I learned I was pregnant in November of 2013. At the time I was a full-time student at Reed College in Portland, studying Latin and Greek as a Classics major. My partner and I had been using oral contraceptives, but by user error or pure chance, something went wrong.
At first I wasn’t sure what I should do. My partner and I had been together long enough to discuss what our response might be to a pregnancy, and I was always on the fence. Being brought up in a religious household has given me the sense that life is precious, and whenever I thought about the possibility of becoming pregnant, I almost always imagined myself carrying the pregnancy to term, keeping the baby or giving it up for adoption. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist (who had been a doctor and counselor in my reproductive and contraceptive decisions thus far). I also scheduled an appointment with a therapist at the Health and Counseling Center at my college. After receiving the counsel of both these women, I decided to terminate the pregnancy. I scheduled an appointment with Planned Parenthood for two weeks later, the soonest appointment time available.
During those two weeks, I experienced a whole range of physical and emotional symptoms.
Keeping up with my school work was difficult, but I found that reaching out to professors was the best thing I could have done. One professor, with whom I shared my story, was incredibly supportive. She even shared with me that she had a similar experience in grad school, and had also decided to terminate her pregnancy. It was inspiring to realize that such a strong, intelligent woman had also experienced an unplanned pregnancy.
Reaching out to everyone I could was the best decision I made during my pregnancy and after my abortion. Professors, health professionals, friends, and peers formed a support network that bolstered me and my partner as he did what he could to support me. I did my best to structure my time around these support networks, visiting my professor each week to get additional academic support, attending weekly meetings with a Reed therapist, and speaking to friends and peers about my situation. Simply verbalizing my experience went a long way toward dismantling my feelings of shame and isolation. The vast majority of those I spoke to responded positively, offering their help without judgment.
The actual procedure was a small but positive part of my experience. It was somewhat painful, though not terrible, and the folks at Planned Parenthood were kind and friendly, if a little rushed. It was very helpful having my partner there to support me, along with the lovely nurse who kept me busy chatting through the whole procedure. Every document on abortion will tell you that everyone feels differently afterwards. I felt relieved. It was empowering to be able to make the decision that, no, I did not want to have a baby right now.
Since my abortion, I have felt increasingly better. The first two months were extremely difficult for me. The sudden shift in hormones was physically and emotionally draining. My emotional response to the abortion varied daily. Though I never regret my decision to terminate the pregnancy, I often feel a deep sense of loss. Nevertheless, I feel capable again, and strong.