Sep 022010

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I knew I was pregnant before I even ‘officially’ missed the period.
I’d met a boy in the first couple weeks of my sophomore year college who was reasonably cute, and absolutely infatuated with me. We slept together. Probably four nights in a row, maybe five before I was too worn out to keep up. I don’t know what happened to our whole condom-usage thing. Hormones took over when the rubbers ran out, I suppose.

For about a week prior to the point that a pregnancy test would give an accurate reading, I confided in a single friend who I knew would at the very least go with me to buy a home testing kit, and allowed her to convince me I was being paranoid. “Plenty of girls go through this,” she told me. “I’ve had pregnancy scares. You’ll be okay.” But by the end of the week, I still had no cramps, no menstruation. So we drove to Walgreens and picked up a test. Or, rather, we drove to Walgreens, and I had a breakdown in the parking lot. My friend eased me out of it and walked me in through the front door, and I promptly proceeded to stage another breakdown in the contraception aisle. So she picked out a box, walked me to the checkout, and paid for the set of two tests. She sat in my dorm suite while I peed on a stick. She set an alarm on her cell phone for the three minutes it would take to ripen, for lack of a better word. She sat with me when I called the hotline number—the second pink line was almost too faint to see, and though we knew different, we hoped it meant ‘negative’. It didn’t. I did cry, then. Out of sheer injustice, the unfairness, the weight of it.

She asked me what I would do, when the hysteria had subsided a little. I laughed, because there was nothing else for it, and I pulled a Juno reference—“Nip it in the bud, I guess.” She looked at me with a sort of strangely sympathetic, incredulous expression. “I could never do that.” She didn’t say it to hurt me, didn’t even say it judgmentally, now that I think about it. But it crushed me, then. “It’s a life, you know?”

Despite how good she’d been to me, I couldn’t much talk to her after that point. I had decided, too, not to tell my mom. I went, instead, to my best friend, whom I had worried might take it badly, but she came through for me. Let me talk and vent and bawl in her apartment until I was exhausted from it. I began to spend a lot of time with her and her three roommates, whom I also told, and they treated me like family. Cooked healthy food for me, made sure I was okay, in the basic sense. They talked to me about my options, just openly discussed pros and cons with me. What remaining pregnant would mean. What their friends had experienced in abortion clinics – we lived in a part of the state notorious for pro-life protests at clinics, doctors with underlying religious intentions. It was hard, there, for a girl who didn’t want a baby.

Despite their TLC, inevitable stress started kicking in. School work slipped behind, became a distant second to the newest and most potent problem in my life. I started sleeping through most of the day, and my immune system began to collapse in on itself. I got depressed. Wound up losing my job in the university’s housing system, which had previously provided me with free room and board. In the end, it was too much. It had been, I believe, three weeks since I discovered I was pregnant. And I decided it was time to move home.

My parents were furious. I hadn’t told them about my eggo being preggo. I dreaded telling them, in fact, and it worked knots into my stomach, made me sick and even more depressed while the ‘rents railed on me for wasting their tuition money by coming home in the middle of the semester. I started seeking options, looking for clinics, calling places about cost. It was in this research process that I found a women’s health center I liked. And it was in this researching process that I realized two things: 1) I had no money, and 2) there are time constraints on the traditional clinic procedure. I checked a timeline chart, and estimated myself between eight and ten weeks, and the clinic I was looking at only performed abortions up to twelve.

Sunday night. It was the realization of time constraints, I think, that made me tell my mother. And I was almost sick, right before I did, simply out of sheer dread. But she listened to me. Hugged me. Told me it was all right. I’m not even sure what I was expecting her to say to me, but the only thing she berated me for was letting it go as long as I did without telling her. “No one should have to bear that kind of fear alone,” she said. She made me promise to ask for help when I needed it. And we scheduled an appointment for a surgical abortion the following Friday.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the choice I was making, that week. About my reasoning. And, when it all comes down, I found myself back at the same answers, time and time again. I was nineteen. There were so many things in my life that I still hadn’t had the chance to chase after, so many opportunities that would be lost. I was not ready for children. I was not prepared to give a baby the kind of care that a parent should. I was not ready to be a mother. I told all of this to one of the clinic counselors, prior to the procedure. I told her that I didn’t know if I would regret having an abortion, but I knew that if I didn’t, I was certain that I would regret that.

The clinic I chose was clean and warm, well-lit. And, better yet, it was not a squat, shady little building on the outskirts of town. The clinic was facilitated in a house the center had purchased in the seventies. It put me at ease, and made me feel safe. The staff was professional, calm, and very caring. They sent me home tired, but much as though the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I slept for most of the car ride home. I slept for most of the next two days.

It’s been a month since I had my abortion. And I’m not sorry. My extended family, having been informed of my ‘mistake’ by my dad, is having a difficult time accepting my choice, but my mom and the friends I have chosen to tell are understanding and supportive of me.

I am, all in all, relieved.

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