When I started my freshman year of college, this was the last thing I would ever have imagined would happen. A few weeks after conception, I started having those feelings like I was pregnant. I hadn’t missed a period or anything, but I just had that feeling. I waited way too long to find out if it was just a worry. I felt that my worries were simply me making too much of something. After all, we had always been careful and used condoms, and if the condom had ever by chance broken, I had gotten Plan B immediately. But week after week I felt myself gain weight, feel very tired and sick, and I missed a period finally. It just didn’t feel real. 10 weeks in, I got my first pregnancy test. I was at my boyfriend’s house when I took it and when I told him we just both sat there. So incredibly scared and young and unprepared for a situation like this.
We visited a Planned Parenthood in the city where he lived the next day, and they confirmed I was pregnant and that I was 10 weeks along. They told me that whatever I decided to do, I needed to act fast. I immediately knew I needed an abortion. I mean I’m only 17 and I’m a freshman in college. I’m going to school, and I aspire to go to law school! I can’t imagine trying to care for a child and give it a good life at this point in my own life.
They were extremely kind and helpful in helping me to find a clinic in the town where my university is. I scheduled an appointment with them for an ultrasound for two weeks from then. I had to wait because it was Thanksgiving and I could not tell anyone about this. My whole family is sternly Catholic. My mother used to be a nun. They would disown me if they even knew I was ever pregnant. This whole time I became increasingly sick. I would listen to my stomach growl and growl with hunger while nausea crept up on me at the same time. If I was able to eat a few bites, which almost always came right back up, the nausea would just leave me sitting there paralyzed. So exhausted and hungry and sick and scared, at every single moment. My boyfriend was so absolutely wonderful to me during this time. Right after we found out is when the nausea became unbearable, and I began throwing up a lot. Every single time he would just clean me up and help me and bring me water and wipe the tears from my eyes. He was so kind and sweet to me and I can’t ever thank him enough for being the person that he was during that time.
Finally, the time for the ultra sound came. I sat for a very long time, and as my boyfriend goes to school in another city and had class, I was alone. The counselors did small things like speak to me and check me in, take my blood and whatnot. Finally it was my turn. I was shocked that the ultrasound was not one of those belly ones you see on TV. It was like a full blown, camera-inside-you type of deal. The nurse calmly told me to undo my pants and underwear and sit on the table. Shocked, I sat there crying small tears. I live in Texas, and there is a law here that says that doctors are required to keep the sound on loud during the ultrasound. This means that the heart beat can be heard very loudly. There was nothing more difficult than hearing that sound. That made everything 100 times more real and difficult for me. I closed my eyes to fight back tears and plugged my ears as hard as I could.
The doctors wanted to show me some ultrasound picture, and I wanted nothing to do with it. They told me I was at 13 weeks and must have a procedure soon if that was my desire. That next week I had finals and the week after that one I would be home. I knew I did not want my parents to see me after the procedure or to know I had had one. So I was forced to have it on the day I had a final. It was my only real option as the doctors only performed these procedures on Thursdays. My boyfriend drove in the night before to take me to my appointment at 8am. My final wasn’t until 4:30 and I was well versed on the topic, so I thought I would be alright.
Now in the US, abortions are legal for women over 18. I am only 17 and do not have the option or luxury of telling my parents and having them sign for me, nor did I have time or money for a judicial override. All I had was my boyfriend. I was in a bind and didn’t know what to do and ended up signing some legal paper which said that I solemnly swore that I was 18. Perhaps my college I.D. assured them this was the truth. In any case, I was through that and on to the next terrifying thing.
The next counselor informed me that I was too far along to simply just have a procedure; I needed dilating medication of which I was unaware of until then. This tacked on another two hours. I couldn’t take the Xanax to calm me because I needed to be aware for my final. During my pregnancy I had much difficulty swallowing pills. I threw up the dilation medication. By this time it was 10:30 and I was concerned I would be too exhausted to take my final after the surgery medication. After a while of the dilation medication I started having these terrible cramps that only the heating pad could help. Finally around 1pm I was taken to the operating room. They put the IV in my arm and that was the last thing I knew. I felt nothing, I saw nothing, and my memory is very very foggy on what even happened in that room.
Afterwards, I was helped to put on my pants and went back to the room where the heating pads were. They offered me crackers and soda, which I took because I hadn’t eaten since 7pm the night before. I threw that up as well. Finally, I stopped being out of it enough to be taken back to my boyfriend who helped me to the car and took me to buy pads and to go home. It was in that moment that I realized I loved him. Groggy, sick, confused, and still scared, but he was taking care of me, and I loved him for it. When we got to the store to buy pads and we were standing in line to buy them, I could feel it coming. I threw up again. He took me back to my dorm where I napped on his shoulder for an hour before he drove me to my final, which I aced. He drove me back to my room where I tried to eat half a sandwich. Which I also threw up. Finally, I fell asleep.
This was the most terrifying and anxiety ridden situation of my life. The people of Planned Parenthood are among the most excellent I have ever met. They treated me with such kindness and respect and calmed my nerves so much. I don’t regret my decision. It’s been three weeks, only a short time I know, but I know I did the right thing. I’m still a child myself, I can’t handle one. I’m paying for all my own school with no help and I can barely make my own ends meet. That’s just not what I was for my babies. But I can’t help feeling in the back of my mind and heart that I might’ve done something wrong. And that thought lingers, and scares the crap out of me.