Mary’s Story

I don’t regret my abortion. I regret falling in love with the jerk that got me pregnant, though. I had my abortion a year and a half ago when I was 21 years old. My boyfriend (I’ll call him Leo) and I were living together. We never decided that he was going to move in, but somehow it just happened and he had been living with me for more than a year. He was 26 at the time and he already had two children, ages 4 and 6, with another woman. His two sons adored him and he pretty much refused to see them. He went out with “friends” every night and rarely came home before 4am. He yelled at me all the time and was incredibly jealous. He screamed in my face for an hour once after he thought I was looking at another man in a car next to ours on the highway. He was occasionally physically abusive. He never punched or slapped me, but he did shake me and drag me around. He forced me to stay in a chair or on the couch when he was “talking” to me. Each time I tried to get up I was thrown back onto the chair or couch with more force.

I knew he was sleeping with someone else. I did not have any specific reasons for knowing this, but it was true. I caught him many months after I had the abortion (no, the abortion was not the last straw) and several months after that he finally admitted that I had, in fact, found proof that he was cheating and that he was also cheating all those months before when I was pregnant. The next night he got drunk and screamed at me that he wasn’t cheating on me when I was pregnant and that in-fact, on second thought, he had never cheated on me.

I got pregnant because he wouldn’t wear condoms. I tried several different methods of hormonal birth control (pills, patch, and ring) but none of them were for me. The patch wouldn’t stay stuck, I wasn’t “deep” enough to keep the ring in comfortably, and the pills really made me crazy. He wouldn’t wear condoms because he said they made sex unpleasant. He also said that he thought I needed one of his babies. We had sex all the time, at least once a day in-fact, whether I was in the mood or not. At first I was terrified that he was going to impregnate me. I was also way too addicted to my abuser to even consider standing up for myself. After about a year of this I still wasn’t pregnant. I was depressed. I was in a horrible relationship where I felt like nothing more than a blow-up doll, yet I felt like no other man on earth would ever love me. I also wondered how it was possible that I wasn’t pregnant.

Leo was heavily into some hard drugs. Looking back, I suppose that was a big contributor to me not getting pregnant. I knew I was pregnant before I missed my period. I told my best friend that I was pregnant, but she didn’t believe me because I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test. She made me rush to the store with her and she bought me one. When I saw those lines on the test, I couldn’t wipe the crazy-alien look off my face. My friend burst into tears. I sat on the info for a week and I had my abortion when I was four weeks pregnant. When I told Leo that I was pregnant he said “That’s good mama,” in a kind of disinterested tone. He didn’t treat me any differently. He kept going out and staying out late with his “friends.” About three days after he found out he came home late, crashed into bed next to me, lit a cigarette (I tried to turn away and cover my face with a sheet), rolled over and groped me mumbling something about “Mmmm. My baby mama . . .” I cried a lot when I was alone. I kept trying to get Leo to talk to me about the pregnancy. I explained to him that pregnant women weren’t supposed to clean out litter boxes. I told him that while I was pregnant that that was going to have to be his responsibility. He said that I should consider getting rid of my cats. I cried some more. I asked him what we were going to do about money and he said that he would be able to get money whenever he needed to. He didn’t seem to think that I needed money right then.

A couple of days later I was at work (I was working and attending college full-time) when it really hit me that my child’s life would be a complete and utter disaster. I called Leo and demanded that he talk to me about my pregnancy. He said, “You don’t have to have the baby if you don’t want to.” I had known all along that I was going to have an abortion, but I always figured he wouldn’t go along with it – I was actually afraid that he was going to talk me out of it. When I realized that he didn’t even really care if I had an abortion, my mind was made up.

I immediately went into an empty office and looked up abortion clinics in the phone book. Luckily I live in a city and there were three nearby. I looked up information on all three on the internet and decided not to go with PP, but with another women’s health clinic. (Incidentally, I have heard a lot of bad things from people who use PP. From what I hear the people there are not the most sensitive people.)

I called the clinic to set up an appointment. It was a Friday and I was able to make an appointment for the first time-slot on Saturday morning. I was just at the 24 hour waiting period. I also had to stay on the phone to listen to a 15-minute recorded message outlining my alternatives. The nurse on the phone was very nice. Before he put me onto the recorded message he informed me that they would have no way of knowing if I didn’t listen to the whole thing.

Leo didn’t spend any time with me the evening before the procedure even though I begged him to stay home with me because I was scared. I sobbed all evening until he finally came home in the middle of the night. He was very sweet to me when we got up the next morning. I had a terrible rash on my face from stress. In fact, the doctor at the clinic was concerned and told me to come back if the rash didn’t disappear in a few days. Leo was really sweet to me when he saw my face. He cuddled me all morning, but refused to come into the clinic with me.

I was comforted when I saw all the other women in the waiting room. About half of us were alone and most of them were my age. I was shocked when I got my sonogram. It was an “internal” sonogram. The nurse inserted the instrument into my vagina. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as a pap smear, but I really didn’t like it. She was concerned that my pregnancy was too small. She said that if I wanted to be sure that my abortion would be successful I would need to wait about three more weeks. I was horrified. I told her that I wanted the abortion that day. I had to sign special consent. She said that there was a 1 in 10 chance that my abortion wouldn’t be successful and that I would have to come back for a second try. If the abortion was unsuccessful and I didn’t come back I was very likely to have a severely deformed baby and the clinic could not be responsible for this. I asked her if that had ever really happened, if anyone really had to come back to “finish” their abortion. She said that it had just happened the week before. My stress level went way up, but there was no way I was going to wait three weeks.

I had to meet with a counselor, but I don’t really remember what was said. I really wasn’t open with her. I didn’t disclose that I was in an abusive relationship. I pretty much said that I was in a happy, committed relationship and my boyfriend and I both thought that it would be best if I finished school before we had children. Of course this is what I thought. I just felt like I had to put this face on for the world that I was not as dumb as I felt. She asked me if I had considered alternatives and I told her that I had, but that they were not an option for me.

The actual abortion was really short, but REALLY painful (I may be a bit of a wimp). I paid the extra $50 for an i.v. and I’m really glad I did that. I was lead into a dim room and the nurse helped me onto a table with stirrups. It was just like getting a pap smear. She started my i.v, took off my glasses and gave me laughing gas. She rubbed my forehead for a minute and then she put headphones on me. I lay in the room alone for about 20 minutes listening to peaceful music. The doctor came in, but he didn’t talk to me much – I was really out of it at this point anyway – and I couldn’t see him without my glasses. All I remember was that it hurt like HELL when he opened my cervix and it hurt like HOLY HELL when he used the aspiration machine. I cried and yelled loudly and the nurse held my hand and patted my head. It was all over very fast. She led me to the recovery room where another nurse gave me juice and crackers and took my blood pressure. I heard my nurse from the operating room telling the recovery room nurse that I had had a really hard time. They were all very nice to me. I had to stay in the recovery room for a long time because my blood pressure wouldn’t go down. I felt really weird that I had experienced so much pain because I had heard other people say it wasn’t all that bad. I felt better when I saw that another woman from the waiting room had to be brought into recovery in a wheelchair. The nurse made me lie on the floor while she held my legs up. They gave me extra painkillers. Finally they called Leo to come pick me up. I was dizzy when he led me to the car, but pretty much ok. We picked up some food and I ate as soon as I got home. I fell asleep for about 12 hours after that.

When I woke up I felt numbly happy. I was weak and in pain for a while, but the painkillers helped. I was very very relieved that I wasn’t bringing MY child into a miserable life. I had an unhappy childhood and I know that I will do my best not to have children who will have an unhappy childhood. I finally left Leo a year after the abortion. His violent behavior escalated and he trapped me in our apartment. After about an hour and a half of captivity I managed to escape out the front door and run down the street barefoot to a pay phone where I called 911.

I am graduating from school this May with a degree in Accounting and I am going to attend law school next fall. My abortion saved my life.