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My period was several days late, and I was starting to get worried, so two days after my 19th birthday I took a pregnancy test in the bathroom of the local Barnes & Noble. It was immediate and definite -- I was pregnant.
I called my boyfriend as soon as I got out of the bathroom. He told me that it was okay, that everything would be okay, that I just needed to take care of myself and figure out what I wanted to do and he'd support me every step of the way.
I knew that I wanted to get an abortion. I love kids, and I know my boyfriend would be a great father, and we want to have kids with each other -- but neither of us is emotionally or financially stable enough to support a child right now. Because we are both attending an early college program, we don't even have our high school diplomas.
We talked about it constantly over the next few days and we agreed: we love each other, we do want to have kids together at some point, but not yet.
Still, I was a mess. Not because I felt like I was murdering someone -- I didn't feel pregnant, in a way I didn't believe all of this was happening -- but because I was so scared of complications I'd read about on pro-life sites. I was scared it was an ectopic pregnancy. I was scared of the pain. I was scared I'd get an infection or become infertile. I have an unspecified anxiety disorder and I just felt overwhelmed by the simple act of calling up the clinic and scheduling an appointment. I'd always been an incredibly healthy person -- the only experience with doctors I'd had were routine check-ups and 20 minutes in the emergency room one night -- so I had all these horrible ideas in my head about how much pain I was going to be in.
Eight days after I'd found out I was pregnant, my boyfriend and I went to the clinic. I was nervous when I walked in, but the attitudes of the staff helped me out so much. They made me feel like it was perfectly routine, that I had nothing to be ashamed of, that I was safe in their hands and that everything would be okay. Sure, I'd made a mistake, but I was going to fix it and be more responsible in the future.
Most of my visit was sitting in the waiting room with my boyfriend while we both read the books we'd brought along. I filled out a bunch of paper work, then did a urine test, then did an abdominal ultrasound. They didn't see anything on the abdominal ultrasound and told me they'd have to do a vaginal, so I started to get worried again. More paperwork, this time mostly reading an informational packet about abortion and how the process worked, and a blood test. Then they did the vaginal ultrasound; it took them awhile, but they found the embryo so I could actually have the abortion. The nurse performing it told me I was very early, 5 and a half weeks, and that would make the process easier because it wouldn't really look like anything but a blob.
I chose to have a medical abortion done because it was the only type of abortion available for how early I was, and I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Also, doing it early would make sure I still had a window of opportunity if something went wrong and the abortion was not successful. I took the first pill at the clinic and the other four eight hours later, which was the earliest time I could take them. It was not a pleasant experience, but it was much, much better than what I'd read online had lead me to believe. I threw up, I bled a fair amount, I had cramps, I felt rather grumpy -- but all of it was bearable. The doctor at the clinic had written me out a prescription for tylenol with codeine but I didn't even need it. Taking Advil worked fine.
I am currently on day six of the abortion process. It pretty much is just like having my period, except the cramps are more intense. In another eight days I am scheduled to go back to the clinic to make sure the abortion was successful, but I am fairly certain that I've passed the embryo and, by the time my appointment rolls around, will have passed all of the lining. The pills worked beautifully and I've experienced no complications whatsoever.
I've not had a lot of emotional distress, either. I am ashamed and irritated at myself that I was irresponsible enough to get pregnant when I wasn't ready, but I've resolved to do better in the future. But the only times I feel sad are when I hear about a woman who was pregnant and wanted her baby and miscarried. I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to have been able to choose whether or not I would bear a child, and I regret the fact that other people are not as lucky as I was. Losing a child that you wanted must be unbearably painful. I'm so fortunate -- I had a clinic available, means of transportation, enough money to cover medical costs without needing to involve my parents, and tons of emotional support from my friends and my boyfriend.
I wouldn't have been able to do this if my friends and my boyfriend hadn't reacted the way they did -- with unconditional love and complete confidence that I would make the right decision, whatever that may be. I didn't feel pressured or rushed, and I think that's the most important factor in choosing to terminate a pregnancy. I knew that I could choose to keep the baby or abort it, and that either way my boyfriend and I would make it work. With that assurance, I sat down and thought carefully about my options, and with a clear conscience I chose abortion.
To those who might be in a similar situation: Being pregnant and a teenager is scary; having to figure out what to do about it isn't easy. Whatever choice you make, be sure that you are doing it because you WANT that outcome, not because your boyfriend will leave if you don't or your mom tells you you have to. I feel that abortion is a good solution to an unexpected, unwanted pregnancy, but you have to make sure you've made peace with yourself about your decison before you go through with anything. Same with keeping the baby -- make sure you understand what you're in for and are prepared to handle it. This is a major, life-changing decision and you will not be the same person afterwards. It's important to take care of yourself and surround yourself with people who will support you no matter what you decide.
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Posted 24 Mar 2007
Copyright 2007 by Pregnant Pause