JD | Middle Tennessee

I think that the main thing I took away was really working on not feeling shame about my decision and honoring that grief. 

I wanted to tell my story because I feel like I can offer a different perspective.  I don’t have any kids and I’m older. I was 39 when I got pregnant. And I never was the type of woman who had an urge to have children—it was never like a question. And so when I got pregnant it was unexpected and it was the first time in my life when I had to ask myself that question- “do I want to be a mom?”  And I was surprised that that question was so hard for me to ask. And my boyfriend, whom I’m still with, had stated from the beginning that he never wanted to have kids.  He has no interest in being a father.

So when I got pregnant I knew that if I were to go through with the pregnancy, I would have to raise the kid on my own.  So that became another part of the question. Is this something that you can do by yourself? I’ve always been pro choice but it had been a label I had given myself that was out there because I’d never had to think about it. When I started asking myself those questions, the answers were more complicated and much heavier than I had anticipated. So I knew that I could not raise a kid on my own. I know there are women who do it and they do a fantastic job.  But that’s not something I feel like I was capable of  doing in a healthy, holistic manner.  And I’m a teacher, so I see what our community does to kids and it’s just not a good place to have children and I didn’t want to contribute to that either.  And so, I went ahead and said I’m going to get an abortion and the thing that surprised me was how hard of a decision it was.  I had no idea. 

When I made that decision I was able to go to Planned Parenthood. Well, first I went to my doctor and it was weird because they didn’t ask me—they just assumed I was keeping this baby.  So they put me on vitamins and started scheduling follow up appointments and I felt like I was doing something wrong.   So I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood.  I felt like I was lucky because there’s one in Nashville and I didn’t have to drive 6 hours to get to one in a different state.  Then I remember thinking before it–I couldn’t remember about legislation about listening to the heartbeat.  I didn’t know if that had passed so I was nervous about that. 

I had about a week before my appointment. The entire time I just don’t know-I hear people talk about getting an abortion and how they knew it was the right thing but for me it was such a grey area since I never expected to be in that situation. At my age too, if I wanted to have a kid, this was probably the last chance because I’m getting older. So it had to be a for sure thing.  When I went to my appointment, my boyfriend was really supportive, as much as he could be.  He went with me.  The process was long but less scary than I had thought.   There were girls there who were younger than, maybe one girl who was older than me.  There were couples and people by themselves. 

It felt right when I got there. I kind of knew what I was doing and felt better about my decision. I did the medical abortion where you take the pill. It was on a weekend, it was crazy.  There was physical discomfort.  My body was doing things that I didn’t know it could do.  They prepared me and they didn’t.  The doctor said there would be pain and discomfort but I didn’t know how much pain.  It was a lot more painful than I thought and it was bloodier than I thought.  I had to call in sick the next Monday. The follow up was really great.  The nurse had suggested birth control using an IUD and I went back and got one at Planned Parenthood.  That was really helpful and I’m grateful for it since I cannot take any hormones.  I think the aftermath is that even though I know I did the right thing for myself and my life, it’s still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and that I’ve ever had to deal with. 

It makes me kind of angry that abortion has become a key word with politicians and with legislation—they just kind of throw it around as an issue when in reality, it’s very personal.  It shouldn’t be politicians deciding and it shouldn’t be governed. When it’s being talked about now and people are drawing lines in the sand about it I just think “you have no idea”.  It’s hard. I thought it would be black and white for me but it wasn’t; it was scary.  That was about three years ago.  I haven’t necessarily regretted it but I felt grief. I’ve definitely grieved. And I think women need to know that. For women who are already mothers I don’t know if it’s the same. For me it’s been a grieving process and I needed to know that that was normal. Nobody told me that. I thought there was something wrong with me.  They didn’t give me any resources for follow up on the emotional side of things, just clinical follow up.  The process is where you can get the most patients in at the same time so that the doctor can perform as many procedures as she can. I just felt like cattle. It wasn’t comfortable. We were in a waiting room for 4-5 hours. And I don’t know why.  People were on their phones and that felt really weird.

I think that the main thing I took away was really working on not feeling shame about my decision and honoring that grief.  I grew up in another state in a very liberal town.  Here, in the clinic, I was so scared I would see one of my students or see their parents.  I couldn’t talk about it except for with a couple of people and my family. In the South it’s a stronger “thing” that I wasn’t prepared for.  The Planned Parenthood where I grew up was amazing. They were very chill.  It was a very different feeling than I got here at the clinic in Nashville.

But I knew when I saw the Tennessee Stories Project that I wanted to share my story.  I think it popped up on my news feed– I found it randomly and I needed to see that at that moment.  I had to do work to feel at peace about the decision,  especially when I meet moms who have been single moms their whole lives and I find myself comparing myself to them.

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