Filed under: Abortion
For a few months now, I’ve had this dream. It isn’t every night, or even every week, but it’s been happening at least twice a month for about eight months now. I know that the dream probably has some other hidden meaning, or says something about my mind, my personality, my daily conflicts, or the things that weigh on my mind, but it has meaning to me at face value nonetheless.
I’m exactly the same. I’m Eve. I’m 20-something, in nursing school, and I’m not in a long-term relationship. There’s nothing remarkable about me, except that I’m pregnant. And I’m not pregnant due to a lack of birth control, due to rape, or due to immaculate conception. No, I’m pregnant because I went to a fertility doctor and received a round of In Vitro Fertilization. I can’t figure out why I did this, but I’m excited to be pregnant and thankful that it worked.
I pee on the stick, I see two blue lines, and I’m thrilled. I have a huge smile on my face, but then it hits me…I have to tell my parents. I have to tell my parents that as an unmarried student in my twenties, I decided to purposefully become pregnant and spent a great deal of money making this happen. Suddenly, I’m filled with shame and anxiety, because I know that they’ll never understand. What was previously happiness and joy has melted into a sick, heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The room changes and I’m at work surrounded by the doctors and nurses I know and love. I’m on an operating table in a white, sterile-smelling room with bright lights shining in my eyes, much different than the procedure rooms I’m used to. I see an IV in my arm, and the doctor I trust is pushing medicine into my veins. The room gets blurry and I have a funny taste in my mouth while he tells me to relax, it’s just the sedative. He gives me another drug and everything gets quieter; I can hear him telling the nurses that this anesthetic will affect my hearing and will eventually put me totally to sleep, even though my conscious self knows that this isn’t how our conscious sedation works. There’s an ultrasound being done, and I can see the fetus I worked so hard to conceive pictured statically on the screen.
And then it’s over. I know I’m not pregnant, and I know I don’t have to explain to my parents about the pregnancy they’d view as life-ruining. I know I just wasted tons of money, but I feel confident that I’ll be socially accepted for continuing my streak of not becoming an young unwed mother.
I know this has nothing to do with my job. It hardly has anything to do with anything, as I know that the procedure is much different in real life, and that my family would support me no matter what happens in my life. But it’s been on my mind a lot, recently, and I figured that since it’s related to abortion care that I’d go ahead and share it. So there you have it!
Filed under: Abortion
I thought it would be interesting to bring a different perspective to the blog, maybe from other providers, or maybe from women who have gone through abortions. I’d like to see if I can find a variety of people to bring their points of view to this blog. In any event, today’s post comes to you from a friend of mine (Brenda, who can be found on twitter) who is being so kind and brave as to share her story. Additionally, you can read another part of her story here at one of my favorite pro-choice sites, Golden Coat Hanger. I ask that if you decide to comment, you maintain respect and remember to be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle (Plato).
I had a friend in highschool from a strict Catholic family who, despite her parents wishes, was having sex. With no job, she couldn’t afford condoms, so I googled the location of a Planned Parenthood near where we were hanging out one day. It was a short drive away so we headed over to it, giddy at the premise of free condoms. What we expected was a small clinic like other Planned Parenthood’s we’ve seen. This one had a high, black plastic covered fence surrounding it, and we were shocked to see protestors outside the fence. They were screaming at us, 17 year old girls on the quest for free condoms. Baby dolls covered in red paint littered the ground, and young children held signs with hateful words they couldn’t even read. Security guards opened the gate for us, and once inside and away from the protestors, one man climbed a ladder and continued to scream at us over the fence. “Don’t kill your baby!” Another security guard opened the door to the building and we had to be buzzed through to the front desk. “Hi,” I said, to the nurse at the desk. “We’re just here for condoms.” She smiled and pushed a small basket of rubbers towards us. In a daze, we took a few each and was buzzed back to the main area. We were in the building for about 5 minutes, and upon exit the male protestor on the ladder continued his screaming. I thought he might be screaming in joy, that maybe he thought his “Don’t kill your baby” really got through to us 3 teenage girls going in for what he probably assumed was a group abortion. But no. He screamed, “Repent! Repent!” Shaken, we drove from the gate and headed back home. “What the fuck was that?” I asked. Neither of them answered. There was no answer. Still I have no answer. What the fuck WAS that?
Little did I know that 2 years later I’d be married and taking that drive back to a Planned Parenthood, this time for an abortion. After mistreatment at the hospital in which I was delivered the news of my pregnancy, I was worried about the nurses at the clinic. I was also worried about protestors. I was shaken by the event when I was just getting condoms; how would it feel now that I actually was getting an abortion? My husband and I made the decision together. We were just married, not even old enough to drink, living in our first (tiny) apartment. There was no way we were having a baby, not then. My husband held my hand as we walked across the parking lot to the Planned Parenthood, hidden in the corner of an empty plaza. There were no protestors. Once there, I was treated with the respect that I hadn’t received at the hospital. A simple “How are you feeling?” was enough to make me feel safe. Being only 5 weeks pregnant, I opted for the abortion pill, to be taken at home. It wasn’t gruesome, it didn’t involve dismemberment or crippling emotional and physical pain. It just felt like a period. Blood, cramps, and it was over.
My husband and I are still happy and child free. My current birthcontrol lasts for 3 years, so we aren’t planning on children any time soon. We have no regrets, and it was the best choice for us. Still, I’ll never forget that man on the ladder. If he’s trolling the internet and comes upon this site, I have one thing to say to him.
I had the chance to write a thank you letter to one of the doctors I have had the pleasure of working with on Pro-Choice Thank Yous. I have of course changed the name of the doctor, but I have sent my thank you letter on to him. In any event, I wanted to update here so you all could see it, and let you know that I am working on a few more posts to come in the near future.
If you’re still checking this blog, thank you. I added some new links in the spiffy sidebar, and I know they’d appreciate it if you checked them out. There are some wonderful people in the field who are also writing, and I’ve listed the blog of one woman who has recently experienced an abortion herself. I know it’s been sort of dead around this blog, but I’ve been busy in my own life. More quantity to come soon, hopefully.
Filed under: Miscellaneous
There are things that disgust us all. I can’t stand blatant proselytizing, blind hatred, racism, or religious intolerance. Other people can’t stand homosexuality, illegal immigrants, or abortion. Some of you reading may even be disgusted by me, and that’s okay. But I have never found something that people from every walk of life can agree on hating more than the Westboro Baptist Church and their infamous protests.
Earlier in the year, the WBC decided to pay a visit to my area for some unknown reason. They were protesting at high schools for no apparent reason and showing up at synagogues, too. I guess being young or Jewish is enough of a reason to be hated in their eyes. I don’t even attempt to understand their logic anymore, as I have come to reason that there is no “logic” to it. So, being the socially concerned woman that I am, I grabbed a friend and we took to the streets, hitting up the counter protests for each location they had chosen.
Now, I don’t need to be told that counter protesting is “feeding the trolls,” and that all they want is attention. This has absolutely nothing to do with them or what they want. I know, though, that if I were a young girl at that school, or if I were worshipping in that synagogue, I would feel so much better knowing that there were people outside defending and supporting me.
I believe that the most powerful thing I have witnessed firsthand was a wall of signs spreading messages of love that blocked the view of the WBC and their hate filled words for two young Jewish men who stood outside their temple. I remember just welling up with happiness seeing the members of the WBC outnumbered by about 20:1. We were people from every conceivable background, be it racial, socioeconomic, age, sexual orientation, or religious.
Unexpectedly, the protestors decided to leave the synagogue and move to the abortion clinic where I work. This wasn’t part of the schedule; they must have noticed the clinic on the drive over. I was so worried, knowing inside that a good portion of the counter protestors were anti-choice, and I was scared to see the numbers drop outside the clinic. But something amazing happened; not only did everyone follow the WBC and continue spreading words of love and acceptance, but random people off the streets joined in. They didn’t carry signs, and they seemed generally unaware that any of this was happening beforehand, but they stood in line with us. Shoulder to shoulder, we held up signs, sang songs to drown the WBC out, held hands, and stood fast in solidarity.
We put aside our differences to stand together against hate, and that memory is sometimes what keeps me going.
Filed under: Abortion
People think we’re pro-abortion, but that’s not the case at all. We’re pro-choice. Nothing made me happier than when an abortion patient decided she was ready to become a parent.
She had come in alone, pulling wrinkled bills out of her pockets to pay for her appointment. She did her ultrasound, and she signed the paperwork. She set a date, smiled and thanked us as she left the clinic. She didn’t seem any different than any of our other patients, so she sort of slipped away in my memory.
One morning, she came in for her procedure, paid in full and I brought her back. She seemed pleasant enough, and had followed all the directions perfectly. I started her IV and put her in the room, giving her time to undress.
“Okay, I’m going to get you ready for the doctor,” I said as I came back in, adjusting her legs in the stirrups.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“I’m having second thoughts.”
I stuck my head out the door and told them to go ahead and triage the next patient, as I was going to probably be a while here.
“Okay, well talk to me about it; what changed?”
“Well, I’m single, and I don’t make much money, which is why I thought I wanted to do this. But I’m getting older now, and who knows if I’ll ever meet someone and settle down; even if I do, it might be too late. So like, I know I’d struggle, but I’d get to be a mom, and I think that would be pretty cool.”
“Well, being a parent can be one of the most rewarding things in life if that’s what you want.”
“I really think I do; I know I’m not the richest person, but I have a lot of love to give. My mom made do as a single parent with two kids, so if she could do it, then so can I.”
“If you feel like this is what you really want to do, then go for it! We can get you the paper work you need to get on Medicaid, and we can provide your prenatal care, too, if you want.”
“Oh my gosh, you do prenatal care, too!?”
“We sure do,” I said, smiling.
“Oh wow, awesome…I think I’d really like to do that.”
I took her up front, refunded her money and filled out paperwork with her. She looked lighter, and had a little smile on her face.
“So she changed her mind?”
“Yep, she’s going to do prenatal care with us.”
“Oh wow! I love it when that happens.”
Filed under: Abortion
I remember seeing Anna when she first came in to the clinic. She was with her boyfriend, laughing and joking with the staff and seemed to be in really good spirits. I scheduled her appointment for termination, and she leaned over the counter, snapping her gum.
“Y’know what’s so funny?”
“In that ultrasound, it looks like a sour patch kid.”
“Wait, what now?”
“Like it doesn’t even look real! It’s just a little sour patch kid!”
I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve seen limbs torn to shreds and hanging by threads after a run in with a meat grinder. I’ve seen the way blood drips down a cinderblock wall when you take a .45 to the head. I’ve seen the anguish in a young mother’s eyes when you tell her her child died during the night for unknown reasons. I’ve seen a lot.
But for some reason, when Anna says that, I get cold chills down my spine. The hair stands up on the back of my neck, and I’m forced to close my eyes. A sour patch kid? Is that all she thinks it is? This plagues me for the rest of the day, far after she’s left the clinic with a reminder card in hand.
I worry that she isn’t thinking about this seriously enough. I worry that she’s rushing into a decision, not considering the full effect of her choice. It’s not my place to question her, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about it.
She comes back a few days later, but this time she’s alone. She’s wearing a white shirt, dark pants, and heavy black eyeliner. She’s laughing, joking, smiling a lot. I start her IV and still feel that weird feeling creeping down my spine. I lead her to the room and have her get undressed while I wait outside.
“You decent,” I ask as I open the door a bit and peek my head around the side. I see her in her white t-shirt, sitting upright with her shoulders shaking. She’s got her head in her hands and peers up from me tentatively. Without thinking, I walk over and wrap my arms around her. I hold her head against my chest and let her sob, her eyeliner staining my scrub top. “Shhh,” I say as I rock her back and forth, feeling strangely maternal, “It’s okay.” She hugs her arms around me tighter, and sighs and she stops crying.
“I just don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. I don’t know what to do, Eve. I have two kids, I’m not married, I have a shitty job, and we’re barely scraping by as it is. I think it would be better to focus on the two kids that I do have than bring another one into this world and make it so I can’t really provide for all three.”
“I think you need to do what you need to do. You’re a smart woman, you’re going through the right thought process. Only you know what’s best, but if this is it, then I trust you.”
“Do you think I’ll be…punished? You know, like in hell or something?”
“I think that if there is a God, then it will know that you’re trying to do the most good in a shitty situation. Life is hard, and we don’t have the answers. We’re expected to make mistakes, and as long as you’re giving it your best shot, I think that’s all you can do.”
“Thank you, Eve. Will you be here for the whole procedure?”
“Yeah, I assist the doctor.”
“So you won’t leave me?”
“No, I won’t leave you.”
“I promise, Anna.”
Typically, I hang back with the doctor, helping him with various things. I set up his tray, assist him with instruments, and hand him whatever he needs. I work the vacuum aspirator upon his direction. But today, I do all these things while holding on tightly to Anna’s hand. I squeeze back when she holds it tighter, I rub her fingers with my thumb when she squirms.
After the procedure, I help her into the recovery room myself. I hold her as she cries again, and I brush the hair out of her eyes. I hand her some literature on places that she can call to talk when she gets home. She smiles halfheartedly, and I take the pen out of my pocket.
“And this is my number,” I say as I scribble some numbers down on the pamphlet.
“Oh, you guys have a counseling service, too?”
“No, this is my cell phone number. I want you to call me if you need anything, okay?”
She starts crying again, big heaving sobs that make me choke up a bit as well. I hug her one last time before I realize I need to get back to my other patients.
“Thank you, Eve.”
Filed under: Abortion
She comes up to the front desk, shaking and crying, tears spilling over her eyes uncontrollably. “Can I come back,” she asks, gesturing to the other people sitting in the waiting room; she doesn’t want them to hear what she has to tell us.
She slaps some literature down on the counter. It seems innocuous enough, as all it says on the front is “Pregnant? You have options!” I pick it up and open it to the first page. A gory picture of an aborted fetus is right there, looking up at me. I close it, and throw it away.
“There are these fucking guys standing out there, and they have signs and pamphlets and shit, and they keep yelling at people coming into the building.” I hate this shit. Our clinic is in a building with other medical offices; you don’t know why someone is walking into the building. They might be there to see their family care doctor, or to see a dentist. It must bother the patients who come for different reasons, too.
“He’s telling me that the fetus has a heartbeat and all this shit, and I can’t fucking deal with this,” she’s saying in an excited whisper. She tells me how hard this decision has been on her already. She tells me that she’s already wracked with guilt and that she doesn’t need some guy telling her what she should and should not do with her body.
“He doesn’t know,” she says, “what I’ve been through.” Nobody does except her. But the truth is that this guy doesn’t care. If he changed her mind, then what? Would he give her money for prenatal costs? Would he help support the baby through its childhood? What would he do if she listened? He’s just there to intimidate. He wants to scare our patients, scare our employees.
I give her a hug, and hold her hand as I lead her back to an empty room. She doesn’t need to go sit with the others right now. “I’ll be back in a minute,” I tell her. I get her a blanket and some water, and hope that this hasn’t traumatized her more than she already was.