Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
Today’s story comes from the Feminist Women Health Center of Seattle, whose vision is to a world where all women freely make their own decisions regarding their bodies, reproduction and sexuality.
In July 2003, Sonya was due for boot camp with the Air Force in just a week. Her parents even threw her a farewell party. That’s when she found out she was pregnant. When she told the Air Force recruiter about her experience, they made her wait until after her third period to go to boot camp. In a small town, it was difficult to keep the secret. This is her story.
I’m 18. I’m enlisted in the Air Force, and I was supposed to leave for boot camp July 14th. I was so scared…but so excited that I would be starting a new chapter in my life. I had about a week to go when I found out I was pregnant.
I remember always looking down on abortion, thinking “I could never murder a child.” I thought like that until the very moment I saw “two lines.” I couldn’t believe it. I set aside a few moments to just cry hysterically and wonder “What the hell are we gonna do?” (my boyfriend was with me). We had talked about having children before. I wanted to… but not until I was at least 22-23… you know? Not so young…
Well… I immediately looked online for information on abortion…and told him that was what I had to do. He didn’t like it… he’s so in love with kids… but he understood my reasons. For one thing… you can’t go to boot camp pregnant! Just NOT possible. And this is what I’ve been telling everyone about for months. How “I’m going into the Air Force”… and how excited I am. I figured… if I can get an abortion… I’ll still be good to go. Plus… the fact that my parents were throwing me a going away party…pretty much said I had to leave. On top of all this…I had already quit my job to take some time off before I left. I had no money…… my mom was paying my bills until I got my first military paycheck. I couldn’t let her down.
So… calls were made…and an appointment was set. Now we had to get some money. $415. My grandmother had been telling me to come by her house and pick up my graduation gift. So I went by…and she gave me $100. My boyfriend picked up his paychecks from both jobs, and I pawned my amp. that went with the guitar I’d never been able to master… we had enough. The clinic was 2 1/2 hours away, so we had to wake up at like 4a.m. It was the most horrible drive ever. They said I couldn’t eat or drink anything. I was just aching with hunger (that may be a little dramatic). But I drove the whole way with my boyfriend sleeping in the passenger seat.
When we got there… there were protesters outside who… with their Christian attitudes, made me feel so much better about my decision <–that was sarcasm.> I went inside the clinic… wondering if it was going to be painful, wondering what my boyfriend was eating (he couldn’t come inside, so he was gonna drive around). I felt bad about what I was doing, but I was relieved that it would all be over and I could still go into the Air Force as planned. They called me into a room to do a blood test, and I asked the woman “If I were to take a pregnancy test in a couple of days…it would be negative, right?” When she said no..my heart just sank. I knew I would have to tell my mom, and my recruiter… and I wouldn’t be able to go for a while. (They give you a pregnancy test before they send you to boot camp.) So..I paid my money, and then I waited. I waited for about 2 hours. Still no food.
When they called my name, I was pretty terrified. I had never even been to a gynecologist before, I didn’t want some old man looking at my crotch! So…I stuck it out and went in the room. They told me what was going to happen… but they never could have prepared me. The pain was the worst kind I’d ever felt. I imagined myself dying right there, and then everyone knowing that I had had an abortion. When it was over… they told me to dress and they would walk me to the recovery room. Everything was spinning and I ended up passing out in the hall. They said I hyperventilated.
When I came to, they sat me in a chair and put a fan in front of me. The nurses were so caring and understanding. The other women sitting around who had been through the same thing were all looking at me with concern. Having people there who weren’t judging me and knew what I had been through helped a lot. When I left the clinic, my boyfriend drove as I cried. Partly because of the pain, and partly because I knew I had screwed up my plans. I then I felt bad for thinking about it as “my plans.” I seemed so selfish.
When we came into town, I went to my recruiter’s office, and told him everything. He made some calls and told me that I would have to have 3 regular periods before I could go. So then, I had to tell my mom why I wasn’t leaving. I came home… and I wrote her a note. It was so lame.. I couldn’t bring myself to say the words… so I wrote it down, handed it to her..and then went in my room and cried. She showed my dad, and then came in my room to tell me she loved me and she just wished I would have told her I was pregnant. The going away party would still be on because my aunt had already ordered a cake. I decided to tell everyone that I couldn’t go because I hurt my foot. I really had hurt my foot… but not bad enough to stop me from going. So… I’m still gonna go… I’ve just been telling everyone I hurt my foot, and I have to go back down to the Military Entrance Personnel Something (the place where you pick your job and sign your contracts) before I will know when I’m leaving. The problem is.. I can’t go back down there until I have 3 regular periods. I’ve told so many people about my foot.. that it’s almost like.. become a truth for me. It’s like… I’m believing my own lies or something. I feel bad for lying to everyone. There are certain people I want to tell, because I feel like I they should know.. but I don’t feel like I can. Maybe I will one of these days. Maybe one of these days I’ll get the courage. But, for now…just telling anyone helps. Thanks.
18 Aug 2003