Over the past few years, I’ve felt more and more compelled to tell my story. I don’t know that it’ll make a difference but I’m tired of staying silent. I’m not ashamed of the choice I’ve made but it’s been easier to keep quiet for a couple reasons. One, it’s honestly been no one’s business. Two, it was easier to avoid anyone’s judgment. But I’m tired of it. I’m not ashamed.
You might be wondering – why am I talking about this on my book blog? To me, it seems so simple. What A Nerd Girl Says is about me. It’s always been about me and what I’ve had to say, for the past seven years. It is and always has been my avenue to speak up. I want to speak now and so I come here.
But it’s more than that – this is something that effects us all, whether we are aware of it or not. This slip into the fictional world of The Handmaid’s Tale is frightening and it happens when we ignore it, when we refuse to see the human side of something. So many of my followers are women, and young women at that, and their rights are being taken away every day…in Georgia, in Alabama, in Missouri. This has all happened recently. It’s felt like a domino effect. It feels like this will reach us all so quickly.
So here we go. I’m sharing my story. It’s scary. It’s nerve wracking. I may lose friends or family. I may lose respect from people. But my fear of the world we are heading towards is larger, more pressing and more important.
When I was 22 years old, in 2010, I had an abortion.
At the time, I was in a relationship. My boyfriend at the time and I had been together two years when I found out I was pregnant. I had used birth control – I was taking the pill every day, but I will admit I wasn’t perfect at it. I never took it at the same time. Either way, we were trying to be careful but I still got pregnant.
I was 22 years old. I was older than my mom had been when she got pregnant with me. I loved my boyfriend very much. But I had no happiness when I heard this news. All I had was panic and sheer terror. I worked at a coffee shop at the time; I think I made about 8 dollars an hour. I was back in school, working on my degree. I say I loved my boyfriend and I did but we were having trouble – we’d been fighting more and more and more lately. Adding a baby to this mix felt like a death sentence to me. I didn’t want it.
I made the choice to have an abortion. My boyfriend supported me.
I had always been fiercely pro choice but also fiercely adamant that I would never have one myself. It’s amazing how that changes when you’re actually faced with that choice.
I was lucky. I’ve lived in California my entire life and while the county I live in tends to be very conservative, as a whole, the state tends to be more left. It was relatively easy to get it done. I went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy and when my doctor began to outline what would happen next, I was able to tell him that I didn’t want to have a baby, I wanted to terminate the pregnancy and he reacted in the best way a doctor could – he was professional about it and began the process to make that happen. I was lucky. My insurance at the time covered the procedure. I had a copay that my boyfriend and I split.
There are specific details I remember about that day. I remember waking up really early and being really quiet the entire way to the clinic. It was freezing in every room of that office. It was St Patrick’s Day and the color green felt burned into my brain by the end of it. I remember the radio being on, the local rock station celebrating the day, and how it was so opposite of what I was feeling.
There’s something I remember even more though – while we were waiting, there was a pair of women across from me talking. I remember thinking that I was incapable of speech at the moment, that I couldn’t have spoken if I HAD to. One of the women was talking about the fact that she had five kids already, how she’d gotten pregnant on accident and how her husband wanted her to keep it but she just couldn’t keep doing it – she was exhausted. She seemed so much older to me at 22 but thinking back on it now, she was probably in her 30s like I am now. She was making the choice herself and she had taken a cab to the procedure because her husband refused to. I will always remember this. Always.
Everything seemed to happen so slowly. There was an ultrasound, where they made sure you were within the parameters of having an abortion. The technician asked if I wanted to see and I shook my head. She asked if I wanted to know how far along I was and I said “did I make it?” and she said yes and I told her I didn’t want to know. While this was happening, there was a young girl, maybe 17 or 18, in another room, sobbing.
I don’t remember much after that until I woke up after the procedure. You are put under anesthesia for the procedure. I hate anesthesia and the way it makes me feel afterward. I’ve only been put under twice and both times, including this one, I’ve woken up disoriented and confused and, frankly, sort of scared. This combined with the fact that I was surrounded by several other women in the recovery room and the fact that I was in pain, like menstrual cramps but much much worse – it was too much. I cried.
I cried while I changed from the gown to my regular clothes. I cried while they gave me pain medicine to take. I cried while they discharged me. I cried while they walked me down the hallway and into the room where my boyfriend was waiting for me. I cried the entire way home.
To this day, that was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. It was one the hardest things I’ve ever done. I don’t particularly have fond memories of St Patrick’s Day and tend to have no desire to celebrate it.
But all of that being said – I don’t regret it. I’m so grateful that I had the choice and that I was able to choose the option of terminating my pregnancy.
There are so many reasons I did it and there are equally as many reasons that I’m grateful that I did it. I won’t get into because…well, partly because it’s no one’s business and because it’s not the point.
The point is – I am a woman who had an abortion. So many people do not know this about me. And some of these people are anti choice. Some of these people believe that women who have abortions have the procedure as a form of birth control. Some people see it as a selfish decision. Some treat those who have one like careless, irresponsible people who don’t use birth control.
I’m not here to judge anyone on why they got an abortion or how they ended up in a pregnancy they did not want.
What I’m here for is – 1 out of every 4 women have had an abortion. That’s an astronomical number. And when you put that into perspective, it would be almost impossible not to know someone who has had one. And yet, as a country, we treat the issue as if it has no human nature to it. We feel we have the right to strip women of their rights because any woman who wants an abortion is a monster not realizing that these women are our friends, family, coworkers, bosses, and on and on.
I’m not writing this to change anyone’s mind. I don’t know how to do that. But I’m so sick and tired of being quiet. I’m so tired of not talking about my experience. I’m not ashamed. I thought I was doing everything “right” and I still ended up in an unwanted situation. But regardless of that, I still had the choice. Every woman deserves the choice, period, no matter the circumstances.
And now, quick as can be, we have states like Ohio and Missouri and Georgia and Alabama taking us into the fucked up world of The Handmaid’s Tale and I’m tired of being quiet and I’m tired of the silence from so many people. Abortion is treated like a dirty word but it’s so real and it’s so human and I want to attach at least one more story to it, to remind people that it’s not this…this horrible intangible thing but a real and powerful choice that women benefit from, in so many ways.
So that’s my story. I had an abortion. I’m 31 years old. This was 9 years ago. I’m a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a cousin, and so on. I work in a medical office and I write novels and run a book blog. I love reading and watching movies and I adore my cat. I’m a real human being, not a monster, not a murderer, just a girl who wants nothing more than to be in control of her own body, and is so grateful that she had the choice nine years ago.
I’m the girl who is going to do whatever she can to make sure girls and women in the future can have the same choice she did.