Unplanned Pregnancy
January 23, 2012 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm pregnant. Now what?

I'm 32, 6 weeks pregnant and I have no idea if I want to keep it or have an abortion. I've only been with the potential father for just over two months. He doesn't want me to keep it, but knows it's ultimately my decision.

I've scheduled an abortion for Friday because I wanted to make sure I could still take RU486, versus going in for an actual procedure.

For a long time, I always thought if I accidently got pregnant, I'd keep it. No matter what. But now that it's actually happening, abortion is seeming like the more logical, reasonable thing to do.

Please share your experiences with your decision and the aftermath of that decision, good or bad. I could really use your personal trials and tribulations in this particular situation.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (63 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Would you have an email, or could you MeMail me? I am happy to share my experience in the area, but I am not so comfortable sharing so publicly. And for any future MeFites reading this, in a similar situation? Offer stands to get in touch with me.
posted by kellyblah at 9:02 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everyone is different and everyone's situation is different. I had a surgical abortion at 8 weeks, it took 10 minutes and was completely painless. It was the right decision and I've never regretted it. It wasn't really even a decision, I was a student at the time and there was no way I was in a position financially, emotionally or practically to carry a baby to term or take care of a child. The father and I are still together FWIW.
posted by missmagenta at 9:05 AM on January 23, 2012 [8 favorites]

I'd be happy to talk more if you MeMail me. Also, if you are wanting to sort through your options, counselors at Planned Parenthood are available to do just that. They are there to help you make an informed choice, whatever is best for your situation. Good luck.
posted by goggie at 9:11 AM on January 23, 2012

The abortion provider that you've scheduled with should also be able to provide pregnancy counseling services (or Planned Parenthood, as goggie suggested above). I know a few counselors who work for abortion providers, and in general they want to help women make the best decision for themselves/their family, whether that's adoption, abortion, or keeping the baby.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on January 23, 2012

If you MeMail me, I will also tell you about mine, which happened in a similar situation. Quick summary: Went fine, no emotional fallout, life went on, definitely the right decision.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:16 AM on January 23, 2012

MeMail me if you like.
posted by resurrexit at 9:30 AM on January 23, 2012

I have been in the same situation twice, and felt like I had different experiences. Memail me if you would like.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 9:31 AM on January 23, 2012

I also have experience with this. One thing I will say, is that I found many more people than I ever imagined have been through this. Mere acquaintances and close friends were coming up to me in private and sharing their stories. So please take comfort in that you are not alone. It's a big decision, but whatever decision you make will be also okay. You can also contact me if you like.
posted by getmetoSF at 9:39 AM on January 23, 2012

I know a couple where she got pregnant after dating for a year. They decided to get an abortion. They are now married with two beautiful daughters. For them, doing it the "legitimate" way (kids after marriage) was important to them. I think it also made the guy feel like she wasn't trapping him.

I got pregnant in a similar situation as you. The second or third time we had sex, I got pregnant. I liked him a lot, but at two months I barely knew him. I also had been sure for years before this that I didn't want kids. I still gave myself a week to think about it to be certain.

He wanted me to keep it, but knew it was my choice. I thought that the process might be more traumatic for him, so I went alone to the appointment. I didn't want him to have these images in his head should we stay together.

I did the pill. It was two appointments. I got an ultrasound at both. They asked if I wanted to know if I was having twins. They asked me what I was going to do to change my birth control method. I watched a video of the process and was quizzed about signs of things going bad. (I was more worried that I would go to the hospital and get a huge bill than actual danger.)

It is a big decision that is all your own. That is both good and bad. If you choose to get an abortion, it is okay to feel sad that you can't have this child right now. Anything you feel right now is okay.

I went on a hormonal bc right after, and that made me depressed. That really sucked.

The guy and I broke up. Even if we had stayed together, I am sure I made the right decision for me.

My abortion was about a year and a half ago, and it cost about $600 at Planned Patenthood.

I wish you well in your decision.
posted by Monday at 9:47 AM on January 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've also had an abortion. I went under for it, it was completely painless, and some soreness the next few days was about the extent of the physical effects.

Though I was sad, it was not a hard decision to make for me - I was young, broke, and not in it for the longterm with the father - and I've never regretted it. It was many years ago and I'm now married with 3 healthy kids.

Also happy to chat via memail if you want. I feel for you. It will be OK.
posted by widdershins at 9:59 AM on January 23, 2012

I terminated a pregnancy when I was around 30 (and married). I am still very much at peace with my decision — in fact, I'm grateful nearly every day that I was able to make a rational decision during a time when my life was suddenly all grainy, stop-motion weirdness.

If you'd like to discuss it today, next week, or four years from now, you're welcome to contact me. Ditto for anyone else who's reading and wants to talk privately about this issue.
posted by heyho at 9:59 AM on January 23, 2012

memail me!
posted by yarly at 10:02 AM on January 23, 2012

One of the admins can redact the personal url below if they feel it's inappropriate.

I have no ethical problem with abortion and make donations and write letters to keep it available. But if you don't feel comfortable with it then (a) there's nothing wrong with that and it's no less a part of Choice than the ability to get an abortion is and (b) you have other choices beyond abortion and raising the child.

Specifically, there's a lot of people like myself and my wife who are actively looking for a child to adopt. Depending on what state you're in you can get varying levels of financial assistance from the adoptive parents. You can't profit from it - the reasons why laws don't let someone take money in exchange for providing a baby to adopt are pretty obvious - but you may be able to get help with all the expenses that bringing a child to term entails, whether you have insurance or not.

If you don't want to reach out to us you can simply google "adoption" and the top hits all go to an organization called American Adoptions. They are by no means the only way to go but they place over 300 children a year and are well equipped to answer your questions.

They'll be happy to talk to you about what's right for you and I can assure you with some confidence that you can reach out to them now and they won't pressure you; the law in pretty much every state requires a birth mom be provided with counseling and the folks who work in these associations went into these careers because they want to help people - both birth parents, adoptive parents, and children - have better lives.

If you want a more intimate experience you can look for local adoption agencies. In the modern world these organizations do less finding a home placement for a child than they do the process of helping prospective parents like ourselves get the legal paperwork in order and finalize the adoption. But they do handle the final counseling and they're trained to help you talk about your choices. Look in your local listings and you'll likely find several firms.

You can also look for local family law law practices; they'll have prospective parent books if you want to look at them and they're legally obligated to serve your interests when they are representing you so you can consult with them without fear of pressure. As far as I know every state allows adoptive parents to shoulder your legal bill and they will certainly have an initial consultation with you at no cost.

You can use the link at our "pick us!" site above to email me anonymously if you want to ask any questions; you can create a throwaway gmail account or something. I promise I'll answer as much without bias as I can - it's not in my interest to pressure someone into something, either for my own ethical/moral health or considering that a birth mother will get counseling and representation eventually anyway. You can also look at where my wife and I have blogged about the adoption process so far if you want a look at the process from the adoptive parent side; unfortunately I don't have anything to point you to written by someone on your side of the arrangement.
posted by phearlez at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2012 [15 favorites]

posted by ambient2 at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2012

I'm not sure where you are, but if you would like to discuss your options with a non-judgmental clergy member, you can arrange telephone counseling through Faith Aloud (which is a pro-choice interfaith organization that can link women with clergy of many faiths).

Talk to the people you feel like you need to talk to. Know that help is available. Make the decision that is best for you.
posted by honeybee413 at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2012

I just want to let you know, that if you feel like you need a little more time to think this through, you can do a medical abortion (the pill) up through to 9 weeks.

As far as my own experiences - my own experience with abortion is a pretty dang different situation, but the thing I've tried to explain to people years later, is that you can feel grief (for lost possibilities or opportunities) without ever feeling regret. I don't regret it, I think it was the best decision, but every once in a blue moon I feel the occasional pang of grief for possibilities (and then, uh, I remember the situation I was in, but that's another story). I think early on I conflated the two things, but it's more apparent to me now that they're very distinct.

other options counseling hotlines that aren't facades:

Pregnancy Options Talk Line: 1.888.493.0092
Monday-Thursday, 5pm-10pm Pacific Time
Friday-Sunday, 10am-3pm Pacific Time

and -- if you have an abortion and want someone to talk to about it afterwards:
Mon–Fri: 5–10pm PT Sat–Sun: 12–10pm PT
posted by circle_b at 11:29 AM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've been lucky enough to not get pregnant, but did support a close friend through abortion. She had been with the guy for less than a year, he was abusive and she was already struggling to find a way to escape and take care of herself. Having a child would have given him leverage to coerce her into staying, and he had already told her that if a pregnancy happened he'd hunt her "to the ends of the earth" and force her to bring the kid back to him.

She had to drive to a planned parenthood in another state and was able to be in and out in just a few hours (including the time for counseling and discussing "is this the right decision for me") and home before he could suspect she was anywhere but with the friend she claimed to be spending the day with.

She is now in a healthy, loving relationship with a man who wants children someday... and has no regrets about her decision.
posted by myShanon at 11:30 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

the law in pretty much every state requires a birth mom be provided with counseling and the folks who work in these associations went into these careers because they want to help people - both birth parents, adoptive parents, and children - have better lives.

I'm sorry but this does not mean that you will get appropriate counseling. Adoption agencies exist in order to create adoptions. I would urge you to contact resources that have nothing to do with placing children for adoption in order to ensure that you get appropriate and helpful (and truly neutral) assistance.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:35 AM on January 23, 2012 [48 favorites]

"If you don't want to reach out to us you can simply google "adoption" and the top hits all go to an organization called American Adoptions."

Whew. Deep breath. It is highly unethical to solicit a pregnant woman to adopt her baby. The emotional and psycological repercussions of having an abortion vs carrying a child to term and placing that child for adoption are drastically different, though unfortunately the details of the effects of adoption on women's well being are not as well researched as abortion.

I too am available by memail.

Thank you young rope rider for stating that I literally am having a mini panic attack reading that and I will say no more--

This is a woman who did not state an interest in adoption at all and I don't think a lengthy description of how adoption benefits adoptive parents is appropriate to this situation. The talk about adoption agencies "serving birthparent interests" is a false empowerment. We are here for you! We empower YOU to make YOUR choice! Despite the fact that adoption offers absolutely no actual benefit to the surrendering mother and in fact in a large portion of mothers seems to result in very severe and debilitating trauma and grief responses.

They are not trained to serve "birthparent interests" and furthermore until paperwork is a signed a pregnant woman is not a birthmother and is not a vesicle to produce a child for other people.

OK. Done.
posted by xarnop at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2012 [64 favorites]

Memail me
posted by zia at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2012

Specifically, there's a lot of people like myself and my wife who are actively looking for a child to adopt. Depending on what state you're in you can get varying levels of financial assistance from the adoptive parents.

I probably didn't pick the best part of that comment to quote, but seriously, dude, it is seriously wrong to solicit a pregnant woman who is already considering abortion to give up her baby for adoption. Because you want a baby. There are birth mothers who want to be birth mothers - show them your website, all right?

Basically, everything zia said and more.

To the OP: Stick with your gut. The first instinct that you have in a situation is usually the best one. In this case, your first instinct is to have an abortion, and I don't think you should second guess yourself. But don't listen to me - listen to your heart, head, what's inside you. Trust your judgment and your instincts.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:13 PM on January 23, 2012 [12 favorites]

Edit: Basically everything xarnop said and more. D'oh!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:16 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

My situation was not really like yours (I was in college, the father was someone I had been dating for a few years) but the thing that helped me decide might be the thing that helps you decide: Do you want to tie yourself to the child's father forever?

In my case, my pregnancy sort of crystallized for me that I did not want to have the father be part of my life forever, and it highlighted the ways in which I knew we were not just different, but totally incompatible. Being a parent (as I now know) is hard, but so rewarding. But being a co-parent with someone who you don't want to be tied to would make it a thousand percent more difficult.

FWIW, I still think of that child (moreso since my planned child was born), calculate his or her age in my head, but I never, ever, ever, ever have regretted the decision. RU486 was not an option when I terminated my pregnancy, but I would say that the "aftermath" of a more traditional D&C procedure was not awful, either emotionally or physically. (Truthfully my miscarriage was worse in both ways.)

For a long time, I always thought if I accidently got pregnant, I'd keep it.

What do you think has changed to make abortion a "more logical, reasonable thing to do"? This is where the answer to your question lies. My husband, when I first became pregnant with our planned child, became terrified and convinced we'd made a terrible mistake, because Babies! Money! Helpless! Work! Sleepless! College! Argh! Then, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and it clarified for him all the more that he did, in fact, want to be a father.

I'd advise you, if you're really uncertain as to what you want to do, to sit down and actually write down the pros and cons to each course of action (including considering adoption, if you wish). What appeals to you about choosing each? What are your fears regarding each? What are the unknowns relating to each?

Whatever you choose, allow yourself a little time to come to terms with the fact that you've chosen a path you can't really turn away from. Do what you can to accept that there is no single right choice here - all any of us can ever do is guess what the future holds and try to make the best choices we can based on what we know now.
posted by anastasiav at 12:18 PM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

You are not alone. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

People have trouble hearing their own voice in the hurricane of opinions they receive every day. Nowhere is this more true than with deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. Set aside some time for yourself, and create a space where you can feel quiet and cared for.

Write out all your worries about the two outcomes. Even the ones that don't make sense. The important thing is to get everything, EVERYTHING on paper. Give yourself plenty of time to do it. The situation is overwhelming in part because of its extreme complexity. You need to demystify it for yourself. Circle or underline really important worries. The emphasis can help you see the big picture.

Maybe your situation will then become clarified. When I am agonizing over a decision, my mom taught me to assign values to heads and tails and then flip a coin. If the outcome feels right, then go with it. If you are distressed about the way the coin turned out, then you will know how you really feel.

There is no wrong choice here, but you will need to take good care of yourself either way. So many of us have been through something similar. Please continue to reach out. I'm sorry you're in a tough spot.
posted by powerbumpkin at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Abortion is a very polarizing issue and because of that, you're going to get very different (and polarized) responses.

Nthing that you listen to your own instincts, because some people here may have had abortions and no regrets, abortions and later regrets, had a child they wish they had aborted, etc.

All I can say is that this is a huge personal decision and I wouldn't base something this important on ANYTHING people on the Internet said.

Also, get informed about all of your options from a source that you're comfortable with, and then make the decision that's right for YOU.

What we say here doesn't matter.
posted by kinetic at 12:20 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have friends that had recently started dating and ended up pregnant. They were in their early 30s. After kiddo was a year or so they got married. Then they got divorced when kiddo was 3 or so.

They're friends. They co-parent. They love their kid. They date people.

But having a small child myself, I think that it would be challenging to go through the challenges associated with pregnancy, birth, and parenting (not in that order) with someone with whom I hadn't worked out all of our issues.
posted by k8t at 12:31 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Memail me too.
posted by taff at 12:42 PM on January 23, 2012

My friend was dating a guy and got pregnant early on. She made the appointment to terminate the pregnancy and decided to keep the baby while at the doctor's office. She married the guy a few months later and had the baby.

Now the kid is 11 and while my friend loves her she says she resents the kid. The circumstances weren't ideal, she was too young for a baby and she said it robbed her of her twenties. A few years later she planned for her second child. It was a completely different experience for her. She's crazy about the second kid, bonded with him immediately, and was overall better prepared to be a mom. I have to stress that she loves both kids, but she said if she had a "do-over" she would not have had the first one.

Whatever you decide, just make sure it's YOUR decision.
posted by jacindahb at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

You've got lots of people to talk to here, and that's great. Just wanted to step in and say that this is exactly what Planned Parenthood is here for. They have people trained in helping women make these sorts of decisions. They have information on (or know who to refer you to for information on) abortions, adoptions, and can provide the health services needed if you decide to keep it too. Call them, schedule a time to talk. Don't rush into anything because you are scared or think you need to be rational or because you always told yourself you'd do something. 2 weeks in is very early, you have time. This is a big decision and you will find people on all sides telling you what to do, you need to find out for yourself what is right for you. Be careful who you talk to though, there are lots of places that masquerade as giving impartial advice but are out there to force your hand as much as possible. Make sure you go somewhere reputable.

Good luck!
posted by katers890 at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sorry, 6 weeks is still early, not 2 (which is also early, but not what you said).
posted by katers890 at 12:58 PM on January 23, 2012

I went for an abortion and couldn't do it. The decision has to be yours, not someone else's. In my case the father didn't want me to keep it but I did. It did set me back, education-wise.

But I don't regret it. Think it also depends on your support network, aside from the father. Extended family, friends, etc.

I have had friends who have had abortions and it's never an easy decision.

One thing: I did go see a counselor and she was very pro choice. She asked me what right I had to bring a baby into the world. I told her I had family who was willing to help out (and there was talk at the time of a sibling raising my baby if I didn't feel up to it). She still insisted that I *must* get an abortion.

I was sitting on the table and the nurse asked if I wanted something to calm my nerves. My first thought was that a sedative might hurt my baby. So that was that.

It's not easy, and yes, I was better prepared when I had my son 10 years later.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:02 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

MeMail me.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2012

One thing that no one could have explained to me, before I had kids, was how much I'd love them. Don't get me wrong; they're a lot of work. But it just introduced me to this whole new level of love I didn't even know existed. In retrospect, I don't think it's possible to explain it to someone (myself included). It certainly gave me a whole new insight into my parents.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you don't feel in a position to be able to have a child at this very point in your life, then that's all you need to go with. Are you personally emotionally ready for a child?
posted by mleigh at 2:03 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You've obviously had lots of offers, but if you MeMail me I can offer my experience/advice. I'm in the UK though, so depending on where you are, things to do with healthcare/insurance may be different...
posted by lizabeth at 2:24 PM on January 23, 2012

I fell pregnant under similar circumstances and always thought the opposite, that an abortion would not be a problem. I decided to keep the child (which the father was happy with) and married the father, and had a second child. We worked hard at being married, and it lasted 20 years. I love my kids. But I would not hesitate to recommend an abortion for my daughter in the same circumstances.

Later, about 7 years after the first unplanned pregnancy, I had another unplanned pregnancy, and we were in financial difficulties, my husband was ill, we were already struggling and we made the decision (very much driven by my husband) to abort. I found it difficult emotionally. Physically I recovered within a couple of weeks. It was many years before I came to terms with what I'd chosen, even though I did then (and still do) hold the opinion that a fetus are simply cells with the potential to be a human being.

Now, I regret neither choice. I did what seemed right to me. I did the best I could.

I hope that whatever you choose, you will seek whatever support you need to get you through this time.
posted by b33j at 2:25 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Are you personally emotionally ready for a child?"
I feel like this is an overwhelming question to most pregnant women. Who, that is honest with themselvse knows for sure they will be a good parent and are emotionally "ready"? Who can be certain they are really good enough for another human being? I got asked this a lot when people wanted to take my child from me. No I wasn't really all that ready to parent, I was scared and not well prepared; but I wanted my child with all my heart.

A better questions is do you WANT to be ready, and are you willing to get whatever support you need to be the mother you want to be for a child? Are you willing to grow and fulfill the needs of another human being to the best of your ability?

These are all good questions to guide us, but if it rests in being "prepared" than of course anyone unplanned will be judged as a bad candidate for parenthood. And it's normal to be scared in an unplanned pregnancy and not necessarily a sign of how much you would love or care for a child. In fact, the people who are the most aware of their own struggles often have an advantage on growing into better parents.

But none of that is relevant if parenting just doesn't feel right.
It's ok to get an abortion.
It's ok to carry the pregnancy to term and parent.

People will judge you no matter what you decide. But if you can try to set what other people think aside. There's a lot of good advice in here, but this really is up to you and I completely support you whatever direction you want to go with it.
posted by xarnop at 2:29 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

Just wanted to make this note: My abortion was an easy decision. You don't have to "struggle" with your decision to have an abortion, to render it socially and morally acceptable.

It's morally acceptable both to struggle, and not to struggle, with this decision. If you're not sure about what you want to do, that is completely okay. It's also fine to be totally sure. Yes, it's best to be sure you want the abortion. But it shouldn't be downplayed that having kids is a MUCH bigger deal than having an abortion, and ideally, you need to be damned sure you want kids before you create them. (Or that you want to bear the damage your body will take from pregnancy, and still give the kid up for adoption, after all those bonding hormones are running amok.)

You'll probably find that most counselors at abortion clinics are NOT interested in pressuring you into doing one thing or another. Anecdata on that point: A guy I know went to Planned Parenthood with his girlfriend to look into an abortion. After talking to the counselor, they decided they wanted to keep the pregnancy. Their child is at least 11 now. They are quite pro-Planned Parenthood, because the counselor was there to help them decide what they really WANTED to do. They were fine with abortion. It just turned out they wanted the kid after all.

Anyway, trust yourself. Whatever you decide to do will be the right decision for you. No one here is living your life. You're the only one who knows what to do.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:46 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

Mod note: hey nothing personal folks but this thread needs to not turn into a derail about adoption. I know many of you have strong feelings about that, and about our letting the adoption comment stay. Please feel free to email us or start a MeTa thread about it. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Another offer to chat via memail if you like. Good luck - you'll get through this ok no matter what you decide.
posted by Space Kitty at 3:50 PM on January 23, 2012

imnotsorry.net has a collection of firsthand stories about women's "positive experiences with abortion." The site doesn't appear to have been updated for a while, but there's an extensive archive.
posted by LBS at 4:54 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

One of my closest friends grew up with a single mother, and her father lived down the road. The parents had had a short fling that resulted in the pregnancy. They were never really a couple. My friend felt like she had a good childhood and didn't suffer from the fact her parents weren't in a relationship. My friend's mother seems to get a lot of happiness and life satisfaction from her relationship with her child, although she had to make a lot of sacrifices in the early days.

I have another good friend who has had two abortions. She doesn't regret either of them. She never wanted to have children.

I myself am an adoptee. Adoption is maybe a good choice in some situations, but in many important ways it is even more difficult and messy than an abortion or single parenthood.

No matter what decision you make, there will be hard parts to it and easy parts. But honestly, I don't know any women who feel like they made the wrong choice about this sort of thing, no matter what they chose.

Whatever you do will end up being good for you in some ways - if you have a child, it will no doubt bring you great happiness at least sometimes in your life. If you have an abortion, it will no doubt bring great relief, more freedom in the next few years. Either decision could have positive affects on your relationship with this new guy. (If you were interested in adoption, maybe you would gain some happiness in the distant future when you saw the child with his/her family.) There is no wrong path to take, and none that won't have some positive outcomes. Focus on that as much as, or more than, the potential negatives in each choice. The negatives might help you decide, but the positives will help you feel good about your decision.
posted by lollusc at 5:09 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have been a single parent since the day my son was born (just over eighteen months ago). I'd be happy to discuss details about my experience via MeMail if you are interested. Choosing to parent may have not been the most rational or logical choice, but it was absolutely the right choice for me. Obviously only you can decide whether or not it is the right one for you. I would encourage you to wait until you have processed things a little more before making a final decision. You say that your boyfriend knows that it is ultimately your decision, but is he pressuring you to terminate the pregnancy?
posted by TheCavorter at 8:00 PM on January 23, 2012

Do not let anybody pressure you to have or not to have an abortion. Women have been making a choice about this for forever. That it is safe and legal is a good thing. I had two abortions before Roe v. Wade and the second was dirty and dangerous. Even so, I was certain I could not have had a child at that time. Even as bad as it was, I still think I made the right decision. Later, when my circumstances were very different I did want children and was exceedingly fortunate to be able to have them. It's your life and only you really know what is best for you.
posted by Anitanola at 8:14 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

2nd I'm Not Sorry for more personal stories.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2012

I helped a close friend with this two years ago. She thought she'd been in a relationship with a guy but he'd been sleeping with someone else, but she'd had an abortion anyway because she was in graduate school, her family overseas, and she wasn't in any financial shape to raise a child on her own.

It went fine and she has no real regrets. When we talked, adoption was not a consideration for her--- the hassle of being pregnant and compromising her body and health when she was trying to finish graduate school and find a job and get some financial stability in her life was going to be impeded by the problems pregnancy poses. Pregnancy is hard on the body.
posted by anniecat at 9:47 PM on January 23, 2012

I had an abortion due to a major relationship upheaval. I've never regretted it. About a year after that, at 37 I fell pregnant again. I initially thought of having another abortion but for various reasons decided to explore adoption instead.

That decision caused all kinds of drama with my mother, who couldn't bear the thought of her grandchild being raised by others. Although I could understand her reaction I most certainly didn't agree with her. I carried on with the pregnancy with the intention of giving the eventual child to someone who, if they were prepared to go through the hoops of adoption, would really want and love and nurture it.

In the end, I kept the child and have never regretted my decision. It never reached the stage where there were adoptive parents waiting in the wings, at least that I was aware of. Someone was probably notified of the possibility of a child who could be adopted but there was no guarantee that it would happen. How could there be?

I have no way of knowing whether I would have been tormented by the thought of a child that I carried being raised by someone else because in the end that didn't happen. I've never felt guilty for having thought about adoption though, because at the time he wasn't yet my son. He was a potential and one that I thought I wouldn't have the capacity to raise well. I thought he would make an excellent gift to someone who really, really wanted a child but couldn't have one of their own for whatever reason. He's 6 now, I love him with all of my heart and I have never regretted any of my thoughts (adoption? abortion? single-parenthood?) but in retrospect I do regret not having enjoyed his gestation.

It is such a personal decision that you have in front of you. No-one can guarantee that any decision you make will be without stress in the future, but there's also no guarantee that you will be tormented by your decision either.

I sincerely wish you all the best.
posted by h00py at 11:43 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

How others have felt about abortion is not representative of how you might feel except to the degree to which your experience will be very close to theirs.

I mention that to qualify my answer because you wrote "for a long time, I always thought if I accidently got pregnant, I'd keep it. No matter what." Which seems to indicate an emotional predisposition in one direction that will possibly affect how you feel about it later.

That said, one thing that upsets, even angers, me about the discourse about abortion in the US is how, everywhere except apparently here (wow! I'm really happy to see this, by the way), it's seemingly taken for granted that every woman who has an abortion will experience it as a difficult and very emotionally ambiguous experience that will be traumatizing in some way.

And that's just not true.

Now, to be sure, I'm not female and I have not had an abortion. But my ex-wife and I experienced an unplanned pregnancy, she preferred to have an abortion (I was fine with either), I was there with her for it, and I have never experienced it as an emotionally traumatic experience and, to my knowledge (both on the basis of our discussions about it and my knowledge of her as my partner), neither has she. It's possible that she did and kept this from me, but I very, very strongly doubt it. Neither of us had any doubts about the ethical rightness of it, nor the practical reasons for choosing it. And neither of us ever then, or later, thought of an eight-week-old fetus as a "child" that we didn't have or any other more emotionally and politically charged language to describe the situation.

Now, again, it's no more the case that this is true for all women than it's true that the opposite is true for all women. How you feel about an abortion before, during, and after has a lot to do with your beliefs and upbringing and intuitions and numerous other things. All I'm saying is that what seems to me to be the conventional wisdom—that it's a very emotionally difficult and traumatizing experience—is a generalization that is not valid and is weighted strongly toward the sensibilities of those who oppose abortion.

Furthermore, to give this a bit more weight, unlike my ex, who was never really in doubt about her lifelong desire to never have children (very much influenced by her experience of childhood abuse), I myself have always wanted children and yet have never had children and very, very badly miss having children as a middle-aged person. I very often feel as if I'm very much like the stereotypical middle-aged woman who has never had children and is very sad about it. I am very sad about this. And, interestingly, I have thought about that pregnancy now twenty-one years in the past. And although I abstractly sorta kinda wish it had been otherwise just because I really wish I had a child, I don't, even now, in my middle-aged childless lonlineness, feel some sense that we made a terrible decision or otherwise feel any sort of profound regret. I'm pretty sure that for both of us, the decision to have an abortion was the right decision and something neither of us at all regret. I mean, she was only twenty and we ended up being married only four years, anyway.

You definitely should have someone you are comfortable with and who is close to you there with you, assuming that you otherwise don't have some reason that you'd prefer to experience this alone. I know that speaking from my side of things, there was absolutely no question that I'd be there with her for it, and I had to unexpectedly travel to another country to do so (we got married later and it was the experience itself which played a big role in causing us both to recognize that we were serious about the relationship, regardless of which direction she went about the pregnancy).

The aftereffects are pretty uncomfortable for a few days.

Mostly, my opinion is that you should do what feels most right to you. I, personally, see first and second trimester abortion as entirely equivalent to contraception, and so did my ex. That played and plays a big role in how we both viewed and processed the abortion and how we both (presumably) feel about it now. But other people have different views. Being pro-choice doesn't necessarily mean that you're as okay with abortion as, for example, me and my ex are. I personally think we're right, of course, and that you should be as okay with it; but of course it's not my place to tell you what to believe and feel and, more to the point, that's mostly irrelevant because what you feel is what you feel. So it seems to me that you should ultimately make the choice that feels the most right to you, one way or the other. And any one individual's experience isn't necessarily a guide to how you should experience it, or a guide to your choices. It can inform them. You should be aware that it's possible for it to pretty much not be a very big deal. You should also be aware that it's possible for it to be a very big deal. Only you can be the judge of what is true for you and only you can make the decision that is right for you.

And, as h00py point out, all these things are true about adoption, too. Only you can know what these choices mean to you. But, you know, that also means that you have some degree of power to choose what these choices mean to you.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:44 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just want to point out that feeling sad, freaked out, depressed, panicked, overwhelmed right now are not necessarily signs that you should not have it. Plenty of people who planned conception down to the last detail (and go on to be great parents) feel terrified when it actually happens! I felt that way (under difficult circumstances too, like you) and am glad I didnt let my fear determine my decision.

You really need to be in tune here with how you normally react emotionally. Do you tend to exaggerate and catastrophize and imagine the worst? Then you may not want to give those feelings the upper hand here. This is really about whether you want this child, at this time - nothing else.
posted by yarly at 6:15 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

As others have stated upthread, this is something that Planned Parenthood does very, very well. Disclaimer: I used to be a Family Planning Specialist at PP and I was also a crisis pregnancy counselor. We are trained in depth to be able to help women in your situation come to the best decision possible FOR YOU. We are not there to "push" abortion and we are not there for any other agenda aside from helping YOU. It would be best if you had a PP near you that had a counselor specifically for crisis pregnancies, but it's not necessary. Any staff member should be able to talk you through your options. If it makes you more comfortable, you can even request to speak with one of the nurses/nurse practitioners.

I know you've been inundated with offers, but let me add mine, too. Please feel free to memail me or even email me (my email address is in my profile). I promise to keep your confidence and if I can help you find someone to talk to, I'd be happy to do so.
posted by cooker girl at 7:38 AM on January 24, 2012

I've had an unplanned pregnancy that lead to an abortion, and an unplanned pregnancy that led to the birth of one of my children.

These two different decisions were made in the face of circumstances that were not notably different on the surface. Perhaps most relevant, in both cases the father would have preferred to terminate the pregnancy, and I would have not considered abortion at all had the father been supportive of raising the child. I was thus very conflicted both about the decision to abort, and the decision to keep the pregnancy.

I feel like this is a situation where there is not a "right" decision, as if had you chosen otherwise that would have been the "wrong" thing to do. Rather, there is a decision to be made, and afterwards you make it right. I didn't feel traumatized and don't regret the abortion I had, even though I was conflicted and felt somewhat pressured by my partner's views. And I don't regret raising a child in extremely un-ideal circumstances, which included bouts of poverty and a crappy relationship for both of us with the father. I just cling tight to my conviction that everything works out for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 7:53 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who was sad that her husband didn't want her to share her experience (they lived in a small conservative community) because she felt it could help those who were worried about how they'd feel later. They'd gotten pregnant when they were committed but not yet married, and she decided for a bunch of reasons that abortion was the right choice for her then, and still believed that decades later. She was very angry with people who said abortion always left emotional scars, saying "I had a tooth extraction and an abortion that day, and they were both the right choice for my health, so neither scarred me at all."
posted by ldthomps at 8:17 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by grouse at 9:15 AM on January 24, 2012

I'd be happy to talk to you as someone who has had both surgical abortions and the RU486 kind as well as two unplanned children. If you'd like details, feel free to memail me. In retrospect - and all of this is very long ago now; my youngest child is 20 - I don't really have any huge regrets about any of my choices. Yes, I have some regrets about my life in general but the abortions are not really major ones. I will say, however, from the perspective of my current regrets, that if I could do it over again I would look a whole lot harder at my childrens' fathers genetic history, paying particular attention to mental illness. But that is fairly specific to my situation, so, take it with a grain of salt. Still. Think about your own genes and look hard at his. These days I recommend that to everyone who might ever want a kid, sigh.

Like you, I got pregnant with both my children at the very beginning of my relationships with their fathers. The first time, I was very young: 18. That relationship, which became a marriage only lasted two years. Eight years later I repeated this pattern, although that marriage went on for another five years before it too ended. Pregnancy and childbirth can wreak havoc on long established relationships; it's damn near universally death on new ones. So keep that in mind.

Abortion isn't always physically or emotionally easy, although it's way easier than childbirth. I actually had much more trouble physically with the RU 486 than I did with the surgical ones - really, the recovery time was much longer and more grueling. Emotionally? I think if you are pretty sure about what you're doing and good in your head about it, then you'll be fine. Let yourself be sad if you feel sad but don't force yourself into sorrow, either. There's no law that says you have to be traumatized for life from this: I certainly wasn't. I cried a little and went on. Sure, sometimes I think about what it would have been like if I'd had another child but ye gods, I could barely support the ones I had and I doubt if a few more direly poor children would have helped out the planet much.

Life is about choices. As you get older, certain paths get closed off. You can't do everything. Choices are hard to make and there are always a few quiet regrets but I think that's just part of being alive. I regret jobs I didn't take and jobs I did, places I've lived or not lived, things I've said or done - and sometimes I regret the kids I chose not to have. Hell, sometimes I regret the kids I did have! I mean I love them but there is no question but they have hugely impacted my life, and, let's be honest here, not always in a great way. Don't get me wrong; I love them utterly and fiercely and would never give them back, but I don't think I'd be human if I didn't occasionally think about what my life might have been like without kids. Conceivably much wealthier! ;-) Anyway, what I'm trying to say here is that choices are an inevitable part of life and some regrets are normal and okay. There isn't any perfect rubric out there that says, this choice was right and that choice was wrong. Most things are a mixture of both.

Here's some advice that's a little hippie dippie but I found it helpful - it came from a good friend who's a nurse/midwife and it's sort of based in the Wiccan belief that one some level we choose our parents. You, as the potential mother, have the right to say to a potential soul, "hey, thank you for considering me as your parent, I am honored, but this is not the right time for me to have or raise a kid. Sorry, you will have to find another mother. Go in peace." I told you it was hippie dippie! Still, it helps, I think, to consciously say goodbye to the possibility and life path. On preview, sometrickpony has just said what I had to say better and more briefly than I have: Rather, there is a decision to be made, and afterwards you make it right. Exactly. It's a life choice and I think when you listen intently to yourself you'll know which way you need to go right now. I did and here I still am. I can't know whether my life would be better or worse had I not made the choices I did and that's okay. I made them. It's done. And it's mostly all okay.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:26 AM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]

I'm like you, in that I thought I wanted all the children my body could bear, but when it came down to it, the specific situation I was in made having another child (I was already a mother of young children) impossible.

The first year is absolutely the roughest, and calculating the due date, other things that were due to happen around that time, milestones for the kids I already had, and the money it would take to accommodate a pregnancy and into the toddler years - I couldn't do it. My kids had special needs that I had a responsibility to deal with first.

Another factor was that my relationship with the father was absolutely done, and he wouldn't be there to assist with a tiny baby. I could have moved across the country to be with family, but that would have removed all the kids from their father and everything they'd known, which was also not fair, in my mind. For me, abortion was the least bad choice.

That's not to say it can't be done. If you've got friends, family, neighbors, who can help, and you feel excited about being a mom versus "having kids", then figure that into your calculations as well.

As for the mechanics, that was rough. I was in an anti-woman state at the time. However, I was back at work the next day, and actually had an easier time with my periods for years afterwards. And like mythgothlaundry, while there might be some regret over what might have been, it's done, and it's okay.
posted by no, that other sockpuppet at 9:58 AM on January 24, 2012

Another offer to chat via memail.
posted by epersonae at 10:25 AM on January 24, 2012

I've spoke a lot on my experience as a clinic shield, protecting women through the walls of protesters that used to be allowed to block clinic access. I am very pro-choice, but the key word there is Choice.

I don't think that termination is a traumatic experience which can only be justified by some deep moral conflict. Just as I believe that choosing to place a child for adoption, or becoming a parent doesn't imbue one with a halo and sudden wisdom and clarity of thought.

I love being a parent, but I'm glad I chose to do it in my late 30's, after life had smoothed out my rough edges. I would have been a horrible parent in my 20's, and some poor kid would have been the brunt of my bas decision capabilities at that period.

But it is a choice. And one that only you can make. Pregnancy is not easy. Parenthood is harder and lasts for the rest of your life. Termination is, at least for.now, safe, and fairly easy, assuming it is something you want, and not something you feel pressured in to doing.

Nthing the advise to.speak to a planned parenthood advisor. They are.very good at providing solutions for all possible choices, not must termination. Know that you are not alone, whatever you decide. And add me to the list of Mefites you can mail or call if you need someone to listen to you.
posted by dejah420 at 11:53 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's really, really awful having an unwanted child in your life. I speak from experience. Babies are hard work at the best of times. Now imagine you resent the kid for ruining any dreams you had and now feel you can't achieve, and you're up late for the third or fourth time that night feeding it and changing its diaper and its crying but won't go back to sleep. Again, this is hard to do when you love and want the kid, but would be very, very hard for you to do, and want to do, if you've only begrudgingly decided to have it because you felt weird about abortion.

And if your partner isn't on board, and it sounds like he's not, it'll be even harder on you. And trust me, if you go ahead and make him a father when he doesn't want to be one, it's not going to make things any easier on both of you.

Also, pregnancy is awful. You read and you're told a lot about how beautiful a time it is and how you'll glow etc but in reality it's painful, and there's a tonne of trips to the toilet at night and there's things like SPD which you may get and that'll make things even more painful.

As for the birth, again, there's a lot of crap out there about how wonderful it is. It is not. For some it may be but I've never heard a persona "Wow I loved giving birth" story. This is what you're in for if you choose to give birth naturally (NSFW). A c-section isn't any easier and will actually increase the amount of post-op recovery time and pain you're in.

Abortion, on the other hand, is quick, easy, almost pain free and despite what many people (usually people with a pro-life bias) will tell you, it doesn't come with a lot of trauma and guilt. It could do, certainly, but for many it does not. I speak from experience here, too.

So basically I'm saying if you're not 100% committed to none months of pain and discomfort and then an additional 18+ years of looking after a kid who you'll love more than anything else in the world, go for the abortion route. The kid deserves to be loved and given the best options in life. If you can't give him or her that, then please, take the route that medical science has created and made available to us.

Happy for you to send me a MeMail if you want to ask me further questions.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:27 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well, to share my experience twice in a bad situation to have a baby, once I had an abortion and once I had a baby (he's four months). The biggest decider for me was that in the first case the would-be father was really against having the baby and having had a father who has made it clear he didn't want me, I couldn't put my child in that position. It was horrible for me to feel that way growing up.

Both times I absolutely loathed being pregnant. It really is much more difficult than people make it out to be, plus when I am pregnant I get depressed.

The clinic was a bit shabby, but not bad, no protesters. I got the surgical abortion and I think it was easier than my roommate's medical abortion. The depression lifted almost immediately. All in all I think it was a great decision, one of the best I've ever made, especially considering that my relationship with the would-be father crashed and burned spectacularly about six months later (I found out he was into kiddie porn shortly before our breakup, what a fucking nightmare it would have been to have a child with him).

So this time I decided to have the baby, the father is really into it and a great guy in general which makes me really happy especially with my shitty family background and some doubt about my own ability to parent. We were really not financially ready at all and I seriously regret that. If I had to go back and do it again, well, I would, but I would also wave a magic wand and move the pregnancy about 9 months to a year later, when we'd originally planned for it, because I think our life (and our baby's life) would be a lot easier, less stressful.

Good luck to you. Please feel free to contact me.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:58 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Another MeMail offer.
posted by amodelcitizen at 6:00 PM on January 24, 2012

Feel free to meMail me regarding my experiences with almost this exact situation, if you wish.
posted by hepta at 9:44 AM on January 25, 2012

Advice for if you decide to get an abortion: Ask a close friend to go with you, one who supports your decision absolutely. They can take care of you best.

I have never regretted my abortion, and it was a very easy decision. But it was still a horrible day. I felt stupid for not being more careful with my birth control, the cost worried me, we had to keep it a secret from my then-boyfriend's family, protesters screamed in my face, and I felt physically drained. One of the worst days of my life, and I wasn't even indecisive.

My boyfriend came with me, but he was also miserable and we fought the whole time. I don't blame him for this. He had good intentions. But the guy was conflicted and ashamed and turned out to be crappy escort at the clinic.

Looking back, I wish I had gone with someone who was less affected. Someone who didn't have to also worry about the money, emotions, and responsibility, and could have just been there for me.

It may seem like something the father should be there for, like he might think it's the honorable thing to accompany you, or you believe that you're in it together. I'm not saying anyone is wrong if they choose that. But just from my own experience, you might want a companion that day who is both closer to you and more removed from the pregnancy.
posted by Toothless Willy at 12:44 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have not had an abortion, I have used the morning after pill a couple of times. I got pregnant with my first when I had been with my boyfriend about a year and we were in our mid-twenties and he was heavy in debt and had no income. We kept the baby. I kept it because I was working and had a very supportive family and my boyfriend was committed to me (we were engaged for a few months before conceiving). Had he walked away I still would have kept the baby, I've always known I wanted children. We went on to have three more children, with ups and downs over the years. The last child he did not want and the fact I kept it is something he still throws in my face (as the councellors keep telling him, I didn't get pregnant by myself) although he loves the child dearly. I believe strongly in Choice, but I know abortion is not something I want for myself and I would always regret. If I had no resources, lived somewhere where child support was difficult/unfair, and had no healthy family to rely on I might have decided abortion would actually be the better decision. If you don't feel strongly one way or the other take time for yourself to mull it over, ideally with an unbiased councellor. The women I know who have had abortions do not regret the abortions but some regret the circumstances that left them few options other than abortion.
posted by saucysault at 3:19 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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