by SG, New York
I became pregnant while in a monogamous relationship and on birth control because of an eye infection. Sounds bizarre, but I’d accidentally slept in my contact lenses a few times, and developed a nasty bacterial infection as a result. When I received antibiotics from my eye doctor to treat it, he failed to notify me that that specific brand of prescription eye drops would decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control.
I realized I was pregnant at around 7 weeks in from not only the missed period, but the overwhelming waves of nausea as well as the fact that I could smell things like a bloodhound. My boyfriend at the time was incredibly neurotic and raised into Modern Orthodox Judaism. Though I am also Jewish, I am merely Reform, and therefore he never told his parents about my existence even a year and a half into the relationship — even when he had to have minor heart surgery, and I had no way of contacting him to see if he was alright. I was 19 and he was 22.
His parents also paid for him to live in an $1,800 one-bedroom on the Upper East Side, when meanwhile, my parents had passed away and my family was poor as hell. That didn’t stop him from yelling at me in public when I wanted to borrow $1.50 for a bottle of Snapple on a hot summer day.
Despite my setbacks, I was working very hard supporting myself, maintaining an apartment with my name on the lease, and completing my junior year of college. Yes, I started college at 16, mostly to escape my drugs-and-violence riddled inner-city high school.
But I digress. I was 19 and pregnant, with no parents, no siblings, no one in my family who could afford to help even if I was close to them, and stuck with a boyfriend who I knew wouldn’t help me even in the worst of circumstances. It’s so easy to believe in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps when you’ve been born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
I happened to get the abortion, which thankfully was covered by my health insurance, when a friend of mine was visiting from my hometown in Florida. It wasn’t the best NYC vacation she could ask for. My boyfriend almost didn’t show up for the procedure; after all, he only showed up at Planned Parenthood when I was having the initial test performed about 40 minutes late, and after I’d already been escorted by my close friend’s husband.
I was sobbing hysterically when they put the IV in, and they asked if I wanted to turn back, and I said, no, that I was just scared of physical pain from the surgery. A split second later, I said, “Hey, the anesthetic didn’t work, I’m still awake.” An attending nurse said, “Honey, you’re in the recovery room.”
The next week or so was filled with cramps, and all I wanted to do was stay home and have time to myself. However, given my friend’s visit, I felt guilty about not doing everything I’d promised to do with her, and I dragged my ass down my 5 flights of stairs to show her the sights. I also didn’t want her to just sit at home with me while I sobbed — I figured maybe going out would be a welcome distraction as I processed the trauma. As for my boyfriend, he thought that Coney Island and forcing me to smile and simply forget my pain would be the best option. It wasn’t. It pissed me off that I wasn’t allowed to go through and express my emotions properly even if I had no regrets whatsoever. Accordingly, I dumped him two weeks later.
I should note that when searching for information online about the procedure, I was bombarded with slut-shaming propaganda. Also, despite being in liberal NYC, there were protesters outside of the clinic harassing me as I walked in. I gave them two lovely middle-fingers raised high in the air and told them all to fuck off.
I still have no regrets, but instead, a B.A. degree, and a study abroad experience in Moscow under my belt that wouldn’t have been possible if I were pregnant. I’m currently in an M.A. program with Ph.D dreams, and though I’m only 22, I’m already teaching at the college level.
So thank you, abortion, for allowing me to cut my asshole ex out of my life so I can eventually find a man who treats me like an intelligent human being with a brain and a heart and not a blow up doll with a painted smile. Thank you for not leaving me to struggle with a child and no immediate family to assist me, and for keeping me from possible homelessness. Thank you for giving me the experience that made me realize how important feminism is to me, and how much of a battle we still have to fight. Most of all, thank you for allowing me to get into graduate school so I can follow my dreams.
Hate to say it, but abortion is the best thing that ever happened to me. I might’ve been momentarily depressed after it happened, but now, I feel optimistic and fantastic.