“I Had An Abortion, It Was Awful, But Don’t Judge Me For Talking About It”

Crying woman

Written by Chloe*

On September 22, 2011, I woke up early to celebrate my 24th birthday. As far as my friends and family knew, I was off to spend a fun-filled day at Disneyland. The truth was, however, that I was off to Planned Parenthood to have an abortion.

It seemed things couldn’t possibly be any worse. I was in the midst of a long, drawn out divorce, my car had been sitting in an impound lot for the past three months, and here I was, five months into a pregnancy I didn’t want or plan that was literally killing me from the inside out.

A few months beforehand, I started to suspect something was wrong when my “monthly visitor” failed to arrive and I was feeling strange. A positive pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions, and as much as I love and want children, this was just NOT the time. I decided the best thing to do would be to terminate the pregnancy and keep it all a secret from my family. There was just no way they could possibly handle the news, and there was no way they were going to be empathetic or supportive of me during this rough time.

Very quickly I began to experience horrible morning sickness, only mine didn’t just occur in the morning or here and there throughout the day. I quite literally couldn’t keep any food or liquid down. Working as a server made things even more difficult, as the smell of food would cause me to run to the bathroom multiple times throughout my shifts. I didn’t want anyone at work to know the truth of what was going on because I felt ashamed knowing I wouldn’t be going through with the pregnancy. To make things worse, one of my best friends, who I also worked with, was also pregnant at the same time, so listening to her excitement about her baby made me feel horrible about my own situation. Eventually, my manager sat me down to tell me he would be letting me go due to my being so frequently “hung over,” and I felt I had to tell him the truth. I had hoped he would keep my secret in confidence, but instead he turned it into a joke, calling me a “baby killer,” or “Casey Anthony” in front of my fellow employees.

I never planned to have such a late term abortion, nor would I have ever wanted to. The truth of the matter is that I was without insurance, and the baby’s father was unemployed and therefore wasn’t about to contribute financially. I was working as much as possible to save up the money for the procedure, but it gets more expensive the longer you wait, and I was becoming more sickly by the day. I was hospitalized multiple times for dehydration, and it seemed nothing the doctors did helped ease my pain. The pregnancy itself was actually easy to conceal, aside from my constant nausea, because I was losing so much weight from not being able to eat or drink. Thirty pounds or so quickly melted away in a couple months. My family was actually quite alarmed that I had become anorexic or bulimic, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. Friends asked how I was losing so much weight and raved about how great I looked. I felt awful.

juno_abortion_clinic-

Eventually I lost hope and went downtown to sign up for emergency MediCal to pay for the operation, which was now well over a thousand dollars that I didn’t have. I felt like such a loser. In addition to dealing with the dismal realization that I was going to terminate my pregnancy, I was dealing with crazy hormones and a complete lack of nutrition so I really wasn’t in my right state of mind. I was beyond depressed.

When I finally was able to schedule the procedure, I learned it would be a two day process, and coincidentally, the only days available to me would be the day before and day of my birthday. I couldn’t have it any later because I was already within days of the cutoff of when you can have the operation, 23 weeks and 6 days, and I was at 22 weeks and 2 days.

September 21, the baby’s father drove me to Planned Parenthood. I walked through the parking lot, past protestors holding signs urging me not to “kill” the baby. The father was not allowed to sit in the waiting room with me or come in with me to see the doctor, so I was going it alone. Tiny rods called laminaria were inserted into my cervix to start the dilation process. It was easily the most painful experience of my life. What the doctors didn’t warn me about beforehand is that they insert the rods in two different procedures, so I was literally let out onto the streets of LA for a few lonely hours to kill time. I wandered around in more pain than I ever knew possible, throwing up outside on the streets and left alone with my thoughts, perhaps the scariest part of all. Once I returned, more rods were inserted, and then I received a shot through my abdomen to stop the baby’s heartbeat. The doctors asked me if I was sure this was what I wanted; it killed my soul to answer yes.

Once the baby’s father picked me up and we returned home, the real pain began. I couldn’t get comfortable and although they had prescribed me pain medicine, I was in way too much pain to be able to go to a pharmacy and wait around. I toughed it out through the night and was up early the next day for the second half of the procedure. After arriving, they gave me some medicine and some kind of horrible liquid to take down that would induce my labor. Other girls waiting around discussed how far into their pregnancies they were; I prayed no one asked me because I was too embarrassed to tell the truth. I remember walking around the facility hauling the IV with me, throwing up with my ass completely exposed from the back of my open gown. At that point I just didn’t care.  After months of being sick and keeping this horrible secret, I had a sense of relief that it would all finally be over. The procedure itself seemed quick and painless, although I can’t be sure because I was under heavy anesthesia. I wondered what the baby looked like, and how small it must have been considering how small I had gotten during the pregnancy.

Now, two years later, I’m finally learning to come to terms with my decision. I don’t think I’ll ever fully be okay, but opening up about my experience and admitting to myself what happened is slowly helping me to heal. I know every birthday I’ll reflect on the choice I made and what could have been. Carrying this secret with me made things that much more difficult. For so long I worried about criticism and judgment from others, when I could have begun the healing process long ago by simply being honest. Judgment is a part of life; and although many may not agree with or understand my decision, in the end it’s just that: my decision.

Keeping quiet for so long has only intensified the feelings of shame and guilt, and I know everybirthday I’ll reflect on the choice I made and what could have been. I truly hope others don’t have to go through what I did, and if they do, that they may be brave enough to have an open discussion about it with whatever circle of support they may have and start their own journey towards a recovery.

*name changed to protect the writer’s privacy. If you have a story you would like to share or a confession that you think will help others be less afraid of what they are experiencing, please get in touch with us.

4 Comments

  1. I went through an abortion when I was 22 and already a mother. My son was 6 months and I was stupid. Mine was with a friend that we had slept together. When I told him I was pregnant he told me you cant keep IT. I dont want IT. My feelings toward my pregnancy completely changed from that point on. I was sicken by IY and I wanted nothing to do with IT. I was so upset with the father of IT that I couldnt bare living with this. I dont remember how I found a center but I did. It was in Santa Barbara an hour from me. I went alone. I sat alone. The place was packed. I couldn’t believe how many girls were there. Girls I mean very young girls. I sat and waited. I kept telling myself this was not the right time. My son was 6 months, my step mom wanted the baby but there was no way in hell I would ever let her have my baby. Yes I would kill it before I would ever give it to her. I remember coming up with a lie on how I lost the baby. I go back and they do an ultrasound. She asked if I wanted to see the IT. I looked and it was a tiny little bean. Soooo small. I had no feelings toward IT. I was given meds that would take care of this for me. Now mind you I have already had a child I know the pain of child birth. This pain was soooo not like thay. Maybe it was the guilt but this pain was sooo much worse. I was going to be aborting this baby and in a toilet. No pain meds would work. My sons father let me stay at his place since I was back at my parents house. It took 2 days. I remember passing it. I was pain, sadness, and guilt. After that I went to the ER to confirm it was done. They confirmed I had a miscarriage ( I didnt tell what I had just done). Then I had my proof from the doc to my parents….. miscarriage. I am now married with a family. Been married since 2008 and with the same man since 2003. One day I broke down and told him. I was afraid of what he would think of me. My husband is very old fashion. He was upset but cooled off and realized that I wasnt happy about what I did. I think he could see the guilt in my eyes.
    This never leaves. It sits with you. It will be there my whole life. If I could take it back I would. I would of kept that baby and cherished it…… I know mine was earlier on but the pain is still there just like any abortion.

  2. Chloe*, thank you for sharing this story. I think it’s really important for women to be able to feel like they can openly talk about their decision to get an abortion. It’s not something that should be bottled up inside. I hate the stigma associated with the procedure, and the judgment that accompanies it. Hopefully by sharing experiences we can start to develop a support community for women in need.

  3. Pingback: A Feminist Christian Perspective On The Hobby Lobby Case

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