Trigger Warning: Abortion.
About three days before I took a test, I knew I was pregnant. The new changes in my body for the past week or so had clued me in, not to mention that my period was five days late at this point. I woke up on a Tuesday and I just knew in my heart that I was pregnant though I had never been in this situation before. I guess a woman’s intuition is a real thing.
The next 3-4 days were spent frantically googling pregnancy symptoms and other things that could be the cause of my new-found exhaustion, mood swings and all-day nausea. I’m surprised that no one close to me was clued in, I mean I took myself to bed at 8pm every night and I was extremely moody and sensitive. Though I knew it, I willed it to be not true because I did not want to be in this position. I decided that I would go to Walmart on that Friday and buy a pregnancy test to confirm. Up until this point, I had not shared any of this experience with anyone, not even the “father.”
Around came Friday and I found myself in the condoms/pregnancy test aisle in a busy Walmart. Standing in that aisle, all I felt was shame and embarrassment for my predicament. I even began to tear up as I stood there trying to decide which pregnancy test to buy. This sounds irrational but I honestly felt like I could sense people staring at me more than normal as they walked by. I approached the checkout line and tried to hide the pregnancy test as much as I could because the shame I felt was too real. I’m not sure if the cashier noticed what I was purchasing but when she looked at me all I saw was kindness in her eyes and in her demeanor, which caught me off guard. As I left I immediately felt emotional and started to tear up.
At that point I knew I couldn’t continue to do this alone. I texted one of my best friends and told her I thought I might be pregnant and how much I was freaking out. She called me and I began to cry. Like an amazing friend she started to go through all the other logical explanations for my symptoms. Though I appreciated her efforts, like I said, I already knew I was pregnant. We decided that I would wait till after she finished work to do the test.
My family is of a South Asian background and there was no way I could have confided this without getting kicked out or disowned. As such, I didn’t want to chance it by taking the test at home. My friend drove us to a Starbucks about 15-20 min away and I ended up doing my test in that bathroom. I peed in a cup to do the test, and as we waited for the results I went to dispose of the contents of the cup. As I was doing so my friend called out “Is it supposed to be two lines if you’re pregnant?” I responded with a ‘yes’. I’ll never forget when she said back to me “Babe, you’re pregnant.”. My friend, bless her heart, wrapped me up in a hug and was more emotional than I was. I think because I had already accepted the fact I was pregnant, even before I took the test, it contributed to my lack of emotion. Instead, I nervously laughed (my go to in uncomfortable situations), and we both kept repeating how shocked we both were at the fact that I was pregnant.
Till this point I had not shared any of this experience with the father. I tend to be very independent, especially when it comes to emotional situations. I shy away because I feel like I’m burdening others with my issues. By virtue of his career, he was often busy and I didn’t want to add to that. I shared this concern with my friend and she gave me her view on this. It helped me realize that it wouldn’t be fair to him to not allow him to have any part. Later that same night I found myself meeting up with the father to tell him I was pregnant. When put in uncomfortable situations I often resort to inappropriate jokes or just plain laughing at things that aren’t remotely funny. So there I was, sitting in a car with him, and I found myself laughing while telling him I was pregnant.
Before he could say much or get out of the shocked state he was probably in, I began to ramble and I told him I knew I couldn’t keep the child. From the moment that I knew I was pregnant, before I even took the test, I knew the reality of my situation. I was 23 years old and I had just finished up with school, yet to start my career. I knew I wasn’t in the ideal position to be starting a family, let alone doing that with someone I had only known for a couple months. He expressed that he felt the same about my decision and wanted to be there for me when I went to the appointment. For reasons beyond me, I found myself trying to give him an out and told him that it wasn’t necessary because my best friend was surely accompanying me. He ignored that, and said he wanted to be there and I guess that caught me off guard. I tend to expect the worst in any situation I go into and I expected him to not care or want to be there at all but this was different.
From this point up until and even after the procedure, there is no way I would have been able to go through this without my best friend. When I say this girl went above and beyond, its not a joke or exaggeration: from being there for the pregnancy test, driving me to see the father, booking the appointment and taking me to the abortion appointment, showing up at my house with iron pills and multivitamins, and even taking me on a mini road trip to keep my mind off the stress. She was my rock through this whole ordeal and I don’t even have words to express or show my gratitude to her for keeping me sane. The timeframe from when I took the pregnancy test to when I had the abortion was only about 6 days but the emotional rollercoaster I went through was difficult.
Though I was sure of my decision from the very beginning, it does not mean this was a smooth or joyous process for me. Before I found myself pregnant, I honestly thought motherhood wasn’t for me and I was sure of that. However, after becoming pregnant, I felt something change in myself and I realized that I could have the capacity and nature to be a mother if I wanted to. It was hard for me to come to this realization because I didn’t want this to be my first experience with pregnancy/motherhood, etc. It took me a couple days to be okay with this experience and then I took my time to ‘say goodbye’. I needed to just say thank you to my unborn child/fetus/whatever you want to call it, for it’s presence in my life and the realizations it brought along. I also needed time to acknowledge that it just wasn’t the right time or place for me for this to happen.
This takes me to the day of the abortion, the Thursday after. My best friend picked me up, took me to the appointment and the father met us there. The abortion experience itself wasn’t as traumatizing or painful as I expected it to be which could be attributed to the painkillers and Ativan I was given. Though I did find myself emotionally drained as I came out of the procedure to meet my friend and the father. Once it was over and I had the chance to sleep, I found myself feeling relieved more than anything else. At first, this made me feel guilty.
I felt like I shouldn’t be allowed to feel this way after what had just happened. I expected to be in some sort of emotional turmoil or thought that’s what the normal experience was, as per narratives I read online. The more stories I read through, the more I realized that rarely will two women will have identical abortion stories. There are so many diverse factors that influence our experiences, whether that be with abortion or anything else in life. If you have an abortion and you feel relieved afterwards, own your experience. Or if you have an abortion and you feel the opposite or struggle with it afterwards, that’s your experience to own as well. No one, but you, can tell you what the right way is to feel after an abortion. That’s your narrative and your experience to make sense of. It took me a while to realize this and to feel okay with the relief I felt.
At this point, it has been a couple months since the abortion and I don’t feel any differently. The decision I made was the right one for me. I can’t even imagine being months into a pregnancy right now. Though I’m relieved and at peace with what has happened, I certainly don’t think I’d want to go through that again and I’m hoping my IUD will save me from that situation.