Exactly one year ago to the day I realized that I hadn’t gotten my period in a few months. That wasn’t all that much of a surprise. I’ve only been able to maintain a consistent cycle when I was on birth control. But last December, I lost my job, which meant that I lost my insurance. I had three months left of birth control when I realized that I was pregnant in late March. Honestly, due to all of my health problems while I was a teenager I had convinced myself that I would not even be able to have children. Knowing that fact made our decision that much harder.
I had my abortion last April. Where I live, it’s almost unheard of to not have children pretty soon after high school, to the point where people feel it’s their place to ask you why you haven’t reproduced yet. I just turned 21 in January, have had a steady job, stayed in college, and purchased my own home in the three short years that I have been in the real world. My boyfriend and I are very happy, and have been looking forward to starting our family when we could provide more than our parents could. Not that they didn’t do their best, we just want to be prepared for any situation. While I have been trying to get to a place that I am comfortable and stable enough to have children, my peers have all had at minimum two kids, I honestly cannot think of one girl that has enough money to feed her, and all the little ones without government assistance. It’s just the way life is here.
It was terribly ironic when my birth control failed and our condom broke. I had assured myself that we would be okay for the next few months until we could save enough for a doctors visit. My best friend hugged me while I cried for what seemed like eternity when we read the positive tests. My emotions ranged so drastically, at first I wanted to puke, then happiness flooded the pit of my stomach, then worry, followed by sadness, which ended with anger. I was so angry with myself. This was not supposed to happen yet. I had done everything correctly (or so I thought). I assumed we were being as responsible as we possibly could without abstaining all together.
When my boyfriend got home from work, we talked about it and he was just as devastated, but very supportive. I went to the doctor to confirm. I felt terrible that the nurse that told me I was pregnant was about 8 months along. Often I hear debates about whether or not women should be shown their ultrasound during their abortion consultation. Personally, it is still the only thing that keeps me grounded in the fact that we made the right choice for us, (it’s very easy to be swayed by constant propaganda). The deciding factor of my trip to the clinic was my ultrasound. As the nurse went on and on about names and sex I just stared at what could be a spec of dirt on the monitor.
There was no baby there. No appendages, no tadpole, nothing at all. I knew this was not a child, and I made my decision. Like I mentioned, I am in tuned enough with my own body to know when something isn’t right, I was barely 4 weeks along. I meticulously track my cycles because I knew the risk that I was taking, (even though I was on Yaz, he used a condom and we purposefully had sex at the less fertile time of the month. I was the perfect vision of “safe sex”). She started in immediately about how life, “cannot be planned” and how I am plenty old enough. I wiped my belly, jumped off the table, thanked her and informed her that I would not need the script for vitamins. She argued with me, then told me to “stay put” while she drug several other doctors and nurses in to tell me just how crazy and selfish that I was. I was appalled at their lack of professionalism.
I had to travel 3 hours to a clinic waited my two days, went back alone, had the procedure, drove myself home and promptly went to bed for the weekend. By the start of the week, I was feeling incredibly guilty, for not feeling guilty at all. I felt like some sort of heartless monster. I was completely contradicting everything that I have ever known.
I tried to speak out; I tried to let other girls know that they didn’t have to give up their 20’s if they did not want to. They did not have to do anything that they did not whole-heartedly want to do.
Instead of easing their minds, they just called me names. I was mortified. I can say that I didn’t tell anyone I was going to the clinic besides my best friend and boyfriend, because I knew my family would all but force me to have the child. I would ultimately be as resentful as my mother is of me. I don’t want my child to be a punishment, and no matter how hard I would’ve tried, you cannot fake being a mom without failing miserably at it. When I have children, I want to be able to give all the time and dedication that they deserve. My mother is wonderful in every single way, but I know that she resents me. Not openly, but you just know.
Even though we have a home, we can barely feed ourselves. We are worse off at this very minute than we were in April. Sitting in my bed an entire year later, it’s so hard to explain how fortunate I am that we as a couple decided what was best. Last year, my boyfriend had a great job. Less than 2 months after my abortion, his company went out of business. He works so hard doing odd jobs to just feed the two of us. I literally thought that last year was our rock bottom. We are so lucky that we saved as much as we did so that we wouldn’t miss house payments. It’s hard to put my feelings into words. We are not ashamed of our decision, but it definitely changed our entire lives. It’s extremely hard for me to say this, but since the date of conception, we have not been intimate. The event rocked us to the core. We aren’t sad about the potential child that we lost, but we are sad that we put ourselves in the situation. We are much stronger emotionally. I know that when we are ready, it will happen.
I have been in therapy for most of my life as an outlet, and she has helped me sort out the feelings completely. She said that I do not feel guilt for my actions, but I feel guilt for losing a very special experience that my boyfriend and I saw as our goal in life. I knew that she was right, it was so helpful to hear it come from someone else than me. We want to be parents. But both of us came from extreme poverty, and we refuse to subject a child to the hardships. Many say that I “have post abortion regrets”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The only positive thing that has come from this speed bump in the road is that I have developed an extreme yearning to reach out and help other people in the same position. I have gone back to school, am working on my psychology degree, and volunteer at my local women’s shelter.
By facing my situation head on instead of burying it, I have matured and have found a purpose. I wouldn’t change a thing about the past.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking when I hold a friends baby, how that could have been me. It could have been wonderful, but then reality smacks me in the face and I immediately remember that I made the right choice, financially as well as emotionally. I don’t know myself well enough to instill any sort of morals or guidance yet, but I know that when I am sure, my family down the road will thank me for sacrificing when I was younger to build a better life for them.
I didn’t anticipate this being so long, but you have no idea how amazing it feels to let this flow out of me. I hope that I’m not the only one that feels this way. There are so many terrible rumors and misconceptions about abortion. I just want to make it a bit clearer for others lost in between the two extremes of emotions.