On January 9th, 2017, I started graduate school. I had worked my ass off the entire year leading up to this moment and I was so proud of myself. I realized I had my first session that night so I went to my class, sat down, and waited patiently for the start of the next two years of my life.
On January 9th, 2017, I got a notification from my period-tracking app saying I was a week late. I had been on birth control so I wasn’t too concerned but it was better to check. I went to the pharmacy, bought a pregnancy test, peed on it, and waited patiently… for that little pink +.
“Isn’t this just the quintessential female story?” I thought to myself, “Here I am, about to embark on a new adventure, and I’m knocked up.”
I cried for hours. I cried in my bathroom, the kitchen, my sofa, my bed. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. But I have to keep it. I wasn’t raped, I wasn’t in an abusive relationship, I wasn’t without income. I was 27, well educated, had a steady job, was in a loving and healthy relationship. I couldn’t get an abortion. People would judge me. This wasn’t how my story was supposed to go.
On January 11th, 2017, I called my OB/GYN and told her I was pregnant and wanted to discuss “my options”. I couldn’t even bring myself to say the word: abortion.
On January 16th, 2017, I went to my OB/GYN. I cried on the way there, I cried in the waiting room behind my sunglasses, and I cried while I waited in the room with my pants and underwear off, laying on the bed in a gown next do an ultrasound machine. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. My first ultrasound was supposed to be different.
My doctor walked in and thankfully said the words I didn’t have the strength to say. “So, you are pregnant and you would like to discuss the options for termination, correct?” I said yes and immediately burst into tears. “It’s just that I am in graduate school and I am starting a new job next week and I have all of these things I want to do and I am just not ready.” I blurted out every excuse I had through my sobs. She calmly nodded her head in agreement and told me that she understood. We did my formal ultrasound and I saw the baby. I cried and she held my hand. She walked me through my options and I decided on a medical abortion. She told me everything to expect, gave me my first pill and a prescription for my second set of pills. On my way out, she told me something I will never forget. “Women often suffer so quietly and so privately. This is your body and your life and don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t have the right to own this decision, without remorse.”
On January 18th, 2017, I took my last four pills and started the process of expelling the embryo. It was painful but nothing I couldn’t handle. I sat in the bathroom for a few hours and my boyfriend sat on the floor next to me. I saw the embryo. Barely because I was only 6 weeks but it was there. I said I was sorry… not sure who I was saying it to, myself or the baby.
My boyfriend and I were the only ones who knew. It was my secret that I wasn’t ready to tell but I felt so alone.
The social landscape at the time was filled with republican promises of getting rid of any “baby-killer organizations” and taking away funding from women’s health facilities. President Trump was about to be inaugurated and his entire office was spewing words of hatred toward abortion and the women who had them. Social media was filled with images of fetuses with “baby killer” splattered across it. According to them, women who had abortions were irresponsible, without feelings, without intelligence, the list went on and on. But that wasn’t true. That wasn’t me. That wasn’t my story. There were women shouting back at these accusations and were outwardly defending abortion. To those women, I salute you and your bravery. But there I was in the middle. I didn’t want to shout my abortion. I just wanted to talk about it.
So, I did. I started to tell my story. I told my mom, I told my friends, I even told a stranger. Every time I told someone, I felt a little bit of weight being lifted off my shoulders. I found out women close to me had also had one (or two or three) and had never told their story. I found a level of compassion and understanding that I didn’t know was there.
The abortion wasn’t the difficult part. The difficult part was keeping this secret as if it were some deep, dark thing I had to take to hide. I became anxious and depressed. I went to therapy. I often cried myself to sleep. Not because I thought I made the wrong choice but because other people made me feel I made the wrong choice. I had to pretend I was okay when really I was still hurting, healing. But by keeping quiet, I was only continuing to make other women feel they needed to suffer quietly and privately. So I stopped being quiet.
And, as it turns out, the average woman who has an abortion is all of us, including me. And now, I live my truth.
In January, 2017, I had an abortion. This is only part of my story. But it belongs to me. And I will tell it proudly.