It really pisses me off that I feel the need to label myself here as anonymous, but due to living at my conservative Christian parent’s house (even at the age of 30), I will have to continue hiding this.
I am dying to tell my story, share my story, talk to others, connect. Today is Tuesday and last Saturday, I had a surgical abortion. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I know wholeheartedly it was the right one.
My husband and I met in 2012 and had a whirlwind romance that resulted in my getting pregnant just 2-3 months into our courtship. I was fairly certain I should get an abortion but for some reason, I decided to go for it and give the pregnancy a shot. I thought maybe it would be a new adventure and a new life and we were very much in love, so scared as we were, we didn’t abort. It was a difficult pregnancy and at 22 weeks, I wound up giving birth to our daughter, who was too premature and only lived 8 hours. We were heartbroken. Devastated.
The following year, around the same time I got pregnant with our daughter, I found out I was pregnant again. We hadn’t been trying but it happened and I debated abortion once more. With our wounds still fresh from our first loss, though, we decided to give this one a chance and after an exceedingly difficult pregnancy, our son was born. He spent 2 months in the NICU due to birth complications but he is a happy and healthy one year old now.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I began to feel somewhat nauseated after eating during the day. I didn’t understand what was wrong, but considering the fact that I have gallstones, I blamed it on that and my eating the wrong foods. I thought I’d had a strange period in February (light bleeding for about 2 days only when I normally have a standard 5 day flow), but I chalked it up to stress and weird sleeping habits. But something felt off. My boobs didn’t hurt so I didn’t think I was pregnant, but when March rolled around and my period hadn’t come, I knew something was up.
I bought a pack of 2 pregnancy tests and took them both and felt heartbroken as I saw the little blue cross indicating my hcg levels. Pregnant. I told my husband as soon as he came home and I could tell he was also heartbroken. We’ve been struggling to save up money to finally leave my parent’s house (where we’ve been able to stay though feeling stuck for the past nearly 2 years). He just landed a new job a bit over a month ago, things seemed to finally be heading in the right direction, and then this. It made us think about how we may want another baby someday, but we both knew this was not the right time nor the right circumstances.
I made the appointment right away. The woman on the phone was kind. I called another place just for price comparison and they weren’t as friendly so I didn’t feel quite so comfortable. I decided to go to the first place, though it was 2 counties away. We left our son with my parents on the pretense that we were going apartment hunting. It feels so weird to lie about something so huge and something I know would devastate them, but I know it’s for the best.
When we arrived at the clinic, I wasn’t nervous. I’d made peace with my decision a while ago, but I just wanted it all to be over with. The place was very clean looking and put me at ease. A comedy was playing in the waiting room to cut the tension I’m sure. Robert DeNiro was getting into it with the rest of the guys and I looked around at a room full of anxious looking women.
They called my name and took me in for a transvaginal ultrasound. The technician asked me if I wanted to see, and I reassured her I did not. She asked if I wanted to know how far along I was.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I was nearly positive that was the case, but feared being further along. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go through with it if I were 12 or 16 weeks in. I would need to think about it more. But fortunately, I knew that the little bundle of cells growing inside my body was roughly larger than a kidney bean but smaller than a grape. Somehow this was reassuring.
The nurse took me back to the waiting room for a moment, then I heard my name called again. I was brought into a different room, asked to give a urine sample. The nurse pricked my finger to check my blood type, weighed me and had me fill out more forms. Went back out to the waiting room to fill them out, holding my husband’s hand from time to time. They called me in again, and I had the first portion of my counseling session. The girl was very kind, though I did feel as though she was rushing me just a bit. She helped me fill the forms out and answered my questions, then called my husband in to fill him in on the details of procedure and the days to follow. Everything seemed okay for a bit and then we were sent back out to wait.
The third time I was called in was by a nurse, and I knew it was time. I kissed and hugged my husband and told him I’d see him on the other side. I kept my brave face on for him, but the minute I walked through the door into the next hallway, I lost my composure. Fear ran through my entire body and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, my throat filled with a ball I couldn’t swallow. I walked into the procedure room and looked around. It wasn’t too scary; certainly not scarier than any of the hospital procedures I had to have while I was pregnant with our son, fearing for his life.
I stared blankly at the nurse who tried to explain that I needed to undress and wear the gown and slippers provided. I began to weep, though I stifled it the best I could.
“Are you 100% sure you want to do this?” she asked me gently.
“Yes, no, I am definitely sure. Just scared.”
She smiled softly.
“It’s okay. It’s normal. Everyone has these feelings,” she held my hand for a moment, reassuring me it would be okay.
I nodded and wiped the tears away, though I could already feel new ones coming in. I sat down on the table and another nurse came by along with my doctor, a blue-eyed woman with wire-frame glasses, dark curls, and a kind face.
“Hi, I’m Dr. _____, I’ll be doing your procedure,” she told me. In her hands were three long, scary-looking needles. I knew they were meant for me and while I feared them and any potential side effects, I was in desperate need of something to ease my anxiety.
I asked her if this would have any negative effect on my cervix, and gave her a brief history of my gynecological history: 3 abnormal pap smears, 2 colposcopies, 1 LEEP procedure, 1 pre-term labor, 1 successful cervical cerclage, 1 successful childbirth, though with fourth-degree tearing. She listened and nodded and told me that this wouldn’t have any more a negative effect than any of the other things that I’d endured, but that chances were if I ever had a child again, given my history, that I’d likely need to have another cerclage. I nodded.
She asked the nurse to put my seat back and they took turns searching for a vein in my arm. My mind raced, wondering if I would be the 1 in a million (1 in a billion?) that died during an abortion procedure. The doctor told me I would be feeling fine in no time thanks to the versed she was about to give me. I stared at the ceiling, at the dancing mobiles.
“You should feel it any second now,” she said.
“I don’t feel anything yet…wait,” I said, suddenly more interested in the movement of the mobiles.
I sincerely don’t recall what happened next. I am fortunate in that respect.
The next thing I know, a nurse is helping me sit up and telling me she’s going to help me get dressed.
“Is it over?” I asked, confused.
“Yes, it’s over,” the nurse said. I never saw the doctor again.
I clumsily stepped down from the table and walked slowly to a bathroom where a nurse helped me take off my gown and helped me get dressed. I felt confused, relieved.
I was brought over to another room to rest, along with other girls who’d just undergone the same thing. We had small privacy curtains dividing the room and I lay there for a while, disoriented, staring off and wishing I could just go to sleep. I was given some ginger ale and saltines and after a while, was asked to sit up. I was taken over to the other side of the room to a set of chairs and was there maybe another few minutes before they told me it was time for me to head out. A nurse helped me up and guided me to the outside patio where my husband was waiting for me. It felt somewhat rushed but at the same time I was glad to be out.
We wound up going to a nearby pizza place since I was hungry and it would be another 2 hours before we’d make it all the way home. I was still a bit loopy from the meds but only slightly crampy and not bleeding so I figured it was alright. My appetite wasn’t very big but I was in decent spirits, all things considered.
At home, I had a panic attack when I encountered my family in the kitchen, all of whom had no idea what I had just experienced. I rushed upstairs and into my bed to rest and took my meds and prescribed.
I spent the following day resting in bed mostly, while my husband took our son out for the day. It was nice to get some me-time. The past two days, I’ve been at home with my mother, who slightly suspected something was up, but I’ve been able to deflect her suspicions by telling her I’m having an especially heavy period this month. I’ve been fairly disconnected and have had trouble concentrating on much.
I don’t regret anything and I don’t feel any guilt, but I feel something else that I can’t quite put into words. Maybe there just isn’t a word for it. Not exactly empty, not the emptiness I felt when I lost my daughter. Not exactly sadness, either. Something in between, but not one nor the other. I’m sure my pregnancy hormones are going haywire.
Physically I am feeling better than I thought I would, though not without some cramping and bleeding here and there. I’m trying to take it easy as much as possible–not exactly easy with a one year old to care for. But I’m doing my best.
Before having my abortion, I felt very much alone and very scared. Scared of doing the right thing, but mostly scared of the procedure. I read story after story and that helped ease my fears, which is why I knew I had to share mine as soon as possible. I still feel fairly alone. While I am very public about my life usually, this is something I am keeping considerably quiet. Only my husband and one close friend in real life know, as well as a small, close-knit group of online friends. But I don’t feel connected to them enough and I still feel like I wish I had a close friend to talk to; one who’s also been through this. I know it will get easier over the next few days, weeks, months.
I’ll never forget March 14th, 2015, and I know i’ll sometimes wonder what could have been, but I know it was the right move. For me. For my family.
Someday maybe i’ll make a different decision, have a different outcome. That’s the beauty of choice though, isn’t it?