I got pregnant during one of my ‘on terms’ at Dartmouth. I didn’t even realize what was happening to my body because I was so busy just trying to exist here. And when I got home and finally noticed something was off, I was already almost 6 weeks pregnant. I chose to terminate. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through because under different circumstances I think my choice might have different. I am the first in my family to go to college. I can’t just press pause or drop out. Termination is what was right for me, and I stand by my decision. But it was heartbreaking and I think about it all the time. I think the hardest part was going through something like this and keeping it a secret. I wanted to scream! I wanted to say to everyone, “I am experiencing loss. I need time.” But it was (is) my secret. So I had to keep going to class. I had to keep doing my assignments. I had to keep working. The world did not stop for me, as much as I needed it to. I can’t quite put into words what a weird experience it was to walk around school and see pro-life posters put up. I am a low-income, Latina woman that was *actually* affected by the issue. I wanted to tear them down. I wanted to yell at them that they have no idea what they are talking about. But again, I had to keep my composure and continue to focus on study and work. The institution has compassion for nobody. It did not have it for me.
I share this story, anonymously, to help end the stigma. Abortions are health care. Abortions are normal. Abortions happen more often than you think. Dartmouth students have abortions. I had an abortion. I guess I don’t feel safe enough to talk about it more openly. But I share this so that maybe one day I can.
This piece is also a love letter to the people that helped me get through this. Specifically, my mother.
The Day after Thanksgiving
“When was your last period?”
“Well I spotted around October 17th. I mistook it for a period. My last normal period started September 12th.”
“Okay that puts you at approximately seven weeks gestation.”
“I thought it might be like five weeks or four.”
“September 12th. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7 weeks.”
“Oh… What are some next steps?”
“I’m here to support you. It’s your body, your choice. There’s no judgement from me. You can keep the baby, you can choose adoption…”
“I think I need to terminate.”
“Would you like some tissues?”
“Okay. Do you want to talk?”
“It’s just that I’m in college. I’m only 19.”
“I understand. It’s really hard and you’re so young. But you’re stronger than you think.”
“So from here, we are going to refer you to an outside provider. Either Planned Parenthood or another clinic okay. Since you’re less than 10 weeks you can choose the medical abortion. How it works is you take one pill that stops pregnancy hormones. Twenty-four hours later, you take another pill that induces bleeding and cramping. So the pregnancy can exit the body.”
She left the room. A stream of tears slid down her face. A silent cry, yet immensely loud. So loud she could hear it for lifetimes to come, until the day she died.
Are you allowed to grieve when you’re the one that chose to lose what you lost?
No Llores Mi Honey
“Dude you need to tell your mom. I can’t even imagine going through something like this and not telling my mom.”
“I feel like she would try to talk me out of it. What if she can’t accept it or sees me differently? She’s always told me if I get pregnant, to please not have an abortion that she could take care of my baby while I finish school. But how could I be a mom across the country? I’m just scared she won’t understand.”
Everyday she would turn to the side and look in the mirror. How long does a baby bump take to go away? It's kind of like a daily reminder. An alarm that goes off every time she’s enjoying a meal or walks past a mirror or feeling a little bit happy for too long. But having a baby bump lingering after a pregnancy isn’t as bad as actually being pregnant while knowing that in a couple days you aren't gonna be pregnant anymore. That is worse. She could tell you herself. Because every time she ate, she felt like she was feeding the fetus—dare she call it a baby. She felt like she didn’t deserve to eat nor exist in a pregnant body knowing the decision she had already made. Guilt crept in and permeated every thought… Every bite. So that’s why eating while pregnant was worse than eating after the fact.
“Mija, cuando yo tuve babies, duré como seis meses pa’ que mi cuerpo regresara a como estaba antes. No llores mi amor. Eres hermosa. Tu cuerpo acaba de vivir un proceso grande y natural. No te sientas mal es natural y en pocos meses de nuevo te vas a sentir como antes. Pero dura tiempo. No pasa de la noche al día. Okay mija? No llores mi honey. Okay? I love you mi chula.”
The Dartmouth Radical