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I moved my favorite ring from my right hand to my left, pretending to be engaged, and dropped the pregnancy test into the basket.
Many women can relate to what I was feeling in that nerve-racking moment. My period came in late, causing an onset of anxiety. I rushed through the checkout line, gaze flicking back-and-forth in case there was anyone I knew, fearful, being as covert as a dark cloud bringing a rainstorm.
Squatting on the toilet, I followed the instructions and put the test to the side.
Somehow, I knew.
I knew there would be two lines on the stick when I walked back into the room, and there were.
Time stood still, and in my head, I repeated, “I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant.” Despite the fact that I had gone off birth control months before and hadn’t been using protection, it still came as a shock.
I drank the weekend before. Was that okay?
I have a full-time and a part-time job. I’m about to move and leave for an international trip in less than three weeks.
I don’t know if I want kids.
The following days were a roller-coaster of emotions, from anger to sadness, to questioning everything. I replayed the sequence of events that got me to that day and tried to determine what the next years should look like.
Abortion—a word that we avoid saying for fear of judgement or appearing to be soulless. It’s a decision I thought would come easily to me, but it didn’t.
Each night, I lay in bed reading about pregnancy. Tears soaked my pillow until I fell asleep. I knew I couldn’t provide a fair life for a child and decided not to proceed with the pregnancy.
I wrote a goodbye letter, and I fell to my knees on the floor, then I set the appointment.
“Sweet, sweet baby, I am so sorry you won’t get to see this world. I sit here sobbing tears, but I promise you it is so beautiful. The colors are radiant, from the fish skirting around Australia’s coral reef to the yellow aspens in the Colorado mountains, a place you’d undoubtedly spend much of your young life. The sounds are peaceful, from the wind rustling leaves to the routine noise of cars on the highway, everyone headed in their own direction. The tastes are infinite and the smells are nostalgic. And I sit here showing you the sense of touch, with a hand on my belly, knowing you’re merely the size of a poppy seed or apple seed, but that you’re mine.”
As I neared the date, I was a mess. I was up and down, happy and sad, crazy even, and dreading the upcoming abortion appointment.
I got settled in the chair, and the ultrasound began. It lasted longer than I thought it should. Finally, my doctor let me know she’d be back, and that she was grabbing a colleague.
She couldn’t locate the baby. The second doctor echoed the concern, explaining that the pregnancy was likely ectopic, in an abnormal place, or not viable. I couldn’t process as I heard the words, “management,” “surgery,” “monitor,” and “risk.” I was asked to come back in a week to confirm the location of the embryo.
At first, I was ashamed.
I wondered, “Why me?” I don’t have any friends who are celibate, so it could have happened to any of us. I began to share my story and received a myriad of reactions, from “you’re kidding,” to empathy, to “that sucks,” to friends pulling away and uncomfortable with the news.
It was quite a reflective exercise, and I’m forever thankful for those that took the time to understand how I felt and provide emotional support. What surprised me most was the “I’ve had this experience” from many friends who had never shared. Not that I find it to be dinner talk, but it inspired me to write about it.
I wanted to share an experience that so many of us encounter and then bury. Could the conversation that I’ve been pregnant deter a potential relationship? Sure. Might I receive judgment? I have no doubt. But I’m not letting that be an excuse to put this in the shame graveyard.
A week passed, and I came to terms with the ectopic pregnancy, for it wasn’t viable anyway. I took it as a sign that it wasn’t time. When I went back, it was a surprise to see the sac in my uterus six weeks along, overlooked. I would be proceeding with a medical abortion. I felt out of body as I filled out the paperwork and took the first pill, blacking out further instruction. I headed home, needing to wait eight hours before the final four pills would be inserted.
“I am so sorry I wasn’t careful and because of that, I won’t get to rock you in my arms as I sing you sweet lullabies or spin you around in the air and show you the gift of laughter. I am doubting every second of this decision but owe you so much that I can’t give to you right now. I hope that one day I can. I want you to have a loving family. I want you to have two parents, both of whom can’t wait for you to enter the world, a daddy whose reaction to your birth is happy tears and absolute jubilation.
I want your father to love me so deeply and care so much you never have to question your worth or seek validation. I want the love to seep into your soul so you will one day do the same to whomever you fall in love with.”
I read that there would be bleeding and cramping, but no article, blog, or research paper could prepare me for what came around 2:30 a.m. when the bleeding started, almost five hours after inserting the four remaining pills.
The “me too” stories didn’t share the messy internal battle that was to come. The cramps were like none I’d ever experienced, and I felt like my insides were tied in knots and being ripped out. No breathwork, position, or heat could bring relief.
I cried, whimpered, and begged for the pain to stop. I was shaking, sweating, and seeing black as the pain continued for hours. My body expelling what could have been, making my heart ache and mind go to dark places. I will spare the details, but what happened was something I can’t imagine experiencing again and would never wish upon a soul.
“Sweet baby, I want to be able to give you the world, and I don’t think there’s a perfect time or moment for that, but this is truly the most imperfect storm, a storm I want to protect you from. I see wounds, and they aren’t yet healed. Until I no longer have these wounds and they meld into scars that serve as a reminder of why I will walk to the end of the world for your life to be an amazing life, I can’t have you.”
Abortion impacts each of us differently. Guilt and sadness may bubble up at the sight of a baby. Sex, perhaps, becomes a more sacred act when you’re ready for it to happen again. Friendships may shift as values change and a common view of understanding is sought. Life may hold more value as we consider consequences and results of acts and these feelings will change, fluctuate, and maybe even dissipate over weeks, months, and years.
However, things may change. I’m practicing being my authentic and real self. I’m working every day for what I want and showing up as who I am. Nothing less.
Here it is—raw and real. I’m 29 and have a full-time job that many would be proud to share at the local happy hour. I teach yoga on the side, twice a week. I am involved in my community, and I’m a proud dog mom. I’m not in a relationship and don’t own a home. I just moved in with three roommates.
I was six weeks pregnant, and experienced the pain and agony of an abortion, a sleepless night from hell with residual that will remain for time to come.
This is me, and from this, I will only grow to love myself more. I will consider the outcomes of the decisions I make and continue to be a free spirit, but less with reckless abandon.
From me to you, may we all be vulnerable, brave, and free.
“Sweet baby, when I feel you again, I will be counting down the minutes until I can meet you.
All my heart and all my soul,