I was in San Francisco, land of brown hills, old Victorian houses, and the TransAmerica Building. I was a transplant from Boston and worked as a barista at a cafe. I was young, I was inexperienced – hell, I was a virgin when I met him, only 23 years old. And I got pregnant four months after we had sex for the first time. I thought at the time it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I couldn’t have a child – it would be the end of my career, a cutting off of all my dreams. And I had no money. But I felt only some small peace when I went to a government office for free abortion funding.
My musician boyfriend told me his previous girlfriend had three abortions in seven months. I blamed him as much as her. He never waited for me to use birth control, just climbed on top of me and rammed his thing in, so I imagined it had been the same with her.
It was February. I’d taken an at-home test to be sure I was pregnant. A doctor confirmed it. I spent a day throwing up from morning sickness, revolted at what my life had come to. My boyfriend stopped by, seemed uninterested that I was sick, and went home to watch TV.
That night I cried loud, wretched sobs in my bedroom. My concerned brother, with whom I shared an apartment, burst into the room and enveloped me in his arms as I lay on my mattress.
“What’s wrong?” he cried out.
“My boyfriend’s awful to me.” I didn’t want to tell my brother I was pregnant. I thought he’d be ashamed of me. The next day, worried, he booked a flight for me home to Boston. But against my better judgment, I didn’t catch the flight – I stayed in San Francisco. I’d already invested too much innocence and hope in this guy who took my virginity.
I got an appointment at a hospital. My boyfriend dropped me off for the abortion; he had band practice and that was more important than staying by my side. I wished I’d asked my brother to be there. I asked the female nurse to hold my hand during the procedure. I sobbed as a tube was inserted and felt the sucking out of the insides of my womb. I was grateful another woman was present.
Afterward, my boyfriend picked me up. I was still crying. He looked at me disgustedly in the waiting room and said, “What’s your problem? This happens to plenty of people besides you.”
We went to his house, where I discovered he’d blabbed to his roommates about the abortion. I felt betrayed. I broke up with him two years later. It took me that long to realize an unsympathetic, selfish man wasn’t going to change.
I’m 65 now, never had children, and sometimes I wonder what kind of Mom I would have been. Often in September, when I remember I could have given birth that month so many years ago, I wonder what sex my child was and how I’d get along with him or her today. My “baby” would be 41 now. If there’s a Heaven, I hope mine has some small peace.
About the Author
Martha Patterson’s short story collection “Small Acts of Magic” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. Other work has been published in more than 20 anthologies and journals, and her plays have been produced in 21 states and eight countries. She has two degrees in Theatre, from Mount Holyoke College and Emerson College, and lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She loves being surrounded by her books, radio, and laptop. Website: https://mpatterson125933.wixsite.com/martha-patterson- Blogspot: http://marthapatterson.blogspot.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarthaPatterso6 Books: https://www.amazon.com/author/marthabpatterson
Supporting Reproductive Rights
This is a critical time in our fight to preserve access to abortion and reproductive healthcare. We believe that every action counts. Here are three things you can do.
- Fight stigmatization by sharing your story and/or supporting people who have shared their stories. Supportive comments and likes make a big difference to the people who have chosen to share their personal experiences.
- Reach out to your representatives on the federal, state, and local levels and tell them that you want them to pass legislation that protects reproductive rights including abortion access.
- Donate to organizations committed to protecting access to safe and legal abortions. This writer recommended Planned Parenthood for the work they are doing to ensure access.