For the past two weeks, I had been feeling off. At first, I thought my period was on its way. All the symptoms seemed right. I was tired, headachey, and had tender breasts. But after about a week, things changed. I could not shake this exhaustion and lately my stomach had been giving me problems. I also couldn't stand the normal everyday smells I was used to. The scent of my usual morning cup of coffee would almost send me running for the toilet. Not to mention, I still had not felt any menstrual cramps.
So, I made my way to the bathroom. I dug out the pregnancy tests I kept stashed behind my tampons and toilet paper underneath the sink. I read the instructions carefully, even though I had done this before almost two years ago. I didn't want to be unsure. I unwrapped the long, plastic stick. I uncapped it, revealing the small strip that was my target. I squatted over the toilet, positioned the test below me and went. I kept my eyes closed, controlled my breathing, and started counting. Inside my head the same mantra kept repeating, “Please be negative. Please be negative.” My last, desperate prayer to whatever higher power was listening.
I opened my eyes and looked down at the strip. I stared at it for a while. My breathing was starting to hitch and my eyes began to tear up. It was positive. There was no mistake. That plus symbol was clear as day. I was pregnant. I was pregnant, recently divorced, unemployed, in debt, I had just moved back in with my father and his wife, and I had a nine-month-old baby girl asleep in the next room. This was bad. This was really bad.
I quietly wrapped the offending test in some toilet paper and diligently buried it in the bathroom wastebasket. I made sure it was undetectable. I stuffed the wrapper in my pocket and made my way quickly back to the bedroom. I sat down at my computer and started looking up a local address and phone number for Planned Parenthood. As I reached for my cell phone, I decided I should call him first. He should know. Besides, I still didn't know how I was going to pay for this all by myself.
I chose his name from the contact list and hit the call button. Three rings later and his voice was on the other end. He was not quite awake.
“Hey, you, “ he said. His voice was quiet, but he obviously sounded pleased to be hearing from me. My stomach did a flip and I took a shaky breath.
“I have to tell you something...,” I paused. My heart was pounding against my chest. How was he going to react? Was he going to freak out? We had talked briefly about such a situation when we started sleeping together about a month ago. He had reassured me that he didn't want another kid. He was a single parent too. His daughter was younger than mine. Could I trust him?
“What is it? What's wrong?” He was more awake now. I had tried to keep my voice calm, but I had apparently failed.
“I'm pregnant.” It was the first time I had said the words out loud. I could hear the panic in my own voice. I was on the verge of tears again.
There was a long pause. I could hear him breathing on the other end. I heard as he shifted his body and let out a sigh. “Oh, babe. OK. Let's stay calm,” he said, trying to reassure both me and himself. I started to sob. “No, hey. It's gonna be alright. Listen to me, babe. It's gonna be alright. Tell me what you want to do.”
I told him I couldn't do this. I couldn't have another kid. I didn't want another kid. I had Kiddo and she was perfect. I knew as soon as I had her that she was it. She would be my one and only. Besides, I was already unable to support her by myself. How was I going to support two kids? Christ, I was 24 and living with my parents again. I could not do this to her, to them, to myself. How utterly selfish and stupid would I have to be to have this baby? It would ruin my life. It would ruin Kiddo's life and we were already off to a rough start as it was. Her father, my ex-husband, had walked out on us when she was only two months old. We had been married young and my birth control failed during the honeymoon. We didn't even make it to our one year anniversary. Everything was crashing down on to me again. I could not do this.
For his part, Dave was amazing. He was supportive. When I told him I wanted an abortion, he asked all the right questions. Did I make an appointment with the clinic yet? Did I want him to come with me? How much was it going to cost? He didn't even ask if he had to help pay for it. He simply offered to.
A few days later, we were in the car, Kiddo in the car seat in the back of his Dodge Neon. We were on our way to the Planned Parenthood. When we got there, it was blessedly free of protesters. I don't know what I would have done if they had been there that morning. I probably would have ended up screaming at them, asking them if they were going to pay for not only this baby but the one I already had. Were they going to babysit while I looked for a job? Were they going to watch these babies while I got some sleep? Were they going to find us a place to live? Those people. Screw those people. They were lucky they were not there that day. I was in no mood to be called a murderer for doing what was right for me and my daughter. I was not murdering my child. My child was already here, alive, breathing, laughing, crying, growing. What was inside me only had the potential to become a baby. How was that potential life more important than the life I was already caring for?
The clinic buzzed us in. We were the first ones in that morning. Dave and Kiddo sat in the waiting area as a nice woman brought me to an exam room and had me fill out some paperwork. I was still shaky. A little while later, they did another pregnancy test to confirm my results. Then, the doctor did an ultrasound. She asked if I wanted to see the screen and I said no. I knew I needed an abortion and I didn't need to see anything. She estimated I was about six weeks along.
After going over my options with the doctor, I decided to go with the medical abortion. I didn't want a surgical abortion. I wanted to do this privately and so I decided the abortion pill was the right method for me. The doctor agreed and we made an appointment for me to come back in two days, after she got some lab results back.
Dave drove us home. In the car outside my house, I thanked him. He squeezed my hand and told me it was the least he could do. He wrote me a check for the cost. We sat there for a few minutes. I looked over at him and sighed. “We're not dating anymore, are we?”
He looked down for a bit, “No. I'm sorry. This was never serious in the first place. We both agreed on that. After all this, there's no way for it to be anything but serious. I'm not ready for that. Are you ready for that?”
I shook my head. "No. I like you a lot, but I don't think I can handle this on top of everything else.”
He smiled and leaned over and gave me hug. “That's OK. I get it. You got a lot going on. I'm here, though. I'm still your friend.”
So, in the course of a few days I had decided to not only end a pregnancy, but also end a relationship. We both knew it wasn't going to end in marriage and babies. We both knew we weren't going to be together forever. We were friends who were going through similar crap. It had been a nice few weeks together, but this scare made us both realize we weren't ready for anything serious. I needed to be single for a while. I needed to be alone. I needed to take care of Kiddo. He needed the same thing.
Two days later my mother waited in the clinic waiting room with Kiddo while the doctor went over what was going to happen after I started the medication. I would take the first pill now. She would also give me some antibiotics that I would start to take after the pill. The first pill would block the hormone known as progesterone. This is the hormone responsible for maintaining a pregnancy. Without it, the lining of my uterus would start to break down, my cervix would soften and I may start to bleed.
I would take another set of pills a few days later. These pills would cause my uterus to empty, completing the process. The doctor told me I could go home after taking the pills if I wanted to, but to stay near a phone so I could check in. She expected me to pass the fetus and gestational sac within a few hours of taking the second round of medications.
I took the first pill and went home. The next day I had some light spotting and some cramps. It felt like a light period. Another day went by, and then I went back to the clinic for my second round of medications. I was given the pills, some ibuprofen, a list of warning signs should anything serious occur, and a 24-hour phone number I could reach my doctor at. She told me to call as soon as I passed the pregnancy. I asked it her what it would look like and she told me I would pass one or two big clots, and then I would bleed for probably another week or two. I set up a follow up appointment, and went to my mother's.
A few hours later and I was glued to the toilet seat. My cramps were worse, but the ibuprofen was helping. I felt a bit nauseated and so I kept a trashcan at my feet. My mother looked after Kiddo, occasionally opening the door to check in and to tell me she loved me. I got off the toilet and napped for a while, wearing what could only be described as the biggest menstrual pad in existence. I had already been through 3 of them since that morning.
Right as I was about to try and eat some dinner, I felt I needed to go to the bathroom. I sat down, peed, and felt something fall out of me into the water below. I looked down, and saw a large clot floating there. I gave a little push and then another. I cramped up, groaned, gave one more push and felt another clot pass. I cleaned myself up, replaced my pad, and called the doctor. I told her what I had seen and she said everything sounded normal.
The pregnancy was over.
Over the next week or two I continued to bleed, the volume becoming lighter with each day. By two weeks, I was able to take baths again and I felt much more like myself. I no longer had this weight on me.
The follow up exam confirmed I had aborted without problems. I cried for joy when they told me I was no longer pregnant. When I got home, I hugged and kissed and held my daughter for as long as she would allow me. I felt so much better. I felt like I could finally get back to looking for a job and planning for her future.
And, now, here I am. Kiddo is four years old now and about as stubborn and amazing as myself. She likes ballet, Legos, writing out her name in big, beautiful letters and handing me her masterpieces. Her favorite movie is Ghostbusters and she would live on gummy worms if she had things her way. She's smart, funny, adventurous, and happy. I could not ask for a better kid.
I'm happy too. I was recently hired on full time at a software company I had been working for as an independent contractor for the past year. I'm still single and pretty happy that way. I'm saving for Kiddo's college education and a vacation to Disney World. I am fulfilled and challenged by what I do both as a mother and as an independent working woman.
I wouldn't be here if I had not had that abortion. None of this would have been possible if I had gone through with that pregnancy. That abortion saved my life. I wouldn't have been able to go back to school, study software and computers and get my foot in the door. I would not have this career laid out before me. It gave me the means to achieve my goals and set new ones. I am no longer living from paycheck to paycheck, worrying about how I'm going to afford food, clothes, car payments. I am a happier person now and it is thanks to having that option to abort available to me.
Most of all, I am a better mother. I am better able to provide for Kiddo. I am not paralyzed by worry and fear due to having a second child that would stretch me beyond my means. I am confident in my ability to raise her and raise her well. She has my full devotion.
I got an abortion for myself and for my family. I have never regretted or second guessed my decision. I put my stability and my daughter first. She is the happy kid she is today because of the decision I made those few years ago. I have no shame, no guilt, and no emotional issues. Every time I look at my daughter, I am thankful I had the right to choose what was right for our family.