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Content warning: this story contains language that pertains to teen pregnancy and abortion.
May 12, 2020
Alone in my closet, I was afraid of what was going to happen tomorrow. I couldn’t hold back the gushing stream of tears, knowing that the moment I walked inside, that would be my decision. There was no going back. I was scared: not for my own safety, but because I was going to lose something tomorrow. Although he or she wasn’t alive yet, I was losing someone. Something in my head told me that my heart was beating so close to theirs. The thought of them filled my heart to the brim, but I knew I had to let them go. Whether I was ready or not, they weren’t going to be a part of me tomorrow.
Teenage pregnancies and abortions are taboo topics within our community. The Bethesda bubble shoves that conversation down the deepest ditch. Everyone here fights for the right to choose, but they never have a conversation about how to choose. Having that decision was big for me. I had never been so torn in my life. Rather than helping me make the decision, people’s first reactions tended to be how could a smart girl like you get pregnant? Or they asked questions like how did this happen? People would ask me questions I didn’t know the answer to. I was safe every time I had sex. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t understand how this happened or why. All I knew was that it happened. I’m safe. I’m always safe. I’m just really unlucky.
There’s a lot that people don’t tell you about getting pregnant. It makes sense, considering there’s hardly any conversation around teen pregnancy in Bethesda at all. Even after my pregnancy, I still haven’t had a conversation about my experience. I was more or less only five weeks pregnant, and it felt like my entire body changed. Which also makes sense. My hormone levels were elevated, and my uterus was getting ready to develop a child. I would spend one second crying and the next laughing. I was inconsistently cramping, and sometimes I would get bursts of energy after being tired all day. It was a weird sensation, something I had never felt before. It was as if my period hormones decided to take Adderall.
I think the most difficult decision I had to make in all of this was hiding it from my mother. She doesn’t believe in abortions. My family has already been through a lot because of me, and I couldn’t disappoint them any more than I already had. I figured that this would be it. This was the last straw before they decided I wasn’t who they raised. It was hard, trying to figure out a way out of quarantine without my mom finding out I was getting an abortion. I had to lie and tell her I was at my boyfriend’s house or that I went to go buy groceries to drop off at my friend’s house. There were so many lies that I couldn’t figure out where the truth began.
My decision was immediate. I knew that I needed to get an abortion. It wasn’t a difficult decision at first. As the decision stewed and the date I had scheduled the abortion became closer, I began to have doubts. I began to see my child for what it was. My child. People kept telling me it was just a fetus, but it wasn’t. I believe it’s important to understand the weight of the decision of having an abortion. I believe everyone has the right to choose, but I didn’t understand how important the choosing part was. The day before I went to Planned Parenthood, I looked at myself in the mirror. I was in tears. It was then I realized that I made the right decision. Although I looked at all of the pros and cons, I was heartbroken by my decision. But it was for the best. That brokenness is what reminds me that I was in full conscious of my decision.
A part of the abortion or pregnancy nobody tells you is the scary part: the chance that it could all go wrong. I walked into Planned Parenthood unsure of what I was getting myself into. But I knew it was something that had to happen.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I wasn’t allowed to just enter the building. The nurses asked all of the questions beforehand on a call when I was sitting outside of Planned Parenthood in my friend’s car. They asked about my past medical history, the types of medication that I was currently on and whether this was the decision I wanted to make, repeatedly. They asked at least five times. And every time, it got harder to say “yes.” I guess it’s why they ask, to make sure you’re 100% sure. Otherwise, you would regret losing something as important as a child.
Once I entered the building, they took me into a room and did an ultrasound. This was when I was supposed to be able to see my baby. The problem was, they couldn’t find a fetus. They found a small fluid sac somewhere toward the bottom of my uterus but nothing concrete enough to determine it was a child. My heart dropped. My mind was racing. I couldn’t fathom what was happening. The nurses were trying to hide their concerned looks and quickly told me that they needed the authorized clinician in the room. The room went silent as they closed the door behind them. The only thing I could hear was the anxiety screaming in my head.
At first, I thought that this meant that I wasn’t pregnant. Who wouldn’t think that? I mean, there was no baby. Meaning no pregnancy, right? Well, that wasn’t the case. They brought in a trained clinician into the room and told me that my pregnancy could be ectopic. They explained that an ectopic pregnancy meant that my baby was growing in my fallopian tube. If the baby grew big enough, my fallopian tube would burst, and I could internally bleed and die.
When I thought about everything that I had gone through, I didn’t think it could get worse. But it did. My chest felt heavy, my heart was racing. I know that it sounds cliche but I could feel every beat. I felt it in my head and in my veins. I wasn’t worried about me. I was worried that I needed to go to the ER, where I could catch COVID-19, and then get my entire family sick. I was worried that I needed to keep this pregnancy a secret to the point where I might die in the ER without my parents knowing that it was because I was pregnant until the doctors told them. I was afraid that I was never going to have the opportunity to tell them the truth. I was afraid that it would just be another added heartbreak that I’ve added to their lives.
The clinician told me they had to get my blood drawn to check my hormone levels. It was a Monday. That Wednesday I needed to go to LabCorp, a clinical laboratory, to get a second blood test to see whether my hormone levels increased. I did as I was told, but in the back of my mind, I was so anxious that I wasn’t doing my part in social distancing. I had to go to the hospital three times that week. Other than a mask, I didn’t really have any protection against the virus.
My doctor called on Thursday saying that my hormone levels came back as normal. It meant that my pregnancy was normal, and the baby was just too small to see in the ultrasound. I made an appointment the next day to get a medical abortion. That day was Friday.
You have to carefully decide between a medical abortion and a surgical abortion. A surgical would only take about 10 minutes for the actual procedure, but they legally need to keep you in the medical center longer since you were heavily sedated. The pain reliever for surgical abortions also costs an additional $200. It’s a lot more expensive, but it’s about two percentage points more effective. The medical abortion, which I decided to do, was a two-day process. The first day at the hospital, the doctor gives you the medicine mifepristone, which stops the baby from growing. There isn’t a lot of pain, but you may be spotting for a few hours. It depends on your body. I had no cramps or spotting. Then between 24 hours and 48 hours after the first medication, you take four pills of misoprostol. You can take it orally or vaginally. That medication takes about an hour to four hours to kick in. After that, you have really heavy bleeding and cramps that hurt like you’ve been hit by a truck. You’re given anti-nausea medication, and they prescribe you a heavy dose of ibuprofen. You’ll feel very nauseous, with really bad cramps and headaches for about 4 to 6 hours after the medication hits. The pain is really hard to explain. It’s also what makes this process so much scarier. You don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you actually go through it. Abortions aren’t something you can really understand through words, it’s an experience that you have to go through to really comprehend. It’s an abortion. It’s completely unique to your own body.
I’ve gone through a lot of things this year that were beyond my control. Losing my virginity wasn’t my choice, but losing my child was. It’s a decision that I’m going to carry for the rest of my life. I understand that it was barely even anything just yet. Don’t remind me that it was barely alive, just a body of cells. It was a being, half of me, half of someone I’m in love with: How could I not love them? It was a decision that took a lot of patience and a lot of heartbreak. Either decision was going to be painful. The decision came down to which one would be the responsible thing to do.
I’m only 18. I have my entire future ahead of me and a college dorm room I’m so excited to settle into in the fall. Having a child, especially now, would change the path I want to take. I wouldn’t even be able to take care of my child the way they deserved. It’s a decision I live by every day.
The sadness still comes in waves. Losing a child is something that I never thought I would have to do. This decision was one I never thought I would have to make. There are days where I’m okay with the decision. I know that it’s the one I needed to make. But there are days where the sadness hits like a tidal wave that crashes down, and I begin to drown. I can’t stop crying, I can’t breathe, I’m suffocating in my own mind. But in the end, I know that I did what was best. I did what I needed to do, and it was the responsible decision. It doesn’t make the pain any less difficult to deal with. I miss my child every day, even though I’ve never met them. Like the song “IDK you yet” by Alexander 23, I long for the day that I do. I meet them in my dreams sometimes. I hold them for a second until they disappear into thin air.
Unconditional love didn’t exist in my mind until Monday
because I had never felt that kind of love.
It’s a love that is full,
a love that feels like it’s enough
to fill entire galaxies.
The imperfections are what makes it so perfect.
Casey filled my heart in a way no one ever had.
They were a part of my life for five loving weeks.
In a short amount of time, Casey became everything.
Their name forever engraved in my heart
and a name that will bring me heartache every day.
I’m so sorry Casey.
I’m sorry I couldn’t fight for you.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to see the beautiful person
I know you would’ve been.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to hold you
or be there for you as you cried.
I’m sorry I’m not able to be there to celebrate
every smile, step, or birthday.
I wish I could’ve seen the ultrasound.
But maybe seeing you would be too heartbreaking,
because only then would I grasp how real you were.