My husband and I had been married less than six months when I found out during a study abroad trip in China that my hormonal birth control had failed. There was no way we could afford a child — as a graduate assistant, I was the primary bread winner and insurance provider, both of which would end weeks before my due date when I graduated with my master’s degree. My husband was entering his last year of engineering school with a course load that resembled a full-time job, albeit one that didn’t pay. Additionally, I was already wrestling with depression and knew that any pregnancy we had would automatically be considered high-risk between his family’s medical history, my severe hypothyroidism and the depression medication I took daily just to function beyond crying and hating myself.
Adoption was not an option, simply due to protests from both families and again, the financial burden of carrying the pregnancy to term. Although I am a Native American, the nearest IHS facility with any maternity facilities was more than 90 minutes from our home at the time — too far to be a feasibility.
Before the abortion clinic would allow me to schedule an appointment, I had to meet with an OB-GYN to confirm my pregnancy. My doctor had recently moved and I wound up being referred to her partner, whom I had never met before. When I scheduled the appointment, I made a point to tell the nurse I was strongly considering an abortion and needed to get in as soon as possible so I wouldn’t be forced to travel out of state due to restrictions in Oklahoma. Although the nurses were very sympathetic and understanding about it, the doctor lectured me about how I shouldn’t have had sex if I couldn’t accept the consequences and that if I was any kind of adult, I’d carry the pregnancy to term and put the baby up for adoption. It wasn’t until I told him very loudly that my husband and I had already discussed our options and were pretty much set that the doctor dropped the issue.
My husband drove me to the clinic in my hometown, more than an hour from where we lived at the time. Although I don’t remember much about the day, I do remember feeling relieved that I wasn’t alone when I saw other women in the same boat.
Three years later, my husband and I had our first — and probably only — child. While I love my daughter, I would not wish pregnancy upon anyone who isn’t prepared and going into it willingly. I would not wish the postpartum depression I endured on my worst enemy. I am all but certain that had I gone through with my first pregnancy, I would have committed — or at least attempted — suicide within the first year.