Leigh’s Story

I got pregnant at age 23. I wasn’t sixteen, I wasn’t raped, I wasn’t dating a drug addict. I wasn’t even still in school. I had graduated college and had a good (albeit entry level and thus low-paying) job. The father was my boyfriend of almost three years, and the two of us had fallen into that way-too-common trap of thinking that an accidental pregnancy wouldn’t happen to us as long as he was careful to pull out on time. We got our wake-up call, all right.

After the pink line appeared, it crossed my mind briefly that, yes, we could have made it work. We both had full-time jobs and college degrees, we were both completely independent from our parents but knew, at the same time, that we would be able to count on them if necessary. We could have done it, but I didn’t consider keeping the child for more than thirty seconds. I think my boyfriend’s thought process, when I told him, was identical. I could literally see the notion of being a father cross his face and then leave just as quickly. So even though he’s considerably more conservative than I am, even though he’s always claimed to be pro-life, he agreed with me instantly. We weren’t ready to be parents. I wasn’t ready to sacrifice the life I had planned for an embryo that I viewed as the equivalent of a tadpole (more sophisticated genetically, but less so developmentally). I had no more attachment to this “baby” than I had to the egg and sperm that created it, and here I literally have to stop myself from going off on a tangent about pro-lifers (anti-choicers) and the skewed way in which they view life.

The worst part of the whole experience was the week-long wait to get the abortion. I was nervous about the procedure, feeling increasing nausea from that good old hormone hCG, and unable to think about anything else. But the procedure itself was as painless as I could have ever hoped. Perhaps even more so. There were two protesters outside, to whom I didn’t give a second’s thought. The nurses were professional and compassionate. I checked in, filled out some awkward forms, had an ultrasound to make sure of my “gestational age” (7 weeks), got my blood tested for iron and Rh factor, had a brief “counseling session” that was over in one minute, as soon as I had assured the nurse that I knew how the procedure worked, and was given a cup full of pills to relax me. While I waited for the big event, I chatted with some of the other girls who were waiting in the same hallway, and I was actually positively enjoying myself (the medication helped, I’m sure) when my name was called for the final time. By the time I got into the exam room, the drugs were in full force and I was sleepy and happy. The nurse medicated me further, through an IV, and I was barely even aware of my name by the time the doctor came in. He was in the room for a total of about four minutes, during which time I faded in and out a lot. I vaguely remember feeling the speculum go in, then I wasn’t aware or awake when the actual procedure started, but I remember waking up to the sound of suction and a dull pain in my abdomen. I guess cramping is the best way to describe it, but it wasn’t quite like the cramps I get during my period. It was a pulling feeling that was admittedly uncomfortable but by no means unbearable. And before I could even vocalize the pain, it was over and the machine was off. The nurse told me that I had done just fine. “Does this mean I’m no longer pregnant?” I asked, and she laughed and confirmed. The doctor, before he left the room, told me that, by the looks of things, I would have lost that pregnancy anyway. I’m not sure how he could tell this, but I didn’t question it. I then remember trying to sit up but being unable. The nurse had to help me sit up and get dressed again.

She led me out to the recovery area, put me in a recliner, and put a trash can in front of me, telling me not to fight it. I did feel extreme nausea for about a minute (literally) as the drugs wore off. I heaved twice but didn’t throw up, and then it was over. The feeling of nausea was gone instantly. I was given some coke and crackers which I drank and ate before promptly falling back asleep. It felt like only thirty seconds had elapsed (when really it was about forty minutes) when I was told to go to the bathroom to check for bleeding and, upon telling the nurses that there was only a little blood, was escorted back out to the waiting room. The nurse who handed me over to my boyfriend told him to drive carefully because he was hauling precious cargo.

The procedure had happened on a Saturday morning and I slept for most of the weekend that remained, occasionally waking up for a few hours at a time before dozing back off. I recall it, in general, as a very pleasant weekend. The pregnancy symptoms had disappeared by the time I got home from the clinic and I felt wonderful, relieved, comfortable, sleepy, hungry. When I finally really woke up, on Monday morning, my life was back to normal.

Sure, it occasionally crosses my mind that I could potentially could have had a child, but it’s not a thought that induces wistfulness or regret. It’s more like “if I hadn’t honked my horn today on the interstate, I could have been broad-sided by that truck”. I’m genuinely proud of the choice that I’ve made, though I wish I hadn’t been naïve enough to get into the position where I had to make it. I don’t plan on having to make it again, and if I do, it will be because of a spectacularly improbably birth control failure.

The bottom line is that I got pregnant because I was stupid, but thankfully, I had options. My hope for the future is that every woman in the world who finds herself in my situation will have the options and the rights that I had.

On another note, if anyone reading this story has found herself pregnant in the Southeastern part of Texas or the Southwestern Part of Louisiana, I highly recommend Houston Women’s Clinic. I assure you, you will not be sorry.