"I had an abortion last week. I am 34 years old and I have no children. Mine isn't a story about a mother who already has children and doesn't wish to have any more. It's not a story about a woman who can't have children due to health reasons. It's just a story about someone who doesn't make enough money to support a child and who doesn't really want to support a child.
My husband and I had an accident a few weeks ago. In the morning, before he left for work, he stopped by the grocery store and picked up Plan B. I took it within 12 hours of having intercourse--early enough that it boasts a 95% effectiveness rate. I didn't give our accident any thought after that.
The week my period was due, I had all of the normal premenstrual symptoms I usually experience: Swollen breasts, cramping, and tiredness. My period came on the day it was expected, but it was very light and spotty. I grew concerned but after reading that one of the possible side effects of Plan B was a light or spotty period, I felt confident that everything was fine.
The following week, I was still experiencing cramping, but it felt strange. The cramps were very light, and much lower in my abdomen than they usually are, and the swelling and tenderness in my breasts had never subsided. I knew I wasn't pregnant, but I decided to take a test just to put my mind at ease.
I bought the cheapest test at the store, threw it in the bathroom for the next morning, and nearly forgot about it. When I went to take it the next morning, my husband was still asleep. I expected to have to wait a moment to read the result but the plus sign was as crystal clear as ever I have seen one. There was no, 'Is that an extra line? I think that maybe there's something there. Put it under a different light and check again.'
That test stared me in the face and said, 'YOU. ARE. PREGNANT.'
I was horrified and shocked. How could I be pregnant? I didn't feel pregnant. I woke up my husband and he held me while I cried. There was no discussion of what we wanted to do about it because we'd decided what we would do in such a situation years before this ever happened.
I was supposed to work that day. I had to call my supervisor and tell her what was going on, and she was thankfully supportive and sympathetic. I counted down the seconds until my OBGYN's office would open and called them in a panic. They said they couldn't help me there, but gave me the phone number for a clinic that could--one of only two abortion clinics in my city of over two million people.
We sped to the clinic as fast as possible since the only appointment slot they could give me was 15 minutes from when I called them. When we arrived, we were greeted by a kind escort in a rainbow vest who walked us past the protesters yelling, 'God loves you and your baby.' 'Your baby is beautiful.' 'You don't have to do this.' I didn't look at them or acknowledge them.
They gave me an ultrasound and did bloodwork and found out that I was four and a half weeks pregnant. I was given preparation and aftercare instructions and sent home to wait for my actual abortion appointment, which would occur four days later. I was one of the lucky ones. There aren't enough doctors to serve the number of women needing abortions in my city. Others have had to wait two or even three weeks for their procedures.
During those four days, I had to go to work. I work with children and their families. I work in an environment staffed predominantly by women in their twenties and thirties. I work with people who love babies and pregnancy and motherhood. Knowing that I was pregnant but soon would not be was torture. I was confident about my decision, but felt as though life was rubbing it my face. I felt as though I had to keep my situation a secret when I'm usually very candid with my colleagues, and I hated that.
The day of my procedure, my husband drove me to the clinic and then went nearby to work while I was inside. There would have been nowhere for him to sit in the waiting room, because every seat was occupied by a woman needing help.
The staff was wonderful and kind to me. They never asked invasive questions, they never asked about my motives, and as busy as they were, they treated me and all of the other women there with the time and respect they deserved. I took ibuprofen, antibiotics and misoprostol to soften my cervix an hour before the doctor saw me. I opted also for an injection of toradol to help with the pain. The abortion itself was not pain-free but it was very fast, and the nurse who held my hand was, and still is, my heroine.
After it was over I sat in the recovery room for 20 minutes, texted my husband to come back for me, and went home. That was that.
In the week that followed, I looked around trying to find a story that matched mine, and it was difficult. If anyone else out there is in the same situation, I hope that they read this and know that it's okay to have an abortion in your thirties. That it's as normal to not want children as it is to want them. That it's okay to have an abortion when you know people who are struggling to conceive. That you get to live the life that you want to live--not the life that other people think you should live." —Meredith