Saturday, May 18, 2019

mine, too

"Is this your first pregnancy?" she asked. The question hit me like a ton of bricks. "Yes," I whispered. Deep shame-ridden breaths. My first pregnancy. My first.
She became gentler with her words. Everything felt so surreal. I wasn't supposed to be in this situation. I thought I'd been responsible. I had been careful.

A decade prior, I'd learned that my aunt couldn't have children. It was "a hormone problem". She just "stopped having her period." For as little as I understood, I harbored a growing fear that the same would happen to me. But it didn't. Apparently, I'm extremely fertile... so much so, that his sperm successfully fertilized one of my eggs while I was on the pill.

Go figure.

I sat in a small waiting room before the procedure. Other women, most of whom appeared to be younger than my 26 years, lined the walls on either side. They were watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians while IVs dripped into their veins. They'd be sedated during. I'd had the same option but had told the Planned Parenthood staff I'd rather not. I wanted to know what was happening while it was happening. I needed to have to embrace my choice. I needed to confront the full spectrum of its consequences. I felt connected yet apart from these women I otherwise knew nothing about. I thought of myself as simultaneously more mature, and more cowardly.

There were many opportunities to be grateful, also. I was living in a state that didn't require an explanation for why carrying to term was not an option for me. I hadn't confronted biased counseling nor mandatory delays. I hadn't been forced to see an ultrasound. In the parking lot, a mere 20 minutes from my house, I'd only crossed paths with one meek protester.

What I was was cold, at least in the operating room. The lights were awfully bright. The doctor introduced herself, let me know what to expect when, and left it to the nurse to provide comfort during. As the cramps escalated, tears streamed down my face. It was the oddest sensation. I didn't feel an ounce of sadness. Instead, it was as if my body was physically responding to what it anatomically understood to be loss. I was in awe, and completely hysterical by the time the procedure was over. "It's okay, honey", the nurse told me, handing over a box of tissues. It was. I was. From the bottom of my heart, I knew this to be true.

Before I was allowed to drive, she had me sit down, drink some juice, eat a few crackers. Rest. My body had been through a lot.

I picked up fancy cupcakes on my way home and ate one while the heating blanket warmed up. The days of discomfort were cut short by the overwhelming relief and self-empowerment. Motherhood cannot, should not be taken lightly. Even still, months passed before anyone else knew–he made me feel special and completely unworthy; he paid me back the almost-$500; he gave me bruises, twice.

The story of my abortion is not traumatic (even if the relationship it was borne from turned out to be). It's one of the most important decisions I've ever made for my life. All deserve that same autonomy.

Consider this: One in four U.S. women will have an abortion by 45. Outlawing abortions, past and present, have made the procedure less safe; life-threatening even. Worldwide, the only strategies proven to reduce the number of abortions are comprehensive sex ed and widespread access to contraception. Research supports this data. There's no viable alternative to reproductive justice.

So, what now...

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