Elena’s Story

My name is Elena and I am 39 years old. I am single and childless. After many many years of working full time and attending college part time I am finally living my dreams and attending medical school. It was exciting but scary at the same time, leaving my job of 15 years and friends, and my partner of 3 years, to start my medical education many states away. The program is so rigorous, but I am through my first year and so happy to be here. I am peri-menopausal; for the last 3 years my periods have been quite irregular. I can easily go for several months without a period. Needless to say, my schedule with school keeps my mind on my studies, not my menstural cycle. I always use condoms, so when I found out I was pregnant I couldn’t believe it. I went out and bought 3 more pregnancy tests; every one came up positive. I cried, it just couldn’t be so. There was no way I was going to have that child. My partner already had 4 kids and a horrible relationship with his ex-wife. I was not willing to toss my dreams aside so I could raise an unplanned child in that environment. Besides, I reasoned that I had worked too hard to get where I was in my life, and I didn’t want to just throw that away. I decided that I would terminate the preganancy.

I scheduled a surgical abortion with Planned Parenthood in between my crazy school schedule and multiple exams. It would be over soon I told myself. But during the ultrasound portion of my scheduled abortion I discovered that I was so much further along than I thought. I was in my 23rd week of pregnancy. I was completely devastated and I felt like an idiot. Here I was training to be a doctor myself, and I had no idea that I had been pregnant for so long! There was only one place that could help me at that stage and it was hundreds of miles away in Wichita, KS. My partner went with me, he wasn’t very supportive, but he said he would respect whatever choice I made. It took almost 16 hours to drive to the clinic in Wichita. It was a long and relatively silent drive. I could feel the fetus moving inside me, kicking me. That made me cry even more. I was certain I was making the right choice for me, but it was so difficult and I felt so alone in my situation. I got very little sleep during the trek to KS. The clinic was not what I expected, everyone was extremely warm and supportive. (Well, except of course the bitter protestors cursing at me outside the clinic, while they clutched their small children.)

The entire process took three days. On my first visit the pregnancy was terminated via a digoxin injection then dilators were inserted in my cervix. I was given pain medication and told to expect some cramping, possibly severe cramping. I went back to the hotel and returned the next day to have more dilators inserted. On the third day, I was given medication to expel the pregnancy and watched over the next four hours as every woman from my group went into “labor”. I was the last of my group still in the delivery room, apparently my body didn’t want to cooperate and ultimately I ended up needing to have it surgically removed. I was heavy sedated, but still aware of what was going on. After my vitals stabilized in the recovery room I was released from the clinic and told to return the next morning for a checkup. I was tired but felt a huge sense of relief. My partner met me in the waiting room and then took me out to dinner. I slept really well that night. I’ve experienced some hormonal swings since my abortion, but I have absolutely no regrets and damn all those judgemental protestors, because I am not sorry for my decision. One thing I have noticed since my abortion is the “secrecy” surrounding women that have abortions. I really felt like I needed to talk about my experience to get through it and found it difficult to locating someone to listen; someone I could trust would not pass judgement on me. I think that not being able to talk about it creates even more stigma amongst women, even pro-choice women. I was so happy when I found this site and knew I too had to share my story.