My abortion story — it’s hard…Part I
“Studies show that after five years, most women have positive feelings associated with their abortion.”
But don’t people feel better about most things after five years?
My story ends with the view that both extreme sides of the issue are wrong, as is usually the case.
Abortion clinics shouldn’t be available next to every Starbucks or CVS, like it’s the equivalent of a daily latte or to stopping in for a new color of nail polish. However, abortions also aren’t the devil’s work, leading to a horrible ending for a potential life. That soul will find another way to come into being.
As far as the topic of when life begins, whatever stage the life was in doesn’t matter to me. As explained by Rosebud Baker, if abortion is killing, I’m ok with it because “stand your ground.” It entered my home without an invitation and was about to take what was left of my mental health and savings. If abortions had been made illegal, I would have been even more determined to get one.
Sitting in the office with the pink walls during my second appointment though, it wasn’t as clear as it is now.
Left alone in the room, the black pill cup sat on the desk. The pill, small enough to fit in a that cup the size of a cafeteria ketchup container, was going to torment me the next few moments, then months, then years. That was the decision.
I had taken the first pill already, but the second pill was the one that made it final. Sitting in my private moment, I picked up the cup and swirled the white pill around in it. The water in the glass on the desk shook as I put the pill cup down and placed my elbows on the desk to support my chin, then my head that I would soon be holding as I mustered up the will to take the pill.
The afternoon was cold. Early March weather in DC was blustery, far from Spring. I had made it to the clinic by car, parking in a busy northwest DC parking garage, hoping I could get my ticket validated and not have another $24 charged on top of other fees I would be paying. I was here to do what I had wanted to do. What I had wanted to do, yet wavered that morning.
“Up! Down! Up! Down!”
The music blasted as the Spin instructor adjusted her mic so we could get her precious directions loudly into our ears. It was 6am and I had walked in the dark before sunrise from my apartment to the gym down the street. Wiping the sweat from my forehead, I reflected on the thoughts I had during my chilled walk.
I wouldn’t be doing this for me, I would be exercising for something else in me. Something that is growing in me at this moment.
My feet slowed down from their frantic spinning. I looked down at my flat stomach under the blue tank top.
It wouldn’t be for me.
“THIRTY SECOND SPRINT!”
The music continued and I pedaled harder as if I could ride away from this situation via my stationary bike. We had already decided. I had already decided.
“Hey, something has come up that’s kind of serious, but don’t worry, I am taking care of it.”
I texted my boyfriend as soon as the blood test came back positive. I had a stack of at home pregnancy tests in the trash that I had been peeing on and discarding throughout the last week. All had been negative because it was too soon for a pregnancy to be detected. I don’t know if I really knew or if I was just paranoid as always. I usually had a few tests in my drawers and checked myself every once in a while, just in case.
“What’s happening?” he called.
“Hey, I’m pregnant, but it’s ok, I already made my appointment. I actually made it a week ago, just in case,” I said.
“Oh shit, Carrie, hang on. I’ll come down. You shouldn’t do this on your own.”
He was living in New York City, which was an easy train ride from DC. We didn’t have the greatest relationship, at this point, we barely had the relationship at all. After a six month definite break up, holiday feels and winter life brought us back together that January. I had a family trip in February, but not before we met up a second time post-getting back together.
Like a decent person, he took off from work a day later and came down to see me and what we had done. I was one hundred percent good with an abortion until we laid in bed, me in my floral fleece robe and him in my hooded Calvin Klein towel-soft robe that made him look like a male model. Taking a bath and relaxing brought me down to a different state of mind.
“But what if we kept it?” I finally mustered up the thought enough to be revealed out loud in an uncertain yet curious tone. Over the last day, my certainty on the decision had wained as I imagined the various scenarios and weighed outcomes and options. I had to say it. One option still had to be explored. I wasn’t going to do it on my own, but something had changed for me for the moment. I went from certain to completely uncertain on my decision and what criteria was going to help me make the decision.
If he gives me 10%, I can handle 90%. If he just gives me any interest, that’s it, I can do this, I will want to do this. I need 10 or even 5%…that’s all I need.
I asked this question and looked at him, knowing his face would reveal the truth and anticipating a certain desire.
“No,” his face changed from loving cuddles and getting through potential grief together to distance and his own certainty, he repeated himself, “no, it’s your decision, but I’m not interested in that.” Watching the change, I turned from him, closed my eyes, and began to cry. I had less than zero percent. My decision was made and I mourned it as he pulled me in to his chest and let me sob.
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
He left that night back to New York, unable to stay another day. We were lucky he was even able to come down so suddenly.
He called the next morning.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “I moved it to tomorrow.”
“Ok,” he responded.
“I have to go to work,” I said and hung up. The pressure of the timeline was weighing on me. Each day that I waited to make a decision presented me with a feeling that I was on my way to losing one of my options. It was early, which made it easier, but it wouldn’t be early forever.
I walked down from my old brick building to my gray car for another commute. I was alone, but I wasn’t alone. Something was with me and I had to make a decision. Each stop and go on the crowded long road caused another consideration.
Child care. Travel. I make money by traveling. My career, I don’t like my job anymore. My PhD applications. Surfing. I hate DC. I live in a studio. I live in a studio and my commute is nearly unbearable. How am I going to carry my body with child up stairs with groceries? What if I get stuck on the staircase? What if my back goes out and I’m bedridden. My parents are OLD. His parents are old. How would I even drop off at childcare and make it to work every day by myself? What if money wasn’t an object? I still hate DC. What if I get stuck in this city and am miserable like everyone else in this town who can barely afford kids, complains about it, and definitely can’t afford them and a good life?
The practical and the emotional spun and spun in my head.
What if I go through this by myself and then it’s a boy and THEN he wants to be in his life…after I did everything on my own?! I can’t stand his parents. I can’t stand him. I hate the way he eats, I hate the way he’s so insecure, I hate that our values don’t align, our communication is shit, we’re never on the same page, I make him feel like shit. I am shit, I couldn’t just cut the cord completely. Why did we get back together? How is he insecure about everything else, but so secure in this decision?
I was back to the clinic. The pink walls and the black pill container. With my head was in my hands, I started to cry. Sad for myself, sad for the decision. You made the decision, you considered everything. I had gone back to confident that day. I walked into the waiting room, looked the nurses in the eye, and communicated my certainty and pride in freedom of choice.
“Ok Ms. Walsh, you can come back.” the nurse called me in. She explained the procedure again. It was Friday and I would probably start feeling something later that night or into tomorrow. Like a dying animal, I go through with it alone in my cave.
I stared at the pill, like I was trying to get myself to jump off a high dive. Just do it, you made the decision, you’re here, it’s what you determined was right. You already did the full analysis, you went back and forth, upside down and inside out. I stopped grabbed cup of water and held a gulp in my throat. With the other hand, I picked up the pill and dropped it in my mouth. I swallowed.
The office door had been open a crack and one of the nurses looked away as I saw her. Wiping away my tears, I took a deep breath and shoved all my feelings down into my body as far as they would go.
“Ms. Walsh, how are you doing?” she said has she handed me a clip board and gathered her pamphlets for me to put in my purse.
“I’m good,” I said as I grabbed the pen and walked a few feet away to sit and sign the rest of the paperwork. As I signed, I heard them whisper.
“Is she ok?” one nurse in dark pink scrubs asked the other.
“She says she is, but I saw her cry in the room.”
The nurse looked at me with care as she handed me the pamphlets and gave me a closed lip smile.
“And this is the number, if you need anything, don’t hesitate,” she pointed at the cover.
“Ok, thanks!” I responded, shoving the pamphlets down deep into the depths like everything else. “Do you validate parking?”