I’ve been dreading today nearly as much as I’m fearing tomorrow.
Today, I can still back out. I have options. Today, I am still pregnant and can intuitively feel some sort of life inside of me. Today, I can blame my near constant tears and wildly fluctuating emotions on the mass-production of hormones my body is generating. Today, I am growing something that could be the best thing that’s ever happened to me or the greatest regret of my life, and I will never know. All I know is that it’s not the right time for me. My boyfriend and I have been dating for four short months. I am not ready, our relationship is not ready. I love him and want to keep loving him, without the weight of a child we aren’t ready to have. Period. Therefore the likelihood of this being the “best thing” is slim. I am hedging my bets.
It’s been nine days since I found out I was pregnant. The night before I had an unexplained bought of nausea that jolted me into remembering that my period was nearly a week late. It’s absence had been in the back of my mind, but pregnancy didn’t even feel like an option. Was I that disassociated from reality? I’d been sexually active for 15 years and at one point decided, without any sort of medical advice or acumen, that I simply would never get pregnant: this was obviously an incorrect intuition. Despite my doubts, I was still on birth control, so the chances of me being pregnant were next to nothing (0.1% chance, to be exact). On my break from work the next day, I went to CVS, bought a pregnancy test, and clumsily opened it and took it in the Whole Foods restroom next door. The stalls next to mine were occupied but I couldn’t wait. It was sunny outside. I was wearing my favorite jeans that had already started to become snug. I had 15 minutes before I had to be back at work. I called my best friend who didn’t pick up. Then I called my mom. I didn’t cry. It was business time. “Mom, I have something really sad to tell you, and I don’t know how to say it, but I am having an abortion.” I couldn’t even tell her I was pregnant.
And then the internet happened. Googling abortion is a terrifying experience because the world is full of assholes, and there is perhaps no topic as divisive, no two groups of people so diabolically opposed as the pro-choice and pro-life camps. I’m a murderer, I am brave, I am not alone, my unborn child will go to hell. At some point over the last week and a half, I’ve believed every single one of these things. As symptoms have come up (and HOLY SHIT have they ever), I’ve looked to see what is normal and what to expect. This has led me to the hundreds of pregnancy calendars that note exactly what is happening to your body each week – and also how your “baby” is progressing. Yes, even at week 5, the embryo is referred to as a human baby, giving more flame to the fire in the hearts of the pro-life advocates, and somehow adding to my already-overwhelming guilt. But on the other side of all the hate is a moving history of women who dedicated their lives to the fight for the freedom of choice, the doctors who perform abortions, people around the world who continue to rally for access to safe, legal abortion, and the few politicians who uphold laws people worked so hard to pass. I’ve also found incredible resources that give my choice the validation I am so desperately seeking. Especially helpful has been the podcast The Abortion Diary. Hearing the voices of women who have been where I am now makes me feel less alone, and that my choice is the right choice.
Let me pause here and say that I am and always have been a proud pro-choice woman. I was raised by one, and it’s in my bones. It’s been an easy cause to get behind because I am a woman and a woman’s body is her own damn thing. My body is mine, and the thought of having any part of it legislated or debated is infuriating and unfair. The “pro-life” movement propagates misogyny, devalues choice, and perpetuates outdated and outlandish stereotypes about women. And it’s false. Calling an embryo a baby is a false statement, and it’s harmful. If it’s been harmful to me, I know it’s been harmful to others. Showing photos of bloody fetuses on the side of the road is harmful. Shaming a woman into making a decision that has lifelong implications and requires a lifelong commitment is not right. Shaming a woman, degrading her, stripping her of her autonomy, making her business your own while she has to make the most difficult decision of her life is absolutely unconscionable.
Let me also pause to talk about how fucking lucky I am to have insurance that covers abortion. Let me talk about how easy and painless it was to get a hold of my doctor, how quickly I got a referral, and how fast my request was processed, and how soon I got my appointment. Access to abortion is NOT EASY for everyone in the United States, much less around the world. Up to 80,000 women around the world die each year from botched abortions, and over half abortions around the world are unsafe. The statistics are staggering and heartbreaking, and I can’t imagine having to navigate this situation with such adversity. I am so grateful, so immensely and forever grateful. Those statistics don’t apply to me directly, but the stigma about abortion harms and kills my sisters around the world. I feel a new fire in my little activist body. Yes, I am here in this shitty situation that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, but I can do something about it. CHOICE. Fuck yes.
I can’t wait to have a happy pregnancy. I can’t wait to rush home to excitedly tell my partner that we are going to bring a new life into the world. I can’t wait to have a reason to be suffering from morning sickness and exhaustion. I can’t wait to be a mother, I can’t wait to hold my baby, to take care of it and love it and support it. I can’t wait to give birth, I can’t wait to have a family, I can’t wait to give it a name. I can’t wait to post some cute announcement on Facebook – yes, like the very ones that have broken my heart this week. But the thing is, I have to wait. And I know I will mourn, I know I will be sad for a long time. I know December 15th will forever hold a new meaning, and I know that I will never, ever be the same. I also know the day will come when I will look back and know I made the right choice. I’m having an abortion tomorrow.