I would be happy if you put my story up in
the archive. Before I had my abortion, I read every story in your archive, and
it did help.
* * * *
that I found out I was pregnant, my entire life changed. I was only eighteen and
had been living with my boyfriend for about six months. We hadn't been using protection,
and truthfully, we didn't think I would get pregnant. I know how stupid that sounds,
and it is stupid. But we figured - if I hadn't gotten pregnant yet, well, maybe
I was infertile, so we didn't have to worry about it.
And the choice seemed
so simple before I got pregnant, really. I'd just get an abortion, no big deal.
We weren't ready for a kid, didn't have the money or the maturity to deal with
a child yet. I don't even like children, they bother me with their screaming and
runny noses and vomiting and all the other things children do. I'm not religious,
so I didn't have to worry about going to Hell or anything.
Then I got pregnant.
Suddenly everything changed. I love my man and I could see the little thing inside
me as *our baby*. This could become *our baby*. The crying, vomiting, and everything
else that bothered me about children just faded into the background as I contemplated
having my own little chubby bundle of joy, a smiling and gurgling child. I could
see myself as a mother, and I liked seeing myself that way.
my boyfriend said. "It's not an option to have a kid." He ran down the
list of why we can't have a child now: not enough money, we're young, unsteady
income, tiny apartment, it'll end your dreams, it'll end my dreams, our relationship
will end, no health insurance, and the list went on and on. I wavered back and
forth from these realities and my dreams of having a baby.
My older sister,
who is married and in a great position to have a baby and is four months pregnant
with her own first child, was thrilled when she heard about my pregnancy. She
envisioned us having our children together, sharing all our experiences as sisters.
She is pro-life and was firmly against me having an abortion.
My best friend
simply told me she loved me, and would support me in whatever I chose. I didn't
tell my parents, since both would want me to keep the baby and would never forgive
me if I chose to have an abortion, since they are both pro-life as well.
decision was truly the toughest I had ever faced. It seemed like I had spent more
time crying the past few days, than in the entire past year. This wasn't the only
crisis going on in my life right now: a few weeks earlier I had been diagnosed
with panic disorder, a genetic psychiatric disorder that causes the victim to
suddenly experience crippling panic attacks, often without the presence of any
noticeable trigger to cause the attacks. I had been prescribed antidepressant
and anti-anxiety drugs, and a heavy-duty tranquilizer, which I had been taking
often over the past few weeks, to help me get through daily life.
night, my decision was made for me. I was online, looking for information about
the tranquilizer I was on, when I found out that it causes severe birth defects.
The image of my smiley, happy baby turned into the image of a severely handicapped
invalid who would be dependent on me for the rest of my life, and I knew that
I couldn't bring this fetus to term.
I thought it was a possibility that
I was up to three months pregnant, so on the next day, Tuesday, I went to a local
abortion clinic for an ultrasound. My man had to wait out in the waiting room,
while I was brought into another waiting room. Only women were here, all dressed
in green hospital gowns as they waited to be called for their abortions. All of
us had a similar look: dark hollows under our eyes and unsmiling, somber expressions.
All I was there for was an ultrasound, yet even I felt more anxious and stressed,
as if I was one of the women about to get an abortion. The procedure to get into
the clinic didn't inspire confidence; we had to be buzzed through two separate
doors and show picture ID for both of us before we were allowed inside. Once inside,
though, the staff seemed competent and cheerful.
I didn't have to change
into a hospital gown just for an ultrasound, and soon my name was called. I went
into a room and laid back on a table, pulled my sweatshirt up and my pants down
to the hairline, exposing my belly. The technician squirted some hot green jelly
on my stomach and then looked at the screen as she pressed a round, thick wand
against my belly and moved it around. She didn't press down hard enough to hurt,
and the procedure was totally painless. The screen was turned away from me, and
I said I wanted to see it, so when she was done she turned the screen my way and
handed me some tissues to wipe off the jelly.
I saw a little white blotch
on the screen, about the size of a lima bean. "You're seven weeks pregnant,"
she told me. I was deeply relieved, since I knew that having an abortion at three
months was a much more complicated procedure than at seven weeks. After that I
was free to leave, after we stopped at the receptionist and booked an appointment
for an abortion. 9:30 AM Thursday morning, the receptionist told me. "Bring
a T-shirt, socks, photo id, $500, and don't eat or drink anything after midnight
the night before." Thursday was only two days away, and I felt the constant
ball of anxiety in my stomach get worse.
The days and nights until Thursday
morning passed as slowly and miserably as possible. I still cried constantly,
and now I also had my fear about the abortion to deal with. My sister was very
disappointed and angry at me for getting an abortion, although she forgave me
a bit after I explained about the tranquilizers and birth defects.
night passed sleeplessly for me. I laid quietly in bed next to my boyfriend, who
didn't sleep either. Every hour passed with agonizing slowness and yet it seemed
that every time I looked at the clock, time had passed quickly, bringing me ever
closer to the abortion that I dreaded. Inevitably, Thursday morning arrived. I
dressed slowly, wearing a T-shirt beneath my sweatshirt.
We gathered photo
id and $500 in cash. The night before I had sewn two colorful matching silly caps
(silly caps look like the old sleeping caps, where it hangs down the back and
ends in a point), one for me and one for my favorite stuffed animal (which also
had a matching gown that I had made the previous night as well). With our silly
caps on and my stuffed animal and a book in my arms, I felt as ready as I could
The drive to the clinic had that same unreal sense of time passing
both quickly and slowly. We arrived, parked, were buzzed in through the first
door, took off our coats and left them in the cloakroom, passed our ID through
the tray in the metal-and-bulletproof-glass window, and were buzzed into the waiting
room. There I was given some forms to fill out and our ID was returned.
as I finished filling out the form, my name was called. My boyfriend and I followed
a staff member into an office, where we paid our $500 and took care of some administrative
matters. We returned to the waiting room, and my name was called again soon after.
We went into another office and talked briefly with a counselor, who made sure
that I wanted this abortion and it was my decision. She gave me a tranquilizer
tablet that I was supposed to let dissolve under my tongue - it turned out to
be the same tranquilizer as the one my doctor had prescribed. I let it dissolve
and soon after felt a bit calmer, although still anxious and afraid.
this point I had to leave my boyfriend with a tight hug and some kisses, and he
went back to the waiting room while I, with my stuffed animal clenched tightly
in my arms, followed the counselor to the room where I had waited for my ultrasound.
This time I had to go into one of the dressing rooms, where I left my pants, underwear,
and shoes in a locker and changed into a sea-green paper hospital gown, open in
back and tied with a plastic strip (like a belt). I locked the locker and took
the key, then went out to the room to wait with the other green-gowned women and
What was I feeling then? I was feeling fear, mostly. Despite the
tranquilizer I was afraid and worried, anxious and very nervous. I felt like throwing
up despite the fact that I hadn't eaten or drank anything since midnight (the
clinic told me to have no food or water after midnight the night before). I was
worried about how I would feel afterwards - would I be grieving for the rest of
my life, counting birthdays and thinking about what could have been? I was worried
about the procedure - how much would it hurt? Would I feel the needles as they
shot my cervix full of Novocain? I tried talking with some of the other women
waiting, but they were lost in their own thoughts. I tried reading the book I
had brought with me, but I couldn't pay attention and had to keep rereading the
same sentence until I gave up.
Time passed and then my name was called.
I followed a woman into an office, where she sat me on a chair and put this little
round thing against my finger and pushed a button. Before I could react there
was a very quick sting and then it was done. She squeezed my finger and got some
blood to come out of the hole she had poked, putting it onto a glass microscope
slide, and then squeezed some more blood into a little paper thing. This was to
test for the RH factor in my blood. I was sent back to the waiting room.
were called and followed staff to their abortions, more women arrived, and I sat
there quietly. There were no crying women this time. We all sat quietly. It seemed
like I had been there forever but I had probably only been waiting half an hour.
The other women talked about feeling numb - saying that in their head they knew
they were about to get an abortion, but they couldn't feel anymore. I envied them,
since I could feel, and what I was feeling wasn't good.
My name was called
by a cheerful-looking staff member, and I stood up and followed the woman down
the hallway. My steps grew slower and slower the closer I got to the end of the
hallway, but I finally entered the room. It was an average medical room, with
tile counters and a sink and the ubiquitous metal foot-push trash can. It's funny
the details one notices at times like these. The chair stood in the middle of
the room, not with the stirrups I was expecting, but with pads that I was to put
my calves on, and a tray at the end of the chair (between and below the pads).
I wanted to run out of the room and save myself, but the nurses started gently
teasing me about my silly caps and telling me that my stuffed animal was adorable,
and their amicable chatter made me feel slightly more at ease. I told them that
they couldn't give me an IV (they use IVs to deliver the painkillers) since the
last time I got an IV I ended up having a hysterical fit. They were unsure about
it, but agreed not to give me an IV. So I laid back in the chair, my legs up on
the pads and my butt at the extreme end of the chair, my stuffed animal held tightly
in my quivering arms.
Four nurses huddled around me, talking to me and
soothing me, and in a moment the female doctor arrived. I felt a speculum open
me up and then she said "You're going to feel a pinch," and I remember
thinking, "Why do doctors always say 'You're going to feel a pinch' when
what they really mean is, 'This is going to hurt' and everybody knows it really
means 'This is going to hurt'?" Then it hurt for a second so that I winced
and she told me not to move. One of the nurses handed me a nitrous mask and I
pressed it down on my mouth and sucked nitrous oxide, although after a moment
I stopped and took the mask away, since although it hurt a little now, it was
nothing compared to my usual menstrual cramps. I heard suction and thought that
this was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I felt a scraping
sensation, uncomfortable but not painful, as the doctor performed curettage (using
a thin metal loop to remove tissue from the uterus walls) and then more suction
again. Then I was informed that she was done. I was stunned; the entire procedure
had taken only two to three minutes, and it had barely hurt besides that one moment,
even without painkillers.
One of the nurses pressed a sanitary pad against
me and I held it in place while she put disposable mesh panties on me. I told
them I wanted to see the remains and laid there quietly until a nurse brought
me a tray. When I saw it, I was shocked; there wasn't the tiny fetus I expected
to see, just what looked like a piece of disintegrating white cotton gauze and
a lump of mucus. "That's it? That's what I lost so much sleep over?"
I asked in disbelief, and the nurse affirmed, then laughed gently at my stunned
A few minutes later I was helped up and shown to a recovery room,
where six or seven reclining medical chairs stood on each side of the room. I
laid down in one and was covered with a blanket, then I started digging into the
basket of cookies beside my chair, and the nurse brought me some Tylenol (for
cramping, but I wasn't having any cramping yet, so I just set them aside to take
with me) and ginger ale. Usually the women stay there for at least half an hour,
but I didn't have an IV so I didn't have to recover from being doped up. After
fifteen minutes, I asked if I could leave. I was given an envelope with a lot
of papers to read (do's and don'ts about abortion aftercare and other related
stuff) and a one-month supply of birth
I went back to the dressing rooms by the women's waiting
room, opened my locker, changed, walked out to the main waiting room, got my boyfriend,
I was afraid that afterwards I would feel grief, but I don't.
The only emotion I feel is intense, overwhelming relief. No, that's not true;
I feel deep gratitude as well. I am grateful to the competent and comforting staff
who made my abortion, which could have been terrible, a positive experience (although
not one I am going to repeat). I am thankful to the doctor who performed my abortion
with professionalism and skill. I am thankful to all the pioneers in the pro-choice
movement who went before me and secured the right for me to have an abortion,
and I am deeply thankful that this choice was available. I feel like I have been
given a second chance at life, and I came out of this episode with many gifts:
a stronger relationship with my boyfriend, a better understanding of myself as
a woman, and the knowledge that someday when I am ready and I do bring a child
into this world, I will be even more relieved that I made this choice. This was
not an easy decision, but it was the right thing to do for me, and I am glad that
I did it.Robin
more stories -- share your story
older doctors who perform abortions do so because they remember when abortion
was illegal. They remember women in hospital emergency rooms with sheets over
their faces, women with fatal infections from botched illegal abortions, women
who killed themselves because they were pregnant. They remember heartbroken families
who lost mothers and wives and sisters and daughters. They perform abortions because
they remember the law that controlled women's lives. They perform abortions so
women don't have to die." -Philadelphia Daily News, 1998