Yes. I read the word “yes.” I simply didn’t believe it the first time so I did it again. “Yes.” It has to be a mistake I thought. Third time comes around and still, it read: yes. That three letter word was the beginning of an experience I am still unable to fully grasp. I felt confident in my decision to make an appointment with planned parenthood as I am a major advocate for this organization and all that it stands for. Being that easy outlet for not only women, but also for men and all people who fall under the LGBTQ category is a blessing. I felt comfort in knowing there was a place like planned parenthood-- especially living in Indiana. I didn’t make an appointment for the abortion right away, there was too much to think about and for all I knew, and hoped, those three positive pregnancy tests were faulty. When I called I made a check up appointment. For all they knew, I simply wanted to get a pap smear. I wasn't even necessarily thinking of an abortion, I was just thinking of pregnancy. Nothing else. Nothing before, nothing after-- just pregnancy. I thought, maybe I wasn't pregnant and those sticks were wrong, as I drove into the parking lot. I wasn’t able to fully comprehend my situation in that moment. I walked into Planned Parenthood with my two friends who came for support and sat there as I waited for my name to be called. That waiting room, lightly lit with faces of of all gender and races, flourished with positive notes, endless pamphlets for sexual health and family planning. I felt as if I was in a weird movie. When my name was finally called to go in, the feeling I had in my stomach was one of pure terror. I was given a cup and told to go pee in it, I am pretty sure it took me at least 7-8 minutes. Nothing like being pee shy in a Planned Parenthood bathroom, especially when that pee is going to tell you whether or not you're actually pregnant. It wasn’t until the nurse sat me down in a small square room, officially clarifying that I am 5 1/2 weeks pregnant, was the moment I actually believed it. Everything after that happened very fast. She started listing all the possibilities of how to move on from there. I truthfully couldn’t tell you a single word she said. I was in the utmost most disbelief. I’m pregnant? There is a child growing in my body? I am pregnant? Me? This is happening to me? My brain was going crazy. As I stood up from that chair, walking back out to the waiting room, my legs felt frozen. Not frozen to the touch, but frozen from sheer panic. I saw my two friends waiting there and just cried, not even saying a single word. There was nothing to say. I didn't know where to go from there. The only thing I knew was that I had to have the dreadful conversation with the kid who got me pregnant. For the sake of the story I am going to call him “the kid.” We started to hook up in the first week of our senior year. Nothing serious at all, but you know the deal-- we would get drunk, and if my night turned out how I wanted it too, I would be going home with him. I don't know why I liked him so much so fast but I did. Classic case of being me I guess. All we did was have sex, smoke, and have small meaningless conversation with our roommates; I did and still do like his roommates. We all would occasionally actually have genuine laughs and good times together. It seemed to consistently be a decent time when I was hanging out with him. He did typical douchebag things during the duration of our “hook up.” The most notable was when he told me to come over one night and when I arrived there was already a naked, passed out, blonde girl in his bed. It’s slightly comical that I continued to hook up with him after that night. My best friend was nearly going to kill me. I don’t blame her, but I liked him and I was not only really attracted to him, but also intrigued by him. At the point of walking out of Planned Parenthood, the kid and I more or less stopped hooking up. We would see each other out and not really say much. I would get a little discouraged at that fact, but that’s it. Maybe we would hookup again, maybe not. He slowly was becoming less and less significant in my life and yet, I felt embarrassed texting him to come over to talk. Looking back, I hate how insecure I felt to share this news with him that pertained just as much to him as it did to me. This was our situation, so why did I feel like I was about to tell him something horrible- as if I did this...to him? That night, I texted him a message no one ever wants to read: “Hey, I really need to talk to you, can you come over when you can?” He came over that exact night. You know that feeling you feel when you're on line for a big scary roller coaster and all of a sudden you're about to get on the ride and you regret ever waiting on the line to begin with? That is how I felt when he told me he was arriving.I wanted to erase the text. I didn’t want to tell him anymore. I wanted to wait another day or just never tell him, ever. Obviously, it was too late. He walked in as my roommate was walking out and jumped over the fence to get down to my door. He walked in with a plain white t-shirt and sat on the couch. He had this confident smile and casual manner about him, ah, that’s why I liked him. He barely got a word out when I said in the most shaken voice: “I’m pregnant.” I will never forget the look on his face. His face dropped, along with his head right into his hands. He was shocked. He picked his head up and stuttered a couple sentences: “well, what, um, what are we going to do?” “I support anything you want.” “I’m not ready to have a kid.” “Wow, hey, you have my kid in there.” After he started to gather himself together and only after I calmed down too, we started to have an actual productive conversation. I told him right away that he does not have to be involved whatsoever in this process but, he told me he wanted to be and he wouldn't make me go through this alone. I repeat: I told him he did not have to be involved, but he gave me his word that he wants to be there for me. He told me we should both think about it, but in the end we agreed on an abortion. He said that he “will be there” for me and “pay” for everything which wasn’t necessary (I was absolutely planning to split the cost). Then we hugged, he comforted me and he made me feel like he was in this really horrible situation with me. However, that following week, I never heard from him. That week was one big blur. I know I told my sister and twin the news and I know they both reacted in no way other than supporting me in whatever it was I wanted to do and drowning me in their love. I know I made my older sister tell my mom. I know I told the only friends that needed to know during that time. I know I informed my gender studies professors because I chose to completely skip any and all obligations that week- especially since abortion was one of the most common conversations of a certain class. I know I threw up every single morning and I know it wasn't anxiety. (Silly--it was morning sickness!) I also know I made another appointment to visit Planned Parenthood to get an abortion. This next appointment was considered the “first step” to getting an abortion. My best friend and roommate of 4 years came with me to that appointment. For the sake of this story, we will call her El. El kept things so light during the darkest of moments. I can't thank her enough for her happy, compassionate, and sensitive attitude during this appointment especially because I was a nightmare to live with. Before we found out I was pregnant, I thought I was going crazy. Every single little thing bothered me. I was angry, sad and most of all- irritable. I thought maybe my antidepressant and anxiety meds were suddenly affecting me differently. El, who has known me for 3 years prior and has lived with me, must have thought the best friend she once had was gone. I was not a good time to be around for a lot of that semester, my hormones were simply unmanageable and furthermore, my attitude towards life- once finding out I was a knocked up 21 year old getting an abortion- was a bit grim. Both of my roommates had a lot to put up with that semester and I feel forever appreciative of them. So, through it all, as my best friend, El stayed by my side just like she was at that “first step” appointment. The “first step” appointment was a required appointment by the state of Indiana before getting an abortion. I paid $120 and was told I had to watch an informative video about what I was going to be doing. When the nurse came into the waiting room and called my name, I asked, before even standing up, if El could come with me. The thought of watching a required video by the state of Indiana about the whole process I was going through, alone, seemed terrifying. Luckily, she was welcome to come with me to watch what was the most right wing video I’ve ever been forced to watch. I don’t use the word “forced” lightly. We walked back into this room and chose to sit on the same chair together, even though there were plenty others. The video started and instantly we got the impression of the type of video it was, even though we were sure of what it would be before walking in. It started something along the lines of, “According to the state of Indiana, human life begins at conception.” Instantly, my roommate opened her phone and went to snapchat to distract me from the video. Why would I want to watch a video about how the decision I'm making is a bad one? Not too long after she pulled out her phone, a nurse perhaps the age of 60, rudely and sternly said, “If you don’t watch the video I’m gonna have to tell you the information myself, and I don’t want to do that.” In that moment, El put her phone down and we pretended to watch. I’m pretty sure she kept her phone out anyways and we scrolled through old pictures because I couldn’t really tell you what the rest of the video was about. As if a 30 minute required video to scare and guilt a patient into not getting an abortion was not enough for the state of Indiana, the nurse sat me down and asked me a question that still lingers in my mind: “once we remove what is in your uterus, would you like us to dispose of it or call a funeral home?” “EXCUSE me?” I said. The nurse continued, “Sorry but we are required to ask that.” FUCK ALL THESE REQUIREMENTS INDIANA. I left Planned Parenthood that day outraged. I not only spent $120 to just feel humiliated but I left that day with no follow up appointment. I was right back to where I was when I walked in. After this I felt completely and utterly hopeless. I felt betrayed by the Planned Parenthood in Indiana and I felt alone and angry as The Kid hadn’t even had the decency to ask how I was. That night, I sent him a text. I was already angry and he seemed like the appropriate outlet at the time to let off some steam. I reiterated what I told him- he did not have to be involved- but after saying he would be and then go dark was unacceptable to me. I let him know how this whole week made me feel. He felt bad and told me to come over to talk about everything. I went over that night and this time sat on his couch. He opened up to me and told me all the other things he was experiencing in that moment. He broke down and cried. He also apologized and as we sat there and hugged, I felt relief not only from his support, but also from seeing actual emotion come from him. Don’t ask me why, but I slept over that night. I remember being in his bed and my breasts feeling so sore; I’m pretty sure I was groaning and moaning the entire night. The next morning, as a pregnant woman sometimes does, I threw up. He continued to be there for me. Him and his friends drove me home that morning and I walked into my apartment feeling confident in his words and actions from the night before. I texted him thanking him for opening up, explaining himself and making me feel much better. He responded right away: “Hey! You really don’t have to thank me, I’m glad I was able to help you in anyway. I’ll be here for you anytime you need to talk :) If you want me to be there, I’ll go with you of course. When were you thinking of going?” I responded and reiterated that I wouldn't mind his extra support but it’s an “emotional thing so therefore if you don’t want to go I understand.” He could have spared me with the next bullshit when he continued to say, “ I’ll come with you I should be there too. Let me know what they say when you call and when you want to go. Just want to make it comfortable for you if that’s even possible.” He does care and will be there for me. I was so relieved. Due to the Indiana requirements being too outrageous for me to handle, I decided to go to another state. One of the girls who brought me to that initial appointment, to just clarify my pregnancy, lives in Chicago. I am going to call her Ann. Ann told me I should make my appointment there as the laws about abortion are much more lenient and she lives there so it would be a comfortable place for me to deal with this. I was also very close with her parents who are divorced, so I had not only one, but two places in Chicago to feel at home. After a couple of days of making sure Chicago was where I wanted to go for this procedure, I made an appointment. Upon making this appointment, there was a sense of reality that began to hit. I remember sitting on the toilet holding my stomach and suddenly feeling as though I was not alone. I recall rubbing my stomach and feeling some type of connection with another soul. I began to cry. I was not crying because I was suddenly convincing myself I was terminating a human life, because I know I was not. However, knowing that I made the decision to forever eliminate the embryo inside me made me feel heartbroken. Was I ending a life? Is this unexplainable feeling of a connection all in my head? I soon would be all alone again, I felt. This type of mindset was incredibly shocking to me because I did not feel that way until I made the appointment, and I guess that seems relatively normal as it was the day an official date was set for an abortion: October 28th, 2017. Naturally, as this was a big decision in this process and he told me to let him know, I called The Kid. No answer. I texted him. No answer. When we made the appointment, the next available spot was for that next weekend. This meant another whole week of classes, another whole week of misery and another whole week of being on this college campus that made me feel trapped. I just wanted this to be over. That next full week my friends and family were there for me more than I could have asked for. Regardless of their endless love, support, and effort to keep me distracted, I could not stop thinking about The Kid. I couldn’t understand that there was someone out there who gave me their word about something very important, and then with what feels like zero hesitation, just went dark. I was dealing with this all alone. That is how it felt. I know that was not the case but that was how it felt. He was going out at night, continuing to go to the bars to drink, and continuing to just live his life as a college kid. It seemed as though he did not consider this to be his problem or even a problem at all. I’d roll around in my bed at night thinking: HE DID THIS TO ME! WHAT, BECAUSE IT’S MY BODY THAT GIVES YOU THE LIBERTY TO NOT GIVE A SHIT? WHY NOT TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT WHEN I GAVE IT TO YOU? I felt so betrayed and that was one of the first times in my life male privilege was ever so obvious. It’s not his body, so therefore it’s not his problem. Ann and I decided to rent a car for the weekend because we had no other way to get to Chicago. I would have asked The Kids roommate who has a car but I decided that wasn’t the best option as it required him to be involved. He had already made it clear he had no interest. I wasn't comfortable telling my other friends with cars why I so urgently needed one so we rented a car from enterprise for $230 and spent the 4 hour car ride talking and blasting the playlist Ann and I collaborated together. The world actually felt good in that moment and for those 4 hours, I forgot why I was even going to Chicago in the first place. Ann’s family is one of few I would feel so comfortable going to in a time like this. Lucky for me, she comes from parents who welcome me with open arms under all conditions. Her family feels like my own, as well as her dogs. When we arrived to her dads apartment, I felt a little nervous to see him. Not because I felt that there would be any judgement from his end, but because I felt embarrassed about why I was going there. Her dad was the first man in this situation, besides for The Kid, that I would see and talk to about it which made me see and feel differently about myself for a moment. I say for a moment because the literal second I walked through the door, he was not only standing there waiting to greet me, but he was also dressed in his Bone Ranger halloween costume as an extra laugh and smile to bring to my face. I stood there in the doorway for over 30 seconds just hugging him as tears swelled up in my eyes. For the rest of that evening I felt as though I was home. I placed all my stuff into my friends room and spent the rest of that day eating, chatting, laughing, and hanging out with her dad, two dogs, and her dad’s incredible girlfriend, Elizabeth (not real name.) They both knew exactly why I was in Chicago and at no point did they make me feel uncomfortable about it. That evening we ordered dinner and watched a corny shark movie that I obviously thought was phenomenal (Mandy Moore really had me on the edge of my seat.) Because my appointment was early the next morning, we went to bed early that night. I wished so badly I could fall asleep that night but I simply couldn't. I was obviously panicked about the procedure the next day. I didn’t know what to expect and I couldn’t believe I was going through with something so serious. Words can’t really explain this type of dreadful anticipation. On top of that, I couldn't believe I was going through all of this when he wasn't. Not only that he wasn't, but he didn’t care that I was. I sent him what felt like the longest message that night. I wouldn't say I was nice, but I was very honest and simply let him know how his lack of genuineness made me feel. After I sent that message, I actually think I fell asleep quite peacefully. He never answered. Waking up the next morning, obviously after throwing up, I fell into this numb, dreamy state. I was so terrified that it almost didn’t feel real. I barely remember getting ready that morning. The only thing I remember was sitting in the uber. Ann to my right and Elizabeth to my left. Elizabeth, no more than a minute after getting into the uber, put her arm around me. I remained in her arms for the duration of that car ride until we reached Planned Parenthood. So many thoughts were racing through my head. Would there be protestors outside? Would someone say something to us as we walked in? Would the uber driver judge us? Those classic thoughts were ones I felt each time I entered Planned Parenthood but this time, the nerves felt different. This time I was actually getting the abortion. This time, I would only be walking in pregnant. We walked in and I was told to go to a patient waiting room downstairs while Elizabeth and Ann were told to wait in another area. I hugged them both and was sent downstairs. The women who greeted me made me feel relatively calm right away, they both had big smiles on their faces as well as welcoming voices. I filled out some paperwork and then sat in a Planned Parenthood waiting room- a place that seemed like I was waiting in too often. Over the course of my time waiting, women and men slowly began to fill the room. It seemed as though people were able to have company, why wasn't I? I noticed most of the people who had company had one other person of the opposite sex. Perhaps it was the person who got them pregnant that decided to join them in that waiting room. All these women, in my mind, had respectful men who wouldn't dare let a woman go in and wait alone. They all had support and company. I was alone. I went to the bathroom about 3 times to just cry. As a feminist and someone who believes in girl empowerment, I shamelessly felt completely dependent on and heartbroken by The Kid who wasn’t going through this with me. I was called in about 2 times before having the abortion done. The first time, they did all the things that happen at a checkup: I peed in a cup, stepped on a scale, had my blood pressure taken. They also had to prick my fingers and prepared me with pain medication. When I walked back out to the waiting room, after that first time being called Elizabeth was there. I remember gasping with happiness when I saw her face. She stood up and gave me a big hug. When I was called in for that second time, she came with me. If it wasn’t for her, in that moment, I would not have been able to pay for the $500 payment. My mom was very aware of what I was doing that day but we were under the impression that my insurance worked. Elizabeth pulled out her debit card and paid without hesitation. I went back in the waiting room and sat with Elizabeth for another 10 minutes until my name was called for a third time. This time, it was to get the abortion. Elizabeth walked with me to the door and I remember how tightly she was holding onto me. I didn't want her to let go, I didn’t want her to send me off behind those doors. She gave me an extra tight squeeze when she let me go and I began to follow the nurse. I walked back to the same area as the recovery room. In that moment I was informed in that I couldn’t go under anesthesia due to a seizure I had 7 months prior. That meant, I’d be awake and aware during the whole procedure. The moment when they started to escort me into the doctor’s room, I went into a full blown panic attack. I was going in for the actual thing. This was happening for real and this reality check sent me in a spiral of panic. They had a nurse come and calm me down and hold my hand as I sat down and put my legs up on the chair. Sitting in that chair I was nearly hyperventilating. I couldn't calm down and I didn’t know what to do or how to relax myself. It felt like my world was moving so fast and so slow at the same time. I felt like I was seeing tunnel vision. I am clearly having a hard time being able to describe the feeling of sitting in that chair as it was indescribable. 3 nurses came in, one by one, and I realized how quickly this was happening. The doctor who was performing the procedure was incredibly pleasant and made me feel as calm as she possibly could. However, she noticed how shaken I was. I couldn’t relax my body which made it hard for the doctor to perform the procedure so they had to send in another nurse. This nurse, whoever she was, is my guardian angel. She gave me her hand, I looked up at her, and she told me to breath. “Remember to breath hunny. It’s going to be ok. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. You’re so strong. You’re doing such a great job. Remember to breath.” That turmoil of pain was being drowned out by the woman above me. As I was squeezing onto her hand for my dear life, she remained the most calm and hopeful piece of energy I needed. As tears were streaming down my face, I just remained in eye contact with this woman. My hand in her blue gloves was a feeling that will be hard to forget. To this moment, I am absolutely confident that if it wasn't for her voice and hand, I would not have been able to go through with this. And suddenly, I wasn't pregnant anymore. It was done. It would be naive of me, or anyone, to think that once the abortion is done, all the emotions are done too. I couldn’t move after the procedure was done. I felt cramps like I’d never wish on my worst enemy, and my entire body felt heavy. Moving and getting up was the last thing I had on my mind. Luckily, a wheelchair was rolled into the room and I moved as slow as I possibly could until all of my weight was supported. They rolled me into the “recovery room” where I was put into a big comfy chair, given snacks, hot coco, pain meds, and a couple minutes to relax and allow my body to recover until I felt strong enough to leave. 3 to 4 other girls were sitting in that waiting room with me. There was a compassion and connection in all of our eyes as we looked at each other. It was as if we were mentally giving each other hugs. Right now, it is valentines day. Which means it has been about 3 1/2 months since the procedure. I am still on the recovery trip but that is ok, I am much better everyday and am nowhere near the place I was in as little as a month ago. I received a beautiful gift basket filled with all stress relief related gifts from my camp friends that made me fall to my knees crying. El and my other roommate also put together a basket filled with all my favorite things from TJ MAXX. My mom sent me the most lovely letter, and my friend who accompanied me with Ann to that first appointment also showered me with letters and gifts. Needless to say, I had an amazing support system to help me in this recovery process. Within these couple months I told my brother. Him and my dad were the only two people in my immediate family that I did not tell before I had the abortion. There were plenty of reasons I didn’t want to tell my brother and there are plenty of reasons why I still don’t want to tell my dad. My brother and I have always been very close. We have had the very classic older brother younger sister relationship. We would beat the shit out of each other but then spend hours making each other laugh and finding any game to play. As we got older, we’ve only grown closer. While his sense of humor continues to slay me and his ability to push my buttons is still just as strong, I think I’ve learned how to retaliate well over the years and I think he would agree. He’s the best older brother I could ask for. How can someone be the Dennis Reynolds to my Dee Reynolds yet also be the Jonathan Byers to my Will Byers? (if you do not pick up on these TV show references, I’m sorry). Anyways, he's all that makes up the combination of a perfect brother. I told him one night in November over thanksgiving break. We were sitting outside and I just told him. At first, he seemed so shocked that he had a hard time putting together a reaction. Once he gathered himself, he simply just asked if I was okay. Then he of course added some joke about the “baby daddy” and we talked about it for a little more until the conversation drifted onto another topic. I was so relieved I told him, especially because he felt offended everyone knew besides for him and my dad. In the end he understood it was a topic too personal to open up so soon with the two men in our family. My dad, however, is a different story. The man who lights up when he picks me up from the airport, the man who blasts the Beatles or any score to any show or movie we all mutually like in the car, the one who has talked me out of nearly all panic attacks and the man who has basically shaped a certain side of my personality that if I didn't have, I’d be significantly more lame. Although, according to other standards some may think that side is actually my nerdy side. I’m his daughter who he knows he'd be friends with had we been born in the same time because he was just like me. A pot smoking, music loving, horror thriller movie addicted goon. I don’t think i’ll ever want him to have to envision me going through a traumatic thing like this. The thought of me hurting my dad, was unbearable. I guess I didn't and won’t tell my dad out of sheer protection of him. It was different with my mom. I was scared to tell her, of course. I had to get my older sister to tell her for me because my older sister has a way of making all situations seem manageable and ok. My mom is someone who, while she would be devastated over the situation, would be more devastated to not have been there for me. She told me to eat crushed up ice in the morning to help with my morning sickness, she paid every penny that had to be spent on this, she did and said everything she could to make this as easier of an experience for me as possible-- even while being a flight distance away. She offered to fly to my school, but it wasn't necessary. I knew I could do this. Just having that support and love she offered gave me the type of strength necessary to push forward without her physical presence. In 3 1/2 months, there is a lot of time to observe changes in yourself. I notice my anger and passion towards abortion rights is much more dramatic than it was before I personally had the experience myself. Hearing Mike Pence's new abortion laws hes trying to push nearly made me leave a classroom because I was about to burst into hysterics. I notice that when I see newborn children there is a part of my heart that gets heavy, even just for a minute. I notice that over time, I feel more open to share my story rather than feel embarrassed or ashamed. That last realization is the best one--slowly feeling more secure about something you're insecure about. Now that’s a good feeling. However, it is hard to find closure with something like this. I guess in terms of my decision I felt closure once I really realized that this was right thing to do due to my circumstances-- being a 21 year old college student with no income and in no place to raise a child. I love babies, I love children, and anyone that knows me knows I can’t’ wait to be a mother, but I was well aware that I was not ready to be the best mother I would want to be. I came to peace with this. But there was something I didn’t have closure with and still do not have closure with. Will I ever? Probably not. The Kid is someone I feel I will never have closure with. It is clear because of my actions towards him over the last 3 1/2 months, I have 0 closure and a lot of pent up anger and feelings of betrayal. I have sent angry texts, and worse, I've confronted him plastered drunk in the middle of a crowded bar. Luckily my friend quickly saw what was happening and swooped in like a bird to stop me. However, from what I do remember I was saying things like: “You're a BAD guy.” “You're just fucking mean and awful.” How could anyone blame me for lashing out at him? He’s responded to a rage text of mine once before and in his response he said, “You can’t blame me for not going through the same thing.” I can imagine in my drunk state that text really stood out and fueled even more anger. I would be lying if I said I regret the things I said. I do not at all regret telling The Kid anything that I spewed at him. What I do regret is that the encounter made me so upset, I cried and left (I also regret coming off like a drunken mess but I am somewhat used to that now that i’m a senior in college.) As usual, i’m sure he remained at the bar drinking, being absolutely unfazed and fine because, well, this clearly doesn't have to do with him. Exactly a week after that, something less significant happened. He was probably pretty pissed off after being aggressively approached by the girl he got pregnant and ghosted, so he decided to instigate. The casual light touch on the back as he pushed me forward so he could get by me while walking with a girl, then to the head nod and smirk a couple minutes later. I again, left crying out of sheer frustration. Why should I be leaving the bar because of him? What power does this person have over me? I absolutely do not have feelings for him anymore, I mean I literally have zero respect for the kid so it’s not feelings of love or attraction. If it’s not that, then what is it? It wasn't until I talked to Ann that I realized that the power was this lack of closure. Lack of closure is the strongest pull in the world, it’s like a lingering feeling that comes and goes in different strengths at pretty inconvenient times. I know i’ll never get the closure from him. But maybe with writing my full story I will be able to get closure like finishing up a book. Once I am done writing my story, I can close it like a book. Maybe this right here, is my closure. I read a quote one day that said: One day this pain will be useful. I don't know who wrote it or where I even read it. It could have been tumblr...but I am hoping that this pain I experienced was useful in helping me to not only write my story, but also to help educate and unite people on issues such as abortion, independence, trust, and loyalty.