I'm 21 years old, a college graduate,
married about a year, no children. I live in Dallas, Texas.
I had my first abortion.
Before my abortion, I read all the stories on this
website, which really made me feel better. I am going to talk about my experience
in a great deal of detail, partly for myself, and partly for people reading my
story. I need to talk about this, to write it down. It's long and has the kind
of details I desperately wanted to read about before I went in for my abortion.
husband and I had used natural family planning (the Billings method where you
chart your mucus -- not the rhythm method) for about two years and everything
was fine. Last month, I noticed I had very little mucus, which was unusual for
me, but I trusted the method. When my period was a couple of days late, I didn't
worry much. After all, my breasts were tender and I felt a little bloated - normal
PMS type feelings. When my period was a few more days late, I did a pregnancy
test just to reassure myself. That little pink line was the scariest thing I've
ever seen! I immediately called a family planning clinic and went over there quickly
to have the test repeated.
When the nurse called my name, she took me into
an exam room and closed the door. Her hand was full of little pamphlets. At that
point, I knew something was definitely up. She told me that my test was positive.
called my husband at work and asked him to come home right away. He's a teacher
and can't just leave in the middle of class, so he was pressing me to find out
what was wrong. I just said, "You know that my period's been a little late...."
and that was all I had to say.
That afternoon, we laid on our bed and called
Planned Parenthood for an appointment. I made it for three days away. My husband
insisted on going with me.
The morning of the appointment, we dressed quietly
and drove to the clinic. We got there so early that the armed guard at the door
couldn't let us in, so we had to stand around in the parking lot trying to make
small talk. When the appropriate time finally arrived, we went back inside and
were admitted. I filled out all the paperwork and waited....did the urine test
and waited...got called back for the sonogram. The lady doing the sonogram was
nice, but couldn't find anything on the screen. She called in another technician,
who found a large ovarian cyst and a tiny, eensy-weensy pregnancy. They called
in the (male) doctor, who walked in while I was in the stirrups, put his hand
in my vagina, pressed on the cyst from the outside, and told me to get dressed.
He told me that I was too early for an abortion and that I should get pelvic rest.
"PELVIC REST!" he screamed. I was terribly upset! I mean, he walked
in while I was already in stirrups, plunged his hand inside of me, and then gave
me a lecture about not having sex with my "boyfriend". I informed him
that I was married and he just snorted.
Okay, that sealed it. I went to
the waiting room, grabbed my husband, we went outside and I sobbed. I explained
what had happened, called my regular doctor from my cell phone and stormed down
to her office.
Let me preface this by saying I didn't want to tell my regular
doctor. She works for a religious hospital and honestly, I just wanted a minimum
of people to find out about my abortion.
Well, telling my doctor was the
best thing. She took my husband and me into her office and hugged me while I cried.
She got an abortion referral from one of her nurses and referred me to an OB/GYN
for my cyst.
When I called the clinic, I knew everything was going to be
different. The lady on the line was so nice -- she asked, "Could you please
hold so I can take care of this other call and then I can devote all my attention
to you?" She listened patiently, I explained the situation, and we made an
appointment for about ten days later. I could have made it earlier, but I wanted
to make sure that I was "pregnant enough" and I wouldn't have to try
for a third nerve-racking time.
The day of my appointment:
at the Fairmount Center at 1:15 to find two Catholic women protesters outside.
We took a shortcut across the grass so we wouldn't have to face them. The clinic
was in a converted house in a beautiful neighborhood with many shade trees. There
were four or five people outside smoking and inside there were four or five more
people. I gave my name and was taken back for my sonogram almost immediately.
The nurse measured my pregnancy and my ovarian cyst again and sent me back to
the waiting room. There was a young, twenty-ish couple and a young girl with her
mother and her baby. Seeing that little baby girl made me think two things: 1.
Wow, what an awesome responsibility, I can't imagine taking care of her, and 2.
How wonderful that there's a baby here, it makes this seem less shameful and more
a normal part of women's lives.
Okay, so the worst part was the wait. We
waited two and a half hours to meet with Sue, my counselor. My husband went with
me -- we went up this spiral staircase to the top floor of the house, where there
were three armchairs with a soft light. In this soothing atmosphere, we went over
my paperwork, asked lots of questions, and got to know the lady that would hold
my hand during the abortion. I asked to have a minimum of drugs -- I had only
a half dose of Fentanyl (a muscle relaxant) and the paracervical block. I wanted
to remember the experience.
After the counseling, things went really quickly.
Sue took us back downstairs, took my payment, deposited my husband in the waiting
room, and took me to have the lab work.
In the hall, I passed a young woman
who had been in the waiting room with us earlier. She had a full dose of all drugs
and her eyes were half closed and I heard the nurse tell her husband she was very
sleepy. I definitely didn't want to feel like that.
After a quick fingerstick,
temperature check, and blood pressure check, she walked me to the procedure room.
I met with the doctor for a quick minute and was left to undress. Honestly, it
was really nice to meet the doctor with all my clothes on (unlike my previous
I undressed from the waist down and got on the table. There
was the typical paper drape, but there was also a warm fuzzy blanket over that.
Speakers positioned above the table played string quartet music (thankfully not
the Kenny G that played in the waiting room). This was the only time I was alone
during the entire day. I laid back on the table and closed my eyes for a minute.
I said a prayer for myself, for my never-to-be-born child, and for my husband,
who was alone in the waiting room.
A nurse came in to give me the drugs.
We talked again about me only wanting a minimum of medication, so she gave me
a dose of Ativan to keep my blood pressure up and a half dose of Fentanyl. I immediately
felt thirsty from the Ativan and light-headed from the Fentanyl. She dimmed the
lights and then talked with me until Sue came back in. Sue arranged the doctor's
instruments, then helped me put my calves into the holders (not stirrups this
time). She then raised the table so that my rear was higher than my head. (This
is, undoubtedly, one of the least graceful positions I've ever been in!)
the doctor came in, she talked to me for a moment while she washed her hands and
gloved. She and Sue and I were joking about the positioning of the table and the
doctor started telling me about the electric table at her OB/GYNs office when
she had her Pap the day before. Again, this made me feel normal and wonderfully
connected to these other women.
The doctor then inserted the speculum and
then sprayed my vagina with disinfectant -- it was very cold. Sue moved to hold
my hand and the doctor gave me the paracervical block. This was the most uncomfortable
part of the procedure. It didn't prick like when you get a shot in the arm, but
it was a dull ache that made me very aware of the precise location of my cervix
(a very peculiar feeling). The doctor started the suction machine, which gave
me some cramping, but nothing worse than a menstrual cramp. She turned it off,
then started it again. At this point, Sue told me "One minute to go."
There was a clock placed right in my field of vision, so I could see the clock
ticking down the seconds. I could also see the blood and tissue going into the
The doctor turned off the suction machine and then pressed
gauze against my cervix -- again, a pretty weird and uncomfortable feeling. She
used the gauze twice and then said that I was finished. Dr. Smith helped me get
my legs down and Sue lowered the table so I was flat again. Sue took the collection
jar, put the entire jar into a box and removed it from the room. I laid still
for a minute and the drug-nurse came back in to remove the catheter from my arm
(she had left it in place so that I could have more drugs if I wanted). Someone
set a Kotex, a wet-wipe, a small gauze towel, my pants and underpants on a tray
near me, and then Sue closed a curtain so I could get dressed. I really appreciated
that she stayed in the room. I felt a little woozy -- by this time, it was 5:00pm
and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day. Sue walked me down a small
hall to the recovery room. There was a nurse, a thirty-ish woman, and a woman
in her early twenties. I grabbed some cookies and laid back on a heating pad.
The three of us conversed quietly. I was really glad to see the young woman in
there. She was my age and looked similar to me. She joked with me about going
straight for cookies and we talked about what we were going to have for dinner.
had been there a few minutes when my husband appeared, looking white like a ghost.
He sat down next to me and gave me a tight hug. I think the worst part was being
separated from each other -- this was OUR decision, but the procedure was being
done completely to ME. After a few minutes, the nurse had me go into a small restroom
to check the bleeding on my Kotex. There was nothing on the Kotex and only a few
smudges when I wiped. I reported to the nurse, she gave me antibiotics and a take-home
survey and we were on our way. I didn't feel groggy, just a little nauseated and
sleepy-tired and hungry.
My husband held my arm tightly and I wondered if
HE was okay to drive home. He took me home, tucked me into bed, and ran out to
get takeout Italian, a heating pad, and a thermometer.
I woke up this morning,
have only a little discomfort, only a slight amount of bleeding, and emotionally
I feel fine. I am so glad that I was referred to the Fairmount Center and I am
so thankful to the wonderful women that work there. They helped me through a difficult
decision and put me in control of everything that happened. Today I feel so empowered
and blessed that I was able to make the decision not to bring a child into the
world. Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
A few other things:
- Buy your heating pad, thermometer, and sanitary pads in advance. I wanted
the heating pad so badly when I got home, but I didn't want my husband to leave
- Take socks -- my bare feet were so cold during the procedure!
a morning appointment if possible -- I felt the worst because I hadn't eaten all
I did a lot of reading before I went. Here were some of the most
- Laura Kaplan's Jane: The Underground Feminist Abortion Service.
De Puy and Dana Dovitch: The Healing Choice - Your Guide to Emotional Recovery
After An Abortion ( I read this one before my abortion and highlighted sections
to read if I felt upset afterwards. It gave me lots to think about before I went
in and the quotes were so inspiring -- this book really helped me to know I was
making the right choice.)
- The Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers'
book A New View of A Woman's Body (The information
was clear and concise, and the pictures were enlightening).
- Daniel A Dombrowski
and Robert Deltete's A Brief, Liberal Catholic Defense of Abortion (I am Catholic
and this book really helped me understand the views of the church and how they've
17 May 2001
more stories -- share your story
. . the inner voice; the human compulsion when deeply distressed to seek healing
counsel within ourselves, and the capacity within ourselves both to create this
counsel and to receive it."
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (1981)
by Alice Walker
* name changed