How My Abortion Saved My Life

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Culture & Conversation Abortion

How My Abortion Saved My Life

Bridget Douglas

In Letters to My Abortion, Rewire News Group elevates the voices that matter most: people who've had abortions.

Check out our other letters to abortion here.

People often say, “Nobody’s ever ready to have a child.” That’s how I felt when I got pregnant—unready. But it turns out that getting pregnant—and having an abortion to terminate that pregnancy—may have saved my life.

I was 26 years old when my partner and I moved across the country in 2017. We were both ready to move away from our hometown and wanted to experience life to the fullest before raising another human being. Besides, we didn’t have a ton of money. So when I found out I was pregnant later that year, it was a curveball. Ultimately, my partner and I decided to terminate the pregnancy.

I had an abortion about five days after finding out I was pregnant. Though it felt challenging at the time, it led me to discover that I have ovarian cysts, and it was through that experience—and trying birth control for the first time to manage the cysts—that I realized a holistic approach to my reproductive health was best for me.

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My partner and I had been together for six years when we found out I was pregnant. We hadn’t planned on having a child; we thought maybe we would have one in the future, if at all.

So why did I become pregnant if I’m in a long-term relationship and we knew we didn’t want kids yet? Well, news alert: shit happens. I wasn’t on hormonal birth control, and we weren’t using condoms—you do the math.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I had felt sick for a few days and went to an urgent care center. I thought I had the flu. Turns out, it wasn’t the flu.

When the doctor told me I was pregnant, I was in shock. It’s not rocket science that unprotected sex leads to pregnancy. After discussions with my partner and family members, I made up my mind that I wanted to get an abortion.

When my partner and I pulled up to the Planned Parenthood clinic, there were people standing in front of the gates yelling at us, saying we were murderers and that we were going to hell. When I finally made it into the clinic—thanks to a woman who guided us up the steps to keep us safe from the protesters—I sat in the waiting room, waiting for my name to be called.

The choice whether or not to take birth control is as important as choosing whether to get an abortion.

The nurse called me back and started by giving me an ultrasound. Then she said she detected two ovarian cysts and that I should come back soon to have them checked out. I wondered if I would have ever known that I had ovarian cysts if not for that ultrasound. The nurse gave me a cocktail of painkillers, and I waited for the procedure. I got to the operating bed and laid there by myself under a butterfly mobile that looked like something you’d put over a baby’s crib; it made me feel sad, but I knew I was making the right decision. The doctor came in, and it took less than a minute.

A week or two later, I went back to Planned Parenthood and had my ovarian cysts checked out. The cysts were small, and the nurse suggested I go on birth control to keep them from growing. Mind you, I had never taken birth control before, but they made it seem like my only option to keep the cysts from turning into cancer. And since I had a fear of getting pregnant again, I went ahead and got on it.

It was that decision, and my decision to stop taking birth control, that set me on the path of holistic healing. The choice whether or not to take birth control is as important as choosing whether or not to get an abortion. Both are decisions that a person needs to make for themselves. I was on birth control for three months before I got off it and decided birth control wasn’t for me.

That summer, I went to the beach with my sisters, and we got to talking about my abortion. I said I was on birth control to treat ovarian cysts for a while and that I stopped because I was having adverse effects. One of my sisters said I had no room to talk bad about the use of birth control because I’d had an abortion. My other sister said that birth control has no health implications and that if you don’t want to get pregnant, you should be on it. It upset me because I felt they were not interested in hearing about my own struggle with birth control; they seemed to take the word of my doctors as gospel. But I know what I felt. And I understood that my sisters couldn’t understand because they hadn’t been through it.

As a woman, you have the power to make your own decisions with your body—whether it’s about the decision to have an abortion or the decision to take birth control. You know better than anybody what’s best for you. If your heart isn’t into having a baby and you don’t feel ready, you can decide to have an abortion or give it up for adoption. If you want to prevent pregnancy, you don’t have to use hormonal birth control. You can choose your own path when it comes to your reproductive and overall health.

I chose a holistic path. To prevent pregnancy, I use condoms and am mindful about sex. For my ovarian cysts and hormonal health, I maintain a healthy diet. I also meditate to keep stress at bay; it helps keep me healthier. When the cysts cause me pain, I check in with a doctor, but I have been able to manage the pain mostly through naturopathy. Ovarian cysts sometimes go away on their own without any sort of medical treatment. My mindset was that if I do all the right things—eat healthy, meditate, reduce stress—the cysts would disappear on their own.

This is the path I have chosen. But my path isn’t for everyone. If birth control feels right for you, then that’s great. If not, that’s OK too. There’s never only one way to do things; everyone has their unique way of taking care of their overall health and sexual health. But I remain grateful that abortion was an option for me and that the providers who saw me through it led me to adopt a more holistic perspective toward my health. And once I did, I never looked back.

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