Lena Dunham wished she had an abortion. Well, I had one. Three and a half weeks ago.
I knew something was up. You could plan your calendar around my period. It lasted three days and came back every 28. This time, it was late. I thought maybe it was because I hadn’t gone to the gym and wasn’t eating as healthy as I had been. I had gotten fired from work unexpectedly. I had just moved into a new apartment. Boyfriend was moving, again. I was thinking of reasons why it was just late due to stress.
I got fired on Friday December 2. I was devastated. I sulked all day. Boyfriend and I decided on Saturday that I would pack up and move to the South. Sunday, I started packing and put my studio on Craigslist. I took my car to my trusted mechanic on Monday morning to get my car ready for another cross country road trip. The mechanic said give him a couple of hours so I walked across the street initially headed for Starbucks yet detoured to CVS. “Just bite the bullet and take a pregnancy test, Rachel”, I thought to myself. I purchased a 3-pack of Clear Blue with the digital reading, you know, to take out the guess work. On my way out, I ran into an employee of mine that is a Man of God and believes everything happens for a reason. We exchanged a hug and he said he had wanted to reach out but that he had been praying for me. “Good”, I thought. “I certainly need it.” His daughter just found out she was pregnant and there was something in seeing him in a neighborhood where neither of us live that the universe screamed “YOU’RE PREGNANT!” before I needed to pee on the stick.
I get to Starbucks and go straight to the bathroom. My eyeballs are practically floating but anxiety is keeping me from doing what I need to do. Finally, yet almost instantly, there it is. PREGNANT 2-3 WEEKS. Well, fuck.
I take a picture of it, wash my hands, and order my tall drip, room for cream.
I’m texting Boyfriend the photo. ‘Are you fucking with me?’ is his response. Yes, dumb ass. I wasted $30 on pregnancy tests to pull a prank. Not something I’m against doing but in this instance, no, I’m not kidding.
In the meantime, I call Planned Parenthood. I use the line from Sex and the City; “Hi. Yes. I’m pregnant and I need not to be.”
They were kind, understanding, patient, calm. Given the circumstances, it was one of the best experiences in human contact I’ve ever encountered. I didn’t feel judged. I didn’t feel like I had fucked up. And really, why was I to feel that way? I had in the NuvaRing for birth control, we were trashed, and he didn’t even finish. HOW DOES THAT MAKE A BABY?
I had an appointment scheduled for 2 days later.
I’ll tell you how I felt. RELIEVED.
I never felt remorseful, guilty, ashamed. I’ve NEVER had the urge to become a mother. I love children but I’m far too selfish to have any of my own. And nothing quite melts my heart like a small child or animal. But even as a child, I neglected my baby dolls. They stayed naked in a pile in a PlaySkool shopping cart. While, I wouldn’t leave it naked in a shopping cart, I don’t believe I’d have that feeling like most mothers talk about of feeling complete. If anything, I would feel hindered. Am I being a little too honest here?
In between the time it took for me to make the appointment and the appointment itself, I ran into an insurance issue and my appointment with Planned Parenthood had to be cancelled. What the fuck?! While my insurance would cover it 100%, essentially, I needed a referral from my primary care physician to go to another office in Southern California but within my network. This required me going to the first doctor on a Thursday to determine that I was, indeed, pregnant. I had to wait until they got the results back from the lab the following day, Friday, and booked an appointment for Monday. I get through the weekend and once Monday rolls around, I’ve officially known I’ve been pregnant for one full week. And in that week, I have been depressed, lethargic, moody. More so than usual.
In this week, I have packed my apartment, given things away, trashed items, and slept on my floor because my bed sold quicker than I anticipated. If I hadn’t already had the worst day of my entire life (see: my mom dropping dead), this week would’ve been it. I sat on my studio apartment floor too many times wondering how I got where I was, what am I going to do. But no part of me thought keeping the baby would make things better or easier. For fuck’s sake, I just got fired and I’m pinching pennies just to make it across the country. How am I going to afford another person? Not to mention, my tits hurt. I can’t deal with this for nine months.
Monday, December 12, 2016. 10am. My car is packed. Right after this appointment, I’m hitting the road headed East. I get to the office. I expect to see people picketing around the building. (I’ve always wanted to stand beside those people with my own sign that read ‘This person should’ve been an abortion.’ with an arrow pointed toward them.) I walk into the clinic. Clean. Soothing music and a loop of the doctor educating about forms of birth control on the TV fill the silence. The receptionist speaks to me in a calm tone. Again, no judgement. Just like Planned Parenthood.
First order of business, pee in a cup. When that comes up pregnant, I sit with Nurse #1 who explains to me that I am pregnant. We go over my medical history. At the end, she gives me the option to back out of the ‘medical termination’ if I’ve changed my mind. Nope. Still don’t want a kid. I go to the private waiting room. Nurse #2 pricks my finger to test my blood for my type and if I have an iron deficiency. No iron deficiency but I learn I’m Rh Negative and ‘a negative mommy does not make a positive baby’, I’m told. Perfect, reason # 873 why I should not have this kid. I go back to the private waiting room. Next is an ultrasound by Nurse #3 to determine how far along I am. I can tell you that, sweetheart! If my last period ended on November 5 and today’s date is December 12, well, that looks like 5 weeks and 2 days. ‘Do you want me to tell you if it’s twins?’ Sure, lady. It still won’t change my mind. And I should note, they never tried to get me to change my mind. It wasn’t JUST an abortion clinic but a women’s health clinic. I could be 7 months pregnant and they would still treat me with the same level of respect as right now as I lay on a table, humbled, with my feet in stirrups and a magic wand up in my cash and prizes.
Now for the finale, the doctor. A tall, slender blonde woman named Dr. Mann. (Ha! Does anyone else see the irony in that?) She’s going to do a pelvic exam to check for abnormalities. Aside from the fact that I have something unwanted growing inside of me, nothing is out of the ordinary. She sits me in her office and explains what the medical termination entails. I am going to take a pill in her office, in front of her, which is going to stop the process of the pregnancy. That night, I am to take a round of antibiotics with dinner. 24 hours from right here, right now, I am to place four little pills in my cheeks. Two on each side until they dissolve. For 30 minutes, I cannot eat, drink, chew, or talk. Those last four will start the shedding of my uterine liner aka the heaviest period of my life. And finally, she writes me a prescription for heavy duty Tylenol and ibuprofen.
Down the hatch. No turning back.
I follow the directions for the next 24 hours, curious to know how this will affect my road trip. Somewhere in Texas, I stop to pick up giant maxi-pads, or what I now refer to as Pussy Pillows, some extra strength Aleve, as I didn’t fill the prescriptions before getting out of California, granny panties for said Pussy Pillows, and some heat pads to help with the cramps. I’m ready to go. Open the flood gates.
I take enough Aleve that I’m not really sure when I started that final process. I didn’t have side effects. It was just like a heavy period; standard cramping, tired. It lasted roughly seven days. And, here I am awaiting my next period. I’ve taken a pregnancy test and confirmed I am NOT pregnant.
I don’t think anything about it. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a part of me. I don’t have regret. I don’t feel ashamed or remorseful. I would have had to do something wrong to feel that way. Let’s not forget, I took steps to ensure I didn’t get pregnant and I still did.
What I do feel is a sure of my decision. I will stand behind my decision any day of the week. I have never had that maternal feeling. I have never felt my clock ticking. I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not being a mother.
I remember talking to my mom about abortion. She was pro-choice, too, and had her own abortion experience. Twice. Before me. Once was due to irresponsibility and the other due to an IUD going rogue.
She had become pregnant while having a copper IUD sometime in her 20s. She had a fever and bleeding. Clearly, something was the matter so she went to the ER where the male doctor told her it was ‘God’s will’ that she got pregnant. She said she’d never forget that. She didn’t agree with mixing church and state or, in this case, church and science. She was released from the ER. Thankfully, that bible belt dipshit went on vacation and when she came back to the ER the following day, she was treated by a female doctor that performed an abortion on my mom and saved her life.
Why do I make a point to differentiate the gender of the doctor? One, because it’s not a man’s business what I, or any other woman, does with her vagina unless that’s what he wants to study in medical school. And, two, a woman would understand women’s reproductive health better than a man. Mostly, due to the fact that she shares the same parts.
How did we come this far in women’s health only to have it threatened to be taken away from us? I was on birth control. I had an abortion. And because I got fired from work, I no longer have insurance. Take away Planned Parenthood and you’re going to promote those back alley abortions with rusty metal hangers from not that long ago and risking the well-being of women’s lives. Give me my affordable or free exams and birth control and stay the fuck out of my vagina.
And, so I said in a friend’s Facebook comments section; “If I get pregnant and have to have the baby that I don’t want, can I drop it off at the White House? #safehaven #heydonalditsyours ”
*Side note: Planned Parenthood has protocols they have to follow. In my case, my insurance wouldn’t cover the abortion if it was done by PP if a facility within my network could accommodate the procedure. Planned Parenthood was gracious enough to call me back immediately and inform me of this policy. Therefore, I had to take other steps to have the medical termination. Planned Parenthood will take you in and help you. Always. #iheartplannedparenthood