During the first year of my Master’s degree, I found out I was pregnant. I’d been on the pill since I became sexually active, and the only reason I wasn’t using condoms was because Chris and I had been monogamous for 2 years. The morning I was supposed to start my period (Valentine’s Day- a Saturday), I bolted upright at 7 AM and knew something was off. After taking a pregnancy test, I called Chris sobbing.
The next thing I remember, I was in my car driving to Planned Parenthood. I needed someone to tell me it was going to be ok, to calm me down. Chris was out of town, and my Mom was over 300 miles away. At Planned Parenthood, they walked me through all my options, confirmed the pregnancy, and encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. But there was no doubt in my mind- I wanted an abortion.
No decision has ever been easier.
Having a child at 22, in the middle of graduate school, would have completely derailed everything I had worked so hard for. Chris and I loved each other, and he was willing to step in and play the role of surprised-but-making-it-work dad and husband. But a child could have meant delaying or stopping my education, limiting my ability to do international field work…
A few weeks later, my mom drove up from Georgia. Chris took me in for the appointment, where they did another ultrasound, gave me one pill to take, and sent me home with information about completing the medical abortion. That night, I sent Chris home and laid in bed as my mom fixed cool rags, heating pads, and tea for me. I was in discomfort, and for moments was scared, but my mom got me through that. By the morning, everything was over and the bleeding stopped. I remember my breasts were sore for days, as though they were swollen with no baby to nurse. But again, my mom (and my own doula training) came through.
2 weeks later, Chris broke up with me.
It turns out, he had been planning to end the relationship for months and couldn’t work up the courage. But when I found out I was pregnant, he had swallowed those emotions and tried his best to be the supportive partner I needed. In the end, that wasn’t the family destiny has planned for me. I’ve since then finished my MPH, lived in East Africa (where I delivered babies and family planning services), and started a PhD program. I’m now studying women’s access to social support during pregnancy, including the kind of informational and instrumental support I received from Planned Parenthood.
I was so moved to know that the 1 in 3 campaign existed. When I was going through my abortion, I felt too stigmatized to tell anyone, save my mother, Chris, and one Women’s Studies mentor. I think it’s so important for us to share our stories, so that other women and girls know they aren’t alone- and, specifically, that some experiences aren’t bad. This is a decision only you can make, and I trust you to know what is best. We’re behind you.