Part One can be found here.
I wondered if something was wrong by the way the nurses were reacting so quickly after performing my ultrasound. Before I knew it, one nurse was standing on each side of me by my head, and a third stood at my feet. I was then instructed to place my feet in the stirrups and almost immediately, that mystery door that was locked from the inside opened, and out came a man in full surgical attire. Only the man’s squinty eyes could be seen, but just barely.
“This is the doctor that will be performing your surgery today,” informed the nurse. “He will now begin opening your cervix – you’ll feel a slight pressure similar to menstrual cramps.” The nurse was right as I began to feel the instrument probing around on my insides. Slightly uncomfortable at first, as I expected, and I figured this would be the worst of it – just like a Pap smear.
Suddenly I was startled by the sound of a machine that seemed as loud as a vacuum cleaner, or worse, a muffled chainsaw. A nurse held down one of my arms. “Don’t worry, dear…it’s just the suction and will take but just minute.”
I couldn’t think over the sound of the machine coupled with the increasing pain. I began to moan loudly and tried to yell, “Stop! No!” but I was too weak. The room didn’t look right, the voices grew distant, and I began to sweat and felt cold.
“Hey guys, wait!” yelled one of the nurses, “the back of this girl’s neck is soaking wet!” I couldn’t make out what was going on, and had lost my ability to speak. I have a faint memory of a nurse coming by with something terribly strong smelling under my nose. “She’s okay…just help her up and get her into recovery” snapped another nurse.
I was assisted and climbed into a wheelchair while writhing in pain – feeling like sharp claws that had just ripped away raw flesh. “What just happened?” is all I could think.
I was wheeled to a larger room where I noted rows of bulky lounge chairs – about 10 to 15 of them. More astonishing was the row of women sitting slumped over and out of it, like something you’d see in a nursing home. There was a deafening feeling in the air. Some women were crying, some sleeping, some ready to go home, and one woman they had concerns with. I began to sob and sob and sob. “What have I done…what just happened?” is all I could ask myself.
As I adjusted myself in the chair, I was given a hot pad to place on my abdomen. I continued crying, and was handed a box of tissues. Before I left, I was given a shot for contraception as well as a lunch-sized brown paper bag. I opened the bag to find a few thick menstrual pads and an array of small, flat colorful packages that I realized were condoms. It felt degrading, humiliating, and insulting – like I was a shameful “bad girl.” I wouldn’t be having sex for several weeks anyway following this surgery, and condoms were the furthest thing from my mind.
Time passed in the recovery area – how much time I did not know. I was hungry, in pain, and just wanted to get home. I tried to hold back the tears. When it was my time to leave, I gingerly stood up and a volunteer assisted me across the room with the goal of going through yet another mysterious doorway. When the door opened, my partner was in the car, and he was firmly instructed not to turn off the engine or get out. Another volunteer came around and opened the passenger side of the door, and we headed back to my apartment. I don’t remember the drive other than feeling drained – I’d literally just gotten the life sucked right out of me.
My sobs continued for several days. I felt better, then worse. There were times I screamed, yelled, beat the couch, but nothing could erase what went on behind closed doors that day. Eventually, I stuffed it away and decided to “get on with it.” Just six months after having the abortion, I became pregnant again while on Depo-Provera. The partner I had the abortion with? Well, he was now my fiancé.
To be continued…