I’d been on the pill for 20 years and wanted to stop just to see what my body and moods would feel without the steady stream of hormones.
I considered getting my tubes tied, but that seemed like a lot of surgery for not that many years of fertility left.
So I got an IUD and, to this day, just thinking about that procedure makes me wince. It was so unbelievably painful – I don’t understand why more women didn’t die from illegal abortions just from the pain alone. Later I found out that women who’ve never carried a child to term should not get IUDs because their wombs are too small. I was convinced I could feel it in there, when I had cramps or when I came, so I had them take it out a month later. Even if I was imagining it all, I just wanted it out. As I was thinking about what to use next, I thought, “I’m 43. I’ve never been pregnant. All my friends are having fertility problems. I won’t get pregnant.” So my husband and I didn’t use anything.
A little over a year later, when I was 44, I got pregnant. It never occurred to me that that’s why my period stopped or why I had agonizing cramps that woke me up several times every night. But after a couple of months I thought I should at least rule it out. The day after I did the drugstore test, I called Planned Parenthood and made an appointment. The only question my husband and I had was, “Is it possible to schedule the abortion and vasectomy on the same day?” (It wasn’t.) It’s not an exaggeration to say that this was by far one of the easiest decisions we ever made as a couple. Much easier than what to eat or which movie to watch on a given night.
The experience at Planned Parenthood was awesome, and that night I slept for eight hours straight for the first time in six weeks. When I woke up, I wanted to do a jig.
I remember sitting in the waiting room, the only 40-something amongst teens and 20-somethings, and thinking, “I’m so glad we are all here. We’re getting our lives back.”
I know it’s not a popular thing to say, but I think abortions are wonderful and we need more of them. The whole “safe, legal, and rare” thing that Bill Clinton started makes it seem like we should be ashamed. But I’m not the first person to point out that 30-35 years of fertility is a damn long time to not make a mistake at least once.