I was 11 weeks along when my gynecologist told me I was pregnant. I had been on The Pill since I was 18 years old and my period, since being on The Pill was non-existent. When it never came in January, then not again in February, it never crossed my mind that something wasn’t right. I had gone months before without a “period” — a quick splotch on my undies was usually all it was. Even before I was on The Pill (and after) I’m one of those women who is lucky enough to never have a menstruation that lasts more than two or three days.
The week before I went to the gynecologist and heard the news I had met my family in Punta Cana to celebrate my parents’ anniversary. I missed my plane at JFK. When I finally arrived in the Dominican Republic it was close to midnight and the only cabbie in sight was someone who fancied himself a psychic — something he told me within the first five minutes of me being in his taxi. Within the next 15 minutes, he told me I was pregnant, although I told him he was crazy. He also asserted that I had “the glow” of a woman who was, to use his words, “at the end of her first trimester.” Admittedly, I had noticed that I was somewhat puffy in the lower stomach, but I chalked it up to too much beer and pizza; and it didn’t help that the fella in my life at the time was a bartender. I don’t need to mention that the beer was free-flowing.
I told my sister what the cabbie said and we both laughed it off. When I returned to New York a few days later, I also mentioned it to my acupuncturist who shared her own story of getting pregnant by mistake. She said the dead giveaway was sore breasts. I laughed nervously when she said this. I had been sleeping and showering with a bra on for the last couple weeks, but assumed it was extreme PMS because, although more painful than in the past, it wasn’t exactly out of the ordinary. Since my insurance from my job had finally kicked in and I needed an annual pelvic exam anyway, I made an appointment.
The night before, mostly out of curiosity, I took an ept test — four to be exact — and the results were 50/50. I took a poll of my friends who had both been pregnant and had only suffered a scare, and again the conclusions when it came to home tests, were a bit wacky. I told myself there was no way I could possibly be pregnant. For starters, I drank too much, smoked too many cigarettes, too much pot and had also dabbled in a few other recreational items. There was also the fact that I had not experienced any morning sickness. Granted, I had been eating Honey Nut Cheerios for the last couple weeks because I had craved it like a mad woman to the point that my mother had to send me some from NH when my bodega ran out, but still it didn’t seem weird. I was prone to obsessive food modes, although in the past it wasn’t to the extreme that I would murder someone if I didn’t get my Cheerios.
So when the doctor told me that I was indeed pregnant and it looked as though I was about 10 to 11 weeks along, I wasn’t completely surprised. As I lay there with my feet in stirrups, the tears pooled in my eyes and trickled down my cheeks where they made a home in the shallow part of my ear canal. When the doctor asked me if I knew, I explained my suspicion, the Dominican cabbie, and the Honey Nut Cheerios — all of which could have been a coincidence. But in my case, they were not. After I got dressed, the nurse politely explained to me my options. She also told me that due to how far along I was, these decisions would need to be made sooner rather than later.
The first person I called was my mother who, and I actually knew this before I called her, was far more rational about it all than I was. Next, I called my sister who, being more like my mother than my father, was also rational, logical and matter of fact as to what needed to be done. I then called “The Guy” (whose name we’ll never utter) and told him. Since we were in a casual situation, I feared the response you see in After School Specials: “Well, how do you know it’s mine?” But he never asked that, and honestly, we both knew I was too smitten for there to be anyone else in the picture besides him. He was sweet, understanding and open to whatever I “chose,” but, as both my mother and sister had already pointed out, I really needed to consider what the “keeping it” choice would entail.
I had been in NYC for almost a full year when I found out I was pregnant. In fact, my abortion would fall on my one year anniversary in the city, not by choice but because it was the earliest they could get me in to see the doctor. So I’ll always have that date ingrained in my memory no matter what I try to do about it: March 27th. Like all New Yorkers I had come to the city with a dream, and although then, at 25 years old that dream was still faraway, I wasn’t about to give up on it and move home to my parents’ house to become a mom. There was also the fact that I’m not even sure if I want to have a baby ever, and the lifestyle that I had been living wasn’t exactly the best, body and health wise, for a baby to have been able to evolve without some sort of major issues that would affect it throughout its life.
It was never about the word “abortion,” or what it actually means. I know it means different things to different people. Having been raised in a very liberal family, abortion was a fact of life and you either supported a woman’s right to choose or you did not. To me, people are not pro-life or pro-abortion; but they are pro-choice or anti-choice. I’m not condemning those who view the issue otherwise, I’m just saying this is how I always saw it.
However, with this new knowledge about myself, I felt differently. Not in regards to abortion, but in regards to myself. I was all of a sudden dirty. I was a slut. I was disgusting. I was this person who, for the few days before my “procedure,” was not alone in her skin but carrying something unwanted, unloved and a burden to my life and my future. I hated myself for feeling that way. I hated myself for thinking something that was part of me was so repulsive. I tortured myself by Googling what a fetus looked like at 10 weeks. Did it have hands? Did it have eyes? Were the pro-lifers right with their fucking “Precious Feet” pin?
The nights leading up to my abortion, I’d lay in my bed with my hands on my stomach apologizing. I may be undecided on the baby front, but just in case I long ago picked out a name for a possible li’l nugget (from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story of course), and that’s how I addressed the cells within me. No matter how much I tortured myself with pro-life propaganda, it was all still just cells to me. And although I consulted with friends who had had abortions and those who had been in the same predicament and decided to keep the baby, I knew what I was going to do. I knew that I was going to terminate the pregnancy.
It was the Saturday of Easter weekend. My mother couldn’t make it to the city because how does one explain to my Catholic grandmother that Easter is canceled because my mom needs to run to NYC for her daughter’s abortion? My sister was stuck in Colorado because of one of those freak mid-March snowstorms and my roommate and one of my best friends, Thal, had totally checked out of the situation because she was too emotional too deal with it. But my college roommate and one of my best friends in the world, someone who on a daily basis (like Thal) puts up with my fucking drama and shit, Bess, drove the 12+ hours in a snowstorm from Pittsburgh to be at my side. Not many friends will do that, if any.
So that Saturday, after having not eaten for the 24 hours as they requested so I wouldn’t vomit when I was put under, Bess, “The Guy” and I headed to the clinic. I was put in a room with another girl who was there for the same thing and waited my turn. When my name was called, my blood was taken. I learned two things that day: I have “rolling” veins and I have Rh negative blood. As someone who’s quite consistent in getting tattoos, I’ve never been ideal blood-giving material, so I never knew my “status.” Basically, as I was informed that day, most people are Rh positive, so if an Rh negative person conceives with an Rh positive person, the antibodies and all that (yes, I’m not being scientific at all, as it’s all a hazy memory) will collide and the baby could possibly abort itself resulting in a miscarriage if a shot isn’t given to even out these differences. In other words my baby, had I decided to keep it, may have ended up doing itself in anyway. There was mild relief in knowing that my decision was just beating my body to the punch, but it didn’t take away from how I viewed myself: disgusting. [tagbox tag="abortion"]
The procedure was quick and without any issues. As I laid on my back, the doctor told me to count backward from 10 (promising me I’d never reach five, although I swear I would) and before I reached seven, I was out. I awoke confused and unaware of what was happening. My initial response, just like after I had been knocked out to have my wisdom teeth removed was to cry, so I did. It was during that cry that I heard a nurse say: “I guess she wanted to keep the baby.” She was wrong.
Yes, I wish I was never put in the position to have to choose between an abortion or motherhood but I was, and I know in my heart I chose right. My abortion is something that never really crosses my mind at all, and in the brief moments that it does, I feel almost guilty that I don’t feel guilty about the decision I made seven years ago. Occasionally when I’m out, as I was last night telling a friend about my post for today, I stop and think: “Fuck. If I had chosen otherwise, I would not be here at the moment.” At the moment last night, I was at a cafe in Paris. I had just suffered a necessary and deliciously inspiring heartbreak that would not have happened had I been a mother of a seven-year-old; nor would I write for The Gloss or live in NYC or have my Hubbell. Hubbell, my fiercely protective Jack Russell, was a gift from my parents as proof that I am capable of loving something more than I love myself. I realize to a non-pet owner that doesn’t make sense, but it’s true for me: Hubbell is my baby. Hubbell is the age my child would be this year had I not had my abortion. I also went so far as to tattoo Hubbell’s name on my arm as a reminder that sometimes the most difficult decisions end up being the best.
I wrote about my abortion back in the day for myself as a way to work through it, although it was never quite necessary because I had made peace with it long before it happened. I’m not ashamed at all about it. Maybe it’s because I read too much Sylvia Plath as a kid, but I believe in being completely honest and confessional in my words, and anyone who has read my stuff on The Gloss or in other place can attest to this: I firmly believe in candor and that life is a shared journey. Maybe some intimate things should not be up for grabs, but other things, items in which others can learn and grow, are important lessons to put out in the open. In other words, my reasoning for writing about this is because if it makes one woman feel less alone in her own abortion, than I’ve done my job.
What it comes down to is I had an abortion. It was not a decision I wanted to make, but hell, it was the best decision of my life… and this is coming from someone who is the queen of bad decisions, so I know a good one when I see it. And my life, in all its flaws and indiscretions, is proof of it. In other words, I would not have it any other way.