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I am writing this with the hope that I can bring some comfort to anyone who has experienced an abortion.

I had my abortion two months ago tomorrow (November 3, 2011). I am 23 years old.

I was completely taken aback when I found out that I was pregnant (besides the nausea, tiredness, and extreme pickiness over food). I had just returned to California from Germany with my fiance, who had proposed to me only earlier that month. We had been studying abroad for 4 months prior, so when we returned, I wasn't sure if my symptoms were depression. However, my breasts were so tender and full that I knew something was different. I think there was a point at which I knew, but maybe didn't want to accept it.

Since I began menstruation at 12 years old, my periods have been irregular- especially the last 3 years. Many changes have occurred, emotionally, intellectually, and physically- causing me to go without a period for up to 1 year two times within the past couple years. I do not trust the FDA and the long term effects that birth control may have on the body, so I have never taken it. I have, however, engaged in un-protected sex on many occasions during the last 2 years with my fiance, in which I believed I should have become pregnant. Well, I never did, so I believed that I never would be; or that I would, with help from medical professionals.

I took one pregnancy test and it was negative. I still felt unsure, and a week later I got a urine test from a clinic and found that I was, in fact, pregnant. I was happy at first, to know that I had created a child with the person I loved most in the world- we did something I thought I never would be able to- but it was the wrong time, and I instantly knew it. He would be starting graduate school just the next month, and I would begin graduate school in just 5 months. I had no idea how we would care for a child with the stress and demands of school, including our financial situation as students.

That day, I started drinking an herbal tea which I have used in the past to bring on my menses. I really believed it was going to work. I called my fiance and told him I was pregnant, and he was just as surprised as myself. I never even gave us the chance to be happy about it. He asked me what I thought, and I told him I had already started drinking the tea. I don't remember all of our conversations from that time, but I do remember that I was incredibly depressed. I just didn't want to be pregnant anymore. But I wanted to keep the child as well. My fiance told me at one point that he was ready to parent with me, but I told him I had already started the tea, and that it was too late (because it would cause fetal damage that could cause birth defects). In reality, it wasn't too late.

While I was living in my hometown for the two weeks before we would move to the new city where we would be attending school, I saw women I had gone to high school with, with children. All I could think when I saw them was that I didn't want that- I wanted to fulfill my goals and dreams- to become a psychotherapist. It's ironic to me now. How could I have overlooked the deep emotional damage that an abortion entails?

The weeks leading up the abortion were a rollercoaster. I had the abortion a month after I found that I was pregnant. I became attached to the child and tears would well up in my eyes whenever I would see mothers with their children. I would think, "...and I can't keep my child". I cried out of nowhere frequently. I also started a new job, working with pre-schooled age autistic children, which made/makes it hard not to imagine who my child would have been at this age.

The actual abortion was the most painful and traumatic thing I have ever experienced. The pain was so INTENSE. I did not have enough painkillers- I thought I could be strong and brave it, but that's not possible with an abortion. I re-live that experience now and then, but weeks after the abortion I experienced it frequently. I wish I could erase that moment forever. I feel it has jaded me.

I felt, and still do feel at times, that I would like to kill myself. The depression hits multiple times weekly, and it hits hard. I do not feel that there are adequate resources for post-abortive women, unless you are christian. I am not. I have been receiving acupuncture weekly, which has helped me TREMENDOUSLY, physically and emotionally. I even had my first menstrual cycle last week in over a year! I HIGHLY recommend acupuncture, reiki, and medical qi gong for the aftermath of what abortion can do to a woman's spirit and physical body. But what I really need is counseling, or a support group, to talk through the issues. Unfortunately, I just do not have the money or insurance for those services, and they do not exist in my area.

One of the hardest things for me is that we really could have kept the child. It would have been hard, but we could have done it, and we have both realized that. Depending on my mood, I feel that the abortion was the right thing to do, because there is still so much I want to do and live in my life without a child to care for. But the other part of me broods over how things would have been, and longs to have our first child back. It has made me realize that I am ready for motherhood, whenever it comes. I will never relive this experience again. And it's made my fiance, who before said he wanted to wait until late 30s or so (he's 25), realize that he too is ready to parent whenever it comes. We'd both like to wait at least a few years to finish our degrees, but I am SO happy that we can share that future optimism together.

I'm really trying my best to learn from the situation, to grasp the meaning of this overall lesson. There are positives, and there are negatives. I've learned that my family members (and friends) either do not care, or do not recognize how seriously damaging this experience is, or do not know how to help. I don't know which one. It's incredibly hurtful,and makes me feel very, very alone in my experience. I know that we have problems with recognizing and validating grief in our culture, and it's the worst for post abortive women, because it was a choice. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO GRIEVE, WOMEN! and we have the right to have resources in order to do so, if we cannot get them from our loved ones. I am making it one of my goals to establish, or work to establish, more resources for women in this situation as a future therapist. I want to conduct research and make CHANGE.

Whoever is reading this, please know that there are people out there that care. You are on the road to healing, if that's what you want. Stay in touch with yourself. Keep a journal of your emotions, your dreams. Write down everything! Do not let this experience slip by you, don't try to cover it up- you'll only hurt yourself. Reach out to anyone that you can. If they don't respond, fuck them, and reach out to someone else. You deserve to be listened to and have your experience acknowledged. You are important. You can inspire others and make change too. If you're living, what else are you doing in this life? Work towards that. Find the help you need, any way you can, and good things will come. If you are true to yourself, nothing can go wrong.

Thank you for listening to my story.