Story No. 441: Caitlin from Virginia

This is my action story.

When I found out I was pregnant last summer, I was completely shocked: I never even knew I could even become pregnant. In fact, when I went to an urgent care, I had been so confident I was not pregnant that when a nurse asked, I laughed at him.

I had been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and hypothyroidism, conditions that led doctors to tell me there was little to no chance I would ever be able to get pregnant. While I had been put on birth control pills to manage my pain, a few years later I stopped taking the medication because its $150 price tag became too much without insurance.

At the end of last summer, while I was transitioning between jobs (leaving me with another insurance gap), I found myself having weird symptoms. I was covered in hives, I was falling asleep at my desk, and I consistently went to bed by 8 PM. I was also nauseous, which wasn’t uncommon for me, but meant I could only eat bread (which while it is one my favorite things, wasn’t normal for me). The sight of coffee made me sick, and I began having constant headaches. I dismissed the symptoms as changes with my thyroid condition, so it wasn’t until the symptoms became so disruptive and the insurance from my new job kicked in that I sought care.

So when I was told at a random urgent care center that I was pregnant, I was shocked. The doctor I had just met was shoving diagrams of my new “baby” at me, along with a variety of print-outs from her office, including a referral for an ob/gyn and a prescription for prenatal vitamins. At the end of the visit, the doctor made me promise I would come back to see her once I got everything sorted out. I was told to consider marriage before my baby came, and that this was how most women become mothers.

They placed me at 8 ½ to 9 weeks: just days away from the cut-off for a medication abortion. Figuring out how to get an abortion was terrifying. Aside from the cost, I had only been at my new job for less than two weeks, and I couldn’t take time off. With less than two days until the cut-off and facing Virginia’s 24-hour waiting period and mandatory counseling requirements, I would be forced to get a surgical abortion, something that I didn’t want and something that wasn’t necessary. I had no other choice but to travel to a clinic almost an hour away in Maryland to get the care I needed.

While my abortion itself wasn’t easy, it was a personal decision that the government should play no role in. I knew exactly what I wanted, and idea of being unable to get care because of legislators in Richmond was the worst part of the experience.