We thought it was an ulcer. Looking back now, it seems silly, but accidental pregnancy is something all women believe will never happen to them.
I was 21, working retail and scraping by financially. I had finally began to mentally recover from being raped four months prior on my way home from work and my relationship with my partner was still in it’s infancy. It was a dreary May, stressful and endless. By that time I was looking pretty sorry; I was gaunt, unable to eat anything other than Chex Muddy Buddies and gallons of coffee. My acid reflux was kicking up for the first time in a decade and the only will I had was to work long days and pass out in my grandparents’ basement all night. I figured my poor state was due to an over abundance of emotional turmoil, a heavy management position at work and the extra effort of dating a 20 year old.
This was my midlife crisis, part one.
One day I took a turn for the worse; during lunch at work I ended up emptying the entire contents of my stomache in the lady’s room. More troubling was the fact that I had only drank a bottle of water. Red flag. I rushed home, passed out in bed per usual. But nine hours later I tried to get out of bed and was hit with a dizziness so profound someone might as well have just delivered a mean uppercut to my jaw. I fell back to the bed and blacked out. Now we really had a problem.
I was lucky at the time to have some form of insurance. My partner and I went to the local clinic for a checkup. My doctor was a lovely, lively woman from generations ago; she had rallied for women’s. rights, endured the first birth control pills and despised the medical field; sometimes she toyed with the idea of working in law.
We went through the basics; I was on the pill, have been for 5 years. I had my period last month, no breast tenderness or weight gain. Nausea only when eating, no appetite. I was in the process of trying to find a doctor that would run tests on a seemingly healthy 21 year old before this visit. My grandmother had died 2 years before from ovarian cancer, and I’d been struggling with painful periods my entire life as a woman. I had never been pregnant, and feared infertility.So OF COURSE I cannot be pregnant. We decided it could be an ulcer, so I went in for an MRI.
A few days later, we received a call that tests results were in. I was pregnant. And my doctor was awesome. She looked at me with such confidence, telling me it was an honest mistake; her pregnancies had all been terrible and she had spent the 9 months severely ill each time. She told me I had a choice; that she supports an abortion, and fuck what all of the male doctors in this place think, they should all be sued.
I thanked her and left shocked. I kept my family in the dark, feeling like the carrier of a parasite. I spent the next week calling clinics in Portland. Hushed conversations over the phone in my breakroom at work, prices listed on a piece of scrap paper. My insurance was through the Postal Service; they would not cover abortion. I only received 16$ a month in food stamps, so I was afraid that my state would not cover the costs. I finally decided on a chemical abortion at Planned Parenthood, scheduled just right so that my partner could take me in and I could return to work the next day. No one would have to know.
I think it was a Saturday. I was nervous, hoping I was under 9 weeks. I had an entire paycheck in my hand and was trying to keep the mood light. I was lucky to have my partner with me, and the gals at the clinic were wonderful. The following process was quick and uneventful. I was 8 weeks along, and would be able to abort at home. I went through the steps about what to expect and emotional fall out and went on home. Relieved.
I stayed at my partner’s house, propped up on pillows and surrounded by comforting junk food. He had to leave for work so I sat in bed watching Animal Planet, lamenting the fact I forgot my painkillers and waited. It didn’t take long for the cramping; The abortion itself is blurred now a bit. I remember running to the bathroom to vomit, dry heaving and extreme pain. I barely managed to draw a bath, thinking about water births and biting my tongue trying not to black out. My body felt torn in two, too hot, then too cold. I crawled into the bath, huddled for a few minutes, having to crawl back out to lay on the floor.
It was an odd experience; I would pass out intermittently on the floor, creep back into the tub and out again. It was my own agony, I knew I should have filled that prescription! About two hours later I was able to make it back to bed.
I never told anyone this story; honestly because I didn’t want to scare them away from making the right choice. Fear of pain, regret or shame can unjustly alter our paths, and with my story I hope to give an honest, casual experience that anyone can relate to.
I woke up that night at peace. I cried a little, knowing that I had safe guarded my future; vowed never to be in that position again. I even allowed myself to send a little thankyou out to the Universe.
Since then, I’ve grown my future. My relationship is stronger, and I became stronger as well.
Sadly in the last four years, I did become pregnant one other time, and underwent a surgical abortion last Winter.
But that’s a different story. For now I’m proud to be able to encourage other women, provide support and continue with my life knowing that as long as women like us are around, the right to abortion and family planning will always be fought for.