The ultrasound photo taken on the day of my abortion is the only physical thing I have left from my experience.

More Than a Choice

Beyond politics, political banter and opinions, real woman must make a life-changing decision.

Written by Anonymous // Photos by Jake Tull­­­

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The warmth of the summer sun was shining through my bedroom window, beaming on my skin as I lay in bed with my boyfriend. He said to me, “Whatever you choose, I will support you,” as I hugged him, my eyes full of tears and two positive pregnancy tests in my hand.

The words “whatever you choose” kept running through my head while lying there. I was about to enter my senior year of college, the only one of my four siblings to get this far. The potential looks of disappointment from my family members flashed in my head.

I knew what he meant when he said it was my decision, but I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to accept my options and what the best choice for me would be.

I grew up loving children and witnessing the joys of motherhood. I awaited the day it would be my turn, and here it was. But, I had a few things working against me: my long distance relationship, lack of income and an unsuitable home for a newborn. But I was willing to work for those things for the next nine months because it was my turn to be a mother.

I thought this would be clear to my partner, but “whatever you choose, I will support you,” came out of his mouth only once, and from then on, persuasive language saying I should abort my baby spewed from his thin lips as his blue eyes became stern and unloving.

He reminded me of everything that was working against me and my chance at motherhood.

“Where are we going to live? Are you even healthy enough to have a baby? That kid will have a bad life,” were among the things he would say to me. I laid still, in shock and silence. With every word that came out of his mouth, my inner anxiety grew. I was tired of hearing it all, but a part of me knew he was speaking the truth.

The next morning, I lay in the same bed, with the same boy who had the same language spilling from his mouth. The only difference was the increase of tears from my eyes.

“You’re going to keep this baby, aren’t you? Fuck,” he said, growing agitated at my silence.

So fed up and filled with failure, the words “No, no I’m not,” were shouted from my mouth as tears rolled down my face.

Did I think an abortion was the best option? Yes. Did I want to have an abortion? No.

But this was now my reality.

This is my story. I cannot speak for every person who has gone through this experience, but I hope I can bring an understanding of the hardships that are often overlooked when talking about abortion.

An abortion is not something any woman wants to go through, but sometimes it’s the best option for them. It is important that they have the right to a safe procedure because no situation is the same. The only constant is the process being difficult and enduring. It takes a toll both mentally and physically.

This decision does not start and end with the procedure. There’s the time and patience when deciding if it’s what’s best, the constant support needed throughout and especially the long time it takes to heal afterwards.

One of the hardest parts was choosing not to tell my mom. Because of her strong religious beliefs, I thought she wouldn’t be able to look at me the same. The few people I told offered their support and were there for me, except for my boyfriend.

The person I saw a future with faded away and became an emotionless figure. His job that made him travel constantly was now an excuse for him to not deal with our situation.

I was making the choice that he wanted, and somehow he still found a way to detach himself from me when I needed him the most. He left me physically and emotionally. He never displayed empathy or tried to understand my position as a woman. I may still love him, but I can’t help resenting him for that.

“Are we all squared away then?” he asked as he handed me the $550 for the procedure. Four days after the abortion, he broke up with me. I laid in the same bed but this time alone, trying to hide all the pain I was in.

“Do you love me?” I asked him over the phone.

“Yes, I love you.”

“Do you still want to be with me?” my voice quivered.

Silence.

At this point, my uterus was in pain, my back hurt, my hormones were all over the place and now, my heart was shattered. He expected me to be strong, but he couldn’t be. He broke up with me because life hit him hard and he chose to run.

Through the pain, I flung myself out of bed and drove to the nearest lake. After pacing and sobbing my way through the trail and into the seclusion of nature, I rested on a rock while listening to the water flowing by. I searched my mind and core for the strength to keep going. I wanted to act like the river, constantly flowing no matter how many rocks were in its way.

abortion-2

The writing I did after I found out I was pregnant vary from calm and thought out to rapid and irrational. They remind me of the different emotions I felt and will be a part of me forever.

I stayed there until the sun was gone and only darkness filled the sky. The time I spent thinking there alone made me realize it was all up to me. I had to pull myself through this. I could no longer rely on the boy who ran away from what was difficult.

Looking back, I realize I let him influence my decision more than he should have. I knew that if he showed any desire to keep the baby, I would have. If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be to find this solitude from the start. To think and act alone, because eventually that’s what I would be.

I learned I need to be selfish because I will be the only one experiencing my pain. Only I would feel the tight and sharp cramps as my uterus was cleaned out, the bleeding of my body that would last months as a daily reminder of my decision. Only I would deal with the backlash of my decision and the secrets I now had to keep.

In the two months that have passed since my abortion, the few ups were overshadowed by more breakdowns that I can count.

“Why dwell on it?” was my now ex-boyfriend’s response to a drunken text I sent him, filled with the anger that I was the only one who had to deal with the repercussions.

This response let me know he didn’t understand that everything I was feeling was inevitable. I did not have the option to not “dwell” on it.

People tend to ignore there is healing that needs to happen after an abortion. The pregnancy symptoms may be alleviated, but the hormones can be left over for weeks or even months.

Before the procedure, I did some research and knew I’d feel sad for a while, but I was not prepared for the amount of grief to come. It was on my mind 24/7 afterward, bringing tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart while I was trying to go about my normal days. It’s hard to move forward from something like this, but I had no choice.

Classes began 10 days after my abortion, and I felt myself emotionally deteriorating. I was alone again, so I aimed to be busy. I’ve had days of pure productivity and days where I tried to go about my routine — gym, school, dinner, homework — but there were moments of major grief between each activity that left me exhausted and unable to move. I was rarely successful in living the way I wanted to.

No matter what, I found myself crying to sleep every night. I would drink a bottle of wine or two with the goal of it putting me to sleep. Sometimes it worked, and other times it left me thinking about everything, and the thought of throwing myself off the I-5 overpass on the walk home grew increasingly more appealing.

But the next day always came, and maybe I would be fine again.

The healing process is not linear. It happens in waves with sharp highs and steep lows, and reminders of my decision anywhere in between. These reminders aren’t direct and sporadic, but are attached to every birthing center I see, every daycare I pass, every toddler that waddles in my direction, every baby on my bus ride home and every mother out with her kids. All these little things bring back a reminder of what I could have, but made the decision not to. They fill my heart with hurt, and tears that are often inevitable.

I don’t see the effect of the reminders dissipating anytime soon. However, I have noticed that as I pick myself up after every fall, the crying has become less frequent. My ability to care for myself is slowly coming back, and I am starting to flow into a new routine of life. I will never be the same as before, but I will heal. Everything I have gone through was hard, but I do not regret my decision, and I do not think it defines me as a person.

Eventually, I returned to that same rock and sat next to the flowing river. I brought my journal and my ultrasound picture. I stared at it, and I wrote:

I cannot believe I made the decision I did, and while I think it was for the better, I will never do it again. I never want to make a decision like that again. So here is my promise, to my past and future unborn children: I will always be ready for you from here on out. I promise to work hard to be stable and healthy, and able to take care of you at any and all points in my life.

This promise has guided my healing process. I keep my promise in mind, regardless of how low I get, and it reminds me that there’s no place to go but up. I cannot lose myself again because at some point in my life there will be someone who relies on me, and I will be ready to give them everything they deserve.