I was 20. It was fall, second year of college. My life was pretty out of control as I tried to figure out my place in the world. Things were bumpy and I was careless with my pill and my heart.
It was the nausea that first clued me into the pregnancy. My period hadn’t come on time, but I’d missed pills then started back up. I wasn’t worried. But when a friend noticed my aversion to food and smells, she was the first to suggest a pregnancy test. I balked. No way was I pregnant. I’d been on the pill for 4 years and had never even had a scare.
After having a few libations, I got a pregnancy test. I remember the look the clerk gave me. Horror, pure horror. “It’s for my friend, can you believe her? Can’t even buy her own test,” I said to the clerk, getting out of store as fast as possible.
The lines appeared right away. Right. Away. Like whoop there it is. Pregnant. Pregnant. What? What?
I didn’t tell anyone. I just went to bed. In the morning I peaked at the test just in case I was dreaming. I wasn’t. The positive evidence glared at me from the nightstand. I got an appointment at the local clinic, for another pregnancy test. I needed to hear it from a medical professional before it could be real.
“The test is positive,” the nurse said. “Do you know that you will do? Do you know your options?”
My options……I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t want a baby, yet I had been raised to take responsibility. My mother is a feminist. I grew up around campaigns, letter stuffing and door knocking. I knew what being pro-choice was before I even understood how you got pregnant. Choice, I always knew I had a choice. What I didn’t know was how hard that choice can be.
I left the clinic and drove to a payphone (yep this was before everyone had a cell phone). I had to tell my mommy. I knew she would tell me, whatever choice I make she would support me. I called her at work. It. Was. The. Scariest. Thing. Ever.
“Hi Mom! So I went to the clinic this morning and I’m pregnant.”
“Sweetheart I’m very busy, very funny, but I don’t have time right now.”
“Um, no joke. It’s true, I took a couple tests, and the nurse confirmed it. I’m due in June……………Mom are you still there?”
“I have to go get sick. I’ll call you back. Love you.” Click. I didn’t even get a chance to tell her I was at a payphone.
When I got home that afternoon we sat down and talked. The father of the pregnancy (FOP) was my high school sweetheart, only we weren’t in high school any more, and sweetheart could no longer be used to describe us. We hooked up, when it was convenient. That was it. So my mom and I talked about what it would like to have a child. I could fit a crib in my room, barely; my mom would help so I could finish school. My mom was a single mom, it was hard but I knew I could do it. We would do it together. Then she mentioned abortion. I was conflicted. Wasn’t it the responsible thing to have the baby. I had made bed, now shouldn’t I sleep in it. Then she told me. She. Had. An. Abortion. Stop the presses!!! What!! My mother what!! She was a mom, how could she have had an abortion. Why didn’t I know?
Turns out my mom had a life before me. Who knew? She explained that her choice was about motherhood. It was something she knew she wanted, however she wanted it to be with the right partner at the right time. Her choice made it possible to become my mother. If she had that child, she would not have met my father. But she did and she got to become a mother to my sister and me. She choose her future children. It made her choice worth it.
Her admission floored me and shifted the way I viewed my situation and abortion. Before I made any decision I wanted to tell the boy. Turns out a “friend” beat me to it. As I said earlier I was trying to find my place in the world and had, in my nativity and innocence, become friends with the mean girl. She told him I was planning on faking a pregnancy to get back together with him. I wasn’t aware that this had happened, so needless to say, the telling him part did not go well. He didn’t believe me, and said having a baby with me would ruin his life. That’s when I left. I told him not to worry, one way or the other I would take care of it and be out of his life.
I took some time and thought a lot about my life and things I wanted to do. Did I want a family someday? Did I want to stay in the same town I grew up in? What did I want to be when I grew up? I learned that I did want a family someday, but I wanted it to be different then how I grew up. My mom is kick ass. Seriously kick ass. My sister and I always gave her a hard time about working a lot, but truth be told when you needed her, she was there. However I wanted things to be just a little bit different. I wanted to have a father for my children. My father died when I was very young. My mom did amazing on her own; I rarely missed having a father. But I did miss it. Yes I could be a single parent, but that didn’t mean I had to be. I could be a mother now, or I could choose to wait till I was more prepared and ready for the role, and hopefully had a partner. That was big for me. I wanted a partner. I didn’t have one. So I made an appointment.
Thanks to that “friend” many of my other friends knew what I was going through. The response was surprising. One guy friend found out. I remember him taking me aside at a party and asking what my plan was. He told me he though that NOT having a child was a better idea, but if I choose to continue he would go with me to childbirth classes. Another set of friends sent me flowers of the day of the procedure.
I made the choice to go to the appointment with my mom. She dropped me off close to the door, so I could make my walk through the protestors was as short as possible. I was scared but I wanted to be strong and confident in my choice, so in I walked, through the protesters and rain and into my reality.
I was taken into a small room. A woman went over the procedure, and then had me watch a video. The video ended and no one came back in. I sat alone, and quiet for almost 30 minutes. When the lady finally came back in she asked if I had any questions. Fuck yeah I had questions. What was going to be like? Would it hurt? But most important of all, would I be okay after?
“I don’t know” was her answer. Um, what? “Well have you done this? Where you okay after? Someday if I want, can I have a baby?” Her blank stare did nothing to make feel better.
I elected to receive sedation so most of the procedure is fuzzy. I do remember the doctor. It was an older man. “I hope you get on birth control so I don’t have to see you again,’ was all he said to me.
It was amazing how quickly I felt better. Like the weight of the world had been lifted off of me. I could breath and for the first time in weeks I felt hungry. My mom was waiting for me in aftercare. I was really glad to see her. Really glad.
Recovery was easy, and in no time I had moved on with my life. I moved cities, found better friends, and went to college. Eventually I talked to the boy, who apologized profusely. We were both young, very young, and naïve to the world. He was a part of my life and I will always have kind feeling towards him. Occasionally I think, what if. What if I had continued the pregnancy? I would be mom to a 15yr-old. Would I have moved cities? Finished college? If I had continued would I now be married to a wonderful partner and mom to the world’s greatest 8 and 6yr-old?
It’s impossible to say, and even though I think about these questions, I have never once regretted my decision. I am the mother and activist I am because I was allowed to choose when motherhood was right for me.