right or wrong, just choice and understanding. And people simply cannot understand making a choice like this until they’re presented with it.
I want you to know, you paved the pathway for your new little sister. She will know about you and love you. I just hope that she grows up into a world that will respect her choices to do what is right for her, her body and her well-being.
Neha Kumar has over 14 years of experience operationalizing and scaling startups and is currently running a venture fund on a mission to build the next generation of game-changing consumer focused brands. In addition to running a venture fund, Neha is a lecturer at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Prior to launching her fund, Neha served as the COO and CFO of Create & Cultivate.