Nicole’s Story

I have had three abortions. I’ve never admitted to anyone exactly how many I have had until now, not even to my own gynecologist.

I waited until I was almost 19 years old to lose my virginity, because I wanted it to be special. The man I waited for turned out to be an asshole and a womanizer. It took me months to recover from the pain of that experience, and didn’t have sex again until I was 20. Soon after I found out I was pregnant. I hadn’t been dating the father very long, and he was 12 years older than me, so I thought he’d be devastated. He was so excited he cried and hugged me tight, and I was absolutely speechless. It took me a week or two to gather up the same level of excitement, but I was inevitably so in awe of my changing body and dreams of motherhood that I was blinded to the realities of it. His family pressured us to marry, and we did. We were poor, constantly being threatened with eviction, but minutely above the poverty level and unqualified for food stamps or government aid. My pregnancy was easy, but being a slender 130 pounds before my baby I got stretch marks all over my hips, stomach and breasts. Even with tiny A-cup breasts, they began to stretch-my nipples became extremely large and I was covered from head to toe in deep purple stretch marks. No matter what kind of lotion or butters I used, nothing helped. My skin looked sallow and pale, unlike the pregnancy “glow” I had been told so much about. I had severe dark circles and bags under my eyes, and I was tired all the time. My super thick hair began to fall out in handfuls, and my feet were constantly swollen and fat.

I had my daughter a month before my 21st birthday. The labor was easy, but life afterwards was not. I was glad for my daughter, and I was happy to have had her. But money was tight, and five days after giving birth I took a waittressing job working double shifts and reluctantly gave up breastfeeding. I was absolutely miserable, and unhappy with my new body. Even though I had lost almost all the weight, I now had sagging, stretch mark-covered skin and a wrinkly belly button and breasts. I wouldn’t let my husband see my stomach or even touch it. I felt disgusting. I could no longer wear a bikini, short shorts, or cut-off shirts. I was so upset by my appearance that it started to affect every aspect of my life.

A month later I was devastated to find out I was pregnant again. I had been breastfeeding when I got pregnant and was told by my mother in law that I couldn’t conceive during breastfeeding. My daughter was only a few months old, and I couldn’t imagine putting my body through that kind of hell again so soon, let alone the thought of how I would pay for anything. My husband was just as shocked as me, and supported my decision when I timidly mentioned “maybe” aborting. We both agreed we couldn’t afford another baby. I was wracked with guilt. I felt like trash, like some welfare-stricken young girl who should have kept her legs closed. I felt naive for believing I couldn’t get pregnant, and like a murderer for even considering an abortion-after all, I felt it was the selfish way out. I should be “taking responsibility” for my actions. I had done that once, and there I was, at the age where most young people are having the time of their lives, bar-hopping and in college, and I was working seven days a week and barely keeping my head above water.

My first abortion was a terrifying experience. I asked to see the sonogram and was told no. Then, after paying extra for twilight anesthesia and repeatedly telling the nurse during the procedure that I was in terrible pain, I was laughed at and told it was going to be okay. I was later told that some girls would say that during the procedure, only to not remember a thing later. I remembered everything. In the recovery room, everyone was quiet. Some girls cried to themselves, some slept. I took the pain medication for the next week and drank on top of it, telling myself I did the right thing.

I felt guilty. Not because I felt like I had killed a child, but because I was afraid of what others would think of me. Because I was terrified to be “that girl” that I hated-the girl with no morals, no judgement.

This time it would be different, I told myself. I religiously took my birth control, worked hard, and eventually made it out of my financial distress. My marriage, however, did not. I realized I had married him solely to do the right thing, not because I was in love. We separated, and I found someone I fell hard for. Towards the end of the relationship almost a year later I found out he had cheated many, many times. He became abusive, and soon after I found myself pregnant again, regardless of the birth control. He tried to pressure me to go forward with the pregnancy, but I did not want to be tied to him for the rest of my life. I had the abortion one day before the cutoff point, and this time had a better experience. It was painless and the staff was lighthearted.

I did not beat myself up about this one. I knew I had done the right thing, and to this day I am thankful it was available to me. By the time I got pregnant again, on a different birth control this time, I realized what a blessing it was to have the right to have this procedure. If it weren’t for abortion, I would be a single mom of three children, barely able to care for them. Afterwards, I found a birth control method that seemed to work for me. I haven’t gotten pregnant since, and although I miss my body, I love my daughter. I wouldn’t take her back for the world. But I am so thankful and grateful that I live in a country where I can control my own fate. I’m still trying to overcome the feeling that there’s something wrong with me, that I’m a bad person for what I’ve done. But I feel that I’ve done the best not only for me, but for my daughter. Her life, my life, and my now-husband’s life is better because of it. And for that, I don’t feel bad one bit.