By A Friend of Ours
A friend of ours, who decided to stay anonymous, discusses her experience having an abortion. She discusses how it happened, how she came to her decision, and how she’s processed that decision since. Abortion is a highly political issue at this moment in time, but I felt that it was important to share the real experience of a woman who went through it. I understand that not everyone agrees on this issue, but I hope you will read the following piece with an open mind and an empathetic heart.
“Um, the condom came off” he said, as I was soaking in post-coital bliss. That will snap you out of it, quick. “WHAT?” I responded.
The condom had slipped off during our admittedly drunken sex. MIA. Can’t really do its job when its been exiled to the edge of the bed.
Within five minutes of this discovery, I was soaking in three inches of lukewarm water in his dirty bathtub. There was no plug to be found, so we clogged the drain with toilet paper. He sat on the floor beside the tub and joked with me, which I sincerely appreciated at this time of pure panic. He assured me everything would be fine. “It happens to lots of people,” he said. And he was right. You hear about accidents all of the time. And this was my first accident. I am careful. I’ve never had sex without a condom. I may not be responsible in other ways (well-rounded diet, cardio, buying enough toilet paper) but I have my shit together on the safe sex front.
We went to bed and I felt a bit more at ease. The next day, we watched Indiana Jones and went to buy Plan B. I dealt with the situation the only way I knew how; making a big fuckin’ joke out of it. My best friend and I I bantered back and forth about the unfortunate situation. “What are you making?” he asked as I was unpacking the pill on the kitchen counter. “Oh, nothing. I’m not that hungry so I figured I’d just whip up a little Plan B,” I responded.
And then I forgot about it. I have an irregular period, so I didn’t think much about it when I didn’t get my period on time. Maybe a week or so after I missed, I bought a pregnancy test out of habit—I do this a lot to ease my mind. I was visiting my parents and I took the test in my childhood bathroom. Then I saw the little blue plus sign.
My face got hot and I felt dizzy. Surely I couldn’t be right. I took the second test. Same blue plus.
I went to tell my mom. I barely remember it. It feels cloudy and shameful. She was shocked but took it well. She called my family doctor who informed me that one of the medications I was on had a serious warning about getting pregnant and that the pregnancy could result in birth defects. Within the day, we set up an appointment at Planned Parenthood for the following week.
Waiting for my appointment was torture. I was nauseous and constipated and terrified. My body didn’t feel like my own. I still had classes I needed to go to. Riding the subway back to my apartment was unbearable; every bump felt like a kick to the stomach.
I invited my boyfriend over and sat him down on the couch. We’d only been dating for about a month and I had no idea how he would take the news. He shut down. He was respectful and supportive of my decision but preoccupied with his own processing of the news.
My friends didn’t know what to say and I couldn’t blame them. I wouldn’t have known what to say either. That week felt like the loneliest and longest week of my life. I laid in my bed, watching bad TV and waiting to get my body back.
Aside from the physical discomforts, I had so many emotions I couldn’t keep track. I knew that the pregnancy was likely not viable due to the medication I was on, but I felt immense guilt. And whether those health risks were there or not, I would likely still be going through with the abortion. How could I let this happen? Was sex worth the possibility of this?
I could also see the effect this was having on my mom. She was so understanding of my decision but it obviously weighed heavy on her heart. My sister sent me articles on women who talked about how their access to abortions was what led them to lead the life they wanted, whether it be to finish school or get their dream job. Many of them talked about having kids later in life when they were ready. Those articles really helped me solidify my decision because it reminded me that deciding to not go through with this pregnancy didn’t mean I couldn’t decide to have children later in my life.
I went to see my counselor and she helped me feel my sadness and grief while also allowing me to remember that this was the right decision for me. Making this decision didn’t make me a bad or irresponsible person. This is something many women have gone through. We all probably know someone who has made the decision, for her own specific set of reasons. She helped me connect with my spiritual self and the spirit of the fetus. I left my meeting with her feeling less at odds with myself. I was secure in my decision.
My appointment at Planned Parenthood was on a Friday morning in February. My mom drove me in and sat with me for 2 hours before I was called back. First, they performed an ultra sound and asked if I wanted to see. I said no.
Then, I was brought into a room by a kind nurse. I met the doctor and then went under. I woke up in the recovery room crying. My mom wasn’t allowed back with me, but there was a kind man who introduced himself to me. He was a pastor and told me about his mission of comforting women after making these difficult decisions. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I remember how much it meant to me that he was there.
I’d like to say that this procedure felt routine and uneventful, but for me it was very emotional. Everyone I dealt with was kind and compassionate, but I was scared. Though I knew I was making the right decision for me, I still felt sadness and fear.
In the following months, I felt sadness from time to time. Not because I felt loss or like I had made the wrong choice. It felt like I had connected with the spirit of the baby and it let me know that it was okay. I never felt that I was losing that spirit, but that we were just meant to meet another time.
I never felt that I was losing that spirit, but that we were just meant to meet another time.
I feel so lucky that I have a family full of children and get to be a part of their lives even though I made the decision to not have a child of my own right now. Whenever I get the chance to hang out with any of those awesome little dudes and dudettes, I find myself reflecting on how grateful I am for them for allowing me to share some of that maternal love that I’m not quite ready to fully embrace.
After the procedure, my mom sat me down and explained that I might not want to share my experience with other people. She explained that even close friends and family can be judgmental and it can color their view of you. Being the big mouth that I am, I haven’t been able to keep it to myself. My close friends knew about it before it happened, and through the years I’ve shared it with new friends and some family. I know my mom was just trying to protect me, but the more I reflect on the experience, the more I feel that it should not be something to be ashamed of. There are certainly people who won’t agree with the decision, but maybe hearing my situation would lighten their view. Sometimes people soften on their opinions when it affects a loved one. I certainly don’t always live up to the idea of being an open book (see the anonymous byline on this piece) but I think that the more we talk to each other openly about our experiences, the more compassion we will have for these big, scary, often impersonal issues.