…and I don’t regret it. You read that right. I got pregnant unexpectedly at 19 years old and was not ready to be a parent, so I did the responsible thing and terminated the pregnancy. I have heard a million stories over the years from people who were shamed into feeling guilty about having an abortion due to dogmatic religious doctrine. I think it’s time I tell you about the other side of the experience.
I’ll paint you a picture of who I was at 19 years old. I had just moved out on my own. It was the first time I was utterly and completely independent. (I had lived with a boyfriend years prior then moved back home, but that’s a story for another day.) I was working five jobs at the same time. (If you read the previous post, you can do the math to figure out what point in time this was.) My schedule seriously restricted any time for friends, fun, or a significant other. Besides, I was still emotionally recovering from a breakup with my first girlfriend, dealing with coming to terms with my sexuality, and despite me physically leaving home, I was still trying desperately to escape from a fucked up parent/childhood in any way I knew how. In short, I was fiscally responsible, mentally mature, had an exceptionally strong work ethic, and was an emotional dumpster fire. (Not much has changed all these years later, if I’m being honest.)
I’ve always been good at compartmentalization and ignoring my own needs, so I thrust all my burning garbage bags of emotions into a pit to fuel my desire to “be ok”. My days consisted of home, then work, then work, then work, then home. I lived off of popcorn and soup because I worked 16 – 20 hours a day, seven days a week, and had no time or energy to eat most days, much less cook. When by friends wanted to see me, they just popped by one of my jobs. I sometimes would stop by one of their houses on the way home from work between midnight and 4am, depending on the day. They were typically plastered by the time I got there so I never stayed long. Also, I didn’t drink at that time, like, at all. No drugs, no booze, I didn’t even take Tylenol. My drug of choice was working toward never having to move back in with my family ever again, and I went overboard with it.
Every now and again, all my schedules would happen to align and one of my nights would be freed up. St. Patrick’s Day that year just happened to be one of those nights. In my neck of the woods, St. Pat’s is a pretty big deal. People come from all over the globe to celebrate here. Keep in mind that I was nineteen at the time and had never celebrated the occasion’s night life before. I had the night off and wanted to go downtown to see what the big deal was. I got in touch with my friends and they had already been out celebrating all day while I was at work. You can guess what state of inebriation they were in. I had always been a loner anyway, even when with my friends, so going out alone has never bothered me. And so I did.
I had just parked my car and was walking toward the sounds of the live concert by the river when I heard someone calling to me from one of the restaurants’ back doors. In my naivete I stopped. The guy calling me was very attractive and so we started up a conversation. He was working and couldn’t join me, so I met back up with him after he was off work. Fast forward to about three months later, and we are in a relationship. I didn’t necessarily want a relationship but he did and it was a nice distraction. There were a lot of red flags with the relationship, but remember, emotional dumpster fire. I had a lot of personal insecurities, lacked emotional intelligence, and didn’t really invest myself into the relationship enough at that point to recognize the signs when they presented themselves. Add all of this to my mother still trying to control my life even from afar. What I’m trying to say is that I was in a fucked up headspace and didn’t know how to cut ties with the toxic humans in my life due to ongoing childhood trauma.
Anyway, I found out I was pregnant three months into a relationship with someone I had no intentions of being with long term. I was shocked. We used condoms and I still got pregnant. There’s a small part of me that kind of thinks he did it on purpose. Either way, I knew I wasn’t going to have a baby. My decision was made as soon as the Planned Parenthood representative gave me the results. My mom was happy; her concern was that she was too young to be a grandparent. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was furious. He wanted to be a dad. Hence why I kind of think he did it on purpose. I was not ready for a kid, so with or without his blessing I was having an abortion.
Abortion services weren’t available in my state at the time, so I made plans to drive to a clinic in the next state over. I took my mom with me since I needed an escort and this was the most supportive she had ever been for anything in my entire life. Here’s what the experience was like.
The parking lot had a handful of protesters with signs telling me that I was going to Hell. They tried to block me from parking, but were courteous enough to move when I didn’t slow down my moving vehicle. They screamed at us as we walked from my car to the front door, but they kept their distance. The lobby inside looked like a dentist office. I checked in at the front desk and after waiting for about ten minutes they called twenty of us to the back, cattle herding style. In the next room, they showed us a video on how an abortion was performed. After the video was finished, they handed out plastic beach baskets (the ones you buy with plastic beach toys in them). Inside the basket there was a one month supply of birth control pills, pamphlets on alternatives to abortion, a small foil package containing a pill (I can’t remember it’s name), and literature on the side effects of twilight sleep. For those that don’t know, twilight sleep is when you are given enough anesthesia to numb you but you are not completely unconscious. They gave detailed explanations on the basket’s contents, then did a “last call” for those who wanted to back out. When no one did, they handed out small cups of water and told us all take the pill that was encased in the small foil package. From here, things start to get a little fuzzy. The pill was faster-acting than was anticipated for me. Remember, no booze, drugs, or Tylenol. Looking back on it now, it was a similar sensation to catching a buzz for the first time.
We started being ushered out of the “cattle pen” one by one. When it was my turn, I followed a nurse into a small doctor’s office, very similar to what your general practitioner’s looks like. There they had me change into a patient gown and place my clothes into the beach basket they had supplied to us in the previous room. Once dressed, I was instructed to lay on the table and the doctor performed an ultrasound. Here is where my memory is patchy. I recall the doctor pointing to something on the screen and stating that I can still say no to the abortion, and that the tiny blob on the screen could become a person someday. I remember the ceiling starting to move and telling (or maybe mumbling) I wanted the abortion. The nurse propped my feet into the stirrups and the vaginal vacuum whirred to life. The doctor said that it shouldn’t hurt and to relax. My vision was so blurry that I couldn’t keep my eyes open and my entire body felt numb, until the cannula started poking. I felt it, and it was painful. The pain sent me into incontrollable sobs. I had little to no control over my body, I could barely see, and the noise from the machine was headache inducing. The nurse held my hand and asked me what was wrong. I told her it hurt, that’s all I could manage to say. “It hurts.” I’m not entirely sure, because I was on the verge of blacking out, but I think I heard the doctor between my legs say that there was no way I was in pain, I was just feeling guilty. Side note, fuck that guy.
My next memory is of sitting in a chair with an IV in my arm surrounded by the other nineteen from the previous “cattle pen” in their respective chairs with IVs. I don’t know how I got there. There was one young looking girl that was laughing hysterically, a couple others were crying softly, a few more were mumbling to themselves, and everyone else was in various versions of stupor. There I was in the midst of this madness, still sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t want to but I physically could not stop crying. The nurses who weren’t in the vacuum room with me asked me what was wrong, and I could only tell them that I didn’t know. After 30 minutes of “recovery” they provided our beach baskets to us and helped each person, one by one, to the bathroom to change back into our street clothes and gather the “goodies” at the bottom. After getting dressed, I was escorted back to the lobby to meet my mom, still crying, and had to explain to her that I didn’t know why. We were led to the back exit of the building so we could avoid as many of the protesters as possible. I laid down in the passenger seat of the car and passed out instantly while my mom drove us back home.
I bled for the next couple of days and that was that. I was embryo-free. There were some emotional side-effects I had to deal with that were induced by my boyfriend and mother (More stories for different days.) but none from the abortion itself. I was too young, too naive, not financially secure, had no real support system, and I simply didn’t want to be a parent. In the midst of all the bullshit going on in my life at that time, having an abortion was the smartest decision I ever made.
To those that put themselves first in order to not fuck up another human’s life, you are the real super heroes of the world. You did what was right for you and there is no shame in that. People will try to force their beliefs on you, try to make you feel negative emotions for choosing your life over a blob of cells. From personal experience I can say with full confidence, fuck those people. Dealing with push back from everyone that knew what I was doing up to and including the abortion clinic employees (fuck that doctor twice) made me more resolute in my decision. Those people trying to convince you to be “selfless” aren’t going to volunteer to adopt or help raise the child you birth. And those are the same people who will go so far as to actively work against you getting help from the government when no one else has stepped up to help.
My take away from this is that no one else can live your life for you, you have to do what is right for you and no one else. Also, support Planned Parenthood. Their employees were legitimately the most kind, understanding, and informative people I dealt with during the whole experience, and they provide so many more health services than whatever bullshit you’ve seen in the media. That is the major reason that 50% of all proceeds from Shady Harbingerr merch goes to them.