Today would have been my due date (July 4). I found out I was pregnant on October 29, 2016, the day I missed my period. That was a bit of a shocker because I had been using oral birth control and my husband and I are extremely careful. The math told me that I had conceived when I was recovering from mononucleosis. The steroids I’d been on to control a minor autoimmune disorder I have must have messed with the contraceptives.

At the time, I was 38 years old. I have one daughter and had an extremely difficult pregnancy with her. I had severe hyperemesis and a difficult labor. My doctors advised me not to have any more children and I have heeded their advice. I am also overweight and my current job isn’t conducive to pregnancy. I have long decided that my family is complete.

I knew the logical choice for me was abortion, but that was something I swore I’d never do. I never imagined I’d even be in that position. I am pro-choice when it comes to others, but pro-life when it comes to me, if that makes any sense at all. I went from desperately wanting to keep the baby to knowing that it wasn’t a good idea, both physically and financially. My husband was against it from the moment he found out. He was adamant he didn’t want another child in the house and he confessed that he was terrified what pregnancy would do to me. I was still recovering from mono at the time, a recovery that would take four months. He stressed that the high chance of hyperemesis would come back on top of my other health issues would only make things worse. I would be so sick that I would be forced to resign from my job.

I didn’t want a surgical abortion and I didn’t want to go to an abortion clinic. I live in a major metropolitan area and there is an abortion provider here, but the clinic is always overrun with protestors. I didn’t want to deal that crap. My state also has a mandatory waiting period and you are forced to watch the sonogram, laws that were made by a bunch of old white men in the legislature. I’m a grown woman with two advanced degrees and in a stable career. I think I’m educated enough to make my own decisions about my body for myself and I don’t need someone who isn’t a doctor to make them for me, thanks.

Some may think it’s foolish, but I decided to have a medical abortion in the privacy of my own home without a clinician being involved. I was able to access the pills from a reliable source. I guess I’m lucky that I have the means to do so. I don’t recommend doing it this way. Go to the clinic if you can. My decision was motivated by fear and a desire to have it over with as soon as possible. Also, I had already used up all my paid sick days from work with the mono and I had none left to take off from work to deal with going back to the clinic for multiple visits. I wanted it over with in one shot.

I did a lot of reading and research and knew what I was getting into. I was still very early in my pregnancy, well within the time frame for a medical abortion. The pills arrived in under a week. I was 5 weeks and three days when I took the Mifepristone on a Monday night after dinner. I felt absolutely nothing, no side effects, and had no bleeding, which isn’t uncommon. Not all women bleed with Mifepristone.

I took the Misoprostol on Wednesday morning, about 7 AM. I had arranged to be off work for the day and my husband arranged to work from home, in the rare case there were complications. I had read stories that it’s like a bad period, so I prepared myself with a heating pad and took a few Ibuprofen before I put the pills in my cheeks. I watched a movie for thirty minutes, then swallowed the pills. About fifteen minutes later, around 7:45, I had to go to the bathroom. I saw a streak of blood when I wiped and I knew it was working.

I felt some minor twinges and such for a few hours and there was a very light trickle of blood, but no clots. It was like the beginning of a period. About 11:00 is when I started to notice a change. I started having cramps, but nothing worse than a period. I kept the heating pad on and kept myself hydrated. About 11:30 I went to the toilet and started passing a few small clots, no bigger than a silver dollar. There still wasn’t that much blood. I didn’t have the huge lemon-sized clots people talk about. It was uncomfortable, but not unbearable. I felt like I was having contractions, but I just breathed my way through them. I read somewhere that women who haven’t given birth before find the process more painful than ladies who have. At any rate, it seriously wasn’t that bad! I had some more Ibuprofen around noon and rested while my body calmed down and the pain subsided. I hadn’t bled nearly as much as I thought I would.

About 1:30, another wave of contractions hit me and I scurried to the toilet. I passed some more clots and blood, but still not much, and then things calmed down. My uterus was achy and sore until after 6 PM, but I didn’t need any more pain meds that night. I did feel kind of dizzy and nauseated, though, so my husband suggested I stay home one more day.

I am so glad I did! The next morning I was so dizzy that it was hard to walk. I stayed in bed and rested and was better by the afternoon. I was quite emotional the next day and cried quite a bit. I was worried that I hadn’t bled enough and that I was still pregnant. That’s the downside of not going to a clinic; you don’t have the handy sonogram to tell you whether the abortion was successful or not.

I bled for about another four days, not the week or two that all the sites said I would. That also worried me because it didn’t seem normal. I knew there was a small chance that the abortion could have failed, but it wasn’t likely. My pregnancy symptoms continued with my breasts feeling full and swollen for another three weeks. I waited for 2 weeks and then did a pregnancy test. It came back positive. I waited another two weeks. Also positive, though my symptoms had begun to fade. I honestly didn’t know whether I was still pregnant or not. It was December 10. I decided to call my OB/GYN (whom I hadn’t seen since I was pregnant with my daughter) and told them I suspected I was about ten or eleven weeks pregnant and asked for a sonogram to confirm. The earliest available appointment was Dec. 22. On December 15, I did another test and it came out negative. I canceled the appointment and felt hugely relieved. My period returned about a month later, in the middle of January.

I took a life. I don’t see the baby as a mass of tissues, but as a person whose life I chose to take. I was not prepared to sacrifice my already fragile health, my financial stability, or my marriage. I had to make a choice and I did. I chose the people who are already here over the person whom I could not bring into this world, not without losing everything that I’ve worked so hard for.

I could go into all the financial burdens we’ve experienced this year, but I won’t. I’ve also experienced even more health issues the past 2 months (gall bladder issues) and pregnancy would have made them much worse. While a small part of me regrets what I did, most of me does not. Today, I imagined myself full term (if I’d even made it that far) but unemployed and sick and knew I’d made the right decision.