A Uterus-Owner’s Guide to Surviving an Abortion

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. I’ve written parts of it in my head here and there. But I never sat down and typed it up because I was afraid of who would find out I had an abortion. Not afraid for me, now mind you. I don’t give a flying crap who knows – my abortion is part of my identity and I will not hide who I am. I was nervous because if I shared this on my social media, people might contact my family, or friends, or significant other to give their unwanted opinions on what I have (and would do again) with MY body.

But today, I saw this.

restrictive abortion law article
From Vox. Click to visit article.

And quite frankly, I though “fuck it.” I’m so tired of this presidency, the continued attacks on minorities, asylum seekers, the limitations being placed on the bodily autonomy of women…I just had to do something. And I don’t really know what I can do, but write my experience. I want people considering abortion to have some idea of what is to come, as there is less fear in facing the known than the unknown. But more than anything, I want people to know that they are not alone, they should not be ashamed, and that no one knows better than YOU what the right choice is for YOU. If this helps even just one person, I will sleep a little easier at night.

A Note on the Title and Methodology

First, on the title. I was originally going to call this “A Woman’s Guide to Surviving Abortion,” but after ruminating on why that didn’t quite feel right to me, I realized it was because I was perpetuating the restrictive, annoying, and just plain WRONG, Western conception that sex has to map onto gender (i.e., if you have a vagina, you must identify as a woman). There are many ways to be human, and I want this to be a safe space for any person who was/is/will be capable of carrying a child.

Next, I just want to be transparent on what this is. This is me, writing my experience with abortion. I’m not focusing on how I got pregnant (We all know how that happens, and if you don’t, it’s time to go have that awkward discussion with Mom and Dad. But hey, maybe you’ll get ice cream after!). What I am here to do is relay to you, to the best of my ability, my feelings, conversations, and actions from the moment I peed on that little devil of a pregnancy stick.

Also, I haven’t planned this out extensively. So, I don’t know how many parts this is going to come in, because I don’t yet know how much I have to stay. What is most important to me is that I truthfully convey this abortion journey, and that I offer you things I’ve learned along the way.

Two Lines

The moment I peed on the pregnancy test, I already knew what it was going to tell me. What I didn’t know was what I was going to feel when I actually saw the two lines. There was no flood of emotions; I felt only one thing. I felt empty…I felt more alone than I had in my entire life. I have never had suicidal thoughts, but that moment was the closest thing I have ever experienced. I saw myself disappointing my parents, disappointing myself, disappointing my partner. Worst yet, it was only a few days before my 18th birthday and I didn’t want to ruin my day, but I also knew this was a conversation that couldn’t wait very long. I hadn’t really realized it yet, but I already knew what my choice would be.

I told my significant other. He didn’t really pressure me or anything. I have to be honest, I have kind of a huge blank space in my mind where his reaction should be. But I do have this really vivid memory of him drawing me a warm bath, sitting me down in it, and using a pitcher to poor water down my back while I sobbed into my knees. I felt stress up to my eyeballs, but more than that I felt sick. I just wanted to flip a switch and make everything go away. But we all know that’s not how life works.

The Price of Crisis

In case you are wondering, abortions are hella expensive. We lived in a dirt-cheap studio apartment, him making minimum wage and me an undergraduate student. Where in the world were we going to get $800+?! So, of course I had to tell my parents because I – we – needed their help. I wanted to melt into a puddle on the floor, sleep for 10 years, anything just to not have to pick up that phone. Even before I heard the voice on the other end of the line, I felt like an actual piece of garbage. Growing up, the worst thing when I got in trouble would be my parents telling me they were disappointed in me. I can take anger, I can take yelling, just please oh please do not tell me you are disappointed in me! And I knew they would be, because I was already disappointed in myself.

[Side Note: A reader I tested this article on asked me to confirm/offer more details on my parents’ reactions. I would like to air on the side of aloofness in this respect, as they are frequent visitors to my blog and this was a tender time for all of us. So, if it helps, I would call the reaction a heavy serving of pragmatism with a seasoning of disappointment. To be clear: I IN NO WAY BLAME OR FAULT MY PARENTS FOR THIS REACTION (or even think it was a bad one). In fact, every day that I sit here without a child, living the life that I dreamed for myself and loving every day, I mentally thank them for being a support network that, unfortunately, most people are not privileged enough to have.]

After I got off the phone, do you know what I felt? I felt anger….like the core of the earth under all of that pressure. I wasn’t mad at my parents, I wasn’t mad at myself. I was straight-up furious that regardless of my decision, I would be the one suffering the consequences, not my partner. If I chose to remain pregnant, people on the street would judge me for being pregnant so young, or perhaps worse, they would pity me. If I chose to give it up for adoption, people would judge me for not being responsible. And if I chose to abort, I was the one who had to walk into the clinic, answer endless questions, and bear anti-choice hate rhetoric. I was pissed that I had to disappoint my family and that my partner’s didn’t ever even have to know. 

My First Regret

Okay, so maybe my first regret was getting pregnant, but I had kind of assumed you figured that out by now. So, this is my first explicit regret:

I knew the situation was unfair, so unfair that I wanted to kick patriarchy right in the metaphorical nuts. But what I did, what I did made it worse. I was so upset, blinded by emotions, that I told my partner he needed to tell his family, too. Of anything in this whole journey I could take back, it would be this. Just because the world was unfair to me, didn’t mean that I had to cause him pain.

Lesson 1: Minimize pain. Yeah, the world is unfair, and it needs to change, I know. But you need your support network, so don't isolate people.

My Second Regret

But the weirdest thing was, they were excited about it. Which kind of got him excited about it. And the whole time the hamster in my brain was running on its wheel, trying to make any of this compute. And this is when I got to my second regret: I tried to force myself to consider keeping it. It was all a charade, I knew it all along no matter how deep I tried to bury it. But it felt good to be accepted, and not hating myself. And here I have to credit the people in my life (you know who you are – THANK YOU) who began asking me pragmatic questions – how are you going to afford this baby? Where are you going to live? Are you moving back home? Dropping out of school?

I went through a series of emotions thinking through these questions. First, panic. Then, I wanted to vomit. Finally, resolve. I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted an abortion. As soon as I had my decision, I finally felt peace.

Lesson 2: Don't lie to yourself. No one knows you better than you, don't let them try to convince you otherwise.
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