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hope, anger, and disappointment, in that order

Less than 5

Surgical (aspiration) abortion in the first trimester I had my abortion or got my abortion pills from a local hospital or independent health clinic

When did you discover you were pregnant? at a scheduled appointment for an iud

Was the pregnancy planned? No

What was the very first thought in your mind when that pregnancy test was positive? how do i get an abortion?

Describe how you felt in the days after you realized you were pregnant. i only knew i was pregnant for 4 days but i felt completely unsupported and entirely alone

What factors did you consider when making a choice? i never wanted children, am young, not responsible enough or financially independent

Did the person who got you pregnant support you during your abortion? No

What is the nature of your relationship with the person who got you pregnant? Friend

Who was the most supportive or helpful person or resource during your choice-making process? i considered an abortion as my only option so my harder choice was deciding between medical or surgical, the most supportive and helpful resource during this process was the internet (i spent a lot of time on the abortion subreddit)

Who was the most supportive or helpful person in your life during and after your abortion? no one

Describe your overall abortion experience using three words: painful, alienating, lonely

Please Describe your abortion experience.

i was exhausted from the mental toll and my last exam, which was due at midnight the day before, but i was so nervous that i only slept about 2 hours that night. i packed my hospital bag with slides, socks, and a big t-shirt (the clinic gave me a list) and was out the door at 8:45 am. the walk to the clinic was short, i live less than 10 minutes away, but it felt much longer because i had a moment of panic where i arrived at the address but could not find the clinic. there were no protestors, and i later found out they were not allowed within a designated distance from the clinic (ontario, canada). upon arrival, i was greeted by a security guard who did not let me into the lobby until he had confirmed my appointment. the clinic had a strict no phones policy so i turned my phone off and was given a few forms to fill out in the waiting room. i waited for about 20 minutes before i met met with an intake worker who asked me a few questions and took my measurements. about a 10 minute wait later, i met with a counsellor who asked me more detailed questions about my situation and decision. she also gave me medication for my anxiety before showing me to a changing area and a different waiting room. there wasn't a clock in this room but this was definitely the longest and most nerve-racking wait. a nurse came to get me and i did a pee test to confirm that i was pregnant and a vaginal ultrasound before returning to the waiting room. another nurse came to take me to the surgery room, i was given an injection of some sort of anxiety medication, fentanyl, and a laughing gas mask to hold and apply as needed. there were two nurses, one pressed a cold compress to my forehead while the other helped the doctor who was seated between my legs. the procedure itself was done under local anesthesia, which was administered right before the vacuuming began. it was excruciatingly painful and i was sobbing so hard the doctor told me my shaking could endanger my own health. afterwards, a nurse lowered my legs from the stirrups, put underwear and a pad on me, and half carried me to the recovery home. i stayed for roughly 30 minutes and left with a week's worth of antibiotics and a folder of my personal information and pamphlets of resources/support groups. after the abortion, it hurt to use my bodily functions so i developed constipation which made my cramps much worse. i spotted the first few days before bleeding for about 2 weeks. the cramps/soreness/overall pain was the worse in the beginning and manageable with a hot water bottle after the first week and a half.

What were your expectations of yourself and others? i did not have expectations for my friends and family because i did not plan on telling them. however, i did expect the person who got me pregnant to ask me how i was doing before and after the procedure because he was my friend. he didn't, not even after i begged him to.

In this section, describe your feelings at the time you had your abortion. I wanted an abortion and had no doubts about my decision, so i was shocked at how devastated i felt. i felt like my reality did not align with the person i thought myself to be in my head, knew that it did not align with who my parents thought i was, and was scared it would never align with the person i dreamed of one day becoming. i have existing mental illness and had a moment where i contemplated suicide, but fortunately did not attempt because i was scared if i failed i would miss my appointment. i'd never felt so alone in anything before this experience.

What about after the abortion? Did your feelings change? the devastation remained and was compounded by how disappointed i felt by my friend who got me pregnant. i did not expect to have such a negative experience with the procedure which was quite traumatizing. in the days after, a lot of my emotional energy/capacity was spent on hope, anger, and disappointment, in that order, directed at the person who got me pregnant. i wish i had known from the start he would not have been there for me so i could have processed the procedure sooner.

"What about the feelings of others? While you might not know exactly what they were feeling, can you explain what you think they might have been feeling? the person who got me pregnant compared the abortion to a routine dental cleaning and was completely emotionless about the whole ordeal. he was also shocked by how upset i was and repeatedly told me he didn't know what to say when i tried to bring it up. i did feel judged by some of the care providers i met with but the nurse in the recovery room was so supportive that it more than made up for it. she tucked me in to a chair with a blanket, gave me a hug because i could not stop crying and was just the kindest to me out of the dozen or so nurses and doctors i met in the 4 days i knew i was pregnant. when i told my friends, they were very supportive and a big help. i do not intend on ever telling my family.

In what way did the choices you made meet your goals for yourself? Were the choices you made aligned with your goals? i have no doubts about my decisions. i chose the surgical abortion over the medical one because i wanted to be able to leave the clinic feeling like it was done and over with. i do not intend on ever having children so this was very much in alignment with my goals. the only choice i made that i did not foresee was ending my friendship with the person who got me pregnant.

What other choices were available? Why do you think you did not choose them? the earliest availability for the other choice i considered, a medical abortion, was two weeks after the date of my surgical abortion. i was on winter break from school and did not want to have to go through the aftercare for the medical abortion during the semester. i also wanted the peace of mind of knowing that the entire procedure would take place next to medical professionals. most importantly, i read many experiences about the bleeding from the medical abortion lasting over a month which frankly terrified me. medically speaking, both procedures are assessed to be similar levels of risk so safety was not a concern when i was picking between the two.

What do you feel now, looking back on the event? If your feelings have changed, how have they changed and why do you think that is? i'm still sad that i was in that situation/had to go through with the procedure at all but i've accepted that it was necessary. a lot of my anger and disappointment towards the person who got my pregnant has faded away too. i didn't realize i deserved better because the situation felt so extreme but now that i've accepted that and given it some time i feel more at peace with the outcome.

What have you learned about yourself and others as a result of this experience and the way you feel about it? i've learned that people can do their very best and it might not still be enough to meet your own emotional needs; and that that's okay. i had an unrealistic expectation of being able to work through my anxieties surrounding sex with the person who got me pregnant but i've accepted that that won't be happening. i think i held on to him for longer than i should have because the idea of having to explain to the next person in my life why i am scared of sex (i cannot even put a finger in me to check for my iud strings) seemed worse than the way he was treating me. i definitely expected more from myself than was reasonable, i thought i could get through this alone and didn't plan on telling anyone. talking to my friends about my experience was the best thing i did for myself.

What would your expectations be now? if i had to go through this again, i would only rely on friends i trust who were not directly involved in this situation or mutual friends with the person who got me pregnant. i would have zero expectations for the person who got me pregnant and allow myself to talk to the people around me.

If you were able to go back in time, what would you do differently? What different choices would you make or different actions you would take? i wish i hadn't held on to the person who got me pregnant even though it was clear he had stopped being my friend. in hindsight, i feel incredibly stupid to have humiliated myself begging him to ask me how i was doing. i would have also spoken to my friends about this experience much much sooner.

In what ways has your abortion experience changed you? i feel more responsible and aware of the consequences of my actions. i also feel more resilient and stronger than i previously thought myself to be.

Have your goals changed as a result of your abortion experience? Yes, my abortion experience was a catalyst for new goals and a new outlook on life

What have you learned about your ability to make choices? i realized that at the end of the day the only person who has to sit with my choices is me. i am definitely less concerned about everyone else's opinion. i think that was another reason why i was so reluctant to speak to my friends at first, i didn't want their opinions to cloud my judgement.

Will you make the same choices in the future? yes.

I have a greater appreciation for the value of my own life.

I have a greater feeling of self-reliance.

I more clearly see who I can count on in times of trouble.

I am more willing to express my emotions.

I am better able to accept the way things work out.

I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was.

I better accept needing others.

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I can do anything.

I practically skipped out the door. I was overjoyed to no longer be pregnant and oh so relieved.


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