Faith’s Story

It was 1993, and I was only 17. I grew up in Charleston WV, a very conservative place, with a mother who was a minister. I had been taught all my life that abortion was wrong, period. I never gave it much thought, but always went along with that tenet. However, when I got pregnant only a few months shy of my 18th birthday, I began to see things much differently. I knew that having a child and having something growing inside me was not what I wanted. I am childfree by choice. At first I tried to keep my predicament a secret, because I thought I would use my income tax return to take care of it, and no one (especially my mother) would need to know. However, as is usually the case, it didn’t work out that way.

My money didn’t come in time and I was left in a lurch so to speak. I was so upset about my money not arriving on time that my mother questioned me because she had never seen me this distraught over my own money before. She soon guessed what the problem was. She was immediately dismissive of my opinions, thoughts, and feelings. I told her I wanted to terminate the pregnancy and she informed me that that was not an option. I was so scared, more terrified and disgusted by something growing inside me than anything else. My mother took me to some kind of social worker/counselor. She did this to try to get someone on her side to pressure me to do things her way. Her way was bringing the fetus to term and giving it up for adoption. However it was time once again for things to turn around in my favor.

The social worker was very open-minded, straightforward, and non-judgmental unlike my mother. She said that once I turned 18, which was soon, that it was entirely up to me, and that as an adult I had complete authority over a decision like that. My mother was very upset and became very tight-lipped. She had led me to the very person who would help me all the way to the end.

I began keeping in touch with the social worker and was able to call her at almost any time. She assisted me in applying for something at the time called temporary Medicaid. It was only for the duration of my pregnancy. I received a letter in the mail after several weeks confirming that my temporary Medicaid was approved and that I would soon get my card. I was very upset to find that when I went for my appointment at one clinic over my spring break they said I was too far along and they could not perform the procedure. I had one more chance, since there was only one more clinic that I could go to, and that clinic needed me to have my temporary card in order to perform the procedure. In the state of West Virginia there are only 2 clinics that will even perform abortions. But luckily those two clinics were in my hometown of Charleston. I had to wait over the weekend and then on Saturday afternoon when the mail arrived, my temporary Medicaid card was there. But I was returning back to school on Monday and would have to find a way to get out of school. I went to Catholic school and for those of you who attended public school it is not as easy to skip school. I would have to forge a note and sign my mother’s name. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because I was good at signing her name. I had on several occasions at her request signed permission slips and such for school activities. I also knew that for authenticity purposes I would have to type it as my mother is one of those people who prefers to type everything. I typed it a couple of times before getting it just right, then I was on my way to school. I went to the clinic and everyone was very warm and friendly and helpful. I was eager to get the procedure started ASAP.

In my experience not only was it terrifying and disturbing for me to have something growing inside me, it also disgusted me a little. It sort of seemed like a parasite to me. That was my perception and still is for me. But of course I don’t feel that way about pregnant women in general. It was a miserable time for me; I had no emotional support except for maybe a couple of friends who knew. And I was miserable, I couldn’t eat and when I did manage to eat I could rarely keep anything down. I was puzzled as to why they called it morning sickness when you’re sick all the time. I felt terrible all the time not just nausea but extreme exhaustion and I was always sleepy. I wanted to die if I didn’t get to get rid of that thing inside me. I just wanted it out and gone from inside of me. I was finally at my appointment and I found that it would not be so simple. It would take 2 days. First they would have to do something called packing my cervix. They would insert cotton, mercurochrome, and seaweed sticks inside me overnight and then the next day they would be able to do it. This was supposed to dilate my cervix a bit before the actual procedure took place. Then the next day I was set up and they explained what would happen and then I was put in what they called twilight sleep. But it was exactly like being knocked out. The last thing I remembered was looking at my arm as the anesthetist put the IV in my arm and then I was being awakened by the doctor and nurses who were calling my name again and again. It was difficult to wake up and respond. I was able to hear them before I was able to respond to them. Then they led me to a recovery room which was warm and there were several other women who were strewn about . We rested on these sort of cheap lawn chairs. Immediately afterward I felt so much better; all of the pregnancy symptoms were immediately gone. I was now simply feeling the effects of the anesthesia and felt high and woozy. They gave me a pad and a heating pad for any cramping that I may have had which I didn’t and then soon my social worker was allowed to drive me home. I felt more relieved than I think I’d ever felt in my life. I was free again and had my body to myself. On my way home I talked to my social worker about children and how I didn’t want any. I asked her if she did and she didn’t and didn’t know if she would although she was a newlywed. I am childfree by choice although I didn’t have that term at that time. I am so glad that I did that and have never regretted it or felt sad or anything for a moment. I only wish I could contact that social worker and tell her how much she helped me and how grateful I was for her support. So I hope that someone reading this knows that as a young girl with few options its important to have someone who will listen to and respect your choices and feelings. I also hope that another young girl who was stuck like I was will have the opportunity that I did and don’t let anyone intimidate you when it comes to making a choice about your own body.