It all started on Saturday morning, Valentine’s Day. I woke up after a long night of partying with my friends and very little sleep. Took the dogs to the groomer’s and picked up a pregnancy test at the drugstore.
I had taken a pregnancy test three weeks prior. I was exhausted, on edge, constantly hungry, my boobs were killing me and inexplicably growing…along with my ass. The result had been negative. But my friend had urged me the night before to take another one as my “symptoms” had not subsided. I wasn’t complaining about my new bountiful breasts. I was, however, really upset that I had to start wearing a bra. They’re so restricting. I don’t like that.
I grabbed a breakfast taco at the taco stand and some coffee with horchata. Your average Saturday morning in Austin. Took a quick bite of the taco and went to the bathroom to take the test.
Result: Positive. Fuck, shit, fuck!!!! BUT wait…there was still hope, one line was way lighter than the other. Maybe that means maybe? I thought. I pulled out the instructions. FUCK!!! Turns out that happens and it’s still a big fat POSITIVE.
My heart started beating like mad. I freaked out and start pacing around the living room like a crazy person. I decided to reach out to my best friend, my sister, my soul mate, and someone who very much understands my current situation. And I did so by sending her a picture of the pregnancy test and a FUCK!!!!! Ah, the digital age.
She immediately calls me and walks me through my options. An angel. There will be a reoccurring theme of incredible women guiding me through this difficult journey with love and acceptance. I am eternally grateful!
After speaking with her, I decided I would get the medical abortion. The pill. It sounded painful, and lonely, and traumatic. You basically lay in bed cramping and bleeding out. Apparently VERY painful. But it sounded FAST. I felt awful for feeling this way, but I needed it out of me. PRONTO!! I figured I could call up a clinic, walk in, get the pills, and get it over with.
Oh wait…I live in Fuckin TEXAS!!! I call up the only two abortion clinics in town. One can’t see me until 13 days later and they won’t do the medical abortion because they deem that I am more than 7 weeks pregnant, which is the cut off for medical abortion in Texas. They consider you pregnant from the first day of your last period, which doesn’t make much sense to me, but I was too busy losing my shit to ask for clarity on this. The other clinic, Planned Parenthood told me I had to call back on Monday. The waiting begins. There is a lot of waiting…anxiety filled waiting, that occurs throughout the abortion process. At least in my experience.
My long distance boyfriend of three months was flying in that evening. Things were not going well with us. I was on the verge of breaking up with him and this weekend was kind of a test to see if anything was still there. It’s the wildest thing. I was in love with him there for a minute and really saw us having a future together, but I didn’t really know him. As things unfolded and I learned more and more about him, I quickly realized it wasn’t going to workout. And bam, not only was I out of love, but I was so frustrated and angry with him I could barely look at him. In hindsight I know that some of this was hormonal, but I wasn’t in love with him anymore, that’s for sure. “Take things slowly”, is really very sage advice.
He was about to give notice at his job the following Monday and move in with me. So now I had two very heavy situations to deal with. There was no doubt in my mind that the right thing to do was have an abortion. I was in no place to have a baby by myself. I couldn’t count on my boyfriend. He already has a daughter he never sees. And really, I wasn’t ready to have a child. I would love to, under the right circumstances, but that wasn’t the present scenario. I also knew that I had to break up with him. The feelings weren’t there anymore and the pregnancy news and his reaction were only adding to what had now become disgust. So the decisions were made, which really was half the battle, if not more. But the feelings around the decisions…what a roller coaster!!! He didn’t take the news of the pregnancy or the break up well. He called me a sociopath, and egomaniac and accused me of killing his baby, only strengthening my resolve and affirming my decision.
I called Planned Parenthood on Monday and they confirmed I was only eligible for a surgical abortion at this point. They could see me for the mandatory ultra sound on Wednesday. They told me I couldn’t make an appointment for the procedure until I had had the ultra sound and that the abortion would have to be scheduled for 24 hours after the ultrasound. Texas law. The woman told me they should be able to fit me in Friday for the procedure. A tsunami sized wave of relief rushed over me.
Life is pretty amazing sometimes. I had recently started spending more time with my friend’s girlfriend. And by more time I mean, we went to the movies once to see The Secretary the Thursday before I found out about the pregnancy. Her boyfriend is one of my good friends and I see her often, but always in big groups. Anyway, we had a nice girl date at the movies and swooned over young James Spader. When I told her boyfriend that I was pregnant and getting an abortion, he advised me to reach out to her. She would understand, he said. So I did and she turned out to be the second angel that held my hand through this journey. She opened up to me about her experience, which was really so invaluable. The hardest part about getting an abortion, for me, was not knowing what was gonna happen, and not being able to talk about it. I was so frightened and anxiety ridden over what to expect. Are they really gonna make me listen to the heart beat? Will it hurt? Will I be depressed afterwards? What’s the recovery time?
She took me to get the ultrasound on Wednesday. There were anti-choicers outside, with their rosaries and pamphlets. What is this, 1970? We parked and walked up to the building where we had to talk to someone through an intercom before they buzzed us in. They were behind bulletproof doors. Then we waited…for a long, long time. Hours went by. We watched a movie. I went back and answered some questions. Sexual history. Was I sure about my decision? Was anyone forcing me to make this decision? Etc. They took my blood, and gave me an STD test. Then I was sent back into the waiting room. We waited some more and then they finally called me back for the ultrasound.
The ultrasound was exactly as you see in movies. They informed me that due to Texas law they would have to play me the heartbeat and show me the fetus on the monitor. I can’t tell you how much additional anger those Republican mandates were responsible for during this already angst filled time. Luckily, the women at Planned Parenthood are empathetic and understanding and have workarounds in place. They provided me with headphones and music to listen to when they played the heartbeat in the room and they warned me before they angled the monitor towards me, so I was able to look away. Unfortunately, they were obliged to inform me that it was a twin pregnancy, I was 8 ½ weeks along and suggested it was a girl and a boy. This news destroyed me. To this day I am not completely sure I understand why it made it so much more difficult for me. I mean, logically, two babies is way harder than one, so the decision to terminate made even more sense. On the other hand, I do want to be a mother, very very badly, and I was a month shy of 35, so being pregnant once and having a beautiful baby girl and boy was a very attractive proposition. I told myself I couldn’t think that way. I was in no place to be having a baby, let alone two. By this time I also realized that I in no way wanted to be tied to the father for the rest of my life. And despite the strong desire to be a mother, it was not something that I wanted to take on alone. The Dr. also told me that due to my small frame, carrying twins would be very hard on my body and that I would most likely not be able to carry them to term. Again, something I would have totally been down to take on had I been in a loving, supportive relationship, but it sounded like a very lonely and terrifying existence to pursue solo.
Thursday came and went, I swam laps, had dinner with friends, and basically tried to keep myself busy. My parents returned from a trip and I told them about the twins and my decision to have an abortion. My parents and I are very close and while I toyed with the idea of not telling them, I knew it was ultimately impossible. They were already wondering what was going on with me and knew something was up when they were all the way in NYC. My hesitation in telling them was increased by the fact that my brother was about to have his first child, their first grandchild, and the last thing I wanted was to tarnish that experience for them. They were very understanding and said that although they would support me regardless of the decision I made, they believed I was making the right one in terminating.
Friday morning I went to Pilates, trying to approach the day as I would any other. My friend picked me up and we went to Planned Parenthood equipped with iPad, blanket, pillows…ready to camp out and watch movies for what was sure to be a long time. And no surprise, it was a long wait, but I spent half of that time waiting in another waiting room, wearing a robe and bundled up in a blanket along with about 14 other girls. The TV show, Friend’s was playing on a small tv in the background, a chaperone did paperwork and made sure nothing inappropriate was said or appeared on the television. We all just sat there, knowing we were in the same boat, but not speaking except to verbalize just how hungry we were and fantasize about our post-op meals (you’re not allowed to eat for 12 hours prior to the surgery). It seemed strange to me that we all avoided talking about the elephant in the room, especially since, at least for me, loneliness was the prevailing emotion at the time, and we were all in a position to ease that particular feeling for one another. But then again, it’s not like I spoke up and initiated a dialogue either. I do think this waiting period would have been a great time for interested parties to participate in a clinic organized group therapy session. But let’s not get crazy…we’re in Texas after all, and according to the state, we are horrible people who are voluntarily killing their offspring, so we don’t deserve any kind of emotional care. Instead, we all spent the time waiting for our names to be called with our faces in our phones, napping, passively watching Friend’s, and I myself spent a lot of time looking up at the skylight and taking pictures of it. I got one picture that I really liked and later posted it to instagram. I called it, Enter the Void.
Once they called my name, I followed a nurse down a long hallway into an operating room, they gave me a sedative and the Dr. started the surgery two minutes later. I don’t know if they didn’t give me enough sedative or the Dr. began the procedure too soon after the injection, but I felt everything. I was gripping my hands really tight from the pain, so the nurse gave me her hand to squeeze, a gesture that really touched me. Nonetheless, the whole thing was pretty traumatizing. It wasn’t so much the pain, but feeling every little thing and knowing what she was doing and then feeling it a second time for the second fetus that really messed with my head.Then I heard a vacuum like noise for a minute or two and it was all over. 8 minutes tops. I started crying when they told me they were finished and they slowly got me up and took me to the recovery room. I felt devastated, confused, traumatized. But I told myself I had to keep it together, I was in a room with a few other girls who were in recovery and they weren’t crying, so I needed to stay strong too. I sat in there drinking my apple juice and eating cheez-its, which had never tasted as good as they did after 16+ hours of no food.
I went home and chain smoked. My parents came over with dinner and tried to comfort me. Once they left I smoked a ton of pot mixed with some liquor and the vicodin I got from the Dr. Nothing was helping. The depression had started and I was entering the void. I really was so sure of my decision and still was despite the feelings afterwards, but I felt so much grief, guilt, and regret. Not so much regret that I had terminated the pregnancy, but regret that this was my life and that I had made poor decisions that put me in a situation where I had to have an abortion. No matter how strongly I felt that I had done the right thing, what I did went against nature and my body was as confused and pissed as I was about the whole thing. I imagine it is similar to post partum depression, but I can’t be sure. I assume that the trauma from not being properly sedated played a big role because I would cry and curl up into the fetal position often at the thought of the surgery or having sex again. I kept visualizing the twins, my babies, and going into boughts of hysterical crying at the thought of what I had done to them. Even just looking at my two pugs or my teacher friend mentioning an adorable thing one of her 5 year-old did at school would throw me into a fit of despair. And the father of the twins certainly did his part to make the whole thing all the more challenging and emotional.
Going back to work was extremely difficult. One of my coworkers insisted on talking to me about her twins on a nearly daily basis. I couldn’t ask her to stop, of course, because that would be rude, but it was killing me inside. I was a walking zombie, crying all the time and unable to tell anyone what was going on out of fear of being judged or worse, losing my job. My daily tasks and projects seemed so futile in the grand scheme of things. It was very difficult for me to give a shit and it was very apparent. The insurance company that had told me they would cover the procedure was now saying that they had made a mistake and would not be covering it, which caused me to go into a fit of fury that probably frightened me as much as it did them. I vacillated between numb teary zombie and raging angry bitch. I knew no other states of being. I wanted to die.
Luckily I have an amazing family and wonderful friends who supported me throughout. I was very disciplined about going to therapy and acupuncture, which was immensely helpful. And my therapist recommended a Pranic Energy meet up which changed my life. I don’t think I would have recovered so quickly had it not been for that. A month of weekly healing groups and I was a different person. My thoughts were no longer spiraling out of control and I was able to meditate again. There was hope and I could see it. I decided to quit smoking pot and cigarettes and stopped drinking for a while to aid in cutting out nicotine. All things that had needed to happen far before the pregnancy. I decided to start loving and nurturing myself.
3 months later I am still very much dealing with the emotional repercussions of the decision that I made. But, I am happy to report that with time I am able to see things differently. The spiritual journey that I am now on is one that I so desperately needed to arrive at and I do not know that I would have done so had I not reached the depths of despair. I am learning a lot about myself, the decisions that I made repeatedly in life that have led me to many difficult times, this being just one of them. I am choosing to learn from this and put an end to these behavioral patterns, so that one day I will be ready to be a nurturing, loving, and mindful mother. I realize that it is a blessing that I was aware of my inability to take on such a responsibility and that I had the foresight to see that the father was not the partner with whom I wanted to embark on the journey of parenthood. I see that despite the pain I endured and will continue to feel for some time to come, it would have been so much worse had I decided to have those twins.
Trust your soul. Regardless of your choice, there will be hardship, but it is precisely these moments that teach us who we are and what we are capable of. You are much stronger than you think.
Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final