Katy | West Tennessee

I’m pregnant, but I’m totally fine. I know what I want to do, I need an abortion.

My name is Katy and I am forty-nine years old. I had an abortion the summer after my junior year in college. I was dating this guy who lived in the apartment across the street from me, and not very seriously. We were just kind of fooling around. I wasn’t on birth control because I didn’t have a serious boyfriend at the time. I had been on birth control before when I did have serious boyfriends–I had been on the pill. I can remember, I was in Birmingham, Alabama by myself in college. I had to find a doctor, get myself over there, get an exam, and get the pill and he was a man and I just remember that it was all kind of creepy. But I was doing it because I didn’t want to get pregnant. But then I got off because it was a pain and they were expensive and I didn’t have any money. So I was just kind of dating casually and having sex with this guy across the street from me at my apartment. I wasn’t in love with him, it was just kind of boredom. We had unprotected sex, and I remember when I thought, “Oh god, I think I’m pregnant from that.”
I was home in Pensacola, and I went to some clinic and got a pregnancy test. I don’t remember where I went or how I knew to go there. My mother was a Social Worker in town, and she was one of those people who everybody knew. So I did the test and it was negative, and the counselor woman was so sweet to me, and she said, “I know your mom! Your mom would be super helpful and supportive.” I said, “I know she would.” And she said, “Well, you’re not pregnant, but you can talk to your mom about this. I’m not going to say anything, obviously, I can’t. But you should.” That was very nice of her, and I knew she was right about that. I have some vague memory of my parents helping a girl–a family friend of ours who was around eighteen–get an abortion. You know how as a kid you hear adults talking about things? I remember hearing them talk about helping her find abortion services. So I knew my parents were cool. But when you’re the daughter, you don’t necessarily want to say, “I did a really stupid thing!” and let your parents down.
So, I go back to Birmingham, still with no period. I got another pregnancy test, probably from a drugstore, and that one was positive. But I sort of already knew. I spent a week trying to smoke as many cigarettes as I could, because I somehow thought maybe if I smoked a ton of cigarettes that it would spontaneously abort. The pregnancy would be like, “Get me the fuck out of here! This is bad, this person is not healthy!” But that did not happen, so I finally knew what I had to do.
I don’t remember having any conscious idea about how far along I was or what the laws were–I didn’t know any of that. I just said to myself, “Okay, get real, stop smoking cigarettes.” So I called my mom, and I can remember sitting out on the balcony of this apartment place, smoking cigarettes and talking to my mom, telling her I was so sorry. I said, “I’m pregnant, but I’m totally fine. I know what I want to do, I need an abortion.” I knew there was an abortion clinic in Pensacola. I don’t remember if this was before or after the doctor got shot [in Pensacola], this was back in the 70s or 80s. But I knew there was a clinic on 9th Avenue, because there were all these protesters there, that was their thing. I asked my mom to make me appointment at that place, told her that I’d be home that weekend, and she was totally fine.
She made the appointment, I drove home on Friday, and the appointment was on Saturday. She took me and she stayed in the waiting room. They wouldn’t let her come back, which now that I work at CHOICES I guess seems normal. But looking back on it, I wish she could have been with me. I don’t remember it being super painful, but I also don’t remember the people being super nice. There was no Patient Advocate or abortion doula, there was nobody holding my hand, there was no “you’re going to be fine, you’re doing great.”
I remember a speculum and a scrape a little bit, and then that was it. I went home and I remember telling my dad the next day. Both my parents lived in Pensacola, but they were divorced and lived in different houses. I was fine, so I told him that I was totally okay, but I just wanted him to know that’s why I was home. He told me he was glad that I was okay, and he was very loving. Then I went back to school. I remember telling one girlfriend at Birmingham-Southern, where I was in school, and she was super fine and sweet. She wasn’t a super empathic person, but she was glad that I was okay. Looking back on it, I wish that the clinic had been more warm and caring. It was very cold and clinical. It wasn’t bad, they weren’t mean or demeaning or anything, but it was just very sterile and clinical. So different from what we do [at CHOICES].
I didn’t really think about it again. I do remember the next time I had my period I thought that I was going to die, I thought my uterus was going to come out, because it hurt, it was so difficult, and I bled so much. I don’t remember being prepared for that. Then I thought to myself, “Okay, I’m done with that, and I’m never thinking about it again.”
So, I never thought about it again until–fast forward twenty years–and I had two kids and I was either trying to get pregnant again, or I was pregnant again. We didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, and I remember driving down Poplar Avenue by Overton Park with my mom. And I said to her, “I don’t regret having an abortion at all. But now that I have these two boys and I would love so much to have a girl, I do wonder if the pregnancy that I aborted would have been my girl.” And then my mom hit me on the shoulder and told me, “Don’t you dare think like that!” It was just twenty-whatever years later, and I did end up having a girl. I think once I did become a mother and had these children that I am over the moon about, it does make you think, “I wonder what that child would have been.” It’s just a weird thing, when I was thinking about wanting a girl for this pregnancy, it crossed my mind that maybe that was my girl and I chose not to have her. But I never would have wanted to not have that choice. But there are certain things that you go through in life that you think are compartmentalized until you’re going through something different in your life and you’re like, “Oh! That makes me think of this other thing in a different way.” That’s the last time I thought about it.
I am hesitant to give people advice about this because I wouldn’t expect everyone who was in my position to have felt the way that I felt. It’s so individual. I think some people do probably feel really bad about it for whatever reason, so I’m almost hesitant to say too much about how I was totally fine, super relieved, happy, and thankful that I had a family that I could depend on to help me. But I’m glad that I did.

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