Finding Out & The Decision
This is my story, and yours is probably different. Everyone’s is. But I am choosing to share what I went through in a political climate that has unfortunately and unnecessarily created a stigma surrounding abortion that should not exist. I am sharing my story so that other women know that abortion is okay, to have, to talk about, and to share.
Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a Mom. I didn’t think so much about my wedding or my prince charming, but I did think about having a baby of my own. The “baby fever” continued throughout my childhood, high school, and to this day. I feel that I was born to be a mother. Every time I see a little newborn my ovaries literally swell! I did not picture, however, finding out about being a mother squatting down on the floor of a Target bathroom with tears streaming down my face.
My body had been feeling odd, mostly my boobs hurting, feeling really tired, and I was almost a week late of my period, so I decided to take a test, mostly to reassure me that I had nothing to worry about. What I got instead, was a result that would change my life forever. The two lines showed up almost immediately. I was in pure shock. Emotions poured out once I made it back to my car. I was scared, and I was confused. How could this be happening to me? I drove over to my boyfriend’s house and decided to tell him. So many fears rushing through my mind. My partner and I had only been officially dating for one month! I wasn’t ready to be a Mom, but part of me felt excited? I felt lost. I had thought about this situation before, and told myself that if I ever got pregnant, I would keep the baby. But this… this was a whole new feeling. It was like my momma instincts had already kicked in. I felt so much love and hope for this group of cells that would someday be a baby, but I also felt really scared that this child would not receive the love and support that they deserved.
The next few days were a roller coaster to say the least. Tears poured out of my eyes almost consistently. I felt so alone, even though I had a really solid support system. My immediate reaction was emotion. I had fallen in love with the idea of being a mother a long time ago, and it was my time to live my dream, right? I had a lot of exhausting conversations with my partner. He made it clear every day that this was my choice, and I would have his support no matter what, but we still disagreed about certain things. I told a lot of people about it, something I would change if I could go back. Some people when I told them, were excited for me, and that felt really heartbreaking, especially once I made the decision not to keep the baby. It was about five days after the news that I started to realize that logic truly did matter. I refused to make a decision based on money and logistics alone, but I started to think about my life as a whole. Is this what I want for my life right now? It sounds silly, but that was the first time I truly felt like I had a choice, and that I could choose motherhood for myself at a future time in my life. My brain was truly zipping in a billion directions. I felt like a teeter totter, switching every day between deciding to have the baby, and deciding it wasn’t the right option. This big of a decision felt absolutely impossible to me. Every time I thought about having the baby, I was overcome with fear and hope, and every time I thought about having the abortion, I was overcome with grief.
I would like to be clear about my views on abortion in general. I am absolutely, 100% a believer that every woman has a choice. It is her choice, and her choice only. I feel this way and still feel deeply saddened by the concept. I feel this way and still feel grief about aborting my baby at 6 weeks. I feel like way and still feel heartbroken that my baby had a heartbeat. I can recognize that something was growing inside of me, that was more than a “group of cells” to me, and still made the choice that it was not right for me to have a child. Every woman has a right to feel their own way about abortion, and I can tell you from personal experience, that unless you have been in a situation where you have been faced with the decision to abort, you cannot truly imagine how it feels.
The turning point for me was when my best friend, someone who knows me very well, told me that she wants me to choose motherhood for myself at a time that whole-heartedly felt right. I knew she was right. I was spending so much time trying to reach my intuition by meditating, making pro’s and con’s lists and pressuring myself to just make the damn decision, that I wasn’t truly listening to myself. I think I felt ashamed to make the choice 100% on my own, but once somebody else reiterated to me exactly what I felt about not being ready, I knew that was the choice I needed to make. I wouldn’t describe that feeling as relief. I started grieving about my abortion before I even had it. I was not 100% sure and I knew I wasn’t going to be, but I came back to gratitude, and placed trust in my larger plan.
Words for someone going through this journey.
- You are empowered. you have a choice. You may have what-ifs moving forward, and that is okay. All you can do is make a decision that feels right for you right now. You will move through whichever choice you choose because you are strong. This decision was placed in your life for a reason, and there is no “right or wrong” decision or something you are supposed to you. The universe will shift in your direction, and it has your back.
- Welcome the emotions. Welcome the doubt. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger. The night before my abortion I was laying in bed with my partner telling him I wasn’t sure if I could do it. That a huge part of me wanted to have the baby still, and I felt scared. I allowed myself to feel these emotions. I welcomed them, didn’t judge them, and knew they would pass. I also dealt with a lot of anger toward people that encouraged me to have the baby that had no intention or knowledge of the ways in which I would struggle as a young Mom with low income. I welcomed that and realized that anger is powerful.
- Educate yourself. You have time in this choice. Research what your rights are in the place where you live. Generally, the earlier you are, the easier the process is to abort, but give yourself some time and space to breathe. This Australian website, “Children by Choice” was extremely helpful to me and my partner. There is information about all options, and there is a tab “For Women” and “For Men” along with tips about how to best support someone having an abortion or going through pregnancy.
- Only tell people that you know will give you unconditional support. This is something I learned the hard way. I learned a lot about people in the way they reacted. Some people’s political views overrode their love and support for me, and that was really hurtful. Some people told me I could do it, and some people told me I shouldn’t. I had too many voices inside my head, which made it much harder to find my own.
- You are not going to find the answers on your computer screen. Oh, the irony since you are reading this post now, but really. Take some time to really observe how YOU feel. I spent so much time searching for someone who was in the same situation as me and realized my situation was 100% unique, as is yours. Reading other people’s stories can be helpful, but the truth is, only you know what is best for you.
What to say to others
It can be hard to know how to react if you are a friend or loved one hearing this news. A lot of people said things to make me feel loved and supported, and a lot of people said things that pissed me off. This is that person’s news, not yours. Truly listen to what they’re saying, and offer support.
Things to say
- “How are you feeling about this news?” So many people responded right away with… “oh no” or “congratulations” without even letting me react first. You may have no idea how they are feeling about the news, even if you think you know them well. Give them a chance to express their thoughts and feelings first.
- “I am here to support you.” This is something that so many people have said to me that really made me feel so grateful to have them in my life. Even though I felt empowered in my choice, there were moments where I felt self conscious that people would judge me. Knowing I had the support of even people who didn’t necessarily “agree” with my decision or may have chosen something else for themselves, meant the world to me.
- “What can I do for you?” Sometimes I wanted a hug, sometimes I wanted someone to just listen, and sometimes I genuinely wanted advice. It is always nice to ask instead of offering unsolicited advice or offering something that isn’t actually going to make that person feel better.
- “Every experience is so different but if you are interested in hearing mine, I would be open to sharing.” If you have ever been pregnant whether you had the baby, got an abortion, chose adoption, or even know someone who had been through one of those journey’s, sharing that experience can be really helpful. However, be mindful that what was right for you differs from what is right for that person. Hearing from everyone, both people who knew they were going to abort right away, and those who had the baby and say it was the best thing that happened to them was helpful. Especially when they explained how they came to that decision for themselves.
- “This is your decision.” Although that phrase often times felt overwhelming, this reminder came in handy when I started letting other people’s opinions get in the way. This also came in handy when I needed to think about this choice regardless of my partner.
The actual process
There are several options to consider when having an abortion, depending on how far along you are. This website was very helpful in explaining those options. It was hard to find information about the steps necessary to receive an abortion, so I will outline the route I went, although there are several ways to go about it!
- The first thing I did was call Planned Parenthood, and they were very helpful. They explained that they can give pregnancy tests via urine sample, but cannot do bloodwork to determine exactly how far along you are.
- Went to the gynecologist. I booked this appointment in hopes are receiving bloodwork to determine exactly how far along I was. Instead, they took a urine sample, did a physical check up, gave me a pap smear and checked my cervix and told me I was 6 weeks 2 days pregnant. They could have done an ultrasound there, which some abortion clinics will accept as confirmation of pregnancy, but I did not receive the ultrasound at my gyno.
- Booked an appointment at Family Planning Associates Chicago. They have next day appointments for abortion, as well as a plethora of other services and helpful information on their site. They were so extremely nice every time I called on the phone and in person. Very grateful for my experience there.
- Arrived at my appointment with my partner. Removed all of my face jewelry, wore comfy clothes. Brought Simple Mills crackers with me to snack on after. Could not eat or drink anything at all starting at midnight the night before.
- Received an ultrasound. It is up to you whether you want to see the screen. I knew I did not want to hear a heartbeat, but I asked my doctor what it would look like if I did want to see, and she explained that it just looked like a tiny little line. I opted to see the screen and it was honestly very reassuring for me. The collection of cells was 3mm big, which eased a lot of unknowns I had about what exactly I was aborting.
- Paid and signed waivers, made the decision about anesthetics. The abortion clinic did not accept my insurance, so it was $475 out of pocket. I had a really hard time in deciding whether I wanted to be put to sleep, and I still have a lot of lingering things I am working through in my decision. I walked in 90% confident that I wanted to be awake during the procedure. I knew that it required local anesthetic shots into the cervix, and as the procedure was happening I would still feel pain and cramping in my uterus. But, I felt like with my experience with pain management and breathwork, I could handle it. For me personally I really do not like drugs themselves let alone anesthesia and the way it makes me feel. After a long conversation with a very patient and kind practitioner, she informed me that it was going to be painful, and that some women who have given birth describe it as being a painful experience. She also explained that I would hear the noise of the extraction and she did not want that to be traumatic for me. After thinking about it for a couple more hours, I decided very last minute that I wanted to be put to sleep. I made my decision out of fear, and I honestly still hold guilt about it.
- Changed into a gown, and waited for an hour and a half. This was one of my least favorite parts. I was waiting in a room with other women. The TV was on, but I was uncomfortable in my gown just awaiting this unknown experience.
- Headed to the operating room. I was guided to the room by a very kind nurse, was hooked up to an IV and the doctor explained what would happen. I laid down, and received the anesthesia. I felt a tingling in my face and then knocked out.
- Woke up from the anesthesia. The procedure itself only takes 5-15 minutes, so I was only asleep for about 20. I woke up to a nurse saying my name. I had been rolled into a different recovery room with other women, but we were separated by curtains. When I woke up, I kind of freaked out. I immediately started crying and was feeling very anxious. This had everything to do with me and how I handle anesthesia, a lot of people wake up feeling just fine. I don’t like the feeling of being “out of it.” The nurse was comforting, told me it was okay to cry, handed me a tissue, and took my blood pressure. I laid and waited for about 20 more minutes while I was waking up. I was meditating. Inhaling to the words “this too,” and exhaling to the words “shall pass.” I really just wanted to go home at this point.
- Checked out. I was guided to another waiting room and sat down. I was able to drink some water, change back into my clothes, and snack on my Simple Mills crackers. The nurse asked me a couple of questions, explained my recovery process, gave me antibiotics to take that day, and sent me on my way.
- Recovery. My partner took me home. Right when I got in the car, I cried a lot. I wasn’t really sure why. I felt really overwhelmed and overcome with sadness. I felt awkward in my body and I felt like something had been taken away from me. I was able to go to a comfy safe space and relax there. I had mild cramping directly afterwards, and have had cramping and very light bleeding for the week afterwards so far. Nothing too uncomfortable to handle.
- Things I used that were helpful. Peppermint oil and a heating pad on my stomach to help with cramping. Drank a lot of Ginger Tea, and the “Stomach Ease” teach from the brand “YogiTea.” I had chicken and rice soup, and then pizza for dinner later that night. I was so happy to not be nauseous anymore. I made a decision not to take the antibiotics that I was given. I feel that I have a strong immune system, and the risks of antibiotics outweigh the pros, for me personally. I felt more comfortable taking Vitamin C and probiotics to heal. I have been taking Ashwagandha and a homeopathic that I got at Whole Foods (the little white pellets in the blue tubes) called “apis mellifica” daily since then. The Ashwagandha to help rebalance my hormones and the “apis mellifica” to help with grief. These recommendations came from a e-book titled “Holistic Healing After Abortion” by Samantha Zipporah which was very helpful for me. I used CORA pads for a day afterwards. I personally did not experience heavy bleeding at all, just spotting. I took two days off of work for myself. Overall I felt physically pretty good within 3 hours afterwards, but emotionally I felt that I needed an extra day.
- Since then, I have been mindful to spend some time alone. My instinct is to want to spend a lot of time with my partner and other people to seek comfort and distract myself, which is definitely valid and welcome. But, I know that my true emotions and feelings also need an outlet. I have been welcoming them with open arms, and really paying attention to my body and how it is feeling. I felt iffy about working out directly afterwards. I took a hot yoga class three days afterwards and I felt back in my body and truly connected and grateful. I resumed HIIT workouts the day following, but took it very easy as my boobs were still very sore from being pregnant.
What a journey this has been. I am typing this only 5 days after my abortion, so I am sure a lot will change as I continue to heal both physically and emotionally. Overall, I can now say that I made the right choice, but it took me awhile to get there. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I have the ability to get pregnant, and that this experience has brought me and my partner so incredibly close. Being pregnant was pretty cool. I felt really empowered and feminine. But, I will say, there were parts that were really not fun. My boobs hurt so badly which made it difficult to work out, not to mention I was so tired and my body felt really weak. The worst part for me was being nauseous… all day, everyday. My eating habits went right out the window, and I felt like I was eating for survival. I literally had no appetite for about a week, so if something sounded even mildly good, I went and got it from the store. Sandwiches, pizza, mac n cheese, soup, you name it. I never actually threw up, but the feeling of being nauseous was miserable.
This was a really good exercise for me in finding compassion for my body and giving myself a break. Not being able to workout in the same way, barely even being able to teach in a hot room, and craving unhealthy foods made me feel like my body was betraying me, but I truly kept coming back to gratitude and love for myself. I am still coming back into my body, into my routines, and into my healthy habits. This experience helped me realize that wellness is a privilege, and I feel very strongly about honoring the ebbs and flows of wellness based upon what you are going through. Additionally, you never know what someone is going through, and I am personally going to be more mindful when I find myself subconsciously judging someone about what they are eating or how they are taking care of themselves. I will admit before this I thought that when I got pregnant, I would still be able to crush my workouts and eat 100% Paleo, but lemme tell ya, that was a humbling experience. Mad respect for pregnant women everywhere!
I am happy to share my journey and aid in breaking the stigma about a woman’s right to abort. Absolutely no negative comments are welcome on my platform. If you have an opinion about my body or any other woman’s body, you can fuck off. Truly. If you are going through this currently, or have gone through this in the past, please feel free to reach out to me. I am open to answering any questions you may have. I am here to hold space for your journey and I am here to listen.