I’ve always thought about abortion the way anyone who has never had an abortion probably thinks about it—from someone else’s perspective. Whether it be from a story, a friend of a friend, an older sister, or even the lead role in a film. My only experience was always merely a “what if.”
I wouldn’t say I was the most careful. My boyfriend and my only form of birth control was the infamous and not always effective (clearly) “pull out” method. Five pregnancy tests later, wide-eyed yet surprisingly calm, I was standing in the bathroom of my apartment staring at my boyfriend with nothing to say except “okay.”
At first I felt bad for almost immediately knowing what I wanted. I felt like I should’ve been conflicted or at least sad, but I knew right away that I was not ready to be a mother. I called my local clinic the next day to schedule a termination. It felt strange that I was so confident in my decision as people shame women everyday for choosing to do what they please with their bodies, and that internal shame has been embedded in me without even realizing it.
This was my first pregnancy so I had no idea what the protocol was, meaning I had no idea what to expect or how much this would cost. My clinic required two appointments. The first included an ultrasound, blood work, and a consultation with a counselor to discuss how exactly I wanted it to happen—that cost $50. I ended up choosing the surgical abortion option which cost an additional $500.
To be frank, for that first appointment I was scared shitless. A cold lobby full of women, a few men, and nobody really saying anything above a whisper. I was there for about three hours. After the first appointment, you schedule your second appointment: the actual termination.
I showed up to my second appointment with my boyfriend, eight weeks and four days pregnant. I couldn’t tell if my sickness was due to nerves or the pregnancy. Either way, the only two things I could think about were the guilt I felt for being eager to get it done and move on with my life, and how I wished I had eaten breakfast.
After about an hour of waiting went by they called me and a few other women to the back. I got up and went, pit stains and all. As I sat there I ended up talking to this extremely nice woman, I’ll call her Stacy. We kept it polite and really only engaged in small talk. It was very clear how uncomfortable we both were, as if discussing why we were both here would set us on fire.
The nurses—who were also extremely kind—handed me a little plastic cup roughly the size of a shot glass full of pills consisting of anti-nausea, anti-diarrhea, Vicodin, and others I can’t quite remember. I went to a different back room where women wait for their cervixes to open, pain meds to kick in, and for their names to be called. My first thought was, “Oh nice, an even smaller and colder room for us to feel uncomfortable and awkward in,” but boy was I wrong. There were about five other women there, including Stacy, and the second I got there they offered me a basket full of blankets and asked me how I was feeling. I was back there for about 30 minutes to an hour with them just laughing and having the strangest conversations, from politics, to symptoms we’ve all had, to the shows we were watching on Netflix. I felt so completely safe and supported with these women.
When my name was called, I was pretty loopy, but I remember them cheering me on, saying everything was going to be okay and not to worry. I started to tear up because I knew I would probably never see them again, and they had made a very uncomfortable situation feel less taboo. Those women have made probably one of the biggest impacts on me and they don’t even know it.
All I can remember from then on is a nurse putting a needle in my arm and telling me they were going to sedate me. I was pretty much in and out after that, and only have blurry memories of seeing the doctor come in telling me he was going to start, the nurses holding my hands and stroking my hair, telling me I was going to be just fine, and that I was strong. It took about 45 seconds for it to be over. A nurse helped me get dressed, go pee, and put a pad on for me. I was placed in a recovery room with recliner chairs and other women waiting to be released. I passed out from the sedation. It came and went pretty quickly and I hardly remember the rest of that day.
Now, I am about two weeks post abortion, on birth control, and abstaining from sexual intercourse for four weeks per request of the doctor to let my cervix heal. I am finally feeling like my body is my own again. I haven’t told anyone about this for reasons I can’t quite figure out, but I wanted to share my story and just put it out there finally. I feel strong and confident that I made the best decision for myself. I hope that whoever is reading this finds a little bit of comfort and humor in my story. When put in abortion waiting rooms, women will unexpectedly band together, cheer, comfort, and lift one another up making you feel less alone. However, above all, the moral of the story is: the pull out method is not a reliable form of birth control.