No Longer Accepting Applications for Your Reaction to My Abortion

by Kathryn

February 20, 2020

I was in my first semester of college when I found out I was pregnant. I had missed a period and didn’t think anything of it until I missed another. That’s when I figured I should take a test.

My mom went to the store because I was too mortified to be an especially young person buying a pregnancy test. I had to steady myself when I was peeing on the stick because I was so shaky. Those few minutes before you find out are so excruciating but the symptoms of my anxiety were all the same as any other major event in my life. A numbness that shot all throughout my body. I usually compare it to the feeling of that special dye called intravenous contrast that’s injected into your blood stream before you have a cat scan. That might seem weirdly specific but that’s the best way I can think to describe it.

I don’t remember this big glacial shift in how I felt about my life if anything I kinda shut down completely. I just went through the motions which consisted of my mom going into her own version of survival mode. She starts with, “Ok, you are only home for the weekend and you have finals coming up. I think you should go back to school for finals and just put this whole thing on the back burner.” I just agreed, not knowing what to do. I had never been in this situation so I didn’t know how to feel.

Within a couple of hours I was back in the car on my way to school. It’s almost as if the universe was in on this little chaotic hiccup in my life because when I turned on the radio the band Verve Pipe’s song “The Freshmen” was singing which was about a girl having an abortion and her boyfriend expressing his guilt and feelings towards it. I just sat there and did a little chuckle with my tongue pressed against the side of my mouth and thinking, huh, well fuck me I guess.

I got to school and everything seemed so trivial. The tests, the drama, the idiosyncrasies of that entire school’s culture. I wanted time to freeze. How was I supposed to focus on something like school when I was pregnant.

The school that I had chosen for its collaborative environment, lack of religious affiliation and Greek life, and overall liberal ideals betrayed my trust in the institution. Within my first few days back it was clear I could not focus on studies and so I decided to take a medical leave. I scheduled an appointment with one of the students, a woman because I felt they were traditionally more understanding at my specific school. I walked in and sat down, eyes puffy on the verge of filling with tears as a chocked out my relaying of the request. She seemed uncomfortable by the fact that I was so transparent with my outer appearance even though I was trying my best to compose myself.

I’m going to break briefly in the story above. I’ve always self-described myself as gullible and a close friend told me something very interesting about what he thought of this. If someone is honest they’re more likely to interpret other people as being honest and vice versa. So people who are gullible are almost always also very honest. That might seem like such a simple concept but it has always been particularly profound for me and it’s how I felt in the meeting with this dean, gullible because of my honesty with and trust in others.

The dean’s discomfort only made me uncomfortable as I stared back at her forced smile. That’s when I tearfully gave her an account of what I was going through. Her discomfort seemed to grow into curiosity and judgment. She asked what I wasn’t planning to do and I said I wasn’t sure but needed to take time off so I had a clear window to have an abortion and to emotionally and physically recuperate. I went in figuring that all I needed was a doctor’s note. I was instead told I needed to send in ultrasound results or provide proof that I was pregnant. Although I didn’t process how invasive this was at the time it soon sunk in when I had to send it through email to a couple of different deans one of which was that cranky, old bureaucratic dean you usually think of with that position. I was made to feel less then, not trusted, and exposed.

Despite all of this, the pregnancy didn’t set in until I was forced to have an ultrasound holding my own hand because my mom refusing to come in. The technician clearly knowing what was to come and so she didn’t hide her disdain for me through the whole process. That’s when she informed me that both the heartbeats were fine. Twins. The duplicity is what made it all set in as though the trauma of having to endure this was happening twice all at once. That’s when I cried knowing the weight of my decision was twice as much as what I expected.

I left early into my second semester at the school. My roommate spread rumors about me telling people I said I wasn’t pregnant but that I was probably lying about it for some odd reason. I later chalked this up to her being conservative and presumably anti-choice. My partner, who doesn’t even deserve the courtesy of that title, asked reluctantly if I needed them to go but instead of the appropriate use of “needed” he opted for have to. The question still lingers in my mind, “do I have to go with you?” The bitter part of me wants to now say as if playing FIFA all day filled up their demanding schedule but instead I opted for the dry but cutting truth. “No, I said, “I need someone who will actually hold my hand.” Throughout our entire ‘relationship’ they refused to take part in the all too intimate act of holding hands even though they had no problem requesting I trek over to their place to have sex with me at any hour of the night. The saddest part is I was still weirdly drawn to them after my abortion because for some reason even though they didn’t endure it or appear to be impacted by it at all, they were my closest thing to experiencing it with me that I had. They told me, “thanks for having that done.” That. That done. Their inability to use the word abortion reminded me of the politicians who use phrases like “women’s reproductive rights” or “a woman’s right to choose,” merely because of the stigma, the dirtiness behind the word and which doesn’t account for all the non-binary, transgender, non gender conforming people who have abortions. I want every person to know that the only incriminating part about abortion is the people who discriminate others for having abortions. I had sex with them two more times and after enduring an abortion from their need to pressure me not to use a condom, I watched them put it on. As I lay there motionless wanting it to end, they had the nerve to ask “do I have to wear this condom?”

Early on in the pregnancy I knew that I needed an abortion. There are reasons for coming to this conclusion but I don’t think I need to justify my decision. What hurt me was everyone’s reaction and need to provide input and unfortunately ridicule me. No one I told about my pregnancy and my abortion responded in the way I needed and deserved as a person. Everyone has an opinion they spew when asked what they would do in this situation and that’s all well and good but you don’t understand it. It’s easy to respond what your course of action would be through a pregnancy until it happens to you.

I’m telling my story because for many being pregnant is a completely foreign experience when they find out and its only natural to look outside themselves for advice and guidance and it tears me apart to know that their voices are often stifled by others. The pregnant person’s voice should always be the loudest in deciding what’s best for them. That is within their right, it is their body.


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