Fourteen years ago, I sat bawling hysterically in a women's health center. My lower stomach had been cramping for about three weeks. I thought I was just ovulating, and that it was normal.
I was sitting at work one day, when I pulled out my phone book that I kept in my purse. As I wasn't on birth control, I always wrote down when I got my period in the book so that I would know when to expect it. It was then and only then that I realized I was three weeks late.
To say that my heart stopped was not an exaggeration. I suddenly realized that those three glaring clues that I'd clearly overlooked could only mean one thing.
I was in a panic. I waited until lunch, then went to the women's clinic which was conveniently next door. There was no way I was going to the store to buy a pregnancy test. I couldn't bear to be in the bathroom by myself when I heard the inevitable news. I figured the best, and most accurate, thing to do was to give a urine sample at the clinic, and get the truth.
Pregnancy test, Image Credit: Shutterstock
Deep down inside, I knew what the test would say. I knew it would be positive, but I had to know, and I didn't want to be by myself when I found out.
The staff was very nice and understanding. They took my urine sample in the back while I waited, legs shaking, biting my nails, millions of things speeding through my mind. It didn't take long to yield the results. The nurse called me into a room and told me what I didn't want to hear. I was pregnant. Me! Pregnant! How could that be? As he raped me, he told me he hadn't ejaculated inside me. Wasn't it impossible that i was pregnant?
I was convinced that God was punishing me. I was a bad girl, and he was punishing me for it. I'd gotten myself drugged, raped, stalked, assaulted, and pregnant all in one year. Just when my future was starting, after all those years of school and a college degree, I had to go and ruin it. Something was wrong with me and I needed to be punished. Normal, good people didn't attract the kind of bad things that I was attracting. I must be bad.
I sat in that chair sobbing my eyes out. I just kept saying, "I don't want to be pregnant. I don't want to be pregnant" over and over again like a chant. Maybe if I said it enough times, it would become the truth. Maybe someone would come in the room and say, "Just kidding!" This, of course, didn't happen.
The poor nurse looked terrible. If she could have taken away my shock and pain, I believe she would have. I couldn't stop repeating that I didn't want to be pregnant. I didn't bother to go into the fact that I'd been raped. Heck, I didn't even understand that what had happened to me was rape until 6 years later and only with the help of a wonderful caring counselor.
It's surreal now, sitting here thinking back to that day in the clinic. It almost feels like that was someone else who heard that news, someone else that was pregnant, someone else that had some hard decisions to make.
The nurse was the one who mentioned that I had options. She told me she could recommend a clinic, if I didn't want to go through with the pregnancy. She could see my desperation, although I never let on that there was something sinister in the way I got pregnant. To me, it was what it was. It didn't occur to me to tell someone.
Almost right away, after she mentioned it, I knew what I was going to do.
I'd never believed in abortion. I always thought that girls who had abortions were promiscuous or uncaring. They had no feelings and could easily just get an abortion, then go on about their lives as if nothing different happened. Now, that person was me. It gave me new perspective for sure.
I went back to work after lunch and got out the Yellow Pages. I think I may have even called the clinic to set up an appointment right there at the front desk at the office. Honestly, I don't remember this part. Dissociating and distancing myself from things that were too difficult for me to deal with was becoming the norm.
I don't know if it was the next day or not, but it was at least within 2 days of finding out that I found myself an hour and a half away from the little town I lived in and was back in my hometown, on my way to the abortion clinic.
The building was gray and non-descript. I assume that is to attract less protestors to its location. There were no signs or anything out front. Everything was just, well, gray.
I went inside the door, hoping I was in the right place, and there was an intercom. The lady I spoke to told me about this. They wouldn't let anyone inside unless their name was already pre-registered. That went for guests of patients as well.
I gave my name, then I heard a buzzing sound that accompanied the heavy metal door opening. I stepped inside, alone, wondering what the future had in store for me.
The lobby was like every other lobby I've been in, although I still remember things being very gray. The only unusual thing was that the chairs were folding chairs and they were all in rows facing the front desk. They were almost set up as if we were about to watch a play. It was not a play I wanted to be watching or performing in. I wanted no part in it.
As this was my first time in an abortion clinic, and my last thus far, all I had to go on, as far as the other kinds of patients that would be in there, were what I'd seen on TV. I was expecting a bunch of teens who were using abortion as birth control. That girl and her friend were indeed there, but there were others, who like me, looked like this was the last place on earth they ever expected to be, or wanted to be.
After I checked in, I sat down on the right-hand side and observed.
In addition to me, there was a college-looking student in navy blue swishy running pants and a gray college sweatshirt. Her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She kept to herself and was bent over forward, hiding as best she could out in the open. The prying eyes of the front desk looked on.
There was a well-dressed looking couple in their 40s. She had on a long leather jacket, and leaned on her husband for support. They probably weren't planning on having children at their age, or already had kids and didn't want to start over. Either way, they looked troubled. Her husband held tightly to his wife's hand to comfort and support her.
Then there was the teen girl and her friend. They were probably 18. I'm not sure what the law was for abortions at that times in regards to parental consent. There was a blondish girl who was acting obnoxiously and her friend, who was there for company. They were the only ones making a sound in the room. They laughed and joked and giggled. The friend said something to the blonde like, "Don't they already have a file on you?" Laughter erupted again. I guess there WERE girls like I saw on TV that used abortions as birth control. Fourteen years later, and wiser, I wonder if all the laughter was because they were uncomfortable. I HOPE she had some sort of feelings as to what she was there for.
The final girl came and sat near me. If there were other people in the room, I don't recall. The girl I sat next to already had a one-year-old son and was trying to finish her high school degree at a vocational school. She was terribly upset about being there. She hadn't meant to get pregnant, like any of us, but there was no way she could raise two small children and finish school. It just wasn't going to happen for her.
When they called my name to go back, the testing began. They took a urine sample and blood just to make sure I was pregnant. I remember the nurse putting me in a seat and doing an ultrasound of my belly. That's when the real panic started for me. She asked me if I wanted to see it, but I said no. If I'd looked at it, there was a better chance that I wouldn't be able to go through with it, and at the time, I didn't feel I had any other choice. Only two people knew I was pregnant: my rapist and me.
Before I left the building, as part of the final pre-procedure visit, I legally had to sit down with a doctor and hear them explain the entire procedure. But what happened instead? They literally put me down in a dingily decorated room with a boom box and made me listen to a cassette tape of an old man (the doctor, as I would soon find out) explain the procedure. Talk about classy! I sat there for 20 minutes listening to this tape, in a room by myself, wondering why the hell I was there.
I wrote this on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, not to convince you to be Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. I wrote this because the women who choose to have abortions are real people with real emotions and real reasons why they chose that path. Choosing abortion is not easy for anyone and it is something that will effect them for the rest of their lives. Please be respectful when expressing your opinion and know that you can truly never say what you would do if you were in that woman’s situation.
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