Browse stories

The first inkling I had that I was pregnant: the smallest things made me cry, like seeing strangers saying goodbye to each other in the airport. Things like burgers and hotdogs, which had never particularly appealed to me, became objects of obsession as I walked around the food court at the mall. As my period grew later and later, a strange little rash broke out under my eyes. Something was definitely different. Not wrong necessarily, just different.

I postponed taking a test until my period was so late that no other possibility could've existed. When I did take a test (actually, two tests, just to make extra sure), I was surprised at my own reaction. I had lived in fear of getting pregnant for the past seven years, and now that I actually was, the truth was a lot less horrible than I'd imagined.

I took my boyfriend for a walk in the woods. We sat on the trunk of a fallen ponderosa pine tree, and I told him I was pregnant. I had already scheduled my abortion, so there was no discussion of "should we keep it, or not?" Still, I will never forget the look on his face when I told him--fear, disappointment, surprise, even awe. "I guess now we know it's possible," I said. "For future reference." Strangely enough, there was a certain sense of comfort and peace in knowing that I could have a baby if I wanted one. I'm lucky that it happened with a man I'm still in love with, who I knew would be (and who was) completely loving and supportive throughout the whole process.

The next week was difficult, but it was also incredibly empowering. I didn't necessarily keep my pregnancy a secret, nor did I tell everyone. I decided to take this opportunity to be good to myself, to let my body observe the sensations of this very particular state of being. I was honest with everyone in a way that I'm usually not. Eating whatever, sleeping a lot...I admit, I might've taken advantage of my condition, behaving as a woman who was actually having a baby might behave. But I didn't care; I felt entitled to comfort, because I knew I was about to go through something very un-comforting.

A close friend was visiting during the time I was scheduled to have my abortion. Only a few weeks earlier, I had sewn a blanket for a friend's baby shower; the blanket I made actually ended up being the blanket on which my friend's baby was caught when she was born. I had a bunch of fabric (fine, soft green terrycloth) left over from the baby blanket, and decided to use it to sew some recyclable maxi-pads for myself. My friend and I spent an entire afternoon, drinking tea, listening to music, and hand-sewing these thick, soft pads. During the time we sewed, I discussed my feelings about the abortion with her. We both learned a lot from that conversation about our beliefs surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Honestly, I don't think I've ever given the subject as much thought as I did on that day.

I elected to take RU-486, the abortion pill. Before I took it, my friend, boyfriend and I set up a small space in my backyard under a tree. We laid out flowers and beautiful stones at the base of the tree. This spot was where I decided to give my baby back to the earth, and I spent a long time there, resting and breathing, before taking the pill.

Over the next two days, I stayed home in bed and bled onto the pads I had sewn for myself. Even though my friend and boyfriend were there with me, I felt incredibly lonely. The grief that saturated those two days was heavy and dark: although my mind and heart were at peace with the decision, my body was mourning. I kept a big pitcher of water in the bathroom, and soaked my pads in the water. Then I went out to my tree and poured the water into the earth. I spent a little time each day sitting by the tree, just feeling my feelings.

I still don't know if I've fully processed my abortion. I still feel really sad about it sometimes; I still feel entitled sometimes to the respect that a mother (as opposed to just a girl) deserves. It's a strange knowledge, knowing that one is the mother of an unborn child. I don't regret that it happened, though. If nothing else, it taught me about my values when it comes to motherhood. After it was all over, I came out with a renewed sense of power, which I still have to this day.