Like many women in their 20s, I have a complex relationship with contraception. In other words, even though the thought of an unplanned pregnancy fills me with great anxiety, I sometimes forget to take the pill. That fear has been further fuelled by shows like MTV’s Teen Mums. I realise having a baby in my 20s wouldn’t make me a teen mum, but when it comes to having babies, I still feel about as prepared as a teenager.
Still, considering my struggles to find contraception that works for me, pregnancy has always been a real possibility.
When a doctor announced that she thought perhaps a pregnancy might explain the hormonal symptoms I’d been having, those big fears stared me right in the face. But strangely, I didn’t feel entirely frozen by dread. It almost seemed like a good thing. Emphasis on the word almost.
Any real pregnancy joy was firmly eclipsed by the terrible timing. I’d been seeing my boyfriend for a short few months. He was only recently out of an almost decade-long relationship.
We didn’t live together. Neither of us had our careers or lives worked out, and honestly, I didn’t even have a good credit history. (I’d recently been banned from AfterPay for failing to make repayments).
But when the doctor at my local bulk-billed medical centre dropped the p-word, I didn’t think, “oh no”; I felt more, “oh”.
I’m a woman of the swipe-and-match generation, and dating is almost like a hobby, where the men all seem slightly interchangeable. Particularly those that post photos holding fish and describe themselves as “outdoorsy”.
When I met my boyfriend, our relationship felt immediately different, partly because it felt more like a friendship and partly because the stuff that felt hard with everyone else suddenly seemed easier.
He didn’t get squirmy over conversations about my period, or feel awkward attending Drag Queen Bingo. He had become a part of my life, not just my love life. What was meant to be a few casual Hinge dates had turned into something serious and comforting.
But I didn’t really comprehend the gravity of my feelings until I was in that doctor’s office, contemplating impending motherhood.
After a blood test and a stressful few days of waiting, I discovered I wasn’t pregnant. I can’t say I felt disappointed with the results, but I didn’t feel the usual, incandescent sense of relief.
Because if it had gone the other way, at least it would have been with him. With someone I trusted. Someone that made me laugh even when life felt mundane. I also knew that if I decided not to go through with the pregnancy, he’d be by my side for that process.
That scare was the catalyst to realising how I really felt about my boyfriend: I loved him.
Perhaps that’s the true measure of love. Would I trust this man to help me through an abortion?
If the answer is no, I’d suggest you keep swiping.