” I was one of the lucky ones”

I knew, when I got pregnant by accident, that I was one of the lucky ones. I was lucky because it never crossed my mind to keep it, so I had no heart-wrenching decision to make, and I didn’t have to worry about having regrets. I was lucky because I live in a country where abortion is easy and safe to get. So without a second of doubt or uncertainty, and with very little hassle, I got an abortion. A year and a half later, I have never once regretted the decision. When the word “pregnant” appeared on the test I waited calmly for a good minute for the word “not” to appear next to it. When it didn’t, I took another one, with the same result. I sat in shock for about five minutes, then promptly did a Google search for abortion clinics near me. I had an appointment three days later, but it was too early to find the foetus (embryo? baby? definitely not baby) on the ultrasound so I had to wait for two weeks – at which point I was about 8 weeks pregnant – and then I had a surgical abortion. I insisted on going to the clinic by myself, out of a bizarre sense of guilt at making anyone wake up before 9am. The procedure was ridiculously easy; I went to sleep for five minutes and when I woke up I had what felt like bad period pains, and I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I went to the bathroom and was sick, and ten minutes later I was ready to leave. I was sleepy, not pregnant, and immensely relieved. Those two-and-a-half weeks, and the month or so following them, were very surreal, and I can’t remember most of that time. Distasteful humour was my primary way of dealing with the situation, along with the mantra of “yeah I’m actually totally fine”. My friends tell a different story that I can’t remember: I stopped washing my hair, replaced food with alcohol and had a weird, glazed look in my eyes the whole time. Having a conversation with me was hard, because I wasn’t really there. Jokes went over my head, or I laughed when nothing was funny. When I called the guy who got me pregnant – a casual sex partner and a nice guy – my deadpan and casual attitude meant it took him a good ten minutes to figure out I was being serious. Months later, he said that it had been scary seeing me, because I was so “fine” that I came across as robotic. I have never thought of myself as having a baby inside of me, or being a potential mother, or being a murderer, and I’m lucky that nobody I care about has made me feel that way (although my trip to the clinic was preceded by an encounter with a super-creepy bunch of catholics saying hail-marys outside). Despite not feeling these anxieties that I know a lot of women feel about abortion, the whole thing was a trauma. I felt like my body had let me down by getting pregnant, and I felt estranged from it. I stopped doing university work, stopped eating, started binge-drinking. And then things got a bit better, and then much better, and over the next few months I began to let go of the anger I felt, towards my own body for failing me, and towards the “father” for getting me pregnant. When people ask me about my abortion, I tell them the hard bit wasn’t having an abortion. The hard bit is getting pregnant in the first place, not having control over your own body: having it hijacked by something you don’t want there. My abortion is not something I think about much anymore. When I do think about it, I mostly just feel sad for the scared 21 year old insisting on going to the clinic by herself. I should have been more compassionate towards her. I feel more sad, though, for the women who don’t have this option at all, and grateful that I can say: getting an abortion was the easy part.


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