Tomorrow makes two weeks since I had my abortion. I am a 24 year old student pursuing a PharmD while simultaneously working a part-time job in a pharmaceutical setting. I have a loving, supportive fiancé who has also become my closest friend in the time we’ve been together.
I’ve been raised by an extremely liberal family, so it’s only natural that I developed prochoice sentiments. However, exercising those prochoice rights was never something I believed would happen. Prochoice was always on the other side of that college paper, that argument, that debate. I was so removed from it that I truly believed having an abortion would never happen to me. I was proven wrong the beginning of January 2015. My fiancé and I used the “pull-out” method as birth control. Unfortunately, that method is not failsafe, so I easily purchased Plan B in mid December and went on with my life. The first symptom I experienced was fatigue. Since my life is so hectic, I thought nothing of it, but the exhaustion was completely wearing me out. No matter how much sleep I got, I felt like diving right back into bed. My brain started to feel fuzzy, my attention span became shorter, I’d have to ask people to repeat themselves multiple times, and I got really moody. Then, one day at work, I noticed when I turned too quickly or walked too fast it would take a second for my head to catch up with me. I’d feel dizzy for an instant, and then it would subside. The dizziness started to last for longer periods of time until the morning sickness hit. Certain smells would send me over the edge and I’d throw up. Luckily for me it wasn’t too severe; eating was no big deal and it made me feel better. Finally, around the time when I should’ve gotten my period, I began having bad cramps with no bleeding and feeling extremely bloated. This was pretty normal for me, but the day I decided to take a pregnancy test the area around my uterus felt unusually “heavy.” When I got home from work I didn’t mention to my fiancé that I was taking the test. My reasoning was that I’d unnecessarily freak him out over nothing but some PMS symptoms, so I went straight to the bathroom to await my negative sign. That sign never came. Two positive tests later, I went into our bedroom with a goofy, nervous smile on my face, and sat down beside my fiancé. He asked me if I was ok. “No.” He asked me what was wrong. Silently, I handed him the two tests. We had already discussed and decided on abortion if an unintended pregnancy were to happen, but we thought we’d never have to deal with one. That night, we talked about the different scenarios and outcomes of the pregnancy. Keeping the baby was a nice fantasy, but the reality is we can’t give them the life they deserve. Our combined income is pathetic, so the child would not be able to properly receive all of the things they need. I’m currently in school, and delaying it would push the future I want farther out of my reach. I also have epilepsy, and my neurologist has explained to me on multiple occasions that any pregnancies I have must be planned and monitored. Two days later, my fiancé and I went to a Planned Parenthood to take another pregnancy test. I was not surprised when the nurse came back and told me I was pregnant. “Have you thought about what you’d like to do?” she asked. I nodded, confident in my decision, “Abortion.” She handed me pamphlets on where I could receive medical and surgical abortions. That same day, I made my appointment with another Planned Parenthood who offers surgical abortions. I didn’t want a drawn-out process or the medications used to interfere with my health or interact with the medications I’m already taking. At first, I chose not to be sedated to keep the cost down, but as the date drew nearer I became more scared, nervous, sad, stressed. For days, I poured over articles describing the procedure. I ended up calling the facility and asking for sedation during my procedure, which actually moved the date a week closer. My fiancé and I used that week as a way to say goodbye, both to the thing that was growing inside me and the idea of what it could have become. The pregnancy was bittersweet in that we were happy he and I were able to get pregnant; we do want kids someday, but the timing was wrong. There were no protestors outside of Planned Parenthood on the day of my abortion. That alone took a huge weight off of my shoulders. My decision was hard enough, why should I ever have to deal with people who would never try to truly understand my situation? The clinic was packed. Women were there with friends, family, boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, no one at all. I had to fill out a ton of paperwork and wait for them to call my name. My fiancé initially couldn’t come downstairs with me to the next waiting room. As soon as I got downstairs I was told to use the restroom and put a pad on my underwear. Afterwards, I settled into a chair surrounded by other women, cracked open a book, and waited about an hour until my name was called again. The nurse led me to a room where I’d be getting a transvaginal ultrasound. The technician was very kind, apologized when the ultrasound became slightly uncomfortable, and asked if I’d like to know how far along I was and if I’d like a picture of it. I said yes. My pregnancy was only 5 weeks and 5 days along. When I looked at the picture, I felt detached from the thing. It was only a blip on the screen. Later, I would come to scan that picture many times over, but at that moment it wasn’t real. Another nurse took me to a room where I was given an antibiotic and my vitals and rH factor were checked. She saw that my heart rate was high and asked if I was nervous. “No.” I was led back to the downstairs waiting room and it was about 30 more minutes until I was called into a counselor’s office. The counselor was extremely nice and sympathetic to my decision. She asked if I had suffered any abuse or if I was being forced into having the abortion. Then she went over my medical history with me, and consulted with the doctor to make sure I’d still be able to be sedated given that I have epilepsy. Finally, we went over methods of birth control and I was prescribed a progestin only pill which wouldn’t give me headaches or lower my medication blood levels like combined pills do. Finally, she told me to go get my fiancé to prove I had a ride home since I was going to be sedated. He was able to stay with me in the downstairs waiting room after he met with her. Another 45 minutes went by before my name was called again. I shot up and walked towards the nurse, not even saying goodbye to my fiancé. For some reason, I didn’t think I would be having the procedure yet. I looked back at him before being led away. The room was bright, and the nurse’s assistant told me to undress from the waist down then lie down on the operating table with my legs in the stirrups. I waited a few minutes before the nurse anesthetist came into the room with her equipment, passive-aggressively pointing out things the nurse’s assistant had done incorrectly, such as not instructing me to take out a facial piercing. She settled beside me and began to raise the bed. I had completely detached myself from the situation, and blankly stared at the ceiling as I got closer to the lights. The doctor came into the room and went over some questions about my medical history while the nurse grabbed my arm and prepped me for the IV. I didn’t expect her to force the IV into my hand, but I remained expressionless as she secured the needle. At least the doctor was comforting before the IV began. The next thing I remember is being wheeled into a recovery room full of huge chairs where a few women rested. Nurses checked our vitals again, gave us light snacks, and instructed us to use the bathroom to check our level of bleeding once we were conscious enough. The cramping I experienced was intense, and I was given Ibuprofen and scripts for Hydrocodone and a year’s worth of birth control. The cramping and bleeding got worse over the next few days, as did my state of mind. I was sadder than I thought I would be, almost always on the verge of tears. At night I had a few nightmares. One in which all I could see were the operating room’s lights, and in another my fiancé decided to leave me. In no way did I regret my decision, relief was a huge aspect of what I felt, but I was confused about my feelings. Was it normal for me to grieve over this thing? Did I even have the right to? The only people I had talked to about the abortion were my fiancé and a pharmacist who I worked with that had gone through a similar procedure after a miscarriage. My fiancé has been nothing but amazing in this situation, taking care of me and dispelling my fears of him leaving me, but he will never fully understand what I went through. Loneliness has been one of the worst aspects of the procedure. I didn’t want to tell my family or friends about my abortion for fear that they’d see me differently. How could they possibly understand anyway? I turned to the internet to search for other women’s stories about their experiences with abortion. The mental isolation was overwhelming. My healing process began when I stumbled across the 1 in 3 personal stories. I have read through many, and I am still reading through more. Seeing that other women have had similar feelings makes me more accepting of my own emotions. With each passing day, I feel more like myself again. I’m grateful that I have the right to choose and to take command of my own life. Those rights should never come with the price of silence.