Surgical (aspiration) abortion in the first trimester
I had my abortion or got my abortion pills from a local hospital or independent health clinic
I discovered I was pregnant the day before my transfer-student orientation at the university of Montana. I was about 7 weeks
Was the pregnancy planned?
What was the very first thought in your mind when that pregnancy test was positive?
Describe how you felt in the days after you realized you were pregnant.
I felt absolutely terrible. Horrified, very very very sick & throwing up a lot. I was wracked with guilt, and swirling through an ocean of ambiguity. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what the "right" thing to do was.
What factors did you consider when making a choice?
I was only 21 years old, and the guy who got me pregnant was a very new lover. I had just moved 1,200 miles away from my closest family member to start my "new life," and my part-time job at petsmart was not going to support a new life with a baby in tow. I was terrified of becoming a mother because i was certain that I wasn't really ready or equipped to be a GOOD mother. Also, my morning sickness--whew! I thought for certain my body was rejecting the entire notion of pregnancy. I had two semesters left of college and really, really, really wanted to graduate and have a "big kid" job like I had been dreaming of. I knew that having a child would mean abandoning my dream-college, moving back home with my parents, and working some crappy job to pay the bills. I simply wanted more for myself.
Did the person who got you pregnant support you during your abortion?
Was your pregnancy the result of sexual assault?
What is the nature of your relationship with the person who got you pregnant?
Did you experience morning sickness or nausea as a symptom of your pregnancy?
Yes, and it was debilitating and unmanageable
Who was the most supportive or helpful person or resource during your choice-making process?
The staff at Blue Mountain Clinic, my cousin, and the pregnancy options workbook from pregnancyoptions.info, and my roommate
Who was the most supportive or helpful person in your life during and after your abortion?
Describe your overall abortion experience using three words:
sad, accessible, gracious
Please Describe your abortion experience. This is a timeline of the event, a simple description.
When I discovered that I was pregnant, it took me over two weeks to decide what to do. Once I knew that I would have an abortion, I knew that I wanted a surgical abortion because i was overwhelmed with grief about the situation and my cousin told me that I might see the fetus if I had a medical abortion at home. I really did not want to see it, so once I figured out how to pay for my surgical abortion I felt a lot better--like I could finally allow myself to feel sad because the "choice" had been made. I didn't tell many people because I know myself and I wanted to be CERTAIN I had made this choice on my own and for myself--without the influence of too many important people (like my mom). I felt really lonely. I went on a lot of long solo bike rides along the river and considered this time in my life a chapter called "Death of Potential". I felt like my abortion was no different than picking a flower from a budding tree, except there would be no beautiful flower to smell.
I decided I would become the beautiful flower, and make something of my life since i was asking this living thing to sacrifice itself for me to go on and be unburdened by "it"
Blue Mountain Clinic Family Practice was the local option; and they were half the price as planned parenthood! I got options counseling there, and was given a workbook that really helped me figure out what to do. By the time I showed up for my abortion I had already met the abortion care staff and recognized their warm smiles.
Since it took me so long to make a choice + my morning sickness was so debilitating, the clinic "squeezed" me in. I went for my transvaginal ultrasound, finger poke to test my iron levels, and counseling session the night before my abortion. The clinic was so close to my apartment that I walked to this appointment.
The next morning, I got to the clinic before they opened. The guy who got me pregnant drove me there in my car, I knew that I would have the choice to have him back in the room with me, but I chose to leave him in the waiting room. The abortion care staff at the clinic was so very kind to me. I didn't think I deserved any kindness, but they listened to me; made me laugh, and even hugged me. It was the most touching kindness I had ever experienced.
The abortion itself was the easiest part of the whole experience. I opted for IV sedation, which was versed, a cousin of valium. The medicine made me sleepy but i didn't fall asleep. It's been ten years since my abortion, but I still remember the intensity of the dilation. It was my first pregnancy.
After the procedure was over, the doctor came back in the room and said "you're not pregnant any more" and I started crying tears of relief and joy and gratitude. I remember saying "thank you, thank you, thank you" to everyone I saw. I was so fucking grateful.
They walked me to aftercare, the memory of which is fuzzy because of the versed. There was a journal with other stories from past patients that I read. I cried. I sat with a heating pad in low lighting until the nurse came and gave me antibiotics in a little white bag and aftercare instructions. They called my support person back to aftercare, and he walked me to my car.
My roommate was waiting at our apartment with rented movies, tye-dye for T-Shirts, and weed muffins. I cried some more, and ate some pierogis for lunch. My nausea and vomiting was finally gone, and the next morning I woke up feeling fucking fantastic.
What were your expectations of yourself and others?
I expected myself to do better and not get pregnant in the first place! I expected a different kind of support from the guy who got me pregnant, who pretty much behaved with the emotional intelligence of a potato when i got pregnant. I expected people to treat me like a plague after hearing i was considering an abortion, but nobody did!
In this section, describe your feelings at the time you had your abortion.
sadness, grief, guilt. i really felt like my abortion was child loss, but i knew i couldnt provide the child a life that was stable. I new i needed to mature before I could guide another living soul through the trials of life in this fucked up world
What about after the abortion? Did your feelings change? What made you feel this way?
I was SO grateful after my abortion! I was still gripped with sadness, and for a while thought i had "Post abortion shock syndrome" because I talked to a CPC on the phone about my complex emotions around my abortion. I couldn't find any good books or stories to help me, either. I was really lonely. I was angry. I was sad sad sad. Now that I have a few kids, i know that i'm prone to postpartum depression, and in hindsight that's definitely what was going on! But I'd get triggered by all kinds of things and have to run to the bathroom at school and cry. It was honestly really awful, and I wish I had talked to some more people about my experience. I felt like a monster.
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?
Fuck the guy who got me pregnant. He ONLY ever thought of himself, and turned out to be a really abusive figure in my life. We trauma-bonded during this whole thing really early on in our relationship, and i often wonder if it was all part of a "plan" to keep me hooked even though he was raping me and physically assaulting me on the regular.
My care providers were AMAZING. they were focused totally on me and kept everything moving quickly and really really seemed to care. THEY made ALL the difference for me and i'm forever grateful to Julie and Ali and the Dr. for being so so kind to me when i felt like I didn't deserve kindness at all.
My roommate and cousin were also wildly supportive! I was super lucky to have all supportive people in my corner during this time in my life.
In what way did the choices you made meet your goals for yourself? Were the choices you made aligned with your goals?
My choice to have an abortion has been everything. It was 100% aligned with my goals and time has proven i did the right thing without a doubt.
What other choices were available? Why do you think you did not choose them?
I could have borne the child, but it would have been difficult & i'd still be attached to that sick fuck who got me pregnant. the thought of it makes my skin crawl. I think I trusted my intuition! I also "shopped" adoptive families but that weirded me out. There's no way to know what happens behind closed doors in these families....
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?
My feelings about abortion have become more nuanced, complex, and certain over the last 10 years. I am so glad I made that choice. I am still sad about it, and wonder what life would be like if I had borne that child. My abortion was on September 14 and my estimated Due Date was April 22. I still spend these, and many other, days in contemplation of all that has happened and will happen.
What have you learned about yourself and others as a result of this experience and the way you feel about it?
I learned a lot about my privilege. My strength. I expected to not get pregnant but didn't match my actions by being more insistent upon condom use. I expected the abortion to be something that i could 'let go' but it has become a cornerstone of my justice work and my career. I expected myself to be able to handle more of that emotional experience alone than was reasonable.
What would your expectations be now?
If I had another abortion, I would be prepared for postpartum depression and get SSRI medication from my doctor.
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?
in hindsight, i really should have made different choices about my sex life to begin with!! i wouldn't change anything about the abortion, though. I just wish I hadn't gotten pregnant in the first place. I wasn't being respectful of myself or my potential to create life.
In what ways has your abortion experience changed you?
IN EVERY WAY. I am who I am because of my abortion. I work on being worthy of my children, of living up to the expectations of my higher self because i know i CHOSE to bring my children into this world. As a mother who has had an abortion, I am so fiercely dedicated to ensuring my children have the life I wanted to give that first baby too. I wasn't ready then, but now i am. My life's work has been to care for others and support others as they have their abortions because i felt so lonely and confused when I had mine.
Have your goals changed as a result of your abortion experience?
Yes, after my abortion I question absolutely everything about myself, my beliefs, and my future
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 can see the "next right thing" even when it causes me emotional distress or physical pain. I know how to be a good person and do what's right for others and myself.
Will you make the same choices in the future?
After my abortion, I used condoms more. I'd have another abortion, sure, but now i'm married and my husband has a vasectomy ;) I changed a lot as a result of my abortion. I continue to grow, but i'll always be me.
I changed my priorities about what is important in life.
I have a greater appreciation for the value of my own life.
I have developed new interests.
I have a greater feeling of self-reliance.
I have a better understanding of my spiritual beliefs.
I more clearly see who I can count on in times of trouble.
I established a new path for my life.
I have a greater sense of closeness with others.
I am more willing to express my emotions.
I know that I can handle difficulties.
I can do better things with my life.
I am better able to accept the way things work out.
I can better appreciate each day.
New opportunities are available to me which wouldn’t have been otherwise.
I have more compassion for others.
I put more effort into my relationships.
I am more likely to try to change things that need changing.
I have stronger faith in myself.
I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was.
I learned a great deal about how wonderful people are.
I better accept needing others.