Anonymous Mom is a column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this anonymous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity. You can read our other Anonymous Mom submissions here.
My son has bright blonde hair and beautiful clear blue eyes. He’s smart and funny. He’s got a short temper—some people would say he gets it from me—but is kind and compassionate. He’s so many wonderful things.
He’s also a child born of rape.
I was 18. I’d been dating a guy for a few weeks when we made plans for me to stay over at his apartment. It would be our first time sleeping together, and I was excited. I even brought my own condoms—a condom that he removed after a few minutes because, as he joked then, “skin to skin or it doesn’t go in.”
I was terrified of pregnancy and STIs. That had been the bulk of my sexual education—that both of them were bound to happen if you had sex before marriage. I said, “No, no sex without a condom.” I said, “I’m not on the pill.” I said, “I don’t want to get pregnant.” I said, “Please stop.”
When he was done, he said, “Thank you.” I rolled away and tried not to cry. Then I rolled back to him. I didn’t want to feel violated. I didn’t want to feel afraid. I wanted to feel safe. It’s a paradox, to reach for those things in the person who, up until this moment, you trusted, and who yanked it all away.
Eight weeks later, the stick had a plus sign.
My mind whirled like a cyclone: I had a full ride to a good school. I was getting good grades. I had no job. My parents would be devastated. I was setting a terrible example for my younger sisters. I couldn’t take care of a baby, I’d never even changed a diaper. Why did he do this to me?
And perhaps the most insidious question of them all—why did I let him do this to me?
It would be years before I would call what happened between us rape. I had been taught that if you so much as kissed a boy, you were consenting. That you could say yes to some things, and no to others, or that you could rescind consent if the situation changed—these ideas were utterly foreign to me. I knew that it felt wrong. I knew that I felt wrong. I felt dirty and used. I was hurt. But rape? No. It wasn’t what I had imagined. It wasn’t some stranger. It wasn’t some dark alley. It was someone who I knew and trusted. Who I cared about. Who I thought cared about me.
And now a pregnancy? I couldn’t imagine it.
Our state allows abortions to 20 weeks. I considered it. I had been raised to be vehemently pro-life, to believe that abortion was murder, and yet I thought about it. In the end, it came down not to principles, but to cost and fear—I had no money and I was terrified that my parents would find out.
Throughout my pregnancy, the specter of fear loomed over me: Would I be able to love this child? I still didn’t call what had happened “rape”. Thinking about it left a distasteful sensation in the back of my mind, so I tried not to. I focused on my pregnancy. “Have a healthy baby,” became the mantra that played in the dark recesses of my mind every time those feelings rose. Sometimes I resented the pregnancy. Sometimes I resented my coming child. Sometimes I resented my son’s biological father. Sometimes I resented myself.
I contemplated suicide. I’d struggled with major depressive disorder for years, and had been hospitalized the year before for an attempt. I had decided to go off of my medication during my pregnancy because of the potential effects on a baby. “Have a healthy baby,” played through my head over and over, pushing the thoughts back down.
I spent nights unable to sleep, my mind constantly running between all of the various fears that pregnant women have—would I be a good mom? How likely is SIDS? Should I breastfeed? How will I raise a good person? And still that question: Will I love my child?
On a chilly winter night, my labor started. Fifteen hours of textbook work later, I had a healthy beautiful baby boy, and I was instantly in love. I do not regret, knowing what I know now, continuing my pregnancy. My son is a joy in my life. And yet, it absolutely infuriates me to hear people say, “A child of rape is a gift. A blessing. God’s plan.”
I was in an ideal situation, with tons of support. My parents and grandmother, who made it entirely possible for me to work and go to school with no worries over childcare, just for a start. Caring friends that worked hard to maintain relationships. Professors that worked with me to schedule finals around my delivery date. My son is a blessing because I had options.
Of all the good things, there have been trade-offs too. I spent years repressing the emotions surrounding my rape, focusing on my pregnancy and then on motherhood, until they boiled over, leaving me feeling like I couldn’t breathe. My depression cycled, sometimes out of control. I traded my life, as a teenager and college student, for the life of a mother, working and trying to go to school. I sometimes joke that even my body was gone before I’d gotten a chance to use it—I was not even allowed to wear a bikini as a teen, and the inevitable presence of stretch marks deterred me even once I was out on my own.
I paid a price for that night—a price that my son’s biological father never will.
Like many victims, I opted not to go to the police. After all, at the time, I didn’t even consider it rape—I just knew that it felt wrong. Even if I had, what would it have accomplished? I can just imagine it: “Well, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, did you know she lost her virginity at 16? That she wasn’t on the pill because she SMOKED and had been smoking for years? That she lied to her parents about where she was that night? That she brought her own condoms? That she said 'yes' and she wanted it? I rest my case!”
Perhaps that’s too much of a caricature, but it’s true. I was far from a perfect victim.
Every child a wanted child: it’s a beautiful idea. An idea for a perfect world. That’s not the world that we live in. The world we live in is messy and chaotic. It’s dangerous, and it’s hard. In the world that we live in, the right to choose is paramount. Reproductive freedom is paramount. It should be guarded at all costs. The only person who has the right to decide whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy is the person carrying the child. The only person who had the right to make that decision for me, was me.
My story is not a bulletin point on someone’s political agenda.
(photo: Getty Images)