I Had an Abortion and I Do Not Regret It

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For a period of time, there were two heartbeats inside my body. One in my chest, and another in my uterus. There, life had begun to form. I had no idea.

I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college. My period was late and then missed. I had never missed a period before in my life, and I started to get a gut feeling that something was very wrong. But, it was finals week, and I had to pass my exams. I had to stay focused.

The thought of possibly being pregnant swirled around in the back of my head for about two weeks, every now and then forcing itself to the front of my mind. Finally, one day after class, I went into CVS and picked up the cheapest test I could find. One stick. Store brand. Nine bucks. I shoved it in my backpack and put off taking it for another two weeks. Honestly, I was terrified. What the hell was I gonna do with a baby at 19? Sure, there had been tons of teenage girls younger than me who’d had kids, but none of them were me.

I had planned to take the test on the Tuesday after my last final was over. But, like most things in life, that plan didn’t go as it was supposed to. It was like the test I had bought was a ghost that kept haunting me everywhere I went. The longer I put off taking the pregnancy test, the more the feeling built in my gut that I was, in fact, pregnant. It came to be so bad that I couldn’t sleep through the night. It felt like there was a colossal elephant in the room that I just wasn’t addressing. So, on Sunday, December 18th (the day before my last final exam), at 5:00 am, I startled myself awake with the thought of taking the test. Just do it, I thought. Just take the f**king thing. I want to sleep. Just get it over with, and then go back to bed.

I remember waking up and practically jumping out of bed, running to my backpack to grab the test out of the box, and then running (on my tiptoes so as to not wake my roommates, because I still lived in a dorm) to the bathroom with it. I whipped the toilet seat up, stripped the test stick of its plastic and filled the tip with hormonal urine (yuck, sorry).

I didn’t have to wait for more than half a second to know that I was pregnant. The little blue plus sign appeared almost immediately and was even darker than the control line visible in the neighboring window. Suddenly, the silence of the room grew deafening. I stared at the plus sign for a minute before blinking hard and exhaling deeply. Immediately I told myself that freaking out wouldn’t do me any good and that I needed to stay calm. My feet found their way back to my bed and under the covers where I tossed and turned for almost an hour before giving in, writing shortly in my journal, and then opening up the laptop to do some research. I knew I would probably end up having an abortion, but I wanted to feel confident and educated in my decision nonetheless.

If you are or have been, in the same boat as me, then maybe you know what it’s like to feel lost in this situation. With abortion being as controversial as it is, trying to find some honest and neutral experience stories was like dancing around landmines. I’d click on many videos or articles that looked promising and informative, but wound up the same: pro-lifers posing as medical advocates, religious preachings, or an emotional address of how evil it is to even think of choosing abortion. It is absolutely understandable for many women to feel happy in choosing to keep their baby after almost going through with an abortion. But forcing those opinions on others and calling any other choice “evil” makes the whole situation so much worse and more difficult than it already is.

In my own situation, I wanted to be informed. I wanted to be as certain as possible that whatever path I chose was the right decision for me. I wanted to know what the abortion procedure would be like, what state I’d be in afterward, how it would affect me in the long-term, and how much money it would cost. I wanted to think through, as fully as possible in the short few weeks I had to make a decision, what parenting might be like. And then, after feeling well-enough informed, I wanted to be able to emotionally navigate my situation for a little while before coming together with all these pieces to achieve some kind of comprehensive solution.

(As a side note, before I go on: if you, or someone you know, is struggling with the same situation, here is a handbook sort of thing that was beyond helpful for me. There’s also a video here of a girl from Canada with a very informative abortion video that helped me a lot as well).

I made sure to tell only a few people who were very close to me, the first being my best friend, the second being my closest school friend, and the third being my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t tell my parents. I couldn’t do it. I agonized over keeping that from my family because deep down, I wanted more than anything to be able to go to them and have them tell me it would be okay, that they would help me support the baby and raise it, and help me take care of everything. But, I knew that wasn’t right, and I knew that wasn’t realistic. There were many other reasons as to why I made the decision that I did, and those will always remain personal to me. What was important was that each person I did tell was calm and supportive of it being my choice.  

After finding out I was pregnant on December 18th, I bought a bus ticket home for that night to see my boyfriend at the time so I could give him the news and talk with him about it. As soon as he picked me up from the bus terminal, I started to cry. He pulled the car over. I said to him, “I don’t know how else to say this, so I’m just gonna say it. I’m pregnant.”

He was calm. He looked at me and just said, “Okay.” He told me he was suspicious already based on the way I had been acting. I was lucky that he understood it was a decision about what I was going to do with my body, and therefore my decision only.

“If you want to have the baby, I’ll support you and help you raise it,” he said. “But you need to know what that would entail.” He continued to say that if I wanted an abortion he would fully support that choice as well. Adoption was another choice I entertained but ultimately decided not to pursue.

I went into Planned Parenthood a few days later to try and get a consultation on what the abortion procedure would entail or be like. I was told they didn’t offer consultations, so I was redirected to call a hotline for help. I didn’t call. After that, I continued to search on my own for information, finding myself watching fetus growth videos on YouTube, and reading through WebMD pages mostly directed at older women who actually wanted to get pregnant. In most of my recommended results, I was met with “Congratulations!” or “How To Take Care of Your Baby In the First Six Weeks.” For me, few things were actually helpful.

It was Christmas time. I remember sitting on the floor of my dorm room, packing my suitcase to go home for the holidays. I looked at the wood paneling in my room and thought about how the next time I’d see it, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. Here I was,  trying to act totally normal, taking finals, going to work and going to the gym, all while I felt like I had a tiny friend inside of me just waiting to be taken care of. I went to the gym and sparred one day, but freaked out because all I could think about was the fact that there was a baby in my uterus that I couldn’t tell anyone about, and how I didn’t want anyone to punch me in my abdomen for that reason. I tried to work on the speed bag, but all I could see was the heartbeat of a baby. I determined that I was probably around five to six weeks, meaning the heartbeat would start soon if not already. That was terrifying to me.

I couldn’t help starting to bond with my baby even though I knew I would never get to meet it. I found myself talking to it at times and never feeling alone. I felt happy about the silliest things, like cleaning the bathrooms at work, because I felt like I was bringing the baby along to do it with me. I loved knowing there was a little being growing inside of me, something that needed me to take care of it, a part of me growing into a totally separate being.

I finished finals and went home to my family. Being aware that they were clueless of the whole situation felt really weird. I wished that I could tell my mother, but I knew I didn’t want to burden her any more than I already had in life. I didn’t want or need her disappointment, shame, or distrust. I already felt like I was drowning enough and I knew I didn’t need her help or advice, even though it would have been comforting. I needed this decision to be mine, and mine alone.

As time passed, I grew more confident in my decision to abort, even though I was unbelievably heartsick about it. My heart physically ached from the pain of knowing I would lose my unborn child. I still feel heartsick to this day about it sometimes, although I am still healing. I knew—and still know—that it was the right decision for me, and I do not regret it today. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, because it was. I wish I could’ve kept the baby, but the fact of the matter is, it just wasn’t happening. So, I made the decision to get an abortion.

I wrote in my journal to help me cope. One night, I wrote a letter to my unborn baby, apologizing, and telling them how much I loved them. It was hard to write, but I’m glad I did it. As time has passed, different things have helped me heal. I named my baby and got a tattoo for them. I made them a box with their ultrasound pictures (you can go back to Planned Parenthood and retrieve them for free at any time), and other mementos I would have given them had they been born. I treated them like they were a real baby because to me, they were. Every woman heals differently, but that’s what has helped me, and I hope if you’re in the same position, maybe it could be helpful for you, too.

On December 30th, 2016, I walked into Planned Parenthood to let go of my baby.

My appointment for an in-clinic abortion was scheduled for 8:30 am. The team at the Planned Parenthood I went to in Connecticut was really wonderful. All of them were friendly, sweet, and very helpful. There was a lot of waiting time and going back and forth between the waiting room and being seen by different people. The first time I got called back was for an ultrasound to confirm that I was pregnant and able to have an abortion. I had a male doctor do the ultrasound, who was very professional and began by putting cold jelly on my lower stomach area and then pressed on it with a tool to see the fetus. I could not see the screen while he did this. He never showed the baby, and I didn’t ask. Because I was still really early, he was having trouble finding the fetus and had to insert a tool inside of me to continue the ultrasound that way. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as you may think and was over fast. From the ultrasound, he determined that I was almost seven weeks pregnant, and confirmed I could continue on to have the surgical abortion that day. I went outside and made the payment in cash ($733.00 exactly, which my boyfriend and I had split evenly).

After the ultrasound and payment, I was called back again to have my finger pricked. They took blood to determine if I was Rh-positive or negative, which just has to do with your blood being incompatible with the baby’s blood. Since I was Rh-negative, they gave me a shot so I wouldn’t have trouble that day when they took the baby out.

The third time I was called back was for a counseling session. I was told to voice any questions or concerns I had, including any hesitations, and the procedure was described to me as well. The counselor made sure that it was strictly my decision and that no one was pressuring me to have it done. She also made sure I wasn’t in an abusive partnership and that I was safe to have the procedure done. I was offered to have an IUD inserted and asked what other types of birth control I would be taking from then on. I was then given two pills to take prior to the procedure, ibuprofen and a pill to prevent infection. They then told me that the next time I’d be called back would be for the actual surgery.

Sure enough, after another thirty minutes or so of waiting, I was called back to the exam room where they would conduct the actual abortion. A kind young woman gave me a bag to put my belongings in and a hospital gown to wear, along with some slippers. She told me to take off my underwear, put a pad on them (which was supplied by the clinic), and then lay them by my head so that a nurse would be able to help me put them back on after the procedure.

Once I was in my gown and ready to go, my care team came in, which was comprised of about five or so nurses and doctors who were all women. They were extremely kind and told me that they were going to take good care of me. An anesthesiologist came over and looped some tubes up my nose, as well as connected me to an IV, where she administered the moderate amount of anesthesia (you can choose between moderate and minimal, which everyone gets at the least). The moderate amount of anesthesia doesn’t put you to sleep; it’s not like the anesthesia you might get when having your wisdom teeth removed. I was awake the whole time, but I felt extremely dazed. I couldn’t feel any pain and felt barely any movement during the surgery, which only took a few minutes. My body was completely relaxed on the table and I had a nurse talking to me about my hobbies and friends the whole time.

When they were finished I was placed in a wheelchair, since I was still really drugged up, and moved into the recovery room. In that room, another team of nurses watched my blood pressure and generally took care of me to make sure I was okay. I was placed in a comfy chair that reclined, given a heating pad on my abdomen and a blanket as well. They gave me saltines and ginger ale, as well as some water. I was super parched when I initially came in at 8 that morning, so by the time I arrived in the recovery room at almost 1 pm, I was extremely dehydrated, and I had just had a f**king abortion.

After a few minutes of being in the recovery room, my blood pressure plummeted. I began to lose all of my hearing and I started to slip out of consciousness. My body grew intensely hot, but I wasn’t sweating. Thankfully, it was really easy to call a nurse over, and they got several other nurses to come in and stabilize me very quickly. I was hooked up to a big bag of fluids and the heating pad was taken away.

Other women sat in the same recovery room with me, and their reactions were all different. Most women I observed were able to just sit there for a few minutes and then be discharged, totally fine. Others threw up and one had excessive bleeding, which the nurses monitored.

I was able to go home after about another hour, once I was fully stabilized and had taken all the fluids through my IV. My best friend was the only person who went with me, and she helped me get into her car since I was still really groggy and exhausted. On our way home, I became exceedingly nauseous and threw up twice on the side of the highway.

But, the toll that came emotionally arrived later on that night when what I had done finally settled in. I broke down sobbing in my boyfriend’s car at 2:00 am, and the only words I could choke out were, “I just want my baby back… oh, no, no….”

It’s important to realize that even at that point of me sobbing uncontrollably at 2:00 am, I still didn’t regret my decision. I was just very, very heartsick about it.

There are days when I wonder about what gender my baby would have been. I wonder what I would’ve actually named them, what kind of personality they would have, and whether they would’ve been introverted or extroverted. I wonder what their interests would have been, and I wonder if they would’ve had kids of their own one day. I wonder what they would’ve looked like. But, it’s all still okay.

At 2:00 am in a parking lot, I sat looking up at the stars while chunky snowflakes rained down on me from above. My boyfriend spoke softly next to me of reincarnation, and how everything made of water will be born once again, evaporating and raining down to form the oceans and Earth.

I’ll see my baby again one day. Until then, I keep them safely in my heart.

 

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