I Never Thought I'd Be The Woman To Have An Abortion. Here's What I Wish More People Understood
In our new Realtalk series, we're sharing personal stories about fertility and family planning. We hope they offer support and inspire honest conversation about an incredibly tough topic.
It was 2011. I had just turned 25, fallen deeply in love with an amazing man, and was off to New York City for my first-ever solo travel trip. Life was good.
But while I was away in NYC, I noticed that I had some weird stuff going on down there, including some unusual brown discharge that I'd never seen before. I immediately texted my best friend that I was worried I had an STD or was pregnant. She told me that I was being a worrywart and that everything was fine. I was just overthinking things as usual.
"You are pregnant." With just those three words, my whole world came crashing down.
Still, as soon as I got home, I made a trip to the walk-in health clinic. I was definitely worried but I also felt a sense of “this wouldn’t happen to me.” I didn’t even bother asking my boyfriend to come with me, since I figured it would be nothing.
I'll never forget the voice of that female doctor telling me with such coldness that I was pregnant.
I wasn’t totally surprised, and yet I was in complete shock — if that makes any sense. Her words burned to the very core of my soul. Did she not realize that with just those three words, “you are pregnant,” my whole world came crashing down? I wanted her to help me, to tell me that everything would be okay. Instead, I got a blank stare.
The worst part was that my parents had come into the city that day to spend some time with me. To my surprise, they came to meet me at the clinic. I had lied and told them that I wasn’t feeling well and they suspected nothing. I felt broken and needed nothing more than my mother's unconditional love — but there was no way I could tell either of them. There was just too much guilt and too much shame.
How I Made My Decision
I didn't know what to do. But I certainly knew I was in no way fit to be a mom yet. My passion for health was evolving at the time but my actual lifestyle hadn’t yet caught up. I was dealing with a severe case of G.A.D. (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and had daily panic attacks. I was working late nights at a bar, didn’t know for sure if my new relationship would last, and had no emotional foundation to support a child. No part of me was ready for a baby.
Still, a decision had to be made. My whole life I had made decisions based on what other people would think of me. But for the first time in my life, I found the courage to put myself first: my needs, my goals, and my future.
And so after two weeks of conversations with God, my boyfriend, and a few close friends, I chose not to move forward with the pregnancy.
Of course, at times I considered going through with it. I spent a huge chunk of those two weeks envisioning both scenarios. But there was just too much uncertainty around having a baby.
Trust me, I never would have thought that I'd be the girl who had an abortion. I would never want to intentionally hurt another being. But my choice was to have a better life for myself and for that soul.
While we may disagree on what's right or wrong when it comes to abortion, we can all benefit from being a little more compassionate.
My boyfriend came with me to the procedure. It was really weird sitting in the waiting room looking around at all the women going through the same thing. Some were accompanied and some were alone — each with their own story that would likely never be heard.
The procedure itself was quick and easy. So much so that looking back, I wish I had had some sort of spiritual support heading out of there. Yes, it’s a simple procedure but it’s also extremely emotionally intimate. It opens up the potential for unresolved feelings surrounding the choice.
I know this because I lived it. While the procedure went fine, I wasn't. I started suffering from extreme panic and terror anytime my stomach area was touched. I was still with the same partner and yet I would feel completely violated when getting intimate. I would become terrified, get sick to my stomach, and have to pull away.
I thought I had dealt with everything quite well, but clearly the abortion had left a mark. I realized that shame and guilt are powerful emotional states that like to hang around.
This prompted a long journey in search of help and healing. I went from healer to healer with high hopes that someone would be able to help me. My acupuncturist said that it's common for women to store a lot of negative energy in their uterus. An energy medicine practitioner told me that my abortion had opened up a sort of Pandora's box of "stuff" that was already there. Everyone had reasons for why this was happening — yet couldn't actually help make it stop. This became the loneliest struggle of my life.
Where I Am Today
I’ve since been able to move through this at my own pace thanks especially to the patience, understanding, and support of my now-husband. It helps to talk about it, but I’ve been afraid to share my story with more than a few trusted people.
Thankfully, the few women who I have opened up to have been understanding beyond belief. Two of them are new mothers. They may not be able to relate to my specific experience, but they can relate to the complexity of the role and responsibility women have when it comes to life planning.
Though I have found some healing, I am not the same woman I was back then.
But instead of dwelling on the piece of me that I have lost, I try to focus on what I've gained. These days I honor my mind, my body, and my soul daily. I also honor the lives of others with a heightened sense of compassion and understanding. I see people from all walks of life every single day, and I honor and respect their story. I may not know the details but I know that their story matters and that it has had an impact on who they are today.
While we may disagree on what's right or wrong when it comes to abortion — and we may never agree — we as women and as a society at large can all benefit from being a little more compassionate.
We are all connected. We may not have all of the answers, but we know that one of them is kindness. Be kind to yourself and treat others with that same kindness. When we do this, we become a part of the positive shift our world is ready for.