I was 20 years old the first time I got pregnant and I did not hesitate in my decision to have an abortion.
I have 2 sisters and a brother who were born when I was in junior high school, and by the time I got pregnant I had been an unwilling and unpaid weekend babysitter for my dad and stepmother for the better part of 8 years.
My mother worked nights and my stepfather was an alcoholic, so when my youngest sister was born when I was fourteen I took on a more significant role in helping to raise her. My older brother was a deadbeat alcoholic who got a girl pregnant and when that girl endangered my newborn nephew’s life my mother became his permanent legal guardian.
I didn’t even think twice about bringing another child into my family, especially when I was living at home, working 2 jobs, and helping my mom take care of everyone else. I saw the strain it put on my mother to have so many mouths to feed and I didn’t want to make her life harder than it already was or ultimately end up in her position.
My best friend had had an abortion a couple of years prior to this so she gave me the number to the clinic she used and I made myself an appointment right away. The time between finding out I was pregnant and making the call was less than 24 hours, and my abortion was a few days after that. My boyfriend didn’t play much of a role in the process because I wouldn’t let him. He would’ve come with me if I had allowed it, but I wanted to do things my way.
I took a few days off work and my friend drove me to my appointment on a Friday morning. There were protestors outside, which seemed so bizarre to me at the time because I didn’t think that was actually a real thing. I rolled my eyes and laughed right in the face of a woman who attempted to block me from entering and brushed past her to get on with my damn life.
Waiting for my appointment was just like waiting for any other doctor appointment. There were a few other people there; a couple of girls my age, and one who looked a lot younger. The younger girl was with her boyfriend and he kept staring at me, which was literally the only uncomfortable part of my abortion.
I have no recollection of the actual abortion because I was under general anesthesia. The anesthesiologist was my favorite person I met that day. I actually passed out in the middle of joking with him about how I’d come after him if he stole my shit while I was asleep. Afterward, I got to sit in a big comfy chair and eat cookies and drink apple juice and chill for a while, and then I went home and slept.
To this day, my first abortion remains the most positive medical experience of my life.
My second abortion was incredibly uneventful. Same boyfriend, 2 years later. Realized I was pregnant when I started having the same weird physical symptoms as the first time. Called planned parenthood this time and went in a few days later.
I hesitated briefly before I had the second abortion. It didn’t take me very long, however, to figure out that I was only hesitating because I was afraid of what people would say about me if they knew, and that wasn’t a good enough reason to let a clump of cells grow into a baby that I didn’t want.
This time I had a medical abortion rather than a surgical one. I was actually way more nervous about taking the pills than I had been about the surgery because the paperwork that described what would come out of my body was very unsettling. I ended up being pretty lucky – mild cramping, moderate bleeding for only about 3 days, no alarmingly huge blood clots, and I was back at work before the week was up.
I was with that boyfriend for 10 years. We remain close friends today and agree unequivocally that not having children together was a very, very smart decision.
I want the world to know that all abortion stories are important and valid, not just the ones where there is anguish and sadness. When I was eating my cookies and apple juice after my first abortion, I met a 26 year old woman who had wanted to keep her pregnancy but she and her boyfriend couldn’t afford to have a baby. Circumstances like this woman’s are exploited every day to make people feel empathy for abortion-seekers by telling them that they should leave us alone because an abortion is already hard enough to go through without their bullying, and while that is the case for many people, there is not one universal abortion experience.
I had two abortions, relished the time off work, ate a lot of snacks and watched a lot of tv, and I have never once felt guilt, sadness, or shame for doing right by myself.