Ava’s Story

Let me begin by saying I am a 29-year-old doctor in the Army. In fact, I’m writing this in my office. I’m not too concerned if anyone can guess who I am by reading this because I am a staunch feminist and believer of choice.

I have had two abortions, the first at age 20 and the second at age 26. The first one happened while I was in college. I was dating someone who was a “loser” (how original is that?). I knew he was a loser but I also knew I didn’t love him. The bottom line was he was cute and we had basically a sexual relationship with no future – your typical college fling. When we finally broke up I stopped taking my birth control pills (that I had been taking since age 17 for irregular periods). Although the fee for students was nominal, I was a struggling college student and felt the money could be better spent. Thinking like a “new age woman” I figured if I met someone I liked he could help me pay for my pills and wait the month it took for them to kick in. Don’t worry, this story doesn’t have any surprises in it. I ended up sleeping with my loser ex after meeting him out one night on his birthday, and the rest is history (HERstory). I began to feel extremely tired, my breasts were suddenly getting bigger and I kept throwing up all over my dorm room floor (thankfully I had a single room with no roommates). Well you don’t have to be pre-med to know the signs of pregnancy. I debated about whether or not to tell my ex because I knew without doubt what I would do. But eventually I did at the urging of my girlfriends who thought he should at least pay for half. Well, he never did, long story short. He claimed I was just trying to extort money from him. In the end my (new) boyfriend at the time drove me, in 3 feet of snow in his lemon-of-a-car, for four hours to a clinic and had double cheeseburgers waiting for me when it was over. This abortion was performed at about 7 weeks and I felt INSTANTLY better – mentally and physically.

The second abortion happened during medical school. I had a long distance relationship at the time with someone who was very conscientious about using condoms. I used spermicide in addition to that. This worked for over 2 years. Unfortunately I became very close with a classmate and eventually broke up with my boyfriend to be with the classmate. He was not so conscientious about using condoms and neither was I. Yes, i know what you’re thinking “a medical student of all people!” I foolishly hoped spermicide would cover me and made vague plans to see my OB/GYN in the future to get pills. We dated for many months before I noticed daily mild nausea – but had no other symptoms and i had recently had a menstrual cycle about 4 weeks prior. When my period still had not started after 3 more weeks I was still not alarmed because I often went 3 months without a period when not taking the pill. The nausea, however, grew worse by the day and I often would become flushed and feel faint. One day, while I was in the OR scrubbing for a surgical case I nearly passed out. I decided to get a pregnancy test and was anxious beyond belief as I waited for either one or two blue lines. When I didn’t get the answer I wanted I took a second test – same result. Again, the rational part of me knew that abortion was the most sensible thing to do. I was soon to graduate med school (and by my calculations I would have been 7 months pregnant walking across the stage to receive my degree), the Army was going to send me to god-knew-where and I wasn’t sure of my feelings for the father. We cared about each other deeply but forever didn’t come to mind for either of us. When I told the father he smiled, hugged me, stayed with me and told me he supported whatever decision I ultimately made, financially and emotionally. I’m not sure if it was hormones or a sense of emptiness butIi began, for a brief moment to reconsider abortion – especially after a close friend (also a doctor) did an ultrasound to determine how far along I was. I saw the fetus on the monitor – tiny head, arms, torso, and legs – all moving actively. I was almost 13 weeks. My heart was heavy. I cried – a lot. This was much different from my abortion at 7 weeks.

But the practical part of me took over my body and went through the necessary motions. There were protesters outside of the clinic (something I hadn’t experienced before), but the father and I passed quickly by them into the safety of the clinic. Again, I had an ultrasound. The technician asked me with some surprise “did you know you were over 13 weeks along?” I looked over at the monitor, the image seeming even more “human” than before, swallowed hard and replied “yes”. The abortion took longer than the first and was much more painful. Still I was silent until the end and numb for some time after. Later I did a lot of crying, but not out of regret. I cried because everything in my life at that time seemed to be ending in one way or another. I cried because I felt idiotic for allowing myself to become pregnant. I felt stupid for waiting so long. I felt crazy because I worked at an abortion clinic for a month for God’s sake! I felt sad but wasn’t sure exactly why. After a couple weeks I felt “back to normal” and was infinitely grateful that my practical self had prevailed. I knew I’d done the right thing in the long run – for all involved.

Last August I got married to an absolutely wonderful man. I am in no rush to have children and neither is he – in fact I often consider simply not having children. Not because I doubt I would make a good parent or feel guilt, but because there are so many children already “pre-made” that need love. Isn’t it selfish in some sense to feel I have to have my own? One thing I am sure of – I refuse to bring children into the world that are not absolutely wanted. We have ENOUGH of those!