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Abortion: a catalyst for change.

by K

May 3, 2019

A plus sign, two solid lines and a definitive YES. All three pregnancy tests lined up like soldiers on my bathroom counter, there was no denying it. I was a week late and without a doubt, pregnant.

 

The feeling I had in that moment of clarity was both amazing and terrifying. In the last ten days I had tried to write off my peculiar symptoms as normal. It’s probably just a weird period. I’ve had those before. Whatever. But my, how I was wrong. Being pregnant feels almost superhuman. Every sensing mechanism you possess has been kicked into overdrive – your smell, your emotions, to feeling every little pang and twinge of the changes going on inside you. Rapidly splitting cells and hormones whizzing around in your body. Even though I didn’t want to believe that first test I took, I knew long before that plus sign became solid that I was pregnant. That moment that I didn’t want to believe, happened a few days before the test day. I was standing in the bedroom doorway of my studio apartment when I felt a cramp in my abdomen that nearly brought me to my knees. I clutched the frame of the door to steady myself. I looked at my boyfriend, he met my gaze and saw me wince, and I told him not to worry. Funny enough, it was Mother’s day. I knew already that I wasn’t ready to be a mom and later that day I told him that. At that point we had only been dating for two months, and I was so glad we were on the same page.

 

A few weeks later I had an abortion. Besides my boyfriend, I only told a few people I told – two of my best friends and my therapist. I hid the secret from my family because I didn’t think I could tell them. The local Planned Parenthood staff were absolutely incredible. They made the process so much easier for both me and my partner. They gave us detailed instructions on how to go through this process and I was able to do it in the comfort of my apartment. After a delirious night of intense pain, bleeding like I had never thought possible, crying to my boyfriend and wanting it all to just stop, I woke up the next day feeling better than I had in ages. The experience of being pregnant for that small window was humbling – I was getting a glimpse of the future of what it would be like for me when it happened on purpose. In a way it almost felt like cheating, but I still took a bit of comfort in the fact that I was healthy and fertile. I was grateful and so ready to move forward.

 

Little did I know ‘the future’ would be six months later when I had another unplanned pregnancy. The shock value of this scenario was palpable. I had a copper IUD in place and it is supposed to be one of the most effective forms of birth control, with a less than one percent failure rate. I was furious. Unlike the last time the answer of what to do wasn’t clear to me. I felt helpless and distracted. My body was physically present but my mind was galaxies away. My partner gave me the space I needed. He didn’t want to sway my decision one way or another because he knew he would support me no matter what, just like the last time. On one hand I knew the steps of acquiring an abortion, but on the other hand I was also researching prenatal vitamins and looking at baby name lists. I was so mystified by the whole situation that it was almost as if my mind had split in two. I felt lost.

 

A week later I hit a wall. I met with my mom. I have to tell you something. I’ve always felt comfortable talking openly to my mom, but this was uncharted territory. I was so scared that she would be upset or that our relationship would never be the same – thankfully, only one of these things was true. She sighed a breath of relief, closed her eyes for a moment and said Honey, I’m going to tell you something that I thought I was going to take to my grave. I’ve had two abortions and they both happened when I was married to your father. Knowing that I was not alone and that my own mother had faced the same crisis on two occasions just like me – I have never felt such relief in my life. Her honesty gave me the strength that I needed to heal from the pain of terminating a pregnancy, both of them. The love and admiration I feel for my mom is immeasurable now, and our relationship changed for the better than day. Better than I ever could have imagined.

 

There was so much more I wanted to accomplish in my life and I want to continue to build a strong foundation with my partner so that we make great parents in the future. My mom validated this sentiment when she told me that she too was relieved by her choices – If I had gone through with my first pregnancy, you wouldn’t exist. Neither would your brother. Your father and I would never had made it. Their relationship didn’t make it anyway, but they did create both me and my brother prior to the failure of their marriage. After a huge argument with my dad, I revealed that I was seven and a half weeks pregnant and about to have my second abortion. I hadn’t planned on telling him because I was never quite comfortable with sharing such personal information with him, but truthfully it was a turning point in our relationship. The moment I broke the news to him was the first time he had hugged me in more than two years, and only the fourth time I’ve ever seen him cry. He didn’t ask me about my mom other than confirming whether or not she knew about me being pregnant. We didn’t have to say it out loud because this was an implied, unspoken assumption – my mom and I have both had two abortions.  Even though I was twenty-eight years old at the time, I think this was one of the first times my dad realized that I wasn’t a little girl anymore, which wasn’t a bad thing. I believe he respected me for making an incredibly complicated and adult decision. We don’t talk about it now and that’s ok with me. In this case it’s better left unsaid.

 

Now, it’s been almost a year since the first pregnancy – a small milestone for me. I used to replay the story in my head whenever I allowed my mind to wander. How I found out, the vastly different emotions I experienced, all the peculiar symptoms of my rapidly changing body, the people who supported me, and more. Nowadays I think less about these things, and more so about the future. If I had complete control of the script that makes up my life, I would never have written that I would have an abortion, let alone two. I hope to god that the next time I find out I’m pregnant that it’s actually on purpose, but there’s no way to guarantee that. What I can guarantee is that I have an army of people to support me and that in the end it is my choice. I can look back now and see that going through what I did was the catalyst that created positive, lasting change in my life. I feel confident in who I am as an individual. I know that I have a voice and how I think and feel truly matters. I have so much love and trust for the people I confided in during my time of need. My relationships with the people I love are so much stronger. For years I shied away from asking for help, but being in the situations I faced made it so clear that I can’t live that way. It feels so empowering to receive support from the ones you love unconditionally. Their love showed me that I can do the same for myself. I am grateful for the strength I have that made it possible to make two very difficult decisions – Both times I chose my life.

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