The stigma of getting pregnant at 20 is something I never thought I would experience, until I did. “That only happens to irresponsible people,” “It’s really hard to get pregnant,” “There’s no way that would happen to me.” –these were all thoughts that had always pervaded my mind until the day I tested positive.
A trip to the doctor’s office and one ultrasound later confirmed that yes, there was a new life forming inside of me. I was still in college with goals of finishing up my degree and eventually going to graduate school but suddenly, everything was imbalanced, everything felt off, everything had changed. I felt nauseous all the time, I wanted to sleep at almost every moment of the day, tater tots were my best friends, and suddenly eggs were my worst enemy. No, I couldn’t feel the baby kick or hiccup, but I could feel the unfamiliar changes in my body that told me that there was a 6-week old life inside me depending on me for survival.
Realizing I was responsible for another life was the most terrifying yet beautiful thing I had ever experienced. An abortion seems like the obvious option for a 20-year-old in the middle of college and without a steady income. But actually putting myself in that position suddenly made me realize that it isn’t. Knowing and feeling that there was a life growing inside me made me feel complete, gave me purpose, and helped me find significance in an otherwise naïve and mundane life.
I used to worry about a test I had the next day, what I was wearing to go out that night, or whether or not I would be able to get the internship I wanted, but now I was worrying about the innocent and dependent life inside me. Everything else seemed so trivial. The phrase “caring for someone” now stimulated a completely different feeling within me; it had an entirely new meaning. The blueberry-sized, 6-week old fetus was a part of me and I was reluctant to let it go. But as much as I wished that I was at a point in my life when bringing a child into the world was the best choice for both of us, I knew this wasn’t so. I wouldn’t be able to support it or give it the kind of life it deserved and when you’re responsible for another life, you do what’s best for both.
It had been 8 weeks and 6 days before I terminated my pregnancy. In that short amount of time, I had experienced a seemingly endless roller coaster of emotions– stress, anxiety, happiness, embarrassment, love, isolation, fear, sadness, attachment. The medical abortion was a painful process that once again triggered strange changes in my body. But this time, these changes were telling me my blueberry-sized baby was leaving my body. It was no longer depending on me. My baby had escaped me and suddenly, I felt empty. I felt guilty. I felt alone. Just like that, I was no longer responsible for another life.
One year later and I still think about my baby most days. I find myself wondering if it’d be a boy or a girl, or what he or she would look like. Sometimes I even find myself Googling “baby development stages” to see what little behaviors it would have developed by now. Maybe it would have just learned to crawl. Maybe it would be able say “mama.”
Some things you just don’t get over, and for me, this is one. It’s a decision I made and don’t regret, but I’ll always wish I could just see my baby and tell it how much I love it and how sorry I am for everything and how I truly wish the timing was right. I see kids everywhere—around my neighborhood, on my campus, at the mall, at restaurants. Each time, my heart sinks…my stomach drops. Just like that, I’m brought back to the memories of being responsible for another life and just like that, I remember that termination was the right decision, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest.