How I Reclaimed My Life

by F

November 20, 2018

shout your abortion


I held the sticker in my hands, feeling like a hypocrite. It was free, and I was pro-choice, so I had ordered it weeks ago. The whole plan was to have people use these to get everyone more comfortable with talking about abortion. Because it is normal. And I do believe that.


But actually holding this sticker in my hands, I felt like a hypocrite.


shout your abortion.


I had done anything but.


Keeping it a secret from the majority of my family was a no-brainer. I just didn’t need to deal with the drama, and it’s not like telling my story would change their minds. That wasn’t the kind of people they were. They just couldn’t be swayed into understanding, so it was better for everyone if I kept it quiet.


As for the rest of the world, though, why have I felt so ashamed of speaking up about it? Maybe it was because of how some of my friends reacted. I’d thought I could trust them and that they would totally understand, but instead they retaliated.


I knew what I could and couldn’t handle, and I most certainly couldn’t handle a baby. Put the health risks of being pregnant that I have aside, I still couldn’t be a mom. I can’t even keep myself stable enough to live the majority of the time. I live in my small bedroom with the rest of my family. My boyfriend and I are on the rocks. My job pays shit, so how could I possibly afford diapers and formula and clothes and the expense of another life when I can’t even afford my own?


Anyway, back to the matter at hand: why haven’t I talked about my abortion? Simply put: I was raised in a society where it’s shunned. It’s one of those things where you glare at the person who mentions it in conversation until they get the hint and pipe down.


But see, that’s not good, because they’re trying to take it away. And let me tell you something, if they make abortion illegal, that’s not gonna stop abortions. That’s just going to make them unsafe. Abortions have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. I can’t comprehend why people don’t understand that. Just because you believe something is good or bad, that doesn’t give you the right to dictate how other people live their lives. I hate olives but I’m not gonna run up to my mom with a picket sign and protest her eating olives. It’s her choice.


And so, in an attempt to make the whole topic a little less hush-hush, I’m going to shout my abortion. Buckle up, folks, it’s a long story. Because I want to let you know what it’s like – when I was researching it I didn’t see any articles that really explained what went down. I just saw opinions of experiences, and like that’s great to leave and all, but I’m not trying to choose what restaurant I’m eating at. I wanted to know what happened.


For me, this is how it went:


First off, finding out I was pregnant was a nightmare and a half. I had been putting off going to urgent care because I was broke as hell, but I knew I had a UTI. You know when you’re peeing and you’ve had it enough times that you just know? That’s how I was. But finally, after about a week of procrastinating the twenty-dollar co-pay, my boyfriend at the time dragged me there when he got off work. He compromised with me by buying me dinner beforehand, so I relented.


They did all the routine tests, a urine and general body exam. I answered the questions, blah blah blah. After a few minutes of waiting, the doctor came back into the room.


I’ll never forget that moment. My boyfriend and I had been giggling about a card my mom had given him as a thank you for helping us move into our new house. I was waiting for the doctor to tell me I was right and to prescribe me meds so I could go home and watch a movie.


The doctor looked at my boyfriend. “Could I have you step out a moment? We’re just going to do a different kind of exam.”


This wasn’t alarming to me – I’ve had pelvic exams, and they were no picnic for anyone involved. The less people the better.


As soon as the door was shut behind him, the doctor turned to me and leaned against the counter. She looked right at me and said, “So you are pregnant.”


She said it so simple, as though she hadn’t given me the most devastating news. After that sentence, one of the biggest panic attacks of my whole life surfaced. I blacked out, pretty much. I knew I was crying, sobbing, and that I was being loud about it, but I had no control. It just couldn’t be real. This could not be happening.


They brought my boyfriend back in, and he rushed to my side, holding me and asking what was wrong.


“I’m pregnant,” I blurted, suddenly so very angry at him. “I told you. I told you.”


He let me be angry, and he continued to hold me. He tried to shush me, because everyone else could probably hear. The next news we got was that I needed to get to head to the actual emergency room in the hospital, because with a UTI (which I did have also, go me), UTI symptoms (the severe cramping I had in my ride side beneath my stomach) while pregnant could also mean that the fetus was stuck in my Fallopian tubes, which can be very life-threatening. I needed to get it out or I could die.


Honestly, I was relieved. Give me surgery. I wanted it out.


Several hours of the worst day of my life later, I discover that I wasn’t actually having emergency surgery, and that I had to wait until the next day to see my OBGYN and see what she thought we should do. I was pissed. I saw red. I couldn’t have this happening. I couldn’t. My mom – God bless her – was my rock, and shushed me and promised it would all be okay. We’d work it out.


My boyfriend went with me to my appointment the next day, and my doctor told me that they couldn’t be one hundred percent sure if the pregnancy was ectopic, but that we could still do the surgery and remove the Fallopian tube. I had a pain in my side, like I had for weeks, and I just knew that it was in there. I had that instinct. We did the surgery.


It wasn’t in the tube.


When I got the call that I was still pregnant, I was on my way home from work. I pulled over in a place called The Gardens, where my friends used to have the best days of my life and I was so in love, and I screamed. I screamed until my throat felt like it was about to break. I asked God why, why He was doing this to me. Hadn’t I suffered enough? The depression, the suicidal episodes, the eating disorder, the treatments… did I really deserve this on top of that?


My OBGYN had me come back in for another appointment, and laid out all my options for me. But I knew. I always knew. I listened carefully to my choices, but there was never a second of that time that I wavered in my decision. I knew what had to happen, I knew I had to get an abortion. I was scared for how I would pay for it, but my boyfriend told me he would take care of it all; lucky for us he had gotten his tax refund recently.


Making an appointment to have an abortion was one of the weirdest conversations I’ll ever have. I was in my bathroom, sitting on the tub and crying as the woman explained it all. But I wasn’t crying because of the abortion – I was crying over the situation. You had to be at least six weeks before they could do the procedure, which meant I had to live with it inside me (which was something I really struggled with). It would also cost $550, and if I wanted pain meds it would be another fifty.


That’s why I never understand the mindset that people who get abortions aren’t thinking. All we’ve had was time to think. A lot of it. And no one wants to fork over that much money on a whim. You have to know it’s the best choice.


I had so many complications during those six weeks. The morning sickness – which did not stick to morning and was a 24/7 cycle of hell – was so intense and so miserable that I hardly worked. When I did I was sick, running back and forth to the bathroom constantly. I was dehydrated twice, and contracted another UTI (they’re super easy to get if you’re pregnant). I tried to sleep as much as possible, because it was so difficult to be conscious, to be suffering that much. I’m not talking about mild car sickness nausea, I’m talking like I constantly felt like I had gone three times on the Xaliber at Six Flags. I cried and cried. My depression had never been worse, and it showed. My boyfriend never liked leaving me because he was scared of what I would do, and if he did leave he told my family to keep an eye.


The day finally arrived, and my boyfriend and I set out at an early seven am on a Saturday in June to the next town over to the Hope Clinic. There were protestors there, naturally, and it kind of confused me. Why would you get up this early to do this? I get mid-day, but really? Go home and enjoy a cup of coffee first, my word. Lucky for me, there was a volunteer group of people who wore orange vests that said “pro-choice” who met me at the car and led me into the building. They mentioned how much they loved my Stranger Things shirt.


We had to sign in and get approved to go into the actual building, and as we were waiting we heard the protestors yell at us. “Get in our van, we have ultrasounds!” “I can tell by the way you’re standing that you don’t wanna do this!” One guy sang. “My one defense, my righteousness, oh mommy I need you.” I have to admit, the song made my bf and I giggle.


We got buzzed in, and then we walked up two flights of stairs into a large waiting room. The receptionist highlighted my name and gave me homework to do in a private room alone, and then I went into a side waiting room. It took about fifteen minutes before a nurse called me back to get an ultrasound. I didn’t have to ask not to see it, they already knew. They confirmed that I was indeed six weeks and that I was good to go. And then it was back to the large waiting room, where I met up with my boyfriend.


They say on the phone that it will be about a four to six hour visit, and that your driver has to wait the whole time with you, but the actual procedure only took one to three minutes. All of the waiting is to do the paperwork, the paying, taking a few meds (Benadryl for nerves and ibuprofen) and a mini therapy session. I got a little information from the therapist; she explained that there was either a pill or surgery form. With the pill (which I didn’t do), you take one capsule at the clinic, and then they give you one to take at home. That’s only for early pregnancies, so I could’ve done that, but I wanted it over with. With the surgery, they basically just stick a tube up in you, for lack of proper phrasing. If I chose to get pain meds, they’d give me an IV of morphine-type-stuff (I don’t actually remember what it was but it had the same effect) that worked super fast, and then they stick a needle in your cervix (YAY!). The therapist told me that that was the most painful part of the procedure, but that it’s like someone pinching you really hard for half a second. You can imagine how excited I was.


After all of that mess was done, it was finally time for my name to be called. I walked down with my boyfriend to another waiting room, and I left him there to go back into yet another big room, only this one had a bunch of nurses working around all the patients. I had my blood drawn by a nurse who told me it was her last day before retirement after forty years of being a nurse. I was already teary by this point, nervous dribbles that I couldn’t control. I just let it happen.


I will say one thing about this particular clinic: despite their few online reviews, it was the most excellent service I’ve ever received, especially in a hospital-like setting. There were signs all over in the upstairs that centered around abortion and how it was normal and needed, and the staff represented those signs well. The women who worked there were so incredible and caring, offering their support and love. It almost made me want to work there myself in the future, so I could also help others who go through my situation.


I was escorted to a dressing room after that, where I changed into a hospital gown. I had to take off everything but my socks and my bra, and that’s when the reality of this situation really hit me. This was really the moment when I felt like I finally matured from an innocent child into an adult. It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to go through, and I was about to do it.


I sat next to two other women, and we didn’t really talk to each other. They didn’t seem nearly as nervous as me, but that’s normal for me in life hah. I sat with my arms crossed, trying to keep it together. I didn’t want to seem like I was scared to go through with it, because that wasn’t the case, as I’ve explained before. I was just scared of the pain, and upset that I had to go through with this in the first place. I wasn’t really mad at my boyfriend anymore, because he’d been so supportive and helpful and was practically the only reason this option was available to me. Plus, it’s true when they say it takes two to tango. I was also to blame. But I’d learned my lesson, for sure. I never wanted to be pregnant again, to be honest.


When my name was called, I took a deep breath and walked through the doors. I was taken to a small surgery room, where I was told to lay down in one of those big grey leather chair things. I was shaking by this point, and the nurse soothed me, assuring me that it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. Soon after I was sitting, the doctor came in and introduced himself, a kind and funny older man. And then, another nurse/tech walked in and said hello to me, explaining that her presence there was solely to be a comfort to me and hold my hand if I wanted. Which I did. Both of the nurses ended up holding my hand, and one even petted my hair during the procedure.


“This is going to get you high,” the doctor told me.


I laughed, a relieving feeling in my stomach. “I’ve never been high.”


“No? I don’t believe you.” He prepared the needle/IV thing. “Well, you’ll know after today.”


Let me tell you, that shit worked fast. I was fuzzy within seconds. Or maybe I’m just that much of a lightweight.


And then it was happening. And the nurse was right, it wasn’t anywhere near what I thought it would be. It wasn’t pleasant, of course, but it didn’t hurt that much either. Tattoos were worse than this. The tech and nurse kept me distracted as they held me, asking me if I had any pets and what their names were. It might’ve been longer in reality, but I swear it only felt like thirty seconds before I was done.


I wasn’t in severe pain after, like I thought. They gave me this giant diaper pad thing and sent me to sit in a chair outside. The high was still going on, and the walls looked weird. You know how it feels when your leg falls asleep? The walls kind of looked like how that feels. It’s honestly the only way I can describe it.


Ten minutes and some Sprite later, I was having aftercare explained to me, and then we left. The protestors were gone by then.


The nausea hadn’t completely left, but I was starving. And craving spaghetti (I didn’t really have any strange pregnancy cravings during my short time, but when I wanted something, I would do anything to get it). So we got a ton of food from Fazoli’s and went to my boyfriend’s house. After we’d stuffed ourselves, I fell asleep for five hours. FIVE.


When I woke up, I started crying. Because for the first time in over a month, I wasn’t nauseous. They’d warned me that I might be grieving, but all I could feel was relief. It was over. I really felt like a weight was lifted off of my chest. You have to understand – I wanted to die the entire time it was happening. My hormones were everywhere, sure, but my depression had amplified by one hundred. That’s what I’m trying to say, overall; if I couldn’t have done the procedure, I would’ve found a different way. I couldn’t have a baby, I couldn’t. Not to mention all of the health issues I have that would make it super risky to try and make it the full nine months.


I’m not trying to say that I was completely unaffected by this event. As time has gone on, I’ve realized that it’s almost turned into a sort of trauma for me. If I’m being honest, it’s probably a big part of why my boyfriend and I broke up. While it seemed fine at the time, it was still such a hard part of our lives, and it was more haunting than we ever predicted it would be. But, even with the struggles I’m going through now, I wouldn’t take my choices back. Not for a second. I don’t regret doing it, because I know it was what was right. Put my thoughts and how it would affect me aside, I could never give a child a good life. It’s not fair to bring a baby into the world when you can’t offer them a loving environment or even food. Putting it up for adoption was a no for me too, because I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens to kids who don’t get adopted and how it affects their whole lives. Then that child has to wonder, why didn’t my parents want me?


So, yeah. That’s my long story. I’ve shouted my abortion.


Have you?

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!