I don’t regret it. I knew this is what I would decide if I had to make the decision.
He was an ex-boyfriend. We lived halfway across the country from each other. I was going to start graduate school in the fall. My only decisions were where to go and which type of procedure to choose. Still, it was an incredible feeling. From my journal, a few days before the procedure:
“You just never picture this happening. And as much as I’ve always know that I would get an abortion if this happened, it’s still scary, and sad, and serious.
When it’s you, when you can feel it already, this sensation in your uterus…wow. It’s real. As much as you know this happens every day, and know people who have had it done, when it’s you…it takes up your whole consciousness. It’s here now and I know it won’t be soon, but wow, it’s here now.”
I wrote a really detailed description of what I experienced the day of. Valentine’s Day, of all days.
“I arrive for my 8:15 appointment. A few minutes late because of the snow. My name is called after just a couple of minutes of staring at the pressure cooker infomercial broadcasting from the television hanging on the wall at the front of the room.
I’m greeted by ________, and told that she will be checking me in. There are forms to fill out, and she puts a blue bracelet with my name on it on my left wrist. I’m told to fill out sections 1,3,4,5, and 8 of the bound packet of forms in either waiting room, the one I had just left or an interior one down the hall. I go to the interior waiting room.
I sit down with my bag and shrug my bulky winter coat off. A few other women sit in the room, all looking fairly tired. I wonder about them. Who is waiting for them out in the waiting room? Is anyone waiting for them? How far along are they? Is it their first time? Are they scared?
The female staff has us completing the steps of the intake in a round robin, a choreographed shuffle through the rooms of the clinic. I’m weighed and get my blood pressure taken and finger poked to determine my blood type. It’s positive, so I don’t need the additional medication before my procedure. I have an ultrasound. On one of the forms it asked if we want to see the screen and I had said no, but when I’m in the room I change my mind. It’s just a black oval sac with a white speck, my almost baby. I get dressed and go the bathroom and give a urine sample.
Then comes the counseling and payment. I’ve qualified for financial assistance so I will receive the next level up of sedation, putting me in a “twilight state” during the procedure. I watch a short video with a couple of other women on the procedure for a first trimester abortion. A sign on the wall reads, “Many smart and courageous women have been in your place,” or something to that effect.
I return to the waiting room again, shuffling with my coat. A woman is on the phone describing what seems to have been an emotional confrontation with the father of her almost baby.
I’m called for my pelvic exam. I meet the doctor who will perform the procedure, Dr. ________. I’m given a pill for pain and one for nausea and then two chalky white tabs to dissolve on each side of my mouth, between cheek and gum. These will dilate my cervix, making the procedure easier. I wait for another hour. The medication is bitter and I can’t have any water. I wait a bit more and then it’s time.
I undress except for my bra and put a gown on, open in the back. I stick a pad into my underwear and place them at the head of the examining table, as I’ve been instructed. The nurse helps me into the stirrups. The doctor comes in and administers my pain medication in a vein in the crook of my arm. I smell the medication before I feel it. I sink down, and feel a fog blanketing me. The procedure is quick. The nurse holds my hand as the doctor suctions it out. It takes less than two minutes, it’s incredibly quick. I wasn’t that far along.
I thank the her and after a couple of minutes the nurse returns to help me into my underwear. She carries my bag of clothes and coat and walks me to the recovery room. I’m directed to sit in one of the chairs and recline for a few moments. There are two other women reclining, eyes closed. I sit. Just as I get the thought to put on music, I’m told to sit up.
I go into the bathroom with an attendant and she asks to see that I have blood on my pad. I do. I’m told to get dressed and sit at the table in the recovery room. I’m still kind of sedated, and I’m wobbly getting dressed. I reenter the room and sit at the table. I fill out an evaluation form and receive my at home recovery packet, pills to take, instructions.
Then I’m free to go. I meet my friend in the waiting room. Almost every chair is full, mostly men, waiting for their partners. We leave.”