Submitted by: Nicola H
A big hot-pink plus sign appeared on the pregnancy test; I lost the bet to my fiance, B.
I had many feelings, among them joy, pride, fullness. I felt close to nature as my DNA wrapped around my lover’s, creating a universe. Nobody taught my body to do this, she just… knows how. She is magic – B and I are magic.
Or… maybe just dumb. We hadn’t been following the rules of the Fertility Awareness Method (cycle tracking) closely; it had worked for over a year, but we had gotten pretty lax.
We are two healthy 30-year-olds in a stable, loving relationship. Decent savings in the bank with plans to spend it on a house. I have a good job while B had (just days before) quit his to return to school. Together for 1.5 years. We had been planning our wedding, the ceremony date falling squarely around the baby’s due date.
I began to feel that I had deeply messed-up by getting pregnant. The pregnancy would rob us of our wedding and our time as newlyweds. Now we would be faced with huge stressors all at once: B’s new school schedule, reduced income, buying a home and moving, and a huge physical change for me. Instead of drinking honeywine and lovin’ on each other, I started to imagine B not sleeping as our newborn kept us up at night, and him barely passing his classes. I would be a new mom and the sole breadwinner, with no time for myself. I would have to give up my field work as an environmental scientist, which would completely change my job – how would I feel useful at work? I imagined people being disappointed in me, or making “shotgun wedding” jokes.
As these challenges loomed large, we looked into abortion. The answer to, “should we have this baby?” was not coming easily. The indecision consumed me. I hated not being able to tell people around me what I was going through, having to pretend like everything was ok. I began to feel nauseous all the time. I cried a lot. We did tell some family and friends, and though I HAD to get it off my chest at the time, we ultimately regretted telling people – though nobody forced their opinion on us, most people obviously had one, even if they didn’t say it outright. We saw a counselor and even she wasn’t unbiased.
We booked an appointment at Planned Parenthood. At the first visit, an informational consultation, the workers were a perfect blend of professional and warm. They pricked my finger for a blood test, collected urine, and asked questions related to my health history. They did not ask anything about our circumstances, other than questions like, “Is anyone forcing you to be here? Do you have a partner, and if so, do they know you are here? Has anyone tried to force you into getting or staying pregnant?”. B was allowed to join me for the abdominal ultrasound. We opted to view the image on the screen, but not to take home a printout. They easily found the pregnancy, said everything looked normal, and showed us the “heartbeat”. I learned I was 6 weeks and 6 days pregnant. We spent the rest of the visit asking questions, comparing and contrasting the medically induced versus in-clinic procedure.
We went home and continued the debate. We had been saying, “We will be ok no matter which decision we make, we will love each other no matter what” – but that was easier to say before the clinic visit. Now the situation took on a new weight, finally feeling real. Our conversations got tougher, more emotional, closer to the core. I (painfully) officially cast my vote for abortion – this was hurtful for B to hear. Though he didn’t directly say it, it became clear that I “wanted” to have the abortion and B didn’t want me to have the abortion.
I worried B was being influenced by emotion alone (Babies are cute! We are in love!), while he worried I was acting off of logic alone (Money, and grades, and scheduling!), not listening to my heart. We went over and over the pros-and-cons list we had made, read alternately upsetting and helpful testimonies online, talked and talked… At times we could barely speak due to the intensity of our conversations. We agonized, argued, and cried – right up to the minutes before our second Planned Parenthood appointment.
Despite everything, B maintained the stance that it was ultimately my body and my decision. I knew that I would terminate the pregnancy.
The second clinic visit took about 30 minutes, consisting of a blood test and a consultation with the doctor. My partner was not allowed to join me. Their only questions were along the lines of, “How are you feeling about this? Are you certain you would like to go through with the abortion?” No lecture on birth control, to my relief.
(FYI – During both visits to Planned Parenthood, there were protesters outside. They called to us, “Let’s talk about some other options! There are tons of people who would love to adopt your baby! God bless you and your baby!” They carried rosaries. They wanted us to come to their pregnancy center, located just across the street.)
I took the mifepristone orally at the clinic around 11am, and the misoprostol vaginaly at home around 2pm. I thanked my body for all she had done, told her I loved her, and prepared for whatever was to come.
By 4pm, the nausea medication knocked me out. I slept until about 6pm when mild cramping woke me up. When I had to travel to the bathroom, it became clear that I was dizzy and lightheaded – B had to assist me down the stairs, and I had to take sitting breaks on the way so that I wouldn’t faint. I took doses of the pain and nausea medications Planned Parenthood gave me (800mg of ibuprofen and 25 mg promethazine) at 1:30pm and 7:30pm, otherwise I managed the symptoms through sleeping, using a heating pad, and breathing. I experienced diarrhea and vomiting around 8pm and again around 10pm.
Other than trips to the bathroom, I slept through most of the abortion. My cramping ranged from mild to severe, sometimes travelling down through my legs as a painful burning. I began bleeding by about 10pm. Around 2am, I woke with the need to visit the bathroom. As I stood up, a hot rush of stuff came out of me – it felt like a bucket was poured into my underwear. I staggered to the bathroom and got into the shower, removing my clothes under the rushing water. There was a startling amount of white tissue and blood in my pants, more than I expected. I didn’t look too closely, but I imagine the embryo passed out of me then. I cleaned myself up as best I could and stumbled back to bed. This happened again about one hour later, though it was less intense the second time.
I was pretty out-of-it, so sleeping came easily and I kept fairly calm. The pain/discomfort wasn’t that bad. When I awoke in the morning, the physical process seemed to be over. I slept a lot the following day. I bled for two weeks.
After the abortion a tremendous sadness washed over me. The finality of my decision hit. B was in pieces, and that was hard to bear. I blamed myself for his sadness. I asked myself, “What is wrong with you? I can’t believe you *chose* this! What is so bad about the idea of having a baby with the man you love, that you would choose this awful path instead? How can he love you now?”
Our connection suffered initially after the abortion, and despite trying to keep open communication and loving actions toward each other, there were times when that felt impossible. It was heartbreaking to have lost our pregnancy and to imagine I may be loosing B as well – all by my own doing.
By choosing abortion, I was trying to protect us from taking on too many stressors at once, and to preserve the experiences that we deserved and wanted (wedding, honeymoon period, etc.) – but the abortion was itself a huge stressor, one that I did not anticipate beforehand.
I feel that a sense of magic is gone, that B and I have lost something that was animating to us, that a connection has been severed, that we have taken a step backward, that we gave up a precious gift.
I say this, even though I was miserable with indecision and doubt prior to the abortion.
Three weeks later, I no longer cry every day, but I feel a deep ache. I wish that I hadn’t seen the pregnancy as an insurmountable barrier to our happiness – we could have had it all.
B is helping me understand that I shouldn’t feel guilty on his behalf – that it was our decision, not just mine. There was and is no right answer. And there is no way around the grief, except through it. We still love each other. We are moving forward, together.