Want to listen to this instead?
Before we dive in here, I want to let you know I’ve recorded an in-depth podcast episode about this with my partner, who was intrinsically involved throughout this entire experience. If you’d like to listen to that instead for the full story, you can find that here. We have a conversation about our shared and individual experiences, and go into more detail than I do here.
Content warning: abortion
In January of 2020 I had an abortion.
This isn’t something I’ve talked about publicly before. I’ve been hesitant to share this with the world because of the fears I’ve had about what people would think. I didn’t want to be judged for my choices, especially while I still felt vulnerable about them. But it’s been over a year now, and it’s time to share this story.
I’m sharing this because if even one person reads this or listens to the accompanying podcast and feels a little less alone in their own decisions or experience regarding abortion then it will be worth it. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it makes a topic that is so often taboo a little more easy to talk about for someone. I’m sharing this because, outside of my partner, I felt so isolated and alone with this decision and experience, and I don’t want other people to feel that way. So this is my offering, take it or leave it.
I trust that you will be kind in your responses.
And if you can’t be, please take your responses and share them with someone else other than me. I am not interested in debating this or hearing your opinions about my choices if they are not supportive.
This choice and experience never felt insignificant to me. And I can’t imagine a time that it will. It has shaped me. It has shaped who I am now, and I know it will shape who I am as a parent in the future.
Last January, we said no to starting a family.
My partner Dexter and I want kids. We want kids so badly. We want kids so badly that on our first date, he asked me if I wanted kids because he needed to know right off the bat whether or not we were on the same page. But last January, we said no to starting a family. Prior to this we had had a conversation about what would happen if I got pregnant. We both said we’d keep the baby. But when it actually happened, we made a different choice.
Making this choice felt impossible. It felt like we were cornered with no right answer, no ideal option. It was heartbreaking. I spent much of 2020 grieving the loss of this unborn child. And I still don’t regret my decision; I still know we made the right choice for us.
Let me rewind a bit.
I had a copper IUD at the time I got pregnant, which is 99% effective. This means that roughly 5 women out of every 1000 with a copper IUD may get pregnant. It was a complete surprise that it happened to me.
I found out I was pregnant by peeing on a stick when my usually very predictable period was several days late. And my heart sunk. I felt torn apart, like the plan we’d had for our lives had been ripped from us. This was pre-COVID. We were living in our apartment in the city. Dexter was in the middle of his Masters, and I was one year into building my own business. We were both focused on our work and our careers, focused on our relationship together, and it felt like this would pull the rug out from under us. When I told Dexter and we discussed it, he shared the same feelings. We wanted to be so thrilled, so excited, in that moment – finding out we were having a baby. But neither of us were.
We sat with the decision for a number of days, and together, decided that we wanted a baby, but not yet. We wanted a baby when we were excited for the baby. We wanted a baby when we were feeling a little more financially stable. Could we have been solid parents and provided a good life for that child already? Yes. We could have. But we made the heartbreaking, and also liberating, choice to wait until we could do an even better job.
To position myself here for a moment, I have a huge amount of privilege.
This absolutely contributed to the ease with which I could make this decision. I am a white, cis-female with European ancestry. I have enough income to live comfortably and pay any unforeseen medical expenses. All of this means an abortion was relatively easy for me to access and I was able to trust that were there any complications, my medical needs would be met. I did not have to spend any money to access my abortion because it is covered under Canadian health care.
That all being said, this is not a decision that came lightly.
I think we both knew, in our heart of hearts, what we wanted, but knowing and doing are two different things. Every step of the way was hard, and it all felt muddy. There was so much shame and fear and grief wrapped up in the decision. I had, almost immediately, formed a strong bond with the idea of this baby. I remember, at the time, writing a letter to what I called the “cluster of cells in my uterus” explaining our choices, and expressing our vast love for this little unborn life, in spite of the decision we were making. No part of this was easy.
I was early enough along that I was able to do a medical abortion.
This means I took two pills and was able to have the abortion at home. We both booked the day off work, and spent the day on the couch as I rode the waves of the severe cramping and bleeding.
While I am grateful this option was available to me, the at-home abortion process itself was scary. While in the end everything went as smoothly as I suppose it could have, I was worried something would go wrong the whole time and when things didn’t go exactly as I was told they likely would, I was terrified. After the abortion was complete, the bleeding remained heavy for a few days and then subsided. It took several months for my menstrual cycle to return to normal. And I noticed other longer term impacts in my body and hormones as well.
While the physical process was deeply uncomfortable, the emotional pain and ongoing grief has been incredibly difficult.
I have cried and cried and cried, full body wracking sobs, like I have not experienced before in my lifetime.
It felt incredibly confusing to know that I wanted to have the abortion in my head – logically, cognitively, and rationally – but for my body to be so deeply in grief about it. The mismatch between my head and my heart has never been so abundantly clear to me, how these two systems can operate so distinctly from one another.
I have not regretted my decision. But I have grieved my decision, and the accompanying loss. More than a year later, I still feel sad. But I also feel at peace with the choice we made.
I am so grateful to have had the support of my partner through this whole process. He has never left my side. But, outside of him, I felt very alone. I chose to tell a handful of people, and they were kind and understanding in the moment but, in most cases, never followed up. I wish more people would ask about it – my grieving process. People seem to skim over it, since it was a choice I made. People seem to assume that because it was a choice I can’t also be desperately sad about it. But I am.
Now, more than a year out, while still tender, I feel ready.
I feel ready for you to know because this is an integral part of who I am now. I will always, forevermore, be someone who had an abortion. And when we’re ready to invite that little soul back in our lives, I trust they’ll feel the call.
If you want to know more:
My partner Dexter and I sat down for an in depth conversation about our experiences of this and recorded it for The Unraveled Life podcast. It truly would mean a lot to me if you’d listen, because I think this is something we don’t talk about nearly enough. You can tune into that conversation here.
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