My story: It doesn’t matter that I was only 19. Only that I didn’t want to be pregnant.
It doesn’t matter that I could barely afford the basic necessities of life for myself. Only that I didn’t want to be pregnant.
It doesn’t matter that it took years for me to peg our relationship as abusive. Only that I didn’t want to be pregnant.
It doesn’t matter if I was in a healthy & secure relationship, if I slept with 6 guys that week, if I was raped, etc etc etc. What mattered was that I absolutely did NOT want to be pregnant.
When I found out, my best friend was at my side. I went to some clinic that was supposed to help young women like me. I was given one of those sticks to pee on. It felt like a fucking year waiting for the results. She slammed me with the news: ‘positive’. My whole world crashed down around me. She gave me a hug. I was too numb to even attempt a hug back. I think I just stared ahead.
She loaded me up with literature about being pregnant, what to expect, etcetera. She said if I needed to come back to talk, or something, I was more than welcome. Not a mention of what my actual choices were. And, to be completely honest, I didn’t think I really had any. This was now my life.
I don’t remember telling Boyfriend. I do remember telling a Relative. She freaked out. I don’t remember what she said, all I remember was laying on the couch feeling completely numb and wanting my life to end right then and there. Somewhere within her tirade she brought up abortion. There was a spark inside of me, but wasn’t yet able to vocalize anything beyond “I’m so sorry..”
Once home, I brought up having an abortion to him. Not only were we so incredibly incapable of bringing a child into this messed up life we were living, I literally did not even want to go through a pregnancy. He made the typical he’ll never abandon me promise, then said no abortion. It’s half his child, and if I went behind his back, he promised he’d never speak to me again. As if he owned half the rights to the real estate within my uterus.. My heart felt dead.
I started pondering about getting hit by a car, did I have a trusted friend that would punch me really hard? I could run stomach first into the back of a chair, fall down the stairs.. I went down the depression/self harm/suicidal thoughts path before. Now that I look back, this put me terrifyingly close to it again.
I went back to Relative. She told me that it wasn’t up to Boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter. It was my body, and if I didn’t want this to happen, I had the power to stop it. She was behind me 100%. Armed with that confidence, I went to my family doctor. He said I had choices, all up to me. No matter which one I chose, he’d be there. I said “I chose abortion. I don’t want this.” His smile was gentle as he gave me a phone number to a clinic.
Relative had already insisted on a private clinic over a hospital. This is PEI, it’s small, someone would know me. There’d be a paper trail. It would haunt me.. never know who might find out. I didn’t realize just what she had meant by that until this blog started. People I need to trust, who’s hands my life are in, can completely turn on me and leave me without needed medical care over this. This rings as extremely sick and twisted to me. These people need to resign.
I was terrified to call the clinic, but Relative sat beside me. The lady on the other end was nice, I could tell she was experienced. The clinic was in Halifax. A province neither of us had been to in over a decade. I got her to repeat the directions probably 20 times. Having to go for an abortion seemed traumatic enough, getting lost in a foreign city on your way to one would just be utter hell. This was not the age of iPhones, GoogleMaps, or other fancy GPS devices, and neither of us travelled much farther than the local beach.
I felt like I was living two lives. The life Relative and I knew- my reality, and the life with Boyfriend & everyone else. News was spreading, and I was trying to make up logical excuses to keep it hush. I knew people who had miscarriages before 4 months, so I suggested once I reach 4 months, we’ll make the news public. He was excited, I was in mourning. Not for the soon to be aborted fetus, but for what my life had become. I knew that I could never trust him again.
My body started to change. I could feel my belly getting bigger, it was getting hard. My breasts started leaking milk. I was craving things. Much to my surprise, ice cream and pickles were the big one. Morning sickness, which, luckily was suppressed if I didn’t let myself get hungry. I felt like I had no control over my body. Physically, this was the worst experience I had ever been through.
The Day Before arrived. I told Boyfriend that I was going to stay at Relative’s for the night. We had to leave incredibly early to drive the 4 hours over, get it done, then drive the 4 hours home. They were only open 1 day a week, which thankfully that was my normal day off. Calling in sick at my work meant someone either gave up their only day off, or worked a 12+ hour shift. Relative could only take the one day off without rousing suspicion, plus paying for a hotel room was not in the budget. Hell, this abortion wasn’t even in the budget. I’m thankful she never once batted an eye over the cost. I was wrought with enough guilt over putting her through this.
We left at something stupid like 5am. The drive over is fuzzy. I fell into numbness. I have absolutely no memory from between parking the car and walking in the front door. I assume there were protesters across the street because the lady on the phone told me there would be, although I don’t actually recall seeing them. They didn’t matter. We were assured they weren’t allowed to say anything to us so I trusted that. Even if they did yell things at me, they weren’t going to change my mind, just make me angry.
Once inside, there were forms to fill out. There were other people in the waiting room, but I don’t really remember them. I tried not to look at them. I had to speak to a counsellor, had to tell her how I got pregnant. We discussed how to best prevent it in the future, all things I knew and practiced. I don’t think she really wanted to do it, apologizing before she started.
I had to have an ultra sound. They found out I was farther along than originally thought. It was going to cost more. My heart sank, but there was little I could do. This had to be done. It was either a couple of hundred extra right now and then it’s over, or a life time…
They took me to a waiting room with some comfy chairs and blankets. Again, I tried not to look at anyone. Someone was getting an abortion right then. I was next. The woman was moaning and wailing. Relative whispered to me that it was ‘just dramatics’ to calm me. Shortly after, a staff member came in and gently, more politely, let us all know that she wasn’t actually in any physical pain, it’s just how some people react, and even that reaction was rare.
My turn. Still numb. I followed direction like a robot on auto pilot. They took me to the chair, the doctor poked and prodded, which was extremely unpleasant. I hadn’t even so much as had a pap smear before. A nurse held my hand. She was very compassionate. I was so grateful for her. The doctor said I’ll feel discomfort, but it doesn’t hurt. Just feels weird. Not to worry. It’ll be over soon. I could feel the suction inside of me. I stared at a spot on the ceiling while the nurse let me squeeze her hand as hard as I needed and she stroked my hair. For those moments, which felt like an eternity, she was my hero.
(Honestly though, I’ve had routine fillings that were more painful)
It was over. It was finally over and I was so fucking relieved. I went back to the room with the comfy chairs where I was told to sit as long as needed, eat a cookie & drink some juice. I did my best to be strong for the other women waiting, to let them see that it would be ok. But I was so tired. Every bit of me.
It’s hard to adequately describe the relief I felt. It was like cocooning in a warm, cozy blanket on a rainy day, but also claws that ripped open my soul.
The way home was a disaster. We got lost twice then had to pull over so I could throw up out the window on one of those crazy ridiculous highways buzzing with vehicles far more accustomed to it than us. I can’t imagine what she was going through, watching me go through this. She gave me so much strength.
The next day I broke the news to Boyfriend, except it was a slightly different version. I said I had a miscarriage, but I was ok now. It wasn’t really that bad, a lot of blood & a lot of pain. I don’t really want to talk about it any more. He gathered that I hadn’t been feeling well and that’s why I stayed at Relative’s. I let him believe that. One less lie for me to utter.
I went to work the next day. I said I was just getting over the flu, so was feeling pretty off. I was still weak and numb. It was hard. Every happy pregnant woman I saw made me want to burst out in tears. Even though I absolutely didn’t want to be pregnant, I felt like I should have given that to Boyfriend. Everyone’s lives were trotting along around me, none the wiser. I wanted to scream at them all. All the lying, the shame, the guilt.
I didn’t even think about after care. The clinic gave me a sheet, and said that I needed to go to my doctor in a couple of weeks. Even though he was compassionate, I was afraid of that paper trail.. Looking back, I’m thankful there were no complications.
Now, this is important: I didn’t regret my choice. Not then, and not now. I didn’t struggle with making a decision. It took me a long time to work out why I felt so ashamed and so guilty. Guilt for having to lie. Shame, not over my decision, but because society told me I was shameful and awful. Society made me feel like this was my fault, I did wrong. Society told me I should feel remorse over terminating this very much unwanted pregnancy, and since I didn’t feel remorse over it, that must mean I was terrible. I felt I had to hide what happened. If I told anyone the truth, they would turn on me. Call me a whore. Hate me. It’s been incredibly isolating.
Despite having pro choice friends over the years, I felt that I still couldn’t tell anyone.
Up until right now, only a handful of people knew. Today, I finally have the courage to put a name to my story.
Moe C. – PEI