“Rising to the occasion” differently than I expected.

by Anonymous

August 5, 2021

I always thought that if I ended up pregnant, I would trust that it was the right thing, move forward with the pregnancy, and become a mother. I even said this out loud to my husband and closest friends, often framing it as “If that is what the universe has in store, I’m sure we’ll rise to the occasion.” I said this as we successfully used natural family planning as birth control for over four years. But then I became unexpectedly pregnant this summer.

When I saw the second line appear on the pregnancy test, I didn’t feel myself accepting what I always expected to. I felt the opposite. I took another test and then the terror and panic set in. I felt immediate grief for my life before the pregnancy, as though I had already lost my life as I’d known it because I felt like I had no excuse to get an abortion. I have a stable job, a comfortable home, a supportive partner and a loving support system of family and friends. And on top of that, I’ve been told many times (usually when saying I don’t want to have kids) that I would make a great mother. Deeply engrained societal norms made me believe that I had no choice; I’m a good candidate for a mother and thus should be one.

After talking to my husband, sister, and best friend, I started to realize that I didn’t have to meet society’s expectations and move forward with such a life-changing situation that I knew I didn’t want. And more so, I realized I didn’t have to have a “valid” excuse or reason to get an abortion. I started to read as many personal stories as I could like those shared on the SYA page. I read almost the entire Planned Parenthood website. After a few days, I booked an abortion consultation appointment at my local clinic for a couple weeks later. In those couple weeks, I hoped desperately for a miscarriage. I was hoping the universe would reverse its decision for me and take the burden of making such a choice off my shoulders.

But in the end, it was my decision, not the universe’s and no one else’s. I am grateful and so lucky to have had the support of those closest to me, but I knew that with or without that support the decision was mine alone and I had to do what was right for me. And that was empowering for me though at times all-consuming and overwhelming. I made this choice for me and the life I want to live.  And I know that I’m privileged to be in such a situation.

I ended up going with the in-clinic abortion. Every person I interacted with at the clinic made me feel at ease, heard and cared for. Some of the most compassionate healthcare providers I’ve ever interacted with were at that clinic. Abortion truly is healthcare. Also, I was given advice by a doctor friend who performs abortions to use headphones when walking into the clinic because I felt so anxious about the pro-life protesters outside the clinic. I had on a playlist my sister made me and it made a world of difference.

Now that is behind me, I expect I will continue to struggle with bouts of depression because I feel like there’s something wrong with me for not wanting what so many others want. I catch myself feeling like I’m abnormal somehow. But I know logically that there isn’t anything wrong with me for making this choice, for wanting a different path, for not “rising to the occasion” in the way I thought I would. I know that I’m not abnormal, as I stand in solidarity with the many others who have had abortions before and since. I will continue fighting to reprogram my own thoughts and love myself exactly as I am and not what anyone else thinks I should be. And I wish that self-love for every person who has ever been through this, whatever the circumstances or reasons.

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