We’d been dating for three years. I was 25 and he was 26. We were clear about our position on the “what if I got pregnant?” question. No babies. I only wanted adopted children and he liked the idea of seeing what our genes mixed together would be like, but he was on board with my choice, because, “it’s your body so it’s really not my decision”. We were on the same page. Still, abortion was abstract and something much easier to proclaim with confidence when we weren’t staring at a positive pregnancy test.
He was the first person I called. He had a brand new job and had to tell his boss there was an emergency to come home to be with me. It really did feel like an emergency at the time. I called my mom, too. It felt unnatural to talk to her about. We didn’t talk about sex. But at the same time, she’s my mom and this is a question of motherhood. Looking back, the fact that is was uncomfortable to tell my mom because it felt similar to telling my mom I was sexually active definitely illustrated that I was too immature to start a family.
I had an IUD that failed while still appearing to be perfectly in place and functioning, which the doctor said was particularly rare. My mom reminded me that I was actively trying to prevent this from happening, doing everything “right”. Choosing an abortion would be a continuation of the effort we were already making not to become parents. Scott and I discussed how we technically could raise a baby. We were financially stable. We had supportive parents. We were in a good place in our relationship but acknowledged that we had just been in a not-so-good place six months ago. We weren’t sure we’d be spending the rest of our lives together if things progressed naturally. It was a possibility that having a baby together would force into reality.
We googled options while being very careful not to look at fetus pictures. Clips of Juno were in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to learn about fingernails. We were leaving on a vacation cruise soon and worried I couldn’t get an appointment soon enough since abortions are only performed on certain days of the week. I was able to schedule a consultation at Planned Parenthood, an organization I trusted and where I received gynecological care. Not because I couldn’t afford to go elsewhere, but because I supported their work and liked their young staff and bright happy office décor. People in there seemed more like me than the visibly pregnant ladies at my mom’s OBGYN.
I hadn’t thought through the name much until I was in the waiting room, Planned Parenthood… parenthood that is planned, not sprung on you when you’re purposely avoiding it! In the waiting room journal I wrote, “I got pregnant with an IUD. This isn’t fair”. The staff seemed to think the same thing as I explained my situation through tears. I felt like they truly sympathized with my bad luck in ending up there. I was clear that I wanted an abortion, which they gracefully called “terminating a pregnancy”. They were supportive and didn’t push in either direction. They just offered resources and lots of tissues.
Because becoming pregnant with an IUD in place is so uncommon they worried about the possibility of an eptopic pregnancy, which would be dangerous to me and require an abortion. This sounded great. I could have an abortion without the guilt. I had a medical reason. The choice would be taken away all together. However, they couldn’t be sure. I’d have to go to the hospital to confirm that and if it wasn’t the case, I’d be back where I started. Alternatively, they could do the suction abortion procedure in the clinic and be able to see if the embryo was removed. I wanted answers sooner than later and knew I’d pursue an abortion regardless of the type of pregnancy. I had my IUD taken out and the suction procedure that day. I didn’t find it any more uncomfortable than the other various type of probing that happen at the gynecologist, just longer and louder (because there is essentially a vacuum running). There was someone there just to comfort me and hold my hand, which was nice but did feel a little unnatural especially since I didn’t really need to be comforted and the procedure was so easy.
I sat in the recovery room while they examined the suction contents. There, a staff member told me she had also gotten pregnant with an IUD. They couldn’t 100% confirm that they’d removed the pregnancy because they said things looked a little strange, mentioning that “it probably wasn’t meant to be either way”, which I took to mean that the pregnancy was abnormal and would’ve ended in miscarriage regardless. I’m sure I could have asked more questions but the thought that the pregnancy would never have been successful anyway was comforting and I decided not to clarify my interpretation. My boyfriend, who had been in the waiting room and part of conversations with the doctors all afternoon, took us home. I don’t remember any symptoms or pain after the procedure.
I came back a few days later to make sure my hormones had adjusted, confirming the pregnancy was completely terminated. I also got another IUD. We used condoms for a long time but eventually learned to trust the IUD again. We made it on our vacation and had an amazing trip (see photo). We got engaged 6 months later and are married now. We talk about what we’d do if we were in the same situation now and are still on the same page. I’m lucky to have had such a supportive partner though this experience. I believe I also have a supportive network of friends and family but I didn’t give many of them the chance to prove that to me because I have only told my closest girlfriends. I’m sharing my abortion on Facebook today as part of my explanation of why I’m asking people to donate to NNAF. I hope sharing my story here and there will help chip away at the abortion stigma and empower others to share and make the choices that are right for their bodies and lives.