By Anonymous/El Inde
The patient room is cold and my fingers are clenched so tight I can see my skin going white. It’s almost like I could hear the grief echoing and bouncing off the four walls surrounding me. The words kept replaying in my head repeatedly, “There’s no way.”
I was 20 when I found out, a couple days short of my 21st birthday. It wasn’t a life-threatening disease, it was a life-altering decision.
You can cross your fingers, pray, and make promises to whomever you choose to dedicate your devotion to, but if science has already taken its course of action, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.
I was pregnant with my best friend’s baby, but he wasn’t my significant other. We had broken up. I was finishing up one of the worst years of college: I had been working two jobs, my parents were going through a messy divorce, I lost my best friend and boyfriend to chaotic breakup, and I had just added on a major. I went through three pregnancy tests full of faint lines, before accepting that our mistake wasn’t disappearing.
I remember the phone call to him so vividly, the words stuttered, falling off the tip of my tongue with no grace or structure.
“It’s faint,” I whispered. “I don’t know what to do.”
The nurse walked into the room, drew my blood, and asked me to sit tight as the doctor would be in shortly. A few minutes later, a broad-shouldered woman walked into the room holding a large iPad filled with pages of my medical history while another nurse followed behind her wheeling in an ultrasound machine.
And that’s what they don’t tell you about pregnancy. You can look up article after article, trying to piece together your symptoms, understand your appointments, understand abortion and the aspects of it, but not a single article tells you the feelings involved as a 20 year-old trying to navigate a situation where the father does not want to be a father.
She introduced herself and politely asked how I was. I weakly smiled and she understood that I did not want to continue the small talk. She then proceeded to say the words that these four walls had heard a million times; I, though, had heard it for the first time.
As a resident of the United States, every one of us is entitled to our opinion. Politically, abortion is a constantly debated topic and has created the pro-life vs. pro-choice stances depending on one’s politically leaning. Yet, medically, it is important to understand the implications of an abortion and the way a woman’s body ejects an embryo or fetus from the uterus.
It is an emotionally and physically grueling process, as you’re forcing your body to let go of the life that is growing inside of you. There are numerous opinions as to what people consider to be a fetus; some say it is when you can hear the heartbeat, others say it happens before. If there are conflicting opinions medically, then the decision becomes a moral one. As a mother what do you feel is best for your child and yourself?
An abortion is not a decision that states should be making for women. The validity of an abortion comes from what an individual feel is best for themselves and the life that they may choose to continue or not continue. That decision may be made after consensual sex, nonconsensual sex, rape, or whatever a woman’s situation may be.
She laid me back on the chair and rubbed the cold ultrasound gel across my tummy. The monitor switched on and she placed the probe gently across my skin. After a few minutes, she paused, and pointed to the screen. Two dots, two heartbeats, and two babies appeared on the monitor.
I am a woman and I stand for all women who get abortions. Your decision is valid because you, and only you, know what’s best for you. I chose to not discontinue my pregnancy after I miscarried one of my twins. Yet, after a grueling 9 months, I lost my child December of last year.
As months passed, I went through post-partum, and grief, while simultaneously attending school. It felt like I was carrying a weight that I couldn’t share with many. Yet, I felt okay, I was going to my classes, figuring out my future, applying for medical school, and somehow through it all I still managed to keep my head on my shoulders.
It felt claustrophobic, like I was gasping for breath constantly. I would spend hours in my bathroom shower, the water running down my face piercing my skin with the temperature, because all I wanted was to feel something else than the hole inside me.
The feeling of loss that comes with losing a kid, whether the conception was accidental or not, is an emotion that is extremely hard to shake. It is almost unexplainable. People say they understand, but is not easy for them to understand that you lost something that you created.
The number of women that go through abortions and do not speak of it is astonishing. It’s become taboo to speak of it, considering the amount of political backlash that comes along with it. People hide from it. They gasp at the word and gape if you admit honestly that you did go through with the decision. Yet, people fail to acknowledge that the decision is your own. You are the mother of the child and only you know best whether bringing it into the universe is the correct decision for the baby and you.
The amount of shame and weight people place on you is unacceptable. After a woman loses a child, their body must adjust back to normal levels of progesterone and estrogen, hormones that fluctuate immensely once the conception of a child. After an abortion, a woman is dealing with the grief and loss of her decision while attempting to keep her head on straight while her hormones wreak havoc inside her body. The human body takes a while to adjust back to its original form, as the body does not immediately realize that there is no baby present in the woman’s uterus. Yet, through all of that, most women feel they can’t say anything because they’re scared of being judged.
My babies weren’t mean to grace this world this time. Not a day goes by when I don’t wonder if they would have looked like me or their father. Would they have been as stubborn as me, or would they have taken his (somewhat) level-headedness? Would they have had his sense of humor that pleases many or would they have enjoyed their mother’s sarcasm? Would they have gone into politics, medicine, or neither? Would they have identified as bi, gay, straight, or queer, and would they have been afraid to tell us? Everyday a new question is posed in my mind, yet no answer will ever be given, no matter how hard I try.
I never spoke out about it. I told a few close friends and they held my hand every step of the way. I was scared what people would think, how people would view me, and I felt like it defined me for the rest of my life. Yet, with time I realized my abortion was an experience that made me stronger and different than most: It taught me how strong women are and how we never give them enough credit for it.