It was the second day of school at a new college where I was a transfer student in a new city with no friends that I found out I was pregnant. My long-term, long distance boyfriend and I had taken a break, and I slept with someone else on a whim. The condom came off and in a blur of youth and immaturity, I was sure it wouldn't happen to me. I guess.
I knew something was different in my body the next day. I took the test at student health services and sat alone on the gurney behind a thin curtain in the infirmary, sobbing, when it came back positive. I called my mother from a payphone on the street--as luck would have it, I had lost my cell phone.
Despite a liberal upbringing, I was humiliated to admit that not only had I clearly had casual sex, I had also "gotten" myself pregnant. But my mother explained matter-of-factly that she had had two [abortions], both while she was married, and one after she had already had three children. She felt no remorse and was certain she had made the right decision. She said, "this is just something that happens to women. Lots of women. It's an unfair part of biology. At least we can take care of it." Then, without missing a beat, she congratulated me on at least not having caught any nasty STDs.
It was the single most important conversation we have ever had as mother and daughter. She flew from Maine to New York, where I was at school, and came with me to the appointment. I was too early for a surgical abortion and didn't want to take RU-486 alone in my dorm room-- I couldn't imagine the excuses I would have to invent for people I had just met. I went back to the doctor two weeks later and had the surgery done alone, rode the subway home afterwards alone and told no one.
About a year and a half later I found out that my best friend had also had one. Despite never speaking about it, I have never felt guilty about my abortion. It was the wrong time in my life and I did not love or respect the man who would have become a father. I protected myself and my future. Though I intend to have children someday, given a similar circumstance, I would make the same choice again. I do not feel guilt or remorse for choosing abortion, but I have felt grief over my silence. So many of us have a story or a secret. This is mine. I am unbelievably relieved to finally tell it.