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Not Alone

How old was I when I had my abortion…


Who did I tell…

Boyfriend, Roommate, Brother, Few Friends

How far along was I…

7 weeks from LMP

My story…

I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and still do. Birth, parenting, and motherhood enchant me, so much so that I eventually want to become a Nurse Midwife, and be able to give every woman the opportunity to bring her child into the world with as much support, love, joy, and knowledge as is possible. I want women to make informed decisions about when and how they will have their children; to offer them access to information about their own bodies which schools often refuse to teach due to politics. I want them to be able to give as much to the next generation as possible, when they are prepared.

Before I even took the pregnancy test, I had a lurking suspicion that I was not just myself anymore. In January my period had been irregular; I had it on the 6th, then again on the 26th, much shorter than my usual 30-day cycle. I am not sure whether this made the boy and I less careful about our usual pulling-out/condoms routine. I had not been on birth control for over a year and a half due to poor side effects, and felt oddly invincible against pregnancy. Plus, all of the scientific journals supported us: sperm, when even found to be present in pre-cum (they were not found in some studies), were minimally motile, and their levels only risked at most 2.5% possibility of pregnancy. That’s better than condoms! Better than regular use of the pill! We were backed by peer-reviewed journals, the iron shield of all well-educated researchers like ourselves.

Yet we must have been careless, for my physical symptoms all pointed to the springing forth of new life. I kept telling myself that they must just be menstrual cramps, even though I had never felt this type of tugging and pulling ache before. My boobs were absolutely perfect, approaching a full cup size larger. I just wanted to live with my love in my arms, constantly embraced, and ignore all obligations of school, work, and volunteering. Sex enabled me to get out of my head for an hour or two, and I appreciated feeling like something in the world was able to feel so right; that I was made for something.
Approaching the day of my should-have-been period, I kept dreading reality. The Sunday before I took the test, the 28th of February, I wore my favorite underwear, hoping to tempt fate with its favorite game of ruining cute cotton. Blood stains are easier to deal with than the decisions that lay ahead, if the test was positive. I let my boyfriend know the day before that I was planning on taking a test the next morning; my roommate had one left over from a scare that she had had over a year ago. He was not very worried, and mainly concerned about my stress over the situation.

The next morning I took the test alone immediately after waking up. The two lines showed up rather rapidly, matching the legend directly to the right, telling me that all of my suspicions were correct. Immediately my mind started planning. It’s my go-to for all situations in life. I plan. I map out all of the possible routes I may take, weight out the pro’s and con’s, and strategize for the alternatives. I met up with my boy early that morning; we had planned to attend the gym together in the morning, knowing that the results would be in. A light, American-style “How are you?” should never be answered with such hefty weight as lay in the phrase “Okay…It was positive.”

We let each other have room for the next day and a half, to contemplate our own emotions and the alternatives which lay before us. Simple texts were exchanged. I was really concerned about him being okay emotionally. At the time, it may have just been the hormones, but I felt surprisingly okay with everything, regardless of the outcome. I felt full of life; like nothing could really go wrong, and any decision we made would be the right one. I did not feel as lonely as I am wont to in life. It’s strange to say considering my very detached views on embryonic life, but I didn’t feel like I was alone in my body and mind.

Over the next 36 hours the option I spent the most time thinking about was keeping it. In all previous relationships, this would have never been the option. My partners had never been as mature and comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty about life. He understands that there are no known answers to life. There is no book waiting for us once we achieve a certain income bracket, educational level, or state of spiritual awakening to give us the secrets to happiness. He would make a wonderful father, and I would be more than happy to mix my genes with him. His family life was similarly tumultuous as mine, and I can see in him a desire to eventually be able to provide stability to children. His face lights up when he sees babies and toddlers. As a female, no matter when I have a child, it is going to interfere with my personal life in some way. Having a child projected to be born the fall of my senior year of college, only being 19 at that time (I was 18 when I found out), was immensely inconvenient timing. Yet I was willing to do it; I had started college 2 years early, and we would surely be able to figure something out. My partner is older, and currently working towards his PhD. Money would be tight, but I grew up on a bare-bones income of my mother and usually-unemployed father. It could work.

Adoption was also an option. Statistically speaking, a white infant of well-educated biological parents has a great chance of being adopted. I had already read numerous books on pregnancy and childbirth as part of my training as a doula, and knew what to do to improve the chance of having a healthy, non-deformed or neurologically impaired baby. Take folic acid; don’t eat sushi or bean sprouts; avoid strenuous lifting. Someone could have had as perfect a baby as possible out of this situation.

Yet we both knew that the option with the least repercussions was abortion. He was concerned about finances primarily related to keeping the pregnancy, and I was worried about emotionally being unable to handle giving up that piece of us, to be raised by another family. I want too much to be a mother, and have too many notions of parenting already, to see something be taken so far out of my locus of control that I so badly want to have.

Just not now. I would not have been able to give as much to this life as I eventually will, once education, a job, and stable living situation is obtained. The opportunities available to our child would be severely limited by our current life stations. I worried about paternal bonding with accidental children. I worried about depression later in life for those accidental children. I worried about my own mental health if I did choose to keep the pregnancy.

The day before the procedure I went to request an appointment at my university’s psychological counseling center, in the hopes that getting help soon afterwards would prevent any severe depression which may follow. Hormones crashing, the reality of it all, the erasing of a possible future. If we had just let it go for 9 months, we would be having a baby due on Halloween. A baby which at the time I could feel with me, regardless of it just being a mass of cells, implanted like a parasite on the lining of my uterus. Completely dependent, tapping into my blood supply for all cellular functions. Yet still a combination of the man I love and myself, and a mass of possibilities.

We spoke about how not having a baby now did not mean that we could not have one in the future. In the two weeks of knowing we had a healthy amount of tender, unprotected, caring sex. He said how he wanted to stay together regardless of this difficulty; how close he felt to me. I smartly replied that I was carrying around half of his genetics at the moment. Humor really helped us get through the waiting period.

Luckily we both have savings and were able to afford an out-of-pocket abortion. I could not have imagined going through it without the resources available, or if my partner was not supporting. I made calls to my insurance company; the lady on the phone was extremely sweet when telling me that terminations are only covered in cases of incest or rape, with an apologetic tone in her voice. The understanding between all women of the difficulties of an unwanted pregnancy. So I contacted all of the local clinics, and made my appointment for March 14th, strategically planned around upcoming exams and papers.

We scheduled a day free of work and class, and drove to the clinic early. The sky was overcast all day, and luckily the single set of protesters came after we had entered. The waiting room was an eclectic mix of people, all dealing with our difficult situations in different ways. I was first brought in to have the nurse check the ultrasound to verify the approximate gestational age. I was grateful to not have to go through the additional stress of a trans-vaginal ultrasound viewing, a procedure which a shocking number of people without vaginas are in support of mandating before a termination of pregnancy. Next they tested if I was Rh-, so that Rhogam may be administered if so. Then it was to meet with a woman who merely made sure that I wanted an abortion, had appropriate support, and was in such a psychological state as to consent to the procedure.

The in-and-out of the waiting room that day was terrible, topped only by the treacherous speculum, enemy of all vaginas. After a long wait, in an increasingly full waiting room, I was called back for the procedure, given a gown, and told to put my clothes in a bag, then brought back to the same room where I had had the ultrasound. The doctor was nice enough, and his assistant was very reassuring, holding my hand and patting my shoulder. She had a number of tattoos on her arms, which were a great distraction; I especially remember one saying “Be Calm.” There was a great deal of cramping immediately after the procedure, and I was then taken to the recovery room. I asked the other nurse who was taking care of me with juice and graham crackers if she liked her job. She said she liked having the opportunity to help women when they were in a not-ideal situation of life, and enjoyed hearing their backgrounds.

The boy and I drove back to his house, where we had a lazy day and night on the couch, cuddling and processing our emotions. It’s still something that we talk about, and I try to normalize by bringing up casually in our conversations. If 1/3 of women have one before the age of 45, I believe that it should be more acceptable to talk about. Yet I still remain quiet about my feelings on the topic to others, feeling comfortable only with 2 or 3 people in my life.

Therapy turned out to be an opportunity for me to discuss life in a broader scope, including my frantic search to get my plans for the future “right,” unlike my parents. We have talked about the abortion, but most of my uncertainties stem from older issues, including my loneliness.

That’s probably the most difficult thing to cope with now, yet I am slowly realizing that we are all alone in life. We hope that others will stay and love us forever to fill some aching void, or that work or achievements will suffice. But in the end we’re left with some longing, even when we have what we desired. In the future I hope to feel that life from within again, yet eventually my children will leave for their own lives, in search of something to fill their voids. So for now I am trying to learn everything I can to be a better individual, to form relationships with others, and to reach out into the lives of others in the hope of hearing an echo of myself in their voice. And one day I will try to pass on what I have experienced to my children and not lie to them about the frantic uncertainty of life’s self-written path.

One Response to “Not Alone”

  1. admin Says:

    This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing such heartfelt thoughts.

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