I was 35. I’d never been pregnant, and always been pretty good about using protection with sex; condoms, birth control pills, IUD. The pill drove me a little hormonally bonkers, the IUD I suffered through 6 years of before it just hurt too much, and condoms generally worked, though sometimes they really irritate me.
When I got pregnant, I had just recently gotten out of an abusive relationship. I was dating a friend; we had what I thought were some clear agreements that we weren’t going to be good long-term. We weren’t using condoms because he had assured me he was practically infertile after a fertility test, condoms were difficult for us for a variety of physical reasons I won’t get into.
That relationship began to wind down and we agreed to see other people, I reconnected with a long-ago ex boyfriend while traveling. He struggled with erectile dysfunction, and he ended up ejaculating on me, partially inside me. I washed myself out immediately, and I had thought about going to get emergency contraception, but I was in the middle of nowhere. It would have taken me until late the next day to be able to get to a Planned Parenthood. I had heard that you could get EC at a drugstore, but that they could turn you down, and that it was $50 or so. I also had it in my head that EC was only good after the first 12 hours or so.
I was wrong about one thing; EC is good for several days, though the sooner you use it the better. I was correct that it’s expensive to get EC at a regular drugstore. But I had erroneously thought that by the time I could get to a Planned Parenthood, it wouldn’t really be effective.
At that time, I could not have afforded EC at a drugstore. I had absolutely no income; I had been hanging on by a thread, living at my mom’s house and helping her fix up her house to sell. I was working on getting my life back together, and was really close to getting my first book published.
When I found out I was pregnant 4 weeks after being with my ex boyfriend, I knew instantly that I was going to terminate the pregnancy. The past few years, I’ve wanted to settle down with the right guy and have a baby; my biological clock had been ticking, and I had actually been afraid that I couldn’t get pregnant.
But neither of the potential fathers of this child were candidates for that. And the more likely father was my ex boyfriend from long ago; he was Bipolar and on disability for that. We’d lived together for a while and it didn’t work out. We were friends still, and a part of me loves him, but he wasn’t someone I wanted as a partner, he wasn’t someone who was going to be a good father.
And I did not want to raise a child alone.
Having a baby in the financial position I was in – I would have had to get onto state medical assistance, food stamps. I was so close to actually getting my life into a place of some stability, but I knew it was going to take at least another year before I really saw the fruits of my work.
Neither of the potential dads was in a financial position to support me.
I started doing research for how much this was going to cost, and was instantly shocked. I had no idea it was that expensive to get an abortion. Of course, when I made the initial calls in Wisconsin to find out how much an abortion would cost, they couldn’t even give me a direct price, because they can’t tell you how much it will be until you do the counseling appointment which is $50-$75. They would tell me, “$400-$600, beyond the counseling appointment.” Plus it would be an extra $100 or more if I wanted anesthesia.
I didn’t have $400. I didn’t have $50.
Until I’d moved in with my mom, I had lived in Chicago, and I called Planned Parenthood there to see how much it was. Same price range, but, I was able to find out right there over the phone that I qualified for their “uninsured” rate. With anesthesia, it was about $260. Which, I still didn’t have, or gas money to get to Chicago, but it seemed better than trying to win the “abortion fund” lottery in Wisconsin.
Having found all this out, I talked to both potential fathers to tell them my decision. They both sounded fairly supportive at first. My ex, the more likely father, agreed to pay for the abortion. He felt bad; he had agreed to have sex with a condom, and then came on me.
I didn’t hear from the other guy that I had been seeing for a week. After the abortion itself was complete, I contacted him, a little pissed off that he hadn’t even checked in to see how I was doing. I wasn’t going to ask him to drive me to the appointment, since that felt awkward. “Can you drive me to get an abortion for what is probably another guy’s kid?”
And then he let loose a torrent of pent-up emotional BS onto me. In fact, he was convinced that this was his kid, even though he’d told me he was supposed to be infertile. When I countered with what the ultrasound tech had told me – that it was almost certainly the other guy’s kid – he said I was lying about that. He was angry that I hadn’t asked him what he wanted in this, that I didn’t want to move in with him and his (very complicated) family situation. He even proposed that I could “sign over” the baby to him so that he could raise it. Nothing I brought up seemed to pierce the bubble of ill-logic. I pointed out that paternity tests couldn’t be done til after the first trimester, and that the noninvasive ones cost over a thousand dollars. And then, what if the paternity test showed what I already knew, that it was the other guy’s kid, what then? Then I was stuck trying to pay for a 2nd trimester abortion. He said he’d adopt the kid either way.
I began to feel like all the conversations he and I had had where we’d agreed to a casual relationship were him nodding along. When I said that if he was fertile, that I’d have an abortion, and he said, “Whatever you decide, I’ll support you,” was all lies. I began to suspect that he had wanted to knock me up, that he thought I would suddenly want to be a part of his crazy life, when I’d been very clear all along that that wasn’t what I wanted out of his and my relationship. I kept pointing out that he had crazy family stuff going on and he had no money to support me having a baby, and he had no time to raise a baby, or money to do so.
He just kept telling me how selfish I was. How he couldn’t believe I hadn’t asked him what he wanted, that I had just decided to do this. Which makes almost zero sense, because there was almost no chance it was his kid. I told him about what was going on because there was a slight possibility…we’re talking, really slight. And because he and I were still sort of together, we were still friends. Of course I would tell him what I was doing, but…it wasn’t his choice! It wasn’t his kid! It wasn’t his body! I felt like what he really wanted out of me was a broodmare, someone to have a baby for him.
He said a lot of hurtful things to me. I actually felt pretty good about my choice to terminate the pregnancy. It was absolutely the right thing to do. If I am so fortunate as to find a stable, solid partner, I would love the opportunity to raise a child in that dynamic, when I am not a financial burden on the state, and when I’m not trying to figure out how to juggle custody with a father that I don’t want to be with.
I have friends who have had a baby and tried to be a single parent, particularly while trying to get their life back together after dealing with the financial challenges in this economy. What I saw of their lives was misery, frustration, and hopelessness. I didn’t want that for me, or for my child. I want to have a baby some day, I don’t want to have a baby in a way that is a burden on everyone. It’s my choice.