An abortion story
Getting a grip on my mind was not attainable. I had given up, let my noose-like thoughts grip me. It was what I deserved, after all. Part of me wanted the day to be over with, the other part wanted to pretend like I still had an option to back out. I already had one abortion, how could I possibly go through with a second one. My mind would try to rationalize, but the first was when I was twelve—not within my power—it didn’t count.
The noose pulled tighter. Just get it over with, let things go back to normal, half of me beckoned. But my other half retorted, you are an adult, you made the decisions which caused this. There is a real baby depending on you completely for life. How can you murder such an innocent soul? Thou shalt not murder.
Numb. I needed to be numb of all feelings. My thoughts were suffocating me. How would I quiet my mind? How can I get peace? Abortion was the only answer. Not going through with it caused my mind more pain than going through with it, that was my reason—the conclusion to all of my pro’s and con’s tallying. Mostly though, I needed to be at the point where I could pretend it never happened—the pregnancy, the abortion—everything.
I was making my children the priority, the three children I already had, the living, breathing, amazing children I promised the world to. Bringing another baby into the world would not be fair to them, it would damage my relationship with them and forever change things. Not to mention my husband, how could I expect him to father a child that wasn’t his? Life would forever be abnormally different and nothing would make sense. A baby was permanent, it couldn’t be undone.
Adoption couldn’t be an option, the father of the child would fight for it, he was not fit to raise a child—that would be a disaster. Plus, I couldn’t have the child and not be a part of his/her life, it would eat at me every day. No, adoption wouldn’t work.
The decision–I turned my thoughts off and became a zombie, survival mode. It had to be done, there was no other way. A world where the baby and I co-existed simply was not possible. I focused on my rationalization, maybe the soul doesn’t enter the body until birth. That is what makes the birth process so magical. Killing a body without a soul isn’t murder.
I was a zombie for that day. My husband arrived home from work and we left for my appointment, my mother kept our kids. The appointment was in the evening at five, which was odd. Why couldn’t it had been like most procedures, first thing in the morning?
Winter was everywhere, cold, dark and dismal—perfect to add to my misery. A misery I deserved and embraced. No conversations were to be had, a quiet car ride to the city. I could only focus on the cold and the scenery of death all around me. My head rested against the cold passenger seat window, which was steamed from my breath. My feet pulled up on the seat—knees to my chest tucked and zipped within my coat. My gloved finger moved up to the window, wiping spirals on the cold, vapored window.
Pulling into the clinic parking lot was painful—the car ride wasn’t long enough. Zombie, get it over with. There was no need to linger in the car. Dozens of peaceful protesters greeted us, making sure to hand me pamphlets as my husband walked me inside. I kept my head down, a fur-lined hood shielding my head, but I took the pamphlets. No protesters were inside, thank God. It was 2005, weren’t we were past protesting over abortions? They had become a part of society’s new normal, I thought.
The waiting room was dimply lit and cold, about eight other women who had arrived before me were already settled in and awaiting their turn. I wondered if the clinic saw patients for other reasons rather than only abortions. I assumed not, though—they all had the same zombie look on their faces as I did.
The receptionist was rash, not warm in the least. She gave me paperwork to fill out and told me to bring it back when I was finished, which I did. Then she gave me more paperwork and told me to finish it and give it to the nurse when she called me back, it was medical history stuff. I liked filling out the paperwork, it kept my mind busy.
The side door opened and a nurse called my name. My heart sank, it felt too soon, I wasn’t ready. Zombie, be in zombie mode. My hand brushed my husband hand, I bent over and kissed him, and then I followed the nurse like a zombie. I hated leaving my husband, I wished he could have come with me. He was all that could comfort me.
I was on my own. Alone.
Blur. My memories are blurred between the nurse taking my paperwork, doing a sonogram, sending me into a cold waiting room, and leading me to a small room with a counselor who asked me some questions and then sent me on my zombie way. I have no idea how long all that took, it’s all so meshed and blurred and tangled.
Somehow, at the end of all the prepping, I ended up in a large open room. I walked in and was asked to have a seat on the gurney-like bed in the center of the room, only a hospital gown and sox covered me. The almost empty, white-walled room echoed when the nurse spoke to me, she handed me a blanket to help ease my severe shivering. I was still a zombie but I felt nauseous and dizzy, my heart kept palpitating from my anxiety. Grit your teeth, get it over with, was the mantra I forced myself to succumb to. Get it over with — normal awaits
Next to the bed was a steel table on wheels, the shiny silver tools that rested on it looked like pain. It all felt eerily similar to the dentist office on Little Shop of Horrors. Only the nurse and I remained in the somber, torture chamber room. “The doctor is running behind. I will get you all prepped and ready so he can get to work as soon as he gets here. Lie back and try to relax. As soon as he comes in he will dilate your cervix, then all he has to do is stick the hose of this vacuum like device here inside your uterus and gently suck out the contents.”
Oh is that all. I feel so much better now.
Out of all the waiting I did that night, waiting for the doctor to come in was by far the longest. All the while my heart flipped and flopped and my nausea almost forced me to vomit. Nothing felt right, nothing felt safe and secure—it’s the stuff nightmares are made of. A slow, drug out nightmare.
The pace of the room rapidly increased to ludicrous speed as soon as the doctor blew in. I don’t remember his name, I don’t even remember what he looked like. He moved around the room, washing up and prepping tools, not so much as looking my way. Only the nurse spoke, “scoot all the way down to the edge of the bed and put your feet in the stirrups.”
She was rough and haste, acting like I wasn’t moving at the pace desired. She grabbed my legs and pulled me down further. “Come on now, down further, feet in the stirrups.” Then she had me sit up slightly. “I’m going to give you a shot, you will get sleepy, you may or may not fall asleep. This is the twilight medication you opted for.”
I hesitated, then spoke, “make sure the dosage is made for my weight and not a general dose you give everyone, I’m much smaller than the average female, I’m only about a hundred pounds”. I had a bad experience with being given too much medication before, I was cautious to dosage ever since.
She was impatient with me, “Yes, of course. Come on, we have other girls to get to, we have to get moving.”
At that point, what was I going to do? I let her take my arm and inject me. I laid back down. I prayed.
The only thing I remember the doctor saying to me, “Let your knees fall all the way out”. Before I could react I felt him pushing me knees out. Then I felt him shoving his fingers up in me, one hand pushing up through my vagina and the other pushing down on my lower abdomen. The room began to fade. Then the sound. The vacuum machine turned on, the sound was louder than a house vacuum, it was so loud the dialog between the nurse and doctor became an almost shouting.
The medicine began working fast, my eyes were too drowsy to stay open, my body too drugged to use any muscles. Pressure inside my vagina and the sound of the vacuum were the last thing I remember. That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel anything, it only means I don’t remember it. Which is an odd thing to think about.
Somehow I was dressed and moved to a recovery room. My next memories were of trying to wake up. The recovery room nurse nudged me, “Sarah, the procedure is over. You need to wake up”.
I was so tired, my body felt like a ton of bricks and I could barely open my eyes. I tried to look around, everything was blurry. My eyes drifted closed, I fell back to sleep.
Another nudge, “come on, Sarah. Wake up. Open your eyes”.
Again, I tried to wake up. I was much too drowsy, it was incredibly difficult to stay even slightly awake. Giving in and fading back was easy, I had to let go.
Two nurses were by my side lifting me up, “You have had long enough, you have to wake up now”. They lifted me and made me walk over to a recliner.
I wanted so badly to wake up. My anxiety kicked in, fear latched on. What if I couldn’t wake up—ever? What if I stayed in this half-awake/ half asleep state forever?
I drifted back to sleep, but I could still hear the nurses talking. They shouted at me every so often to wake up. Once in a while someone would come over and sit me up after I fell back over to my side.
The sleep let up enough that I could open my eyes, but I still felt heavy and anchored, and I still wanted to fall back to sleep. Fear kept me awake, however. I wanted to try harder to fight the feeling and wake up.
I fell back to sleep. I heard the nurses ask me if I wanted them to get my husband. I didn’t respond I wanted to, I wanted to tell them yes.
The women who came into recovery after me already had woke up and left, I still sat, slouched in the recliner. I was the last patient there.
My husband’s warm hand brushing my face was pure euphoria. I needed him. I wanted out of that clinic. I didn’t care where I went, home or to the emergency room, I didn’t care. Mostly I wanted to go to the emergency room, though.
“Can you try to stand? Come on, I’ll help you. We need to leave, it’s after ten.” His voice was sweet rescue.
I stood, barely awake, and leaned on him. He supported most of my weight but I was able to walk out of there. My uterus ached, severe menstrual cramps. I felt a pad in my underwear. When I stood I felt a gush. I slept during the car ride home, waking momentarily when we picked up the kids.
Crawling into my safe, warm bed, my husband’s arms wrapped tightly around me, was the last thing I remember of that wretched day. I tuck it away in my mind as only a nightmare.
I didn’t forget like I had hoped. It didn’t all magically go away. Nothing felt normal afterward. It was a new normal I would need to learn to cope with, constantly string to convince myself of my rationalization.
Why was my husband so good to me? I didn’t deserve him, which was why I eventually left again.