Robin's Story

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.

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The Saturday 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.

"No 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.

This 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.

Monday 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.

Wednesday 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 feel.

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.

Just 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.

At 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 girls.

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.

Women 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 comment.

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 control pills.

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, and left.

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.


more stories -- share your story

Birth Control Comparison - alll methods Abortion Info from Feminist Women's Health CenterShare your story
Poetry and Prose - by women about their reproductive lives Teens HealthResources for Women of Color
Feminist Abortion Clinics Real Life Abortion Stories from teens Questions and Answers


"The 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