At 21 years old...

“At 21 years old, I was on hormonal birth control and it failed. I had gotten a terrible flu, strep and chest infection and was prescribed antibiotics. Too ill to make it to the pharmacy myself, I asked my then-boyfriend to pick up the prescription. I have a gender neutral name so the pharmacist wouldn't have warned my boyfriend that the prescription could affect 'his' birth control, and I was too delirious to bother reading the info packet that came with the prescription (lesson learned). Fast forward a very short time later, now recovered, and I'm pregnant. Fortunately, hyperemisis [gravidarum] kicked in very early, I hadn't even missed a period before I realized what was going on (suddenly needing to carry an empty big gulp cup around to spontaneously gag into was a tip off). Fortunate for me, I live in Canada. I visited a walk-in clinic, explained my situation, indicated I wanted an abortion and was immediately given a referral for my free universal health care provided abortion.

I shed many, many tears and did a great deal of soul searching before making the decision to pursue a termination, but becoming a mother was not what I wanted. I was 21, it was Spring and I was going off to school that fall to finally enter a program with a 2+ year wait list. My boyfriend of six months was extremely supportive. He also didn't feel prepared for parenthood but in the same breath had the integrity to state he would be there and embrace it with me if that's what I chose. I was raised by two people who I knew would support me unconditionally. There was no threat of abandonment, no threat of shame, in my heart I knew my parents were my tribe and they would welcome a new member and all the hardships and joy that would bring for all of us if that's what I chose.

I was also very aware that adoption was an option and I struggled with guilt over that, not because I was attached to the notion that my 6 week pregnancy was 'a person' but because a healthy baby born to a healthy mother with no addiction issues would be someone’s dream come true. I had to wait a few weeks for the procedure, this was over 15 years ago, so even with a pregnancy detected very early on that was the only option presented to me. The wait was worse than the procedure. I didn't necessarily struggle with the decision but those couple of weeks were profoundly sad and isolating, I was haunted. The procedure itself is mostly a blur. I did visit the ER a few days after concerned about continued bleeding, but everything was fine. The standard depo shot I received after the procedure left me bleeding for 3 months, a daily reminder of my choice and 21-year-old me did wonder if I would bleed for life as some kind of cosmic punishment. Eventually my body returned to normal and life went on.

15 years later my then-boyfriend is my now-husband. There are no regrets. For the first few years I would remember the date of the abortion and remember the date I had calculated out to be the due date had I continued with the pregnancy. There were no great pangs of remorse, just a very solemn remembrance of those weeks of profound sadness, and loneliness, and a wish that I could go back and wrap my arms around that 21-year-old girl and tell her about the amazing things to come. That went away over time. I have tears streaming down my face now, but it's been years since these kinds of feelings have washed over me. I had the best possible situation and the best possible outcome, but it was still a trauma. Friends had children around the same time so every so often it hits me, ‘wow. I could also have a fourteen-year-old right now.’ There's no longing for that alternative reality, it's just a thought that bubbles up from time to time.

In sharing this story with girlfriends I have been asked if there's any regret because the then-boyfriend eventually became the now-husband, and there's not. There's not because I'm absolutely sure that we wouldn't be married and have the life that we have now had we had a child together so early in the relationship. I have no doubt he would have been an excellent co-parent, but there's just no way we would have made it as a couple. The decade and a half between then and now was an amazing journey for both of us and we were able to stay together and grow together because we had the freedom to change and explore and take risks and change gears, change careers, move cities, pursue dreams and make choices that we never could have had the luxury of making if there was a child in the mix because we both would have prioritized that child and it's needs over our own dreams and pursuits.” - Anonymous

#international #birthcontrol

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