my abortion (student, aged 20)

by g.m.

December 23, 2016

I realized I was pregnant almost immediately. I worked outside, at a park – a typical summer-student position – and started experiencing waves of nausea and dizziness, especially under the hot June sun. Something within my body was changing in a way it never had before. I got a pregnancy test later that day, and walked to my boyfriend’s house to take it.

And, of course, it indicated that I was pregnant. I was hit with a wave of disbelief, even though I had sensed it in my heart for days. I panicked, I cried. My boyfriend held me uncomfortably, not understanding how to react. Maybe this was an irrational aspect of my response, but even though my immediate assumption was that I must abort, his assumption that I would really hurt me. What am I doing with someone who wouldn’t even support me in this mistake? I wondered. I cried harder. I never realized it, but that was what really severed our relationship: his coldness in this moment, and in the aftermath of it. But that is getting ahead of myself.

I called the Morgentaler clinic that afternoon. I have always believed in abortion as a right; there was no ethical quandary. Only the strange feeling in my gut, probably caused by all the hormonal changes happening at the time. I was emotionally burdened by the decision in a way I didn’t expect to be, but in a way that directly conflicted with what my mind told me. I told my mother that night, in a very callous way. I really didn’t know how to bring it up, so I blurted it all out. ‘I’m pregnant,’ I said. ‘I found out today, I’ve already booked myself an appointment.’ She cried. Unlike my boyfriend, who was quite cold in his reaction to the situation, my mom was extremely emotional. ‘You’ll always remember this,’ she warned me.

I hated being pregnant. I hated it so much. I vomited every night, every morning, and trying to continue doing full-time physical work in the meantime ranged from annoying to excruciating. I resented my boyfriend, maybe unfairly; after all, he couldn’t possibly understand. But I hated how it burdened me and not him. He never cried thinking of it, he never experienced the pain of it, he only felt relief. The reason I wasn’t on birth control at the time (although we were using condoms but clearly that malfunctioned) was because of my own mental health issues – hormonal birth control does not agree with my depression. So there, I felt as though it was unequal as well. In the weeks leading up to it, and the year following it, he joked about it so many times in ways I felt were callous and insensitive to what was MY lived experience. Not his. Maybe it’s unfair to expect understanding, but empathy at least would have been nice.

There was an old man protesting outside the Morgentaler clinic when I arrived. Actually, my mom shielded me from him. In hindsight I would have loved to say something to him. Hilarious how those protesting abortion are so often old men, who have never and will never be affected by the issue. Fuck them. I sat in the waiting room trying to subtly check out those around me. A young, young girl with her mother, my heart hurt a little bit for her. An older couple. A neatly dressed young woman, sitting alone and flipping through National Geographic. And quite a few couples appearing to be in their mid-twenties. I almost wished I wasn’t with my mother; I felt like a child. I wished my boyfriend could have driven me. The presence of a maternal figure while I was rejecting becoming one just seemed odd; also, my mother had me at 22, only 1.5 years older than I was at the time.

The abortion itself was quick and not too painful, although I am good at breathing my way through these things. The doctor conversed with me while working between my legs, which was hugely humorous to me at the time. Another thing is that I find when I’m expected to be vulnerable its easier to be stoic, and likewise when it is reversed. A woman was whining about how sick she felt in the recovery room and I felt irrationally annoyed by it. A little aching between the legs, and that was all…

I am so happy I had an abortion. My life would not be my own without it. I would have been catapulted into a new world that I wasn’t ready for; I would have become a slave to debt and underpaid work to try and provide the life this child required, but it wouldn’t have been the life that it deserved. I would have been a terrible mother. I try to tell people that I’ve had it done. I want people to know that its super normal, rather than having to be a hush-hush closeted affair – although most of my own family still does not know I had the procedure, owing to my mother’s wishes. I may violate those wishes soon. I want people to realize that abortion, even though it is emotional and painful, is also NORMAL and I want representations of normal abortions to be accessible to everyone. I am also so grateful because I know my experience of abortion is different from many – it was very privileged. I live within hours of multiple major urban areas, had means of transportation, and the support of my parent. So I think that I should be willing to speak up about it, and to stand up to people who denounce my choice without realizing that I made it.