Having an abortion in America today is a very complex, complicated and sometimes heartbreaking decision. Women who have said all their lives "I'd never have an abortion" suddenly find themselves in situations they've never imagined, and find that an abortion suddenly becomes the 'best' decision, but never the 'easiest'. This section highlights different stories from women, showing just how complex, heartbreaking and emotional the real story of abortion is for women today.
Each story is prefixed with a comment about the content - some stories have graphic descriptions, and things that might be triggering. Please avoid these stories if you are feeling sensitive. If you would like to share your own story with me for posting in this section, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(This site is "politically neutral", however some of the opinions of the writers of these stories may be prolife or prochoice. This represents their personal view and should only be interpreted this way.)
The story of a young woman and her unplanned pregnancy
(Caution: This story contains graphic descriptions of an abortion procedure, as well as other triggering words and situations. This spotlight story is for mature audiences only.)
From the second that he ejaculated and we stopped moving and lay still for a second to catch our breath, I knew. I had one thought in my mind: I'm going to get pregnant. I knew.
My body was sending me that message so loud and clear that I said aloud, "Oh my god," as I stared at the ceiling.
"What?" he had asked.
"Oh nothing. But I completely forgot I'm not on birth control."
He looked panicked.
I panicked myself.
"It's okay. It'll be fine. Don't worry about it," I said, trying to reassure the both of us. But deep down I knew the truth. I knew it from the second he came. I knew that I was pregnant.
But who really believes that? You never believe that you are going to get caught, or get a STD, or get pregnant. You never believe that it's going to happen to you. But it does. I never believed it would happen to me but I knew that it had. I knew it when I stood up. I knew it when I slept that night. I knew it when I woke up that morning and went to work. I knew it every second. But I refused to admit it to myself. When my period didn't come for a month I was scared, but I didn't believe that I was pregnant. Every time I went to a club and had a beer or drank way too much or smoked a joint, I knew. And I knew damn well what was going on. But I just kept trying to convince myself that I was just being paranoid.
But I knew.
I knew two things. First, that I was pregnant, even if I was too scared to admit it to myself. The second thing was that if I was pregnant, there was no way that I could keep the baby. I knew I'd have to get an abortion.
I knew that it was real when I went to the beach with a bunch of friends one fine weekend. I went running into the sea and dove down deep to the bottom to grab a handful of sand from the ocean floor. The water down at the bottom of the ocean floor was freezing cold from not seeing sunlight. As I dove, my breasts started to ache. And not a little pain, I mean a whole lot of aching, like there was an immense amount of pressure being put on my breasts. A pounding. It hurt so badly. I quickly swam back up to the surface, hoping that the warm air would ease my pain. But the temperature change made it feel even worse. I tried to hold my breasts in my hands not knowing what was going on although I knew. And this happened every time that I swam in the sea.
For the first few weeks after I skipped my period, I went by day to day with a real feeling of dread swelling up inside of me. I couldn't tell anyone. I tried to tell my best friend, but eventually I made up the lie that my period had actually come. She was very relieved for me. If only it had been true. I tried to go on living life like any normal young woman. I partied with my friends, drank like a fish and smoked weed every so often. All the time I had a guilty feeling inside. If I really am pregnant, I thought to myself, this is really damaging the baby. But I was so scared I just kept trying to convince myself that everything was fine, that I didn't have a baby growing inside of me.
I left work and took the month of August off as vacation. My sister's wedding came and went. No one suspected a thing. My mother had seen me go and buy pads and tampons one day when I saw some light spotting on my panties and rushed off in joy to buy feminine products, thinking that finally my period had come. But the spotting never turned into a real period. It just went away after a few hours, and then there was nothing. When I went away with him and his parents for a week, even they thought that I had gotten my period because the same thing had happened. I had gone to the bathroom to pee, and when I wiped I saw a little bit of brown stuff and I thought that it was my period. He had to go and ask his mom if she had any pads to give to me. Well, at least none of our parents suspected anything. None of our friends did either. It's not like I was showing.
Every morning when I would wake up and take a shower, I looked in the mirror and could see a belly growing on me. It was probably only visible to me and me alone because all of my clothes fit the same. But more than the way I looked, it was the way I felt. I could look at my belly as I stood naked in my bedroom and feel pregnant. And you can feel it. You feel it in your whole body. Everything feels differently. It feels different on the inside. You can feel things happening and changing.
In some countries of the world, abortion is illegal. And while you can find a doctor who will perform abortions, there was no way that I was going to go to some quack of a doctor on my silly little island. No way would I trust a local doctor to be able to perform something like that. No way. I had to wait until I got back to Canada in September when my school year began.
I was about to go into my third year of university. I spent the school year in Canada, and went home every Christmas and summer vacation. Last year, school had been great. I'd gotten amazing grades, all A's and A-plusses, and my family was so proud. I had so many plans for next summer: I would move off campus, find a place downtown with my friends to stay in Toronto, and find a really cool job. I was really looking forward to my third year. But now everything was being turned upside down and there was nothing I could do about it.
Telling my parents, any other relatives, or friends was out of the question. My family wasn't religious, but we did have very high standards. My parents had the highest hopes for myself and my sister. They sent us to the very best schools, trained us in tons of sports, encouraged other hobbies and activities. The whole family was proud of my sister and I for doing well in school. We always won all of the awards. Always came first in class, always on the honor roll, always getting a trophy for something. My parents wanted my sister and I to eventually take over the family business. My parents wanted my sister and I go to university and study, get a degree, maybe even do a masters and have a productive life. There was absolutely no way that a baby would fit into that equation. And I had no interest in giving up my current lifestyle to become a mother. That meant no more school, no more university, no more working hard to get a job, no more taking over the family business. Becoming a mother was out of the question.
I wanted so badly to go up to Canada early so I could get an abortion as soon as possible. In Canada, I could get great health care. If I had an abortion at home I wouldn't trust the doctors, and where would I get the money from? I didn't have a cent to my name.
But what was I supposed to tell my parents? I couldn't ask my mother to change my flight to send me up early. Even if I did go up early to get the abortion, who would I stay with? Family? No way. Friends? Nope, they'd realize that something was happening.
And I couldn't move into my university dorm if I did go up to Canada early because I couldn't move in until the school year begins, and it was only August. So I waited patiently for time to pass for me to go up to Canada.
My boyfriend also went to university in Canada. This was going to be his second year. His parents were incredibly proud of him for moving to Canada to go back to high school for a year so that he could get into university. He loved living in Canada. He had a great apartment downtown, lots of friends, and it worked out well with both of us being in Toronto. But I always found that he lacked motivation; he hated to study, he didn't read many books, he just always sounded like someone who went to school but never really learned anything.
He was older than me; he was 23 and I was 19. It wasn't a very serious relationship. We were old friends that had met three years earlier and had only began dating when we were both in Canada.
He left for Canada two weeks before I did. I hadn't really said anything to him yet; both of us had been too petrified to even mutter the word "pregnant." The day before he was leaving, I worked up the courage to go to the pharmacy and buy a pregnancy test kit. I was scared shitless to go and actually buy the test in case someone should see me buying it. Or what if the people who worked at the pharmacy recognized me as the daughter of someone they knew? I didn't want anyone to know. I took it home and hid it, went to sleep and waiting for the next morning to take it.
The next morning I woke up and peed in a cup, dipped in the end of the stick and waited for fifteen minutes. When I went and looked at the test it had two blue lines on it. That confirmed it. There was no way to convince myself that this wasn't really happening. I had no escape from this situation. '
I told my boyfriend to come to visit me before he left to go to the airport. I took him and sat him down on the couch in the living room and told him the news very calmly and rationally. He was incredibly shocked. He didn't know what to say. I had never seen him look like that before. It was a mixture of shock, fear and anxiety. I told him my intentions right away. I told him that as soon as I got up to Canada, I was going to have an abortion. He agreed with me. I gave him a piece of paper that had the number and address of an abortion clinic in downtown Toronto, and told him that as soon as he got to Canada to call them and find out information about getting an abortion. Would it be covered by my health insurance? How long in advance would I need to make the appointment? Would he be able to make the appointment for me? What were all the things I needed to know? What would happen to me?
The next two weeks passed quickly. They were quick but difficult. Every day felt like a continuous anxiety attack fueled by fear. I had no contact with him while he was in Canada and I was scared to see him. I just didn't want to see him. And I was dreading having to deal with him in Canada. But I knew that this was a situation I couldn't avoid. And I knew that after the abortion I would need to be away from him so that I could recover. I knew he wouldn't like that very much. But sometimes I deal with a situation by looking for an escape.
When I arrived in Canada, I moved straight into my dorm on campus. For a week, I did nothing but party, drink, smoke, party some more and jump in hot tubs. I couldn't even bring myself to call him. I was still trying to convince myself that life was normal. I even hooked back up with my ex-boyfriend to make me try to forget the fact that I was pregnant. I told my ex that I had broken up with him and that I was single now. I told all of my friends the same thing. I never told any of my friends that I was pregnant, although they could all tell that something was weird about me.
I had started to get really bad morning sickness from the time I arrived in Canada. I also had a cold, so I would wake up coughing my lungs out, and the coughing would then make me puke. I knew that my roommates had heard me puking because one morning, one of them knocked on the door to ask if I was okay. I used my bad cough as my excuse; I told them that in the morning when I woke up, I was so congested with crap in my lungs that my body would try to hack it all out, and I'd start to puke as a result. I think they bought it.
But there was only so much avoiding I could do. I was starting to get scared that I would get too far along in the pregnancy to have an abortion. Then one night the father came to my dorm when my friends and I were all in a drunken stupor. He didn't even call first, he just appeared. We took a little walk outside where I broke down crying hysterically, apologizing for avoiding him and for not calling him, for leaving him in the dark. I told him that I was just so scared I didn't know what the hell to do. He comforted me. We decided that we would not avoid it for a day longer. And then he left.
The next day, I went to the doctor to get some information. I sucked in a deep breath and told her that I knew I was pregnant and that I needed to get an abortion. She talked to me about it, took a little blood, and gave me a list of abortion clinics to call.
"But call soon," she said, "because some clinics won't do an abortion after a certain amount of weeks. Call tomorrow and make an appointment."
"I'll call today," I said.
With a lump in my throat and a weight on my chest, I went home and called the clinics on the list. All of them were very serious and businesslike, almost unfriendly. They scared me. The tone in the voices of the people I spoke to was not sympathetic. Most of them told me that I was too far along in my pregnancy to perform the abortion. I kept calling. Finally, I found a clinic that accepted my appointment. It would be on Tuesday, the 12th of September, 2000.
I had not yet broken up with him, the father, but I was going to. My ex, who had by then become my current boyfriend, and I were spending a lot of time together and he had seen me getting sick in the morning. The night before the day of the abortion, while lying down in bed, he said in a joking fashion that it sounded like I was pregnant. I laughed off his suggestion, telling him how I was supposed to get my period any day now, and that anyway, I hadn't had sex in months. No sex, no pregnancy, right? I guess he bought it too.
I knew that in a little while I really would be having my period, or at least bleeding after the abortion and then it would be true. Then he would believe that I wasn't pregnant.
Tuesday the 12th of September was the second day of school. I was meeting the father in the subway, and then we were going to walk to the clinic. I woke up in the morning scared shitless of what I was about to do. I dressed in a long black skirt, a purple vest and green slippers. I packed a small bag with some pads, a book and a change of underwear just in case the pair I wore got stained. Then with my keys, my wallet and my health card, I was off.
We met in the subway station and walked and talked for a while. I thanked him for checking out the place for me since he lived downtown. He looked really, really nervous. I was regarding him with coldness, resentment and annoyance. He really annoyed me when he was talked and hummed to himself and whistled nervously. He tried to ask me some half-assed questions such as, "So you've really thought this through, eh?" But all I could do was give him an icy stare. I knew what I had to do. The last thing I wanted to hear was him asking me stupid questions. I just wanted him to be there with me so that I wasn't alone, and so that he would help take care of me after the abortion was done.
It was a long walk to the clinic. We passed lots of little areas with coffee shops and eateries. We passed these huge grand parks, we passed a college and all of the little slum student ghettoes. After walking for more than twenty minutes, we arrived. The area was pretty grotty with dirty looking buildings and cheap apartment buildings. The clinic was on the left side of the street.
"There it is," he said.
"Where? I don't see anything," I said.
"See the sign?"
That's when I saw a large white wooden sign sticking out of the top of a building with "ABORTION INFORMATION" in big red letters. I looked over to the opposite side of the street and saw a man standing by himself holding up a sign in front of his chest.
"Mommy, I want to live," it read.
But for some reason the sign didn't make me feel bad. In fact, I was pretty indifferent to it.
The clinic was actually a small, white, house with a little white picket fence. We pressed the buzzer on the door and I saw there was a security camera staring us straight in the face. I told the person on the other end that I had an appointment and she let me in.
Inside, I saw three areas of the house. To the immediate left was a staircase and I could hear people moving about upstairs. Straight ahead was the secretary's desk. We walked towards it. To the right, as we walked, I saw the waiting room. There were about four couples sitting in it. At the secretary's desk, I gave her some ID and my health card. She ticked my name off a list. She handed me some forms to fill out on a clipboard and told me to take off my shoes before I went into the waiting room. We took off our shoes and slipped on these booties that looked like soft, blue showercaps. I felt positively ridiculous in them. There was a box on the floor for the used ones. The box was full. It was barely after twelve. I wondered how many girls had been in here before me.
We sat in the waiting room and I filled out the form and looked around at the people. There was a man sitting to my left by himself. On the other side of the room, a pretty, young teenage girl, a young teenage boy with acne and a woman, who I assume was the girl's mother, were all sitting. On another side there was a young Indian girl in a sari sitting with her parents. She looked very nervous and innocent. Her parents looked stern. The other couple was a Chinese man and woman, but they got up and went upstairs five minutes after we sat down.
I filled out the form. The father kept trying to peek over my shoulder to see what I was writing and ticking. He eventually stared at the TV. I tried to say something encouraging to him but both of us were a wreck and knew that talking was pointless. After about twenty minutes, the secretary called my name and led me to an office to meet a doctor. I left the father sitting in the waiting room.
I closed the door after me when I went into the room. The doctor was a woman who shook my hand to greet me as I walked into her office. I don't remember her name. She looked like she was in her late forties and had dusty blond hair pulled back into a low ponytail. She was very, very serious. She never even cracked a smile. She sat me down and asked me some questions that I attempted to answer, but she always interrupted me, as if she was thinking, "Yeah, yeah little girl, what do you know? Just shut up and listen to me."
She had a nice office though, with loads of books and certificates all over the walls and a huge wooden desk. Over in the corner of the room (it was a big room) was one of those cushioned tables that you lay down on.
She described the procedure to me. She said that if I was too far along in my pregnancy that the abortion would have two procedures. The first one would be to insert something called a Laminaria into the cervix for it to expand about two inches before doing the abortion the next day. She showed me the Laminaria. It was made out of seaweed, she explained, but to me, it just looked like a little brown stick. Then she asked me to lay down on the table to do an ultrasound.
I lay down and she told me to expose my stomach, and I did so. She first felt my stomach and abdomen with her hands. After that, she took a small tube of gel and squirted some onto the lower part of my abdomen. It was kind of cold. Then she took a small, hand-held piece of equipment and rubbed it over the skin, pressing a little bit. I stared at the ceiling while she did the ultrasound. She stared at the screen while she did the ultrasound. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to see a baby moving inside of me, on the screen.
She said that it didn't look like I'd need the Laminaria after all and that I could have the abortion right now. It was a bit of a shock to hear her confirm that I was going to do it right now, but I was honestly glad that it wasn't going to be a two-day procedure.
She then printed the ultrasound and I did a stupid thing. I took a peek at the printout. It was in black and white and looked like how they look on TV. She put it in my folder and took me outside so that I could go upstairs. First, I went to the waiting room to tell the father that it wasn't going to be a two-day procedure after all, and that I was going upstairs right now. The doctor stood next to me as I told him. He looked intimidated. He gave me a hug then watched me walk upstairs.
Upstairs, the doctor led me down the corridor to the recovery room. On the way there, I looked into the operating room. Two doctors looked up at me and made eye contact as I walked by. I went into the waiting room and sat down on a bed. There was a young brown-skinned girl laying down looking like absolute shit. That is the only way I can describe her. She was laying down looking all bent and misshapen with an IV in her left arm. Her hair was pulled back tightly and her face was very pale. Also in the room was the Chinese woman who had been in the waiting room downstairs. She looked slightly better than the other girl; at least her eyes were open and alert. There was a woman in the room watching all of the women who were recovering. She helped the Chinese woman get up and move into the changing room, telling her that it was time to go home. The brown-skinned girl continued to sleep.
I was then shown to a small room at the end of the corridor where I was to change and leave all of my stuff in a locker. I changed into a thin white robe that had an open back, and it tied at the waist with a long string of plastic. It felt like putting on a paper towel. So I was in a paper towel, tied at the waist, back open, with blue shower caps on my feet.
After that, I walked down to the other end of the corridor to another room. Inside this room was another woman who sat down and took out some needles. She talked to me for a while, making polite chit-chat. Then she took out this small hand-held device that was rectangular. She took my hand and told me to hold out the index finger. She held the device to my finger and I heard a little ZAP and felt a needle puncture my skin and then leave. The procedure took one second. She then blotted my blood on a little strip of glass and put it into a container. Then it was back into the recovery room for me to wait for a while.
After waiting it was then my turn.
I went into the operating room and saw two people. One of them was a man who was slightly bald, skinny, tall, with glasses, a nice smile and a soft voice. The other was a young Philippino woman, very pretty, with long black hair. She looked very serious. She almost looked like she had a condescending expression on her face but I was probably just paranoid. Then another nurse entered. She was really nice. She took my hand and spoke softly to me for a while.
The nurse asked me to lie down on the operating table and to put my legs in the stirrups. I remember feeling very awkward at having my legs spread open while laying down for the whole world to see me. She asked me to move down lower on the table so that my crotch was hanging over this area of the table that had a bowl underneath it to collect everything that came out of me. I felt very stupid scuttling my bottom down the table to line up my crotch. She then put the IV needle into my arm to start giving me anesthesia and I saw a few drops of blood pool in the IV bag. Soon my arm had no sensation. My eyes began to grow heavy, but I kept listening to what the male doctor was saying to me. I heard them cleaning the equipment and moving around. I tried to keep my eyes closed. I just wanted to get it over with.
They then slipped a little plastic box thing onto the index finger of my right hand to monitor my heart rate, and then they gave me an oxygen mask to hold over my mouth and nose. They kept telling me to breathe deeply and to exhale deeply. The male doctor kept talking to me, telling me exactly how the operation went and what he was going to do. First, he dipped his index and middle finger into a tub of gel and told me to breathe deeply, and to exhale when he inserted his fingers into my vagina. I did so. I remember jumping at the feeling of his two bony fingers entering and leaving me quickly. He did this to lubricate my passage so that he could insert the machinery into me. I kept feeling more and more drowsy.
I think then he inserted the speculum into me because I remember feeling metal. I think that then I felt something else going into me but I'm not sure. I do remember feeling something touching my insides because I could feel it hitting the front of my abdomen from the inside.
Then came the bad part. I kept my eyes closed because I didn't want to see any of the tools that would be used. He told me that he was going to insert the vacuum machinery into me. It felt big and hard and thick and it put a lot of pressure on my vagina and my insides. He turned on the machine once it was inside of me. It was loud and made this kind of guttural sucking sound. It made the sucking noise with a rhythm; it wasn't a continuous vacuuming. It felt like a strong suction and then a release; it had a rhythm and a pattern. Suck, release. Suck, release. I could feel it pulling and pushing my vagina. I could feel it inside of me, deep up inside of me. It went on seemingly forever. At first it wasn't too bad. It just felt like pressure but then I started to feel pain. He kept moving it around inside of me, I suppose to make sure it was sucking everything out of my womb and that nothing was left behind. Towards the end, it hurt so bad I couldn't help but whimper in pain and cry out and clench my fists. I may have cried a little bit.
"It's okay, we're almost done. Just a few more times," the male doctor said.
I didn't know if I could endure a few more times, but I just squeezed my eyes shut, took a deep breath and tried to relax my body. I kept hearing the suctioning noise with the machine. It sounded liquidy and slurpy, like at a dentist's office when they stick the plastic tube in the side of your cheek to suck up all of your saliva.
Just when I thought I would have to ask them to stop I heard a loud noise from the machine and felt a wave of release rush over my body. I knew that the baby had just been sucked out because I felt a whole lot of less pressure on my insides, like there was nothing else there to suck out.
"Okay Mimi, you are no longer pregnant," the pretty Philippino nurse said to me.
"Here we go, almost done. It's over now, Mimi," the male doctor said.
He slowly pulled the machine out of me and I felt my whole body go limp. I didn't even try to move for about a minute. My legs felt like noodles. I didn't even care that I was laying there catspraddle anymore. The doctor and nurses left me for a minute as I lay there with my eyes closed. But I heard them moving around in the room.
The nice lady nurse wiped some sweat from my brow and stroked my arm to comfort me. I just concentrated on breathing. Next, they asked me to sit up. I did so slowly. They took a pad and held it to my vagina and asked me to hold it. The nice lady nurse helped slip on this pair of panties. But they were the most ridiculous panties I'd ever seen. They were made from what looked like fishing net. As I got off of the operating table, she helped me pull it all the way up my legs and she pulled my gown down so that it covered my abdomen and thighs again. I stood for a few seconds and tried to steady myself because the anesthetic was still making me feel drowsy. The male doctor took a clipboard and put a tick next to my name.
When I was ready to leave the room, I turned to the doctor and the nurses and said, "Thank you." Then I walked out with the nice lady nurse. She took me back to the recovery room, with the IV still in my arm, and put me to lay down on a bed underneath a window. I lay down slowly and lay my left arm flat on the bed because of the IV. The nice lady nurse left.
The nurse in the recovery room spoke with a foreign accent that I couldn't place. She brought over a small tray with a cup of water, two little pink Advil pills, some Gravol and some crackers. I took the Advils and drank the water and lay back down again. I think I slept for probably about fifteen to twenty minutes.
I was awoken by some noise in the room. The young Indian girl in the sari, who had been in the waiting room downstairs with me, was laying on one of the recovery beds. She then sat up and began puking into a little blue basin. The nurse waited for her to stop puking and then told her to drink a little bit of water. The girl tried to drink some water and eat a cracker. But soon, she was just puking again. I noticed that the brown skinned girl was still there, but now she was awake and moving. She still looked like shit though. After a while, the nurse helped her up and took her to the dressing room for her to go home. The Indian girl continued to puke until she was just gagging. Then she lay down again, and so did I.
The nurse then began talking to me as she was reviewing my folder. She was asking me about what school I went to and when she heard my accent she asked me where I was from. When I told her I was from the West Indies and I just come up to Canada to go to school during the semesters, she scoffed and said, "Your parents must be pretty rich then." I was not in the mood to explain to her that I pay domestic fees since I have dual citizenship. She talked to me for a bit about what I was studying. She asked if I was feeling better now or if I needed some more time before I sat up. I sat up because I was feeling okay. I ate some crackers and drank a little bit of water. The Indian girl then had to get up and go downstairs (I guess her recovery time was up) after getting changed.
I was alone in the room. It was quiet outside but I remember hearing sirens.
The nurse then gave me post-abortion instructions, which were on a five-page handout. She also gave me a prescription and three boxes of birth control pills.
"And please," she said. "You're a smart girl. Take care of yourself. You're too smart for all this. Okay?"
Then it was time for me to get dressed and go home. I got dressed back into my clothes. The nurse then took me to a small bathroom and asked me to pee, wipe, and not to flush so that she could check and see how much I was bleeding. I was bleeding just like a normal period. Everything felt okay. She said that everything was normal and that I could go on my way.
After thanking the nurse, I went downstairs to get the father in the waiting room. I gave him the three boxes of birth control that the nurse had gave me because I didn't have a lot of room in my bag. We walked through the door into the outside world and began to walk back to the subway station.
The sun hurt my eyes. I still felt really tired and druggy so I didn't say much. I just walked slowly and carefully and looked around at everything. I didn't want to talk to him at all. I just looked around at the buildings, at the parks, at the people, at the flyers stapled all over the wooden telephone poles. He said he could get me some food if I needed some, that he knew a place that made the best pizza. I didn't want to eat. I did, however, stop as we were passing someone's little house because in the window there was a gray cat sitting in the windowsill with its paws tucked under its chest. Its eyes were closed and it was sleeping happily.
We passed the college again and kept walking and walking. I felt like we were walking forever. I don't remember what I had told him although I was talking every now and then. I remember looking down at my left arm where an IV had been minutes ago and now there was a cotton ball held down by a piece of surgical tape. I ripped that off, folded over the tape and threw it on the sidewalk. My stupid fishnet underwear was very uncomfortable and the pad (that didn't even have wings) was riding up my crotch. We eventually reached the subway stop.
At the subway stop, we took a seat on the hard metal chairs. I was happy to sit because I hated the feeling of having blood dribbling out of me. All I wanted to do was sit down. This stupid old Chinese woman kept standing close to us and I wanted her to move so that I could talk to him in private. I then told him that we should break up because I wanted some time alone to recover. He got really mad and pulled the three boxes of birth control pills out of his bag and thrust them onto my lap and started shouting at me. I couldn't believe he was making such a scene. Embarrassed, I tried to get the boxes into my own bag. I had nothing to say to him. I just wanted to be left alone. I could barely keep my eyes open and I felt sick. Also, my insides were starting to hurt.
We got on the subway when it arrived and rode north. At first I couldn't get a seat. And people kept coming on the subway with babies and strollers. Little kids and pregnant women were all over the place. I stared at this one baby that came onto the subway car, but the father of mine stepped in front of my line of vision so that I wouldn't torture myself with the sight of a baby. Shortly after that I got a seat, and I sat and closed my eyes. I was really woozy and was starting to feel worse. All that I wanted to do was get off of the stupid public transport, take a shower and get into my bed.
At the last subway station, I stupidly told him that I would take the bus back to my university by myself. I should have taken up his offer and had him come back to my dorm with me to make sure I got home safely. But first, I went into the bathroom to pee and check and see how much I was bleeding because I wasn't feeling very good. It wasn't all that much blood but I was cramping pretty badly. I took off the fishnet panties and the wingless pad that they gave me and threw it away. I put on my own underwear and my own pad and hoped that I would be fine until I got back to my dorm.
So we parted ways and I got onto my bus. I couldn't get a seat for about half the ride. Then someone got off and I sat down. The bus was getting closer and closer to the university but I was panicking because I was feeling like something was very wrong. I was feeling like there was something coming down my vaginal passage trying to get out. It felt like a bomb was about to drop. The bus entered the university. I'd have to walk from the drop-off center across campus to get to my dorm. But I knew I wasn't going to make it. As the doors opened and I stepped off the bus, I tried to run to the bathroom. But after a few steps, I felt something break and slide out of me.
The next thing I knew, I was standing there in shock with blood running down my legs onto my shoes. Blood was all over my skirt (I wore black in case I got blood on myself) and the smell was overwhelming. I never realized how strong the smell of blood is. A black man who was walking behind me saw me staring at my skirt and my shoes and innocently asked me, "Is your skirt too long or something?" because I was holding it in an odd way. I said, "No, it's fine," and ran off to get to the bathroom in the middle of the university shopping complex.
In the bathroom, there were girls in all three stalls. I almost started crying. When one came out, I ran straight into the stall and sat down on the seat. My skirt was drenched in blood. My green shoes had blood on the heels. The pad had become soaked with blood also, so much so that it looked as black as the underwear I had put on. I felt more wet stuff fall out of me and into the toilet. It fell out of me with a heavy sound into the water below. I looked down into the toilet in the space between my bloody legs and saw a huge blob of blood laying there in the bowl. It was a few inches wide like a small pancake. It almost looked solid. It took a few seconds for the rest of the water in the toilet to turn red. I stared at the blood in shock.
I stood up and unrolled a massive amount of toilet paper. I flushed the toilet and dipped the toilet paper into the fresh water to try to clean up my legs. I tried my best to wipe the blood from my thighs and legs. I kept doing so until I looked semi-presentable. I was petrified that someone would see the blood and know that something was wrong.
After that, I went to the pharmacy and bought a pack of long, ultra-absorbent, super pads, and got my prescription from the pharmacist. I then went back to the bathroom, stripped off the pad that I had on and dispensed of it. It was so heavy and black from absorbing so much blood. It felt like a towel that has been thrown into the sea: wet and incredibly heavy and just plain soaked. So I put on a new pad and cleaned myself up a little bit more by trying to remove some more blood. But there was only so much I could do. My underwear was still soaking wet with blood.
The walk home was difficult because I still had blood on me and more of it was coming out from my wet panties. The blood between my thighs began to dry and chafe my skin. It was burning like hell, but I had to get home. When I reached my dorm I went straight into my room, put on my robe, grabbed a towel and went straight into the shower. It felt so good to bathe off all of that blood. The water ran red for about five minutes until I could get it off of my legs and pubic hair. I tried to rinse out my underwear too.
Blood kept coming out of me too and I just kept trying to rinse it away. Clots kept falling out and running down my legs and I was getting more and more upset until I started crying. After about twenty minutes, I got out and went into my room. I put on underwear and a pad, put on some comfy pajamas and crawled into bed and curled up into a ball. It wasn't even five PM by then. I stayed in my bed for the rest of the day.
The first few days after the abortion were really tough because I had to try to pretend like nothing serious had happened. I used the bad cough that I had as an excuse, telling my roommates that I'd gone to the doctor for my cough and she'd put me on antibiotics and they were making me feel like crap. At least I wasn't puking anymore. But I sure as hell wasn't in any condition to go to class or go and lime with everyone. I basically just avoided everyone, but there was only so much I could do.
Sometimes I tried to go out with everyone, but then I'd start feeling really sick and have to go home. I used the excuse that my cold, my cough, my period and my antibiotics combined were all making me feel like absolute shit. And it was true. The cramping and sickness that I felt for the two weeks after the day of the abortion were terrible. But still I tried to pretend like everything was cool. Some days were fine, some were bad. Some were awful.
Now it's been nine weeks since the abortion. Things are sometimes very bad between the father and me. Immediately after the abortion, I couldn't bring myself to see the father. I was petrified to come face to face with just how real the abortion was. I call him whenever I am freaking out or crying or feeling depressed or just feeling alone. He is having problems dealing with the abortion as well. A lot of times we fight and point the finger at each other and then sometimes we are really glad that we are there to talk to each other. I still have issues with him and feel that he is not very supportive. I hate how petty this sounds but when he starts to whine about something I think to myself, "You know what? All you had to do was sit in the fucking waiting room and watch La Femme Nikita while I was upstairs with my legs in stirrups and an IV pumping anesthetic in my veins and a vacuum sucking a baby out of me. So shut up. You have no idea how I feel."
Something that I tend to take for granted in dealing with the father is that he is having problems dealing with his conscience because of his religious beliefs. He comes from a Catholic family who goes to church every Sunday and is quite religious. He has five brothers, and he's smack dab in the middle. His parents love each other very much and he has a wonderful family.
Mine is a little more messed up; we have no religion, we don't go to church. I wasn't even baptized. So I haven't had to suffer with any kind of religious problems. But I know that he does. I attended a Catholic school for my entire life until I came to university in Canada. In the school, they were not allowed to teach anything about contraception because it went against Catholic beliefs. The one time that they did teach us about abortion, they showed a pro-life video. The video was basically a "shockumentary" with graphic pictures and these horror stories of women who had abortions and how their minds and bodies have been damaged as a result. It had shocked me at the time, but because I grew up in a non-denominational house I never felt strongly pro-life.
I started going back to class a week after the abortion. It was hard though, because lots of things triggered me off in the middle of class and I'd start thinking about the abortion. Sometimes I'd leave my lectures halfway through because I was tired and still bleeding and feeling sick. The cramps stayed for two weeks after the abortion. Physically, I was still recovering. Mentally, I was in a mess and very depressed. It was hard to feel enthusiastic about any of my courses. Nothing really interested me in terms of school. Getting bad grades seemed inconsequential compared to the massive trauma I was experiencing. I had no motivation to do anything. I just felt lost, disoriented, confused, sad, scared, angry and resentful. Usually, I felt all of these emotions simultaneously.
I began having extremely violent mood swings. I have never, ever been a moody person. I never used to suffer with PMS or get upset or angry easily. But I couldn't control anything that I was feeling. Little tiny tasks scared me, like cooking, or trying to write an assignment. Sometimes I didn't eat for a whole day, and then other times I pigged out like I had never seen food before in my life. One second I could be hyper and happy, out dancing with my friends in the pub, having a beer. But then just as I'd begin to feel happy and normal, I'd crash hard. My mood would switch in a second and I'd become sad, moody and cry hysterically.
I still have trouble handling my mood swings, but I'm trying. I knew I was too messed up to try and have a normal, functioning relationship with anyone. It wasn't fair to the guy I had started seeing again. The relationship was stressing him out; he never had a clue why my moods were up and down and all around. I started taking things very personally because I was so scared and lonely; it made me really insecure and irrational. Trying to date someone just made me feel even more alone because I don't want to tell him about the abortion and I usually ended up feeling even more upset than before, because he couldn't give me the help and support that I was reaching out for. It wasn't his fault. So we broke up after trying to date for a little more than a month. Now we're just friends, and I feel a lot more stable now that I don't have a relationship to worry about. I'm just focusing on my own mental stability now. Getting into a relationship was a bad idea because I was in no frame of mind to be someone's girlfriend. I'm doing better now that I'm single. And it's comforting to know that he is still my friend and is there if I need a shoulder to cry on.
My period still freaks me out a little bit. When I got my regular period a month after the abortion, I was scared to look at what was in the toilet bowl and what was being wiped off of me on that wad of toilet paper. I hated seeing the thick blobs coming out of me and landing gently in the water in the toilet bowl. I hated thinking, "What of that was part of the baby? What is this stuff that I am wiping away?" Going to the bathroom during my period became a serious challenge. Afterwards, I would often be upset and want to hide in my room and not see anyone. I would just tell my friends that I had bad cramps and they'd stay and hang out with me, which was comforting.
The worst thing that ever happened to me was during that first period. While I was in the shower on day, a strange little lump of flesh came out of me. It fell straight out of me into the tub, but I reached down and picked it up before it could go down the drain. I held it in my hand and felt it between my fingers. It was the color of skin; a creamy tan color. It felt solid, thick. It felt like skin. It felt like a piece of flesh. And it freaked me out. Every time something like that happened, I was in a lot of shock because I couldn't believe that it was really happening to me, to my body.
I'm getting better, but still suffering a lot. For the first few days after the abortion I was in complete shock. It just didn't seem real. I was numb from the whole thing. I knew that it had actually happened and that it was over, but it just seemed like it wasn't possible. Sometimes I would space out for a long time and just lay down and think about the entire experience. Now it all seems so far away, like distant memories. But they are memories that I have floating around in my mind every day of my life, and it affects every single thing that I do. It has affected my friendships a lot. I often feel alienated from everyone, as though I'm living in a world outside of everyone else. I'm afraid that somehow they'll be able to tell that I had an abortion.
One day while talking about pregnancy a friend of mine even asked, "Mimi, did you have an abortion?" I denied it of course, but she really panicked me that day. If she could tell just from one conversation, could everyone else tell too?
I just tried to go day to day, avoiding anything that could maybe make people wonder whether I had an abortion. I got pretty paranoid about it. I didn't want anyone else to know. I got severely depressed, but because I couldn't, or wouldn't, tell anyone about it. I more than often just cried myself to sleep at night every night. I was scared and lonely. I was pushing myself away from everything and everyone. Hardly anything interested me anymore. I clung to those who made me feel comfortable and avoided others. I was just trying to recover but I had no clue how to do so. Often I would start crying around a friend because I was feeling helpless, but they had no idea what the hell I was crying about.
I can't deal with people talking about abortion. I have a friend who does stand up comedy, and you know that comics have to talk about controversial things to get the attention of the audience. Well I had to really grin and bear it when he tried out his new bit on me on night.
Also, at this time, Canadian elections were going on, and one of the big topics of controversy was abortion. One morning I woke up to find my roommates talking about abortion and I sat down with them, hoping they would get off the topic. But one of them began saying horrible things, that women who have abortions are murderers, how abortion shouldn't be legal in Canada anymore, and that if a woman really wants to have an abortion she should take the knife and do it herself. What an idiot. I started fighting with him and got extremely emotional. My whole body was shaking. I was so upset. I eventually stood up, shouted at him and ran to my room, locked my door, lay down in bed curled up in a tight ball and cried my eyes out. I felt like I had just been under attack, that he was calling me a murderer, a baby killer. I was angry that he thought that way and was so insensitive. But it wasn't his fault. He didn't know any better. He and I decided never to talk about politics again because we still have to live together on the same floor for the rest of the school year.
Another thing that upsets me is that my best friend at home is pregnant. She is nearing her fourth month. She's keeping the baby. She's also 19 and dependent on her parents. Her family is thrilled, she's incredibly excited and her boyfriend can't wait until the baby is born. I want so badly to feel happy for her and I am glad that her unplanned pregnancy is turning into a blessing for her. But every time I get an e-mail from her I get a sick, sinking feeling inside of incredible sadness for myself. I don't regret my decision though, because right now I'm not ready or willing to be a mother.
Sometimes I feel selfish for thinking such a thing, but it's a decision that I felt was right for me. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if I had kept the baby but it just doesn't come to my mind as this perfect, happy little event, like what my best friend is experiencing. I am so afraid to see her when I go home for Christmas. I am petrified that I'll take one look at her and her round, pregnant belly and have a breakdown. Right now in Canada I don't have to see her so it's fine. But I am afraid of what it'll be like when I see her.
I have a bit of a phobia about sex now because the thought of having a man inside of me and the thought of his sperm going inside of me petrifies me. I don't know what I would do if I got pregnant again. I really don't know how I would handle it. I probably wouldn't be able to. In the future, sure, I'll have sex again when I'm comfortable in a relationship. I've been back on birth control since the abortion. I don't plan on going off of it for a long time. The next time I do have sex, I won't even let the guy touch me unless he is wearing a condom! I was a complete idiot for having unprotected sex. Of course I was going to get pregnant. You get careless, then you have to handle the consequences. I just wish that I didn't have to learn my lesson the hard way. The very hard way.
I try to avoid talking to others about abortion or pregnancy. Often when I hear people innocently talking about these things I get very upset and can't listen. I get very emotional whenever I read or hear anything about abortion. I can't stand to talk about it, and I get really upset when I hear someone say that abortion is wrong and a crime. I have bad dreams sometimes that I can see the baby getting sucked out of me. I sometimes feel very sad around women who are pregnant or who have babies. I can't stand to even look at stores like Baby Gap or those maternity stores because they make me feel ill.
I did find a lot of support at an on-line post-abortion support group. The site explained everything that I experienced and there's even a name for it: PASS. It stands for Post Abortion Stress Syndrome. I read through a number of sites and recognized that all of the feelings that I've been having are all part of the stress from the abortion. I've read on some sites that PASS isn't a real thing, but it is. It's very real and it affects every aspect of my life: family, school, friends, relationships with the opposite sex, my self-esteem, my plans for the future, my attitudes towards sex, my attitudes towards life on a whole.
It's only been nine weeks since the date of the abortion. Every day is a challenge for me to try to stay strong. Some days are good, some are really bad. On the days when I feel really sad or confused or upset, I take my journal and write in it. I just write out how I feel. I don't try to analyze my feelings. I don't try to solve them right away. I just write them out to get them out of my head and onto paper. It helps most of the time. When I feel like I have no one to turn to, I write in the journal because I feel like sometimes it is the only outlet that I really have.
The father of the baby and I are trying really hard to be better supporters of each other. We're working on our own feelings and on trying to understand and sympathize with each other. Well, no one ever said progress happened overnight.
Today, I decided to write out my story because the website that I had found about PASS suggested that writing out the entire experience can be therapeutic. Writing this was a little bit upsetting but I feel a little more calm now. But who knows how I might feel tomorrow?
I do know that I don't want to get stuck in this rut of depression and sadness and feelings of hopelessness. Of course I am going to feel like that sometimes. Depression is not something that cures overnight. But I do want to get better. I want to be strong and solid again. I want to feel as though my feet are on solid ground. I want to get along with my friends again. I guess I just want to start to feel normal again. I'm only now starting to accept what happened and what I chose to do and what the consequences were. I know that I'll make it. I just have to try, and keep having hope. It'll take time but I know I can do it. I can do it. I know I can.