I was 23 and left my apartment, my graduate school, my job, my friends and my family to continue traveling and exploring. I chose to go to East Africa and flew into Mombasa, Kenya. I was backpacking and free from normal responsibilities and finding myself. I met a guy. I was in Mombasa for 2 weeks when I met him. I wanted him immediately. I wanted him for fun and adventure and liberation and experimentation. I slept with him on the second day I met him after spending 2 full days together on the beach, relaxing and kiteboarding and drinking. We were instantly linked and there was no going back from that point. We spent almost every minute together from that point onward. I moved out of the hostile and rented an apartment. I turned 24 with him, his family and his friends and many shots of tequila. That was the first time we had sex without a condom but no big deal because I was on birth control. We didn’t even think about it. We were completely enamored with each other, we were open and honest with each other, we respected and trusted each other. It was 4.5 weeks after we first met. A few weeks after that I left town to meet my mother and my aunt for a safari in northern Tanzania. When I returned he and his best friend were house sitting for a family friend and I was invited to join them instead of shelling out money for an apartment I wouldn’t be spending any time in. We were out with friends one night and I wasn’t in a drinking/party mood… I think I had a single beer that night. Mutual friends started teasing us about being pregnant because I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t in a drinking mood for the next couple of weeks… I didn’t feel bad or ill or anything. I think I was just worn out from the trip with my family and the partying that we’d been doing since we met. One morning, about 2 months after my birthday, I did start feeling sick. Really sick. Throwing my guts up in the bathroom in the morning sick. I look at my guy and panicked, told him to go buy a pregnancy test. I wasn’t in anticipation, there was no waiting… it was an immediate reaction. Two pink lines. My tears and horror were just as instantaneous. I had never wanted children. I was in a foreign country with a guy I had known for a couple of months. My parent’s health insurance couldn’t reach me in Kenya and I didn’t want to cut my 8-month journey short. But I didn’t want this baby and abortion is illegal in Kenya. My guy reacted better than I did, calm and supportive and reassuring. We went to a great clinic and had a blood test done – just in case, right? Well, there was confirmation number 2. We sat across from a well dressed, well spoken, educated Kenyan man and looked at each other. The decision to catch the next flight to South Africa to get an abortion was one of the quickest we had ever made together. We were 24 and 25, neither one of us had a job at that moment, neither one of us was ready. The Doctor told us to not be ridiculous, they did abortions for women all the time, who cared if it was illegal, women needed healthcare and they would provide it for me. He sent us to an OBGYN at one of the city’s hospitals who referred us to an outside OBGYN to try to influence my body to abort with the help of a medication. We went home with the medicine. I spotted a little the next day but nothing like he explained. We returned and an ultrasound was performed and there it was… a dot, an unmoving blotch of nothing that was derailing everything. I was scheduled for an in hospital procedure as they did not have the equipment access elsewhere. I was brought in and told to act like I was in pain as my paperwork listed my reason for surgery as “incomplete miscarriage”. The first OBGYN I spoke with performed the abortion with another man. I was returned to a room and my waiting, worried boyfriend. I had no complications, no one questioned me or threatened me or judged me. I felt safe, comfortable and respected during the entire ordeal. There I was in a “third world country” and I received a safe abortion. All in all it cost about a $1000.00… more than I would have spent at Planned Parenthood but certainly less than a plane ticket to South Africa or back home to my parents in New York. My boyfriend and I both struggled afterwards, with bouts of sadness and the “what ifs” but we never doubted we made the right decision. We got a dog to help us both. He was offered a job in Tanzania and accepted it, and we decided that I should go too, to see if this was still something we wanted after such a stressful situation. I’m nearly 28 now, I married that amazing, supportive man over a year ago and we have since moved to Florida. Sometimes we look at each other and say “Can you imagine if we had a toddler running around right now?!” and it’s that instant reassurance that we need that we made the best decision for everyone involved. We may or may not have kids in the future (our conversations usually lean towards not) but it’s our decision to make, when and if we’re ready.
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