My Abortion Story

by Lauren

January 6, 2020

I don’t often frame the treatment of my ectopic pregnancy as an abortion story, not that it isn’t an abortion story. It was the termination of a pregnancy, but most rational people can recognize that an ectopic pregnancy is untenable, and termination is the only logical option. At least that’s the impression I was given when I first started sounding the alarm to my more conservative friend set about the dangers of limiting bodily autonomy in any capacity. Today I am framing my story has an abortion story because right now more than ever it’s important that people understand what is at stake. Lawmakers are legislating medical procedures that can only be described as science fiction into law and if we don’t stop it people will die.

In June of 2016, I was a newly licensed cosmetologist, engaged to my high school sweetheart. My relationship with my ex-fiancé was never healthy, there was constant cheating. I couldn’t trust him at all, the insecurity was eating me alive and I had turned into a person I didn’t even recognize. When we finally split, he immediately moved in with someone else. We hadn’t spoken in about a week when I had a sharp sudden pain and intense cramping at work, thankfully my doctor was able to see me that afternoon. At my appointment my doctor did a urine pregnancy test that came back negative, so she scheduled an ultrasound on Monday morning to check for cysts and sent me home. The weekend was filled with emotional turmoil. I had to move back in with my parents because I couldn’t afford my apartment by myself, my ex had to come to get all his stuff and I was in constant pain.

On Monday morning my mom came with me to my ultrasound appointment. I don’t know what I expected that day, but it certainly wasn’t even on my radar that I could be pregnant, I was on birth control and hadn’t even been sexually active for nearly a month at that point. The ultrasound started off pretty normal my mom and I were talking and joking until the tech excused herself to go get the doctor. Once the doctor came in the room was silent. She spent 5 or 10 minutes reviewing the images when the doctor finally addressed me, she was very calm, she said “there appears to be a mass in your right fallopian tube. I want to get some blood work to get a better idea of what it is.” I just said okay and my mom immediately started asking a million questions. I couldn’t even think straight I was so blindsided by this. I was sent home to wait for the test results, my ex was there gathering some of his things he’d left, we were fighting when the doctor called. I slipped into the bathroom to take the call, I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went. Essentially my doctor informed me that my blood work showed the presence of HCG (the hormone measured by pregnancy test) that was abnormal, and she was sure the mass in my fallopian tube was an ectopic pregnancy. She informed me that I could either wait it out at home and hopefully miscarry naturally or I could go into the emergency room and get a shot of Methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug that stops rapid cell division and that would end the pregnancy safely without putting me at risk for further complications like a ruptured fallopian tube.

At that point I was so numb to everything I just asked if I could call her back and let her know what I wanted to do, she said that was fine but if I didn’t treat the pregnancy I would need to be very closely monitored. Once I hung up with the doctor I called my mom, we talked about the options and both agreed it was better to be safe and treat it than to risk major complications and potentially a week or more away from work. I informed my ex and locked myself in the bedroom until he left. I called my doctor and she told me I could go the local labor delivery hospital in the morning, and they would administer the medication.  This didn’t feel like a pregnancy, I certainly didn’t consider what I was going through as an abortion. Maybe because in the same breath I was told I was pregnant; I was told I’d never take home a baby. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a mother, I wanted motherhood desperately, not now, not here, not with this partner, but I wanted to be pregnant.

Laying alone in my bed that night, my mind started to wander, and I did what every person who has ever faced a situation of medical uncertainty will tell you not to do. I googled ectopic pregnancy. Most of what I found reassured me, I felt confident in my choice until stumbled upon and a web of disinformation. I was utterly shocked by what this group implied and had they not thrown in a laundry list of scientific cases I couldn’t quite understand, I probably would have brushed them off has a group of nut bags then and there. They state that the rupturing of a fallopian tube is rarely fatal and therefore an ectopic pregnancy is not a clear a present threat to the mother’s life. The claims about successful ectopic pregnancies swirled around and around in my head. I needed to understand so I kept reading I read their cited sources, most of them were scientific studies that are by no means in laymen’s terms. They only confused me more, I am pro-choice, but I didn’t want an abortion. I knew I wanted to be a mom and at that point in my life, I was scared to pass up a clear and present opportunity to become one.

So even with a crappy partner and less than ideal circumstances I wasn’t okay with the idea that I would be ending this pregnancy unnecessarily. I called my doctor first thing that morning, looking for some clarification and compassion from a source I thought I could trust. She was so kind and so extremely patient we talked for over half an hour about the things I’d read, she explained that if she believed in good faith that my pregnancy could continue and be healthy she would fight for that but that these studies I’d read had a myriad of fallacies and were generally rejected by the scientific community. She cited her sources and why she recommended the treatment. She also told me that she would support me through whatever I decided to do and went over what it would look like if a chose to manage the pregnancy and wait for a miscarriage, or the rupture of my fallopian tube and after going over the risks associated with terminating the pregnancy vs the risks of allowing it to continue, I told her I was going to shower and head to the hospital to go ahead with the procedure. My mom came with me.

It was quiet in the waiting room, they drew my blood and then called me back a nurse went over exactly what would happen she told that I would cramp and there may be some heavy bleeding for the next two or three days and then she came back in with the shot, it didn’t hurt much she gave it to me in my hip and then I was sent home with instructions to come back in 5 days and then again in two weeks to make sure the pregnancy had resolved with blood work. I went home and took two days off work, over those two days I finished moving and tried to rest. The cramping actually wasn’t that bad there was some heavy bleeding, but it was less painful than carrying the ectopic pregnancy had been. Six months later I was in a much better place, I was dating a dear friend who I’d known for nearly a decade and I was healing from the emotional trauma of my previous relationship when I found out I was pregnant, we were shocked but so excited.

I knew I wanted this pregnancy here, now, with this man. Things weren’t perfect but we felt confident that we could get things in order and start our family sooner than expected. At my 12-week ultrasound, the same tech who had diagnosed my ectopic pregnancy said off-handedly that I must have a very active right ovary because this egg had also been released from my right ovary. Y’all I didn’t even know that you could tell what egg a pregnancy came from! I broke down in tears, you see I knew when I made my decision to terminate my ectopic pregnancy it was the right one but I couldn’t get the nonsense I had read out of my head, there was this little part of me that was terrified I was wrong. Then this news came, and I don’t consider myself religious but this, was my miracle. It was my sign from God, from the universe that I could be at peace. If I hadn’t have sought the early interventions and allowed the pregnancy to continue it could have cost me my right fallopian tube a perhaps my son. Who is the light of my life, he’s the person who inspired me to become an Ibclc and a doula. His birth dramatically shaped my life in the most positive way possible. Without my abortion, he probably wouldn’t be here. I could have died because of this junk science, and now its toxic ideology is seeping into our legislative bodies, it must be addressed. No person should have their health care dictated to them by lawmakers.

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