I had my abortion exactly three months after I lost my virginity. I am writing this story about nine months to the day I got pregnant at 22 years old. If I did not have my abortion, I would probably be holding a brand new baby in my arms right now. So, as I sit and reflect there is some sadness, lots of wondering about what things would have been like if I'd made a different decision, and a whole other host of emotions I can't really even begin to decipher. But I know that I made the right decision for me.
If one year ago someone had told me I'd be in this position I would have never believed them. I was the one everyone went to for their information about contraception, I was a "good girl," I waited until I was 22 years old to even have sex, I was finishing up college with honors and had a bright future ahead of me. I did things by the book and stayed out of trouble. Although I didn't consider myself extremely pro-life, I never thought I would get an abortion. Well life had different plans for me...
I met my boyfriend the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college. By the time Christmas rolled around, we were an official couple and I was head over heels in love. I had lost my virginity to him and we were as happy as could be. Fast forward to January 29, 2012, a condom slipping off, the morning after pill and several tense hours of asking pharmacists if the antibiotics I was on would decrease the effectiveness of the morning after pill. Turns out it did. Two weeks after that fateful day and pretending that I was not pregnant, I sat in my bathroom crying and holding a positive pregnancy test. Thinking back to that day, I think I was more shocked than anything else. I remember texting my boyfriend and then calling him and saying "I can't have a baby right now." Then I said I had to get ready for class, hung up and went about my day in a daze. I don’t think I even let him say anything to me.
After telling my boyfriend and taking two more tests, I told my three best friends and my parents. For me, it was important to feel supported by them in my decision, but at the same time I knew that they would have their own beliefs, ideas and opinions about the position I had gotten myself into and the decision I was about to make. All I got was support from them at the time and that made the experience so much easier. But they were all oceans and hundreds of miles away. I felt like it was really just me and my boyfriend. While I didn’t quite feel like I got the emotional reaction from him that I wanted right away, I never once feared that he’d walk away from this situation and leave me and knew that he would support me in any way he could with whatever decision I made. I am so glad I had a good partner who was there for me through this entire experience. But, it was an extremely rough couple weeks for us. We were both dealing with the situation in our own way and were scared to death. I couldn’t have asked for a better support system though between him, my family and my friends.
On the day of my procedure, the nervous energy between the two of us in that car ride was unbelievable. Thinking back on it now, we were just two very scared "kids" having to deal with a very adult situation.
When we got to the clinic we sat and waited in a tense silence with everyone else in the waiting room, still holding hands. My name was finally called and I had to let go and embark on this-- one of the most momentous occasions in my life thus far. I sat in another waiting room and filled out more forms, went into another room and paid, then went to the back and got some tests done. After waiting some more, I was taken to the ultrasound room. I was dreading this part. I really thought this would have been what finally broke me down. I remember specifically telling the tech that I did not want to see or hear anything at all. She did the ultrasound and told me I was about six and a half weeks along and that there really wasn’t anything to see or hear anyway. This made me feel better for some reason. The less humanlike it was the better, as far as I was concerned.
I was given a gown and told to undress. Then my name was called and I went into the procedure room. I lay on the table, with my legs in stirrups, feeling so exposed while the anesthesiologist put an IV in my arm. Last thing I remember is her smiling at me and patting my arm and the seemingly cold and uninterested doctor giving me a pelvic exam. Next thing I know, I’m up, lounging in a chair with a group of other half-awake women. And honestly, I think at this point my initial reaction was thank God I don’t feel nauseous anymore and it’s over. Little did I know this was the calm before the storm.
I was given some medications to take, a follow up appointment and walked out to my poor boyfriend who looked like he’d had a stressful and tiring day. We got back to my dorm and up until that point it had all just seemed so surreal. The first real hint of any emotion came as we lay in bed getting some rest. I remember holding my belly and crying and saying, "it’s just sad that there used to be a baby there and now there isn’t." He just held me close and let me cry. That was just what I needed at that point. I cried for the loss of a child that never would be. Even then, I didn’t regret the decision. I just mourned the loss and I probably always will.
I didn’t really deal with my emotions about my abortion until several months after it happened. I thought about all the ways I could have not gotten pregnant in the first place. What if I had just stopped being so ridiculous and gotten on the pill from before? Is this punishment for the few times we didn’t use a condom? Should I have waited some more to have sex? What if I wasn’t on that damn antibiotic, would the morning after pill have worked? What if I did have the baby, where would I go, how would we support ourselves, would I have still been able to finish school, etc? What would it have been like to be pregnant right now? I would be buying baby clothes for my own baby instead of my cousin’s. These and many more questions were my constant companions. More than the what ifs, however, was the guilt, the feeling of shame to some degree. I had disappointed my parents, myself, I had become another statistic, I was irresponsible, etc. How could I get pregnant? Why was the world so unfair? What was the point of even waiting and being educated about all the things they say you should know? It didn’t help me did it? After hearing for your entire life how bad it was to get pregnant and make sure and focus on school, etc, I had done the very thing I was warned not to do. These are the feelings I still struggle with the most.
So now, nine months later, where am I in this journey? Well, since I’m writing this I obviously am not completely over it. Not a day goes by that this isn’t on my mind. My abortion is like this personal mark that I feel I will always wear. I think of it every time the discussion comes up in one of my classes. I am like wow I am one of those 4.3 million women. That will never change. It is now a part of me. It is an experience that will never leave me. Most times it’s sad to think about, but I try and think about what I have learned from the experience.
I now know without a doubt where I stand on abortion rights. I am sure as hell glad that I was able to have the choice to have one done safely when I was in the situation. And I think that all women should be given the option. It could really happen to every and anyone and you never know what decision you’re going to make. It’s not as traumatic an experience as I thought it was and it’s a lot more common than anyone wants to admit. I also realized what was really important to me. I do want to finish school, have a career, bring my kids into a situation where I can provide for them. Was it a selfish decision? Probably a little bit, yes. But every time I wonder about that, I think about something I read. I didn’t just do that for myself and my future but for my future kids. Could we have supported a baby? Maybe, but with its parents living halfway across the world from each other, their mother highly unemployable and dependent on her grandparents. Not the ideal situation. Would I do it again if I found myself pregnant? I don’t know. My situation is different now.
So nine months later, I’m OK. I have an amazing support system. I know that my decision was the right one. And I know that life will keep going on day by day. I will have bad days but I’ll have a lot more good days. I will probably have a few more breakdowns in my future. But I will survive. Will I ever be able to share my secret with others? I don’t know. I sometimes think of it because I am sure there is someone out there, who maybe I know that could be dealing with this. But for now, it’s still a little too personal and raw for me to go there. Many may not agree with my decision and that is their prerogative, but I am not a bad person. I was not irresponsible. I did not take the easy way out. I had an abortion and it will stay with me for the rest of my life, but it’s just another bump along this very crazy and unpredictable journey that I’m on. It does not define who I am and does not negate all the other good things I’ve done and will do in my life.