I was 26 when I was pregnant. I had a relapse with an old flame five days before my long-distance boyfriend was due for a visit. Both used the withdrawal method. Four weeks later, two weeks after my boyfriend went back to his country, I discovered I was pregnant. I was shocked and confused, and I called my boyfriend. Very quickly we decided we would have an abortion, although something bothered me that the decision was "too easy." I felt I wasn't ready to raise a child and that it would seriously derail me from reaching my aspiration of becoming a writer, which was everything to me. At the time I lived in an Asian country where abortion is illegal, so I told my boyfriend there was no way I'd do it in some back alley army clinic there, I wanted to do it in Europe with him. Problem was, I had to apply for a visa and it took a long time. I applied mid-March when my boyfriend was with me and I got the visa to go on May 1.
With so many weeks of waiting, I became more attached -- I'm still not entirely sure to what -- the novelty of the pregnancy experience, the intriguing vision of having a life entirely different from what I planned for myself, or the fetus itself -- I only knew the decision became harder. Out of the blue, the old flame insisted to see me, and when I did, he said I had a certain glow, he wondered if I were pregnant, how strange and funny it would be. I got upset and told him I was in fact pregnant. I told him I wanted a paternity test -- I thought if I knew who the father was, it would help me make the decision. At first, he seemed supportive. However, in mere 24 hours he did a complete 180 and told me he didn't want to have anything to do with me and the pregnancy anymore.
This sent me into a turmoil: at first I could handle having to go with abortion, but suddenly there was the paternity test and whether I ought to tell my boyfriend, and I started thinking about adoption. I also started to feel for my fetus, I knew what it was like to be unwanted. Since neither possible father wanted it, I thought I had to love it and protect it more, since I was the only one it had. I knew it was illogical, it was probably the hormones, and I still thought not having the baby was the right choice for me, but I didn't think it was contradictory that I also loved its presence.
Anyway, I left for Europe on May 1, and my boyfriend and I could finally discuss our options in person. At this time, I knew if I listened to my feelings or sentiments, I would never have come to a decision. So I was determined to only listen to my head, to reason and logic. I knew intellectually that I wasn't ready to become a parent, that my boyfriend and I couldn't afford to raise a child at the time, and it would seriously derail me from my lifelong dreams and goals. I resolved to get an abortion. I didn't go for the paternity test, I couldn't afford it. I had a surgical abortion at 12 weeks gestation. My boyfriend came with me. The doctors, nurses, and staff were very professional and reassuring. The hospital ward and beds were very comfortable. I was grateful I didn't have to go through it alone in some unsafe, unsanitary facility. I slept through the procedure and woke up with a strange feeling. It was like as though nothing had happened. But then I saw blood on the sheets and I knew it had happened. I had nightmares the night after that and sometimes I felt the phantom fetus, the way an amputated person still feels their missing arm. But I woke up the next day to a clear blue sky and I knew I would be okay. Still, I felt some loss and felt I had to make sense of the experience, perhaps I needed a closure.
I thought of planting a tree, of wearing black for a week and go into mourning, getting a tattoo that would always remind me of the experience, etc. I cried and was angry a lot. I guess a lot of it was connected to the pressure I was feeling about finishing my book. I felt I had chosen not to have the baby mainly because I wanted to be sure first that I could make it as a writer. I realized I was angriest when I was most in doubt; I felt if I didn't make it, then my giving up the family way would be a big mistake. But then I also identified with the fetus, I couldn't help thinking that it was my first child. But then again, I loathed seeming a stereotypical weak Asian woman who grew up with conservative values. On one hand, I truly feel loss. On another hand, I think that if I got pregnant again, I would abort it again. On still another hand, I hate it when I let my sadness or confusion show, I felt it was so fake and cheap of me letting it show. Perhaps I’m afraid to be seen as weak and sentimental, perhaps I know I’m prone to using it for unworthy things. Maybe it disturbed me so much because I still didn’t know how to deal with my experience. For days I was really conflicted.
However, after talking to friends with their own abortion experience, I decided I had to do what I, as a unique individual, thought was best for me: I would think of it as indeed my first child, who died, and I would do as people do when they lost a loved one. I would mourn and grieve, realize that life would never be the same, that no one else could ever take their place—but then, go on with life, carrying and loving the memory of that person in your heart. Make sure that their life, and death, mattered and was not in vain. And then try to get a full and rich life ourselves, so when we die we’ll know our lives and death too were not in vain. Because of this experience I value even more the life path I'm on now, I don't take it so much for granted anymore. I’m also grateful that the pregnancy helped me make up my mind to leave for Europe, out of reach of my abusive old flame, and now here I can start a new life with someone who really loves me.
Also, admitting how hard it has been for me and how much I need to come up with a closure that worked best for me, the more I believe that abortion should be a choice available for all women. I'm certain that even though my experience was hard for me, it would not necessarily be hard for other women. I was 26, had a boyfriend (we're married now), educated, and could get a better job if I really wanted to raise a child, which was probably why it was harder for me. I imagined if I were 16 and alone, it wouldn't have been as hard. I'm also aware there are so many other complex situations in which women may find themselves in, situations even more complex and crazier than mine, and they shouldn't be denied a choice or pressured or coerced into any decision. My solution and closure, while work for me, may be ridiculous for other women, and I acknowledge that. We are complicated beings and I feel everyone needs to determine for themselves what is best in their situation.