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I found out I was pregnant in early October, about 9 weeks at the time. My partner had been arrested a month earlier on drug trafficking charges. I was terrified, I live alone, I barely support myself and I was 9 hours away from finally finishing my college degree. When I told my partner, he wanted desperately for me to keep the baby. Before I could tell anyone else, he told his mother, who made it her mission to insert herself into my life at all opportunities and offer pro-parenting advice and help. At this time my morning sickness was so strong, I had barely eaten all week, and in addition to nausea, I was cramping so strongly I was in tears whenever I had to be away from my heating pad. My mother is a widow who lives on a fixed income, and even if that wasn't enough, I couldn't bring myself to admit this had happened. She hated my partner, she never wanted me to be with him, and her motivation for hating him is not all-together unjustified. So I scraped up the last of my savings and drove 2 hours to a clinic in my state. I filled out all the paperwork and opted for the medical option for termination where I could just go home and make myself comfortable. The appointment went well despite having to fight my way through a crowd of pro-life picketers and be escorted inside by armed guard. I was given my pills and aftercare instructions and sent on my way.

(Some graphic details upcoming, my apologies)

The next night, 6 hours after taking the misoprostol, I began bleeding heavily. I tried to stem it with pads and towels, but after my second pair of pajama pants had been soaked through, I simply sat in my bathtub and waited for the clots to stop passing. The cramping was painful, but no more painful than the cramping I'd already been experiencing and after about 5 hours, I finally was able to rinse myself until the water ran clear. I spotted for about 6 days afterwards but I was satisfied that my pregnancy had ended that night. I went to my follow-up appointment 10 days later as instructed and they administered a urine test that came back negative. You are not pregnant, they told me. That in my mind, was the end of it. I told my partner and his mother that I'd miscarried at 10 weeks and tried to go on with my life, but our relationship suffered and we ended it. My cramping stopped, my nausea ended, and I felt better than ever.

My period was really abnormal that first month afterwards, just a little light spotting and almost no cramping. I rationalized that my period would be a little light the first time, and thought nothing of it. But when December was almost over, and no period appeared I was nervous. I took a home pregnancy test and it came back positive. You are pregnant. I couldn't believe it. I was hideously embarrassed, assuming this must have come from my one night stand not long ago. I was furious at myself, "Are you seriously pregnant again? Did you not learn your lesson the first time? What is wrong with you?" After some soul searching, I decided to seek out an ultrasound to figure out how far along I was and if I wanted to make the same decision. But when the ultrasound tech started rubbing that wand across my stomach, I received the shock of my life. I was not 7-8 weeks pregnant, as I'd assumed. I was STILL pregnant, and at 21 weeks now.

I'm in shock. My friend who came with me was in shock. I said several times "this isn't real, this isn't happening." The ultrasound tech, oblivious to my dismay, is snapping pictures rapidly, chattering on about how active the fetus is, what a great picture that will be, etc. She gave me five pictures, one including the gender. I'm still barely breathing. "How is this possible?" I keep asking to no reply. I'm going over and over in my head how I could possibly not be aware of being ridiculously pregnant. I have a few extra pounds, but I'm by no means obese. In fact, since my appointment I'd lost weight! Things that were seemingly random all suddenly make sense. Why was my hair growing so long and thick? Cause you're pregnant. Why was I having to stop and pee so frequently now? You're pregnant. Why was I having such sporadic mood swings? YOU ARE PREGNANT.

So I call the clinic. I'm pissed off, I'm scared, I've cried, I've raged, I've even spent some time just laughing hysterically because this can't be real, this can't be my life right? They immediately put me on the phone with the director who is asking rapid fire questions: Where did you get your ultrasound? How are you feeling? How many weeks are you now? How big is the fetus? After some back and forth here, she informs me that if I still want to terminate the pregnancy, I have to drive out of state to a clinic and stay overnight, since the procedure requires two days of care. I had no time to think or consider because I was too close to the point of no return, so I made the appointment.

This clinic had more pro-life picketers than the one I'd originally been to, including huge signs and pictures of fetuses and a bus blocking the gate that had Jesus on the front of it and read "What if Jesus was aborted?". I was too far along to do the typical aspiration surgery, so the doctors and nurses are explaining to me that I'll need a dilation and evacuation procedure. This first day they're taking vitals and charting my information. After explaining, I was lead to the OR where, using a speculum, the doctor placed four laminaria dilating sticks in my cervix to begin the overnight dilation process. This was one of the most uncomfortable parts of the procedure because the sticks absorb moisture and swell the longer they are there. It was like the terrible cramping I remembered from before. By the time the second day rolls around, I'm shaking like a leaf and extremely uncomfortable. We drive past the picketers and in a fit of hysteria and hurt, I lobbed my large coffee as hard as I could and watched it burst open against the side of the "What if Jesus was aborted" truck. Maybe not the most mature thing to do, but it helped to be laughing at this point. I was lead inside and they started an IV to begin the twilight anesthesia. I was so nervous I kept taking my xanax (with doctor permission) and crying sporadically. Because of my heightened anxiety, they were unable to put me under enough to make me comfortable. They used more anesthesia until I was calm, but then I'd stop breathing and they had to wake me back up. It was frightening and they kept telling me to calm down and relax, but I was hurting, and my anxiety had peaked. At one point, a nurse says to me "we have other patients, you're going to scare them" and I wanted to slap someone. I'll make whatever noise I damn well have to, thank you very much.

After the procedure, my discomfort was minimal, less so even than the day before when I had the dilation sticks in. I bleed heavily for longer than is typical but the doctor assured me that its normal because of the advancement of my pregnancy. After being observed for about 4 hours, the bleeding slowed and I was allowed to go home. I was told to drink plenty of water and watch for any sign of fever or infection, but I should be okay to return to normal activities by the next day. I returned to my waitressing job the day after the procedure with no ill effects.

All of this has happened so fast. I told my boss and my coworkers that I had a family emergency and had to leave town. The only person who knows the whole story start to finish is my friend who has stood by me this whole time. She never even flinched, she dropped her whole life and drove me out of state, stayed by my side for two days and offered nothing but love and support. Without her, I don't know what I would've been like. She filled my prescriptions, she brought back dinner, she stayed up half the night just making sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed. Someday I hope I can express to her how much it meant to me to have her. My mother doesn't know, I might never tell her. I still have so much to process.

I was 21 weeks pregnant. I'd been drinking heavily and smoking heavily and taking drugs and birth control over the entire time, thinking I wasn't pregnant. The father of the child would've been incarcerated (he's looking at 20 to life in prison right now) and even without all of this, I never wanted to be a mother. I have always been very pro-choice, no matter the reasons, no matter the circumstances. But being right here in the thick of that choice, I'm wrestling with emotions I can barely process. This wasn't just a little peanut on a sonogram anymore. This fetus had a face. A gender. I'm glad I was able to make the choice for myself, and I want that choice for other women like me. But I have so much more regret now than I did when I thought I'd terminated at 10 weeks. I feel depressed and ashamed. I feel embarrassed for not knowing, embarrassed for not being braver and crying so much at the clinic. I want to mourn for the loss, but how can I have any right to mourn when I made this choice? I tell myself I don't regret my choice, but I do regret being in the situation at all. I'm just so lost and emotional still, my hormones are still balancing out.

Even if no one sees this and it gets lost in oblivion, it still helped me to get this out of my head and somewhere tangible. I hope none of you ever have to experience what I did, but if you do, you don't have to do it alone. I'm happy to help you however I can, and there are lots of people out there who will support you.