In fact, I don’t think anyone really does until they’re faced with the gut wrenching decision. I never really heard about it either, or even cared about it until I became a mother myself. It was a foreign subject to me. The only thing I ever really knew about were the protestors, and I only ever heard the unkind words spoken by people that didn’t agree on the subject. Saying that people were murderers. That it was unacceptable, inhumane… But you just don’t understand until it happens to you.
On Wednesday, November 22nd I found out I was pregnant. It was a bit of a shock. Unexpected, unwanted, unplanned. It wasn’t the result of a one night stand with a complete stranger, or from sleeping around and being irresponsible. It was the result of a failed attempt to reconcile a long broken marriage at the end of September… and the result of my uterus tricking me into thinking I had a menstrual cycle in October. We had been separated, even states apart for a year, and I don’t know what we were thinking… but it happened and you can’t change the past…
Before I even saw those two pink lines, I just knew I couldn’t bring another child into this world. I’m a single mom, I work full time, often seven days a week just to make ends meet. I don’t have my own place to stay. I barely get to see the daughter I do have because I work so much, and I hate it… the circumstances were just not good. I kept it a secret for a while because I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was thinking of doing… I didn’t want anyone to know. I eventually told my mom who lives states away, and my ex who told me to take care of it as well…
The next day I called a women’s health service clinic and made an appointment. At my appointment they confirmed my positive test, did an ultrasound to calculate gestation… 6w5d. Sitting in a counselors office, talking to her about my options and what I was leaning towards doing – terminating. I just couldn’t believe it. This just isn’t something that happens to me. This can’t be happening to me.
That afternoon I called Planned Parenthood and made an appointment for the procedure. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make the appointment. It took all of five minutes. The receptionist told me that the procedure would cost $500 and that it needed to be paid up front the day of the appointment. How was I going to afford that?! Once the appointment was set, my nerves and anxieties and emotions starting swirling all into one giant mess. I thought about it over and over, and thought about it again. I knew it was the best decision for me, but I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone else. I felt alone, scared, isolated. I was sad. I was mad. Everyone was going to hate me. They would judge me. I would lose people in my life and I was going to have to prepare myself for that.
The week before my appointment I spent researching online, watching videos of people’s experiences, trying to prepare myself for what was going to happen. I quickly realized you just can’t prepare yourself enough for this.
The week dragged on. And when the dreaded appointment day came, I was numb. Saturday, December 2nd, I woke up to my alarm, threw the clothes I had laid out on, and snuck out the door at 7am while everyone was still asleep. When we got to the clinic, I expected to see protesters outside with pitchforks and picket signs, chaos. But instead the parking lot was quiet, and there was a security guard patrolling the area. I got out of the truck, and headed towards the front door to the building with the last of my bank account in cash in my purse and a heavy heart in my chest.
When I walked into Planned Parenthood, the first thing I noticed were the footprints painted on the floors, guiding you to the waiting area, and to where you stood in line to wait to see a receptionist. As I followed the women before me I couldn’t help but feel like herded cattle. I was uncomfortable to say the least.
When it was my turn to see a receptionist, I half expected a judgemental glare and a rude voice spewing over the counter, but instead I got a gentle, soft spoken woman. She was so kind and helpful, almost sympathetic. I quickly told her that I only had $400 with me and that I couldn’t afford the rest, so she had me fill out an emergency medical form in hopes that I could get some financial assistance. As I was waiting, I was assuming they would knock off maybe a few hundred dollars.. and when she said I was covered I looked at her and asked, “wait, does that mean I don’t have to pay anything?” She said no. I started sobbing. She asked me to come around the desk and talk to her and when I did, she gave me a hug. I told her I had brought the last of my bank account with me for this. I was relieved, but I also felt terrible about it.
I went back to the waiting area with a laminated printout of information about the procedure to read. I couldn’t focus on it. A little while later a nurse called me back and started me on the paperwork and labs and such. She had me fill out paperwork, then she did an ultrasound to confirm gestation… 7w1d. Another nurse came in and took my blood for some tests and to check my iron levels to make sure I was well enough for the procedure to be done that day. I let them take four extra vials for donation. The nurses walked me through the procedure step by step and answered every nervous question I had. I couldn’t believe how kind and compassionate they were. I wasn’t expecting to feel so safe.
After over two hours of testing and paperwork and answering questions, the nurses started prepping me for the procedure. Because of my anxious and controlling personality, I opted out of sedation. I had to know everything that was going on, and the idea of being sedated terrified me. I’ve never been sedated before, not even for my wisdom teeth extractions in the past. The nurses pushed some anxiety meds through my IV, and then the doctor came in.
It all happened so fast. He inserted the speculum, clamped my cervix and started shooting the numbing needles in. He quickly inserted the canula and removed the pregnancy. It was probably the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt it all. I was gripping the table and shouting out in pain. The procedure in its entirety only lasted about four minutes, but honestly even that was more than I could handle. It felt like my insides were being scooped out, and before I could even register what was happening, it was over. I was left breathless, lightheaded from the excruciating pain I has just felt. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
After the doctor left, the nurses helped me get cleaned up and dressed. Then they walked me out to the recovery area where they offered me water and a heating pad. I could hear the woman crying next to me, and I thought to myself, “why am I not crying? How am I okay?” They monitored my blood pressure and bleeding for about 20 minutes, and walked me out to the waiting room to my ex, that had come with me to drive me home..
It was such a weird feeling, to not be feeling at all on that car ride home. It confirmed my decision, that it really was the best one for me.
I felt a little yucky that weekend. With cramping and bleeding… not so great. But I was back to work Monday. That backed my decision even more, that I couldn’t even afford to take off work for something serious. I wish I could be home, relaxing and recouping. But I’m here, three days after an excruciatingly painful procedure, sitting at work..
Before this experience, I was ignorant. I was a little judgmental. During this experience, I felt so alone, so terrible, so ashamed… but because of this experience, my views have changed. My world has shifted. Because of this experience, I think abortion needs to be talked about more. Women shouldn’t feel like they can’t turn to anyone for help. It was an awful thing to go through alone. And I realized that SO many women are going through this without support. While this was the worst thing I have ever been through in my entire life, and while it may not be approved or accepted by many, I’m open to share my experience with anyone that needs it. I know how hard this is. I know how hard it was to make the decision and to follow through. I know what this feels like. I don’t judge you for the choices you have to make, and I don’t think of you any less. My heart and my arms are open to any of you that need support and someone to talk to. Though you may feel all alone, I am here.