June’s Story

I had an abortion a little over one year ago this month and right before my 22nd birthday. When I found out I was pregnant, I had recently moved home from college and was living at home with my parents and siblings until I decided where I wanted to live. I come from a family of five children, and my parents are devout Catholics. My parents would have disowned me if they ever found out. I was lucky that my boyfriend of four years was supportive.

At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do. The night that I took the pregnancy test I was trying to put my mind at ease. I didn’t think it was at all possible that I could be pregnant. I was on birth control (the patch), and we had been so careful. We hadn’t even had sex until about a year and a half before. We were both virgins the first time we had sex. It was late at night, and my boyfriend had also just moved back in with his parents after college, so I knew I couldn’t call him. In situations like this, normally I would call my best friend, because we had spent our entire lives at each others’ houses. Unfortunately, my best friend was in Iraq with the National Guard. That night seemed to last forever.

The next day was Saturday, and my boyfriend was working. I should probably mention that my boyfriend was working full-time in my father’s office. I called him around 11 and told him that I was on my way out to his office, about a 15 minute drive, so that we could go get lunch together. He asked why, and I told him we could talk when I got there. He flat out asked me if I was pregnant, and neither of us really prepared for my answer. He wasn’t being serious, but my silence was enough to tell him all he needed to know. I told him I was already on my way, and I would see him in just a few minutes.

By the time I got to his office, I was sobbing hysterically. I composed myself before I got to the guard shack, since everyone knew my father and I didn’t want to have to field a bunch of questions. When I made it to his office door, I went in and shut it behind me. He was still in shock when I arrived. I began crying again, and he let me sit in his chair and he held me. He sat on the floor in front of me, and we both sobbed; it is the only time I have seen him cry, and he prides himself on being strong for the people in his life. We talked for a while, and finally left to go to lunch so we could talk some more. We sat in the back corner of the restaurant and talked about our options, even though both of us knew that the only real option was abortion.

I went home that night and kept my door shut, telling my parents that I had a lot of homework and needed to be left alone. I started researching clinics on the internet and waited for my boyfriend to call me so that we could talk some more. We decided on a clinic, but had to wait until the next week to call. The woman who answered the phone was kind and understanding, and seemed to know that I needed reassurance. I made an appointment for ten days later, and tried to act normal until then. A few days later I was at my boyfriend’s house talking with him about the information I had found on the internet. We decided to watch a movie, and forget everything that was happening, and for the next two hours it was like everything was okay. By the end of the movie we were laughing and joking like normal. We started wrestling around, and he blurted out, “Will you marry me?” I realized at that moment that I had made the right decision about telling him. I knew he was going to be there to support me.

At my first appointment, we were buzzed into the clinic after being asked for my name and appointment time. As we talked to the nurse at the front desk, I felt like my insides were going to collapse. We filled out about a hundred forms, and then they took me back to do an ultrasound and some blood work. I was taken back to the waiting room to sit with my boyfriend, and then called back again. They took me to a room with two other women, one much older than I and another a little younger, who already had two children. The nurse who ran the clinic came in and told us that we had to sign consent forms and watch a video about the procedure. She turned on the TV and after the video she sat and talked to us. She was a tall black woman with a dynamic personality, and I felt at ease for the first time in a week. She explained what would happen, and asked us to sign the forms she went through. I was finally able to go back to the waiting room, after about three hours, and my boyfriend and I went home.

My appointment for the actual procedure was almost two weeks away, so that my cervix would have time to soften up a bit. The nurse told me it would be easier and less painful that way. The day of the procedure, I drove out to my boyfriend’s office and we drove to the clinic together. The front lot was full, so we had to park in the back and walk around the building, past all the protestors. We were both anxious, since we had gone to a Catholic grade school and high school, and knew many people that could possibly be out front. We got inside and I was given a number, for anonymity. I was finally taken back where more blood was taken to check my iron levels and I was given ibuprofen and some pills that would help my cervix begin to dilate. I was then taken to another waiting room, where only the female patients were allowed. We all sat around in mismatched chairs, staring aimlessly at a small television in the corner. They began to call us back one by one, and as the room emptied I started to look around. I was surrounded by a diverse group of women. There were all ages, races, and economic and social groups represented. I realized that it could happen to anyone in any situation. I had nothing to be ashamed of because I was making the right decision for me, my boyfriend, and both our futures.

When I was finally called back, I was led to a small room and told to undress from the waist down, put a pad inside my underwear for later, sit on the table, and cover my lap with the paper sheet. The nurse came back and sat quietly with me until the doctor came in. He began to lecture me about birth control, and I told him it was no longer necessary because getting pregnant was all the birth control I was going to need. My boyfriend and I had already decided that we would wait until we were married. I was then told to put my feet in the stirrups so the doctor could perform a pelvic exam. He was nice enough, but I was so nervous I barely noticed. He explained everything precisely, so that I wouldn’t be surprised. He turned on the machine and I began to cry. The nurse held my hand tightly, and that is the last thing I really remember. Within a few seconds the pain started, and I blacked out. After the procedure, the nurse began to wake me up with the smelling salts, and it seemed like I had been asleep for hours. The only thing I could manage to say was, “It is over?” I prayed that I had missed the whole thing, and the nurse reassured me that it was over, as the doctor got up to leave. I was dizzy and nauseous, and the doctor sent a second nurse in to help get me up and dressed. They walked me down to the recovery room, where everyone seemed very concerned. The nurse that was in the recovery room was like my guardian angel. She gave me something to drink and eat, and told me to sit back with the heating pad so that she could give me the shot since I was RH negative. They had several televisions on, and one was tuned to a college football game. I love football, and we started talking about the local NFL team, which I worked for part-time. The woman made everything seem okay, and she kept my mind off what had happened. Shortly after, they brought in another girl who was probably only about 17. I had seen her before in the waiting room with her boyfriend, who seemed nonchalant about everything. When they brought her in, she was sobbing, and that is one thing I will never forget about the experience. I wanted to comfort her, because I knew that the person who had brought her was not going to be as supportive as the man who was with me. While I sat in recovery, several of the nurses came in to check on me, including the one who had put me at ease during my first visit. They all made me feel like they were just good friends who were there to support me and make me feel better. Now, over a year later, the only things I really remember about the experience are the nurses and their kindness.

As my boyfriend drove me home, I had time to think about what I was going to tell my parents. Luckily for me, I worked part-time as a waitress, and the restaurant was open 24 hours. I told them I was going to cover the overnight shift for a friend. I went to my sister’s game and then headed to a hotel where I had made reservations. By then the painkillers had worn off and I was doubled over with cramps. I had a heating pad, which the nurses had told me would be my best friend, and they were right. My boyfriend came to the hotel as soon as he could get off work and he brought dinner for us. I had stopped the day before and loaded up on snacks and drinks. We spent the night curled up in bed watching movies, and just being together. Between the strength of my boyfriend, the heating pad, and a couple of hot showers, I got through the first night with mild discomfort and very little bleeding.

I knew through the entire ordeal that I was doing what was right for me and my future. What good would it have been to bring a child into a world where I would not have been able to care for it? Unfortunately, if we had told our parents there would have been a shotgun wedding, and little chance that we would have been able to complete our educations. My fiancé graduates in two months, and I am well on my way in my studies. I hope to enroll in law school in a couple years; after we are married but before we start a family. We weren’t ready last year, and we won’t be ready for many years. I know that the decision I made about having an abortion was the right decision, even if it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was lucky that the people that know, my fiancé and my best friend, are supportive of my decision and that my fiancé and I had the financial means for a safe, legal abortion. I can only wish that all women going through an abortion can find the type of support that I have had. The only thing I regret was not being as prepared as I had hoped. It was hard to find anything on the Internet that accurately described what I was going to go through. I only wish I had found this site sooner.