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I grew up the third of eight children. My parents were just out of high school when they became pregnant with my oldest brother, still teenagers - and extremely religious. They gave up their dreams of becoming a dancer and a drummer and had to drop out of college and ended up with seven more children after that. My parents had a rocky relationship and my dad left when I was eleven and my youngest sibling was still a toddler. My two older siblings were reckless and trouble-makers (most of us were to an extent) and took off before they were fifteen, which left me to help my mom raise my five younger siblings.

Last month, I found out that I was pregnant with my boyfriend of six years. I'm twenty-one and I work at a nonprofit. But regardless, I wanted to keep it. After discussing it with my boyfriend, (we can call him, C, for the purpose of this story) who wasn't as fond of the idea (citing my dysfunctional parents as example number one), I went to the doctor.

As a kid, I had a lot of medical issues tied to a syndrome that a lot of kids in my family have. Basically I don't heal like normal people - it takes me a lot longer to produce scar tissue. So the abdominal surgeries I had from medical issues when I was a teenager, made it dangerous to carry a child full-term. It was a really difficult decision that I did NOT take lightly in the slightest. But ultimately, I had to go with what made the most sense medically and economically, even if my heart and everything inside me screamed, NO!

I couldn't tell anyone either. Not only was I terrified, but I knew not even my little brother who's only eleven months younger than me and has been one of my best friends practically my entire life, would understand. After a lot of quiet consideration (and slightly out of fear that he already suspected and would tell my mom), I told one of my older brothers. He was fully supportive of the decision because he doesn't believe anyone in our family should further our gene-pool, but that's really beside the point. He even helped C and I pay for it.

At the clinic, C was there for me the entire time, and never once did I feel alone, but that doesn't mean I wasn't traumatized. Because it was terrible. The staff was fairly nice, although the receptionist was rather salty, and one of the nurses was a judgmental bitch (I'm sorry, but it's true). When the doctor left the room and she was putting in the IV for the sedative, she was being very nosy and acting all high and mighty. She kept staring at me like I was an idiot, especially after I refused their offer to insert some kind of birth control device. Finally, I snapped at her and she kept her mouth shut while she started wrapping the rubber around my arm. First, she tied it /way/ tighter than it needed to be, which wasn't so bad, but then when she opened the little cap at the top to hook me up to the drugs, blood started squirting out, dripping everywhere. She laughed it off like it wasn't a big deal, even though I was covered with blood and it made me slightly queasy. And when she started to clean in up she kept moving the needle around in my veins to "wipe it all up", which hurt like a son-of-a-gun. And THEN, after all of that, I watched her run out of the latex-free tape ('cause I'm super allergic). I turned away for one second to answer a question C asked me, and the next thing I know she slapped on a latex bandage, and before I could mention anything the doctors were swarming in the room and they were shooting me up with the sedative. When I got home, I ripped it off as soon as I could, once the drugs wore off and I felt my arm stinging like crazy. There was a rash spread up and down my arm, and the skin beneath the bandage was, is /still/ discolored and marked.

It's been exactly two weeks since I terminated the pregnancy, and today was the first day I worked up the nerve to tell someone. I can't confide in any of my family (even my brother), because nobody would understand and I can already feel their judgment weighing me down. There are some days when I can fake it really well, and some days where I just can't.

This week, I found out that a very, very close friend of mine is struggling for his life in the hospital, and I don't know, everything just keeps piling on. I had to tell someone, so I told my honorary big brother, K. Somebody I've known since I was eleven-years-old and who's considered me the little sister he never had. He was was the closest thing to family I could tell without judgment. He suggested I write my story, which is why I went searching for something like this.

I've spent the past two weeks feeling sad, guilty, relieved, regretful, and ashamed. I haven't told anyone, but I named the baby, Lincoln. His birthday would've been October 25th, 2015. Which, incidentally happens to be my favorite month. K told me that I need to shed the shame first and foremost. But I don't know if that will ever fade. I have this deep, dark secret now that I can't even tell my little sister who's legitimately my best friend in the entire world. Today she asked me, "So... when are you and C gonna give me a niece or nephew?" and I wanted to sob, but I've always been good at hiding my emotions.

Instead, I replied, "Not for a long time, until we're damn good and ready to be parents." It tasted like a bitter lie in my mouth when really, it was a bitter half-truth that I'm still finding hard to swallow.

I keep telling myself that it's better this way. C can follow his dreams to be a successful musician, and I can write outlandish stories and draw ridiculous pictures until my heart's content. But I only half-believe it myself. I mean, it's true, but it comes at a terrible price. Logic has beat out emotion this entire journey up until this point, and despite that, I'm having trouble keeping it that way. The emotions are swirling around inside of me like a vicious hurricane crashing around in my head until I can't hold it in anymore. I barely made it off the light rail yesterday before I burst into tears (even though I got semi-good news about my friend in the hospital). Sometimes, it feels like between my demanding job, my dying friends ('cause there are several of them), and my large, unruly and reliant brothers and sisters, I'm drowning and nobody's noticed.

For as long as I can remember, I've been the one my siblings can always count on. I support everyone with whatever they need. My mom shamed me so much as a child for not being girly, spending WAY too much time with my brothers, and acting "too tough for my own damn good", that I never wanted my siblings to feel the same way. I withhold judgment and I keep my phone on at all times so that they can call me no matter what time it is. Whether it be homework help, school-yard bullies, friend-drama, late-night pick-ups from uncomfortable parties, holding their hair back while their puking, or just listening to them cry about a bad nightmare until they fell back to sleep, I've always been there for all of them. Even my parents.

And now, when I need them the most, I feel more alone than I've ever felt in my entire life.