I’ve always been pretty proud of my relationship with my body. I listen to it, I love it, I touch it, I know it. At least until my nurse told me that I was pregnant. In a twenty-something rush of youth, I had moved to New York City nearly three months earlier. I had just accepted my second job. I had just moved off of my friends couch. I was making it. No no no…
“That’s not possible.”
Sure, I hadn’t menstruated since I had moved–but that was surely stress induced. A reaction of barely eating because I was saving up to buy a bed. I had been couch surfing and ignoring a credit card bill. Plus, my body would have told me! I would have listened. Not to mention the two negative pregnancy tests I had already taken.
“But when I messed up my pill, I took Plan B… and the two tests…”
“You can’t say it wasn’t for lack of trying.”
The nurse, bless her heart, had convinced me to take another pregnancy test on a routine visit to update my birth control. I figured I had to pee anyway so why not make it count? Meanwhile, I was distracted by the thought of a potential HIV Positive Test, something that my first nurse was convinced would answer my bodily woes.
I scheduled my abortion for May 9. My half birthday. And the last week of my first trimester. Or the first of my second. I wasn’t sure how to write it in my planner. One does not simply write “abortion”, so I just put the time and circled it.
The ladies in billing couldn’t guarantee how the charge would show up on insurance paperwork, and my relationship with my (Republican) parents was too fragile to handle any of this. So, I paid out of pocket, almost $700 buckaroos, for my future back.
I keep the receipt in my wallet.
I didn’t bother telling the fella. He was a friend from home and we had enjoyed a weekend free of inhibitions together. I didn’t want to ruin that memory for him too. Plus, he was following in my footsteps to the competitive New York Couch-Surfing Scene and I knew he was broke. This is not something you put on someone a week before they’re choosing to be homeless. I could do this.
Walking out of the clinic all of the adrenaline that had made me so decisive, so sure, so level-headed rushed right out of me. I had asked all of the right questions, covered all of my bases, I was expected back next week for what I decided to call A-Day and was holding a list of pre-op procedures. No nail polish. No contacts. Bring a sweater and socks. I stood there on Bleecker Street like a lost little girl. When did I become an adult? How am I doing this? Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. You have to go back to work.
How did I not know I was three months pregnant? The entire relationship I held with my body was suddenly put into perspective. I guess I threw up that apple the other day and, last week, I wanted a vanilla shake more than anything else in the world. But I’ve been on the pill for years, but I took Plan B… but those two pregnancy tests… are you fucking kidding me?
On May 9, my half birthday and my ex-boyfriend’s birthday, I marched into my abortion appointment. I deal with stress through humor, so I joked with the guards. Put on a smile for reception, and made a terrible innappropriate comment at billing that made a stoic woman raise her eyebrows and grin.
“I’m trying to find the silver lining, and with my credit card I’ll get $70 travel rewards for today. So there’s that…”
During the majority of the process–the humiliating ultrasound, the counselling where I learned that I was 20 weeks and that my due date was, in fact, my birthday (forever ruined), all the paperwork, the strip down, and the sitting in a chair chewing on a pill until you were nauseated, crampy, and dilated–I thought of the nurse. What if she hadn’t have suggested a third test? My first nurse took my word for my at-home pregnancy tests. I probably wouldn’t have questioned it again until I started showing. I would’ve had to have had this baby. That nurse changed the course of my life. For a pretty awful situation, I am damn lucky.
On the second floor of the clinic, it became painfully obvious that we were all here for the same thing. I kept looking around for a friendly face, someone to say.. “Hey – today’s my A-Day too. We’re in this together.” Instead, I saw the 14 year old girl scared as shit. I saw the mother who couldn’t add one more. I saw the girl who this wasn’t her first time. I overheard the newly engaged discuss her wedding and tell the nurse her fiance was downstairs. I was rushed past the girl who only spoke Spanish. No one made eye-contact.
I’ve always been a good student. I absorb everything. And when there’s nothing else to do in a full waiting room on a Thursday, I read. I read the risks. I read the procedure. I read the rights I was giving up. I signed the papers. And then I read them again.
They finally called my name. I sent a text to my best friend in Chicago and followed the nurse. I walked in the room and they were playing some indie pop song. I remember being suprised, everything in the clinic was hip-hop or top 40s. I commented on the song. A doctor commented on my purse. I sat on the bed and was very confused – what are these straps? Where do you want my butt? Why are you buckling me in? This part is so not in the movies. Enter IV and I knew they were about to knock me out hard.
“Wait! Can you guys do me a favor?”
“Can you guys try, like really hard, to not to poke holes in my uterine lining? That’d be great.”
“Haha, thats actually an excellent request. We’ll do our best.”
Good. Now, they know I read all of the paperwork…
When I woke up, I felt what cramps were for the very first time. I was on fire. And I sat there and processed my day. And for the first time, I cried. Oh, I cried. I cried out of pity for myself–22, just moving to New York. I cried out of sadness for what I had just done–though I still have no regrets about my choice it does not take away the horror. I cried because I did everything I could to not be in this situation. I cried because it was over.
My friend gave me the biggest hug when I came out those doors. I rolled my eyes and groaned because I couldn’t start crying again and I didn’t know what else to do. I went home and bought myself flowers. I buy myself flowers all the time now.
Today is August 9th, three months after my abortion, three months to my due date. Poetic symmetry I’d say. I think I need to write a thank you card to that nurse.