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Anonymous, 36, USA


I found out that I was pregnant on a Saturday.


I had turned 36 just one month before. My birthday had felt insignificant. Just a day that had come and gone. I hadn’t reflected on this new age too much, which was out of character for me. For me, birthdays typically create cause for a good deal of reflection. But not this one — this one I just let come and go.


So, there I was, with one month of an un-reflective 36th year under my belt, standing in line, alone, waiting to purchase a pregnancy test.


How could I have been so careless?


I took the test home, left it in the bag and rest it on the bathroom sink. I walked out. I fully intended to avoid taking the test for as long as possible. The test was just a technicality. I knew I was pregnant. I felt it with every inch of my being. I felt it in my belly, in my breasts, in my thighs, in my cheeks. Everything about me felt pregnant. As soon as I took the test, it would only confirm what I already knew. And then what?


I googled:

Odds of getting pregnant when you are on the pill

Do you really need to take the pill at the same time every day?

Pregnancy at 36

Unwanted pregnancy at 36

Is it ok to get an abortion and not tell your partner?

Planned Parenthood locations near me

Abortion at 36

Can your relationship survive abortion?

Abortion pill

Can you have an abortion and not break up?

Is something wrong with me that I don’t want to be pregnant at 36?

I found some stats about getting pregnant when you miss a pill. I read about my chances of pregnancy decreasing with every passing year. I found some forums with posts about how immoral it is to get an abortion and not tell your partner. I found an article written by a man who was heartbroken to find out his ex, had an abortion and never told him. And, I found something written by a couple who had chosen to have an abortion when they were young and careless only to choose children later. “How romantic,” I thought.


I was completely alone.


Two lines: pregnant.


I cried, drank a coffee, replied to text messages, scrolled through Instagram, emptied the dishwasher, looked up movie times, booked an abortion online for that following Tuesday, and left for the day.


I spent the next 48 hours with my boyfriend. Over the course of those two days there were approximately 48 times I wanted to tell him and 48 times I did not.


I hadn’t been able to truly talk to him in an open and honest way for a long time. As soon as I saw how easily he could turn it on-and-off I started to put up walls, and this secret I was holding onto was probably the biggest wall of all. Our relationship didn’t fill me up, it depleted me. I had been chasing an idea of him that I had created and living for the brief moments of intimacy when we laughed and loved. But most of the time, I was just holding my breath.


We got bagels and coffees and then went to see a movie, which made me cry. I ate a box of sour patch kids and kept seeing the words: “I’m pregnant” over and over again in my mind’s eye. But the words remained in my head. I couldn’t get them to move down into and out of, my mouth.


I didn’t want to be pregnant and I didn’t want to talk about it.


When I got to my appointment, I asked a lot of questions. I guess too many, because they asked me to speak to a social worker. I imagine there are boxes they have to check if the patient seems unsure and my questions had prompted the intake nurse to check them all.


How do you explain that you are sure, but you are also overcome with sadness about being here? Sadness for women you know that would give anything to be pregnant right now. Sadness for not wanting to go it alone. How do you explain that it’s not about being capable or financially able? How can you tell her that you just realized you don’t love yourself enough to even consider loving a child? Is there a box to check for that?


I never thought that I would ever be in the position of talking to a nurse about abortion, especially not at 36 years old. Mostly I never thought I’d never be in that position, because I had always imagined that no matter where I was in life, a pregnancy would be a complete and total blessing. But I was wrong about that and instead I felt a sense of complete and total relief for making the decision I did; for being able to stand up for myself. You might not understand that statement unless you’ve been there too. Unless you’ve also stood up for yourself in this same way.


In retrospect this decision propelled me forward into some of the most difficult self-work I have ever done in my entire life. Basically, that snippet of reflection I bypassed on my birthday snowballed into self-actualized, hard fucking work. Enough work, I hope, that I have changed the narrative of my life for the better and will never have to stand up for myself like that again.


This story is not my whole 36. This story is a moment of my 36; an incredibly significant moment, kept safely on this page and now shared with this project. Because, my hope is that this one corner of the internet might be found by another thirty something woman who can know she’s not completely alone. And whatever choice she makes it is truly and completely hers and hers alone.

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