In a still very present past, I’ve fallen pregnant…
Fallen, yes. I crashed, plummeted. Appalled and stunned that Mother Nature screwed me over. As if I thought my uterus was a dusty old organ that had lost its capacity to create over time.
Now accustomed that my bleedings disobeyed the moons, I was taking a brisk walk on a just as much of a brisk afternoon, when my boobs sounded the alarm. I stopped. I touched my breasts, palmed the sides, weighed them, while I got catcalled and honked.
No no no! I sit on a concrete block to give me time process. I remember the night probably responsible for the Maculate Conception. I lie to myself, deny, justify and put in perspective. No. I can’t trust my gut, or my breasts. A pregnancy test will know better than me if I’m knocked up.
The two small lines on the stick are giving me double fingers. Procter and Gamble are positive: «Congratulations! If you don’t stop the course of action, you’re gonna be a Mom!» What to do? At an age when one is almost a Grandma, can I afford to give a little brother or sister to my adult son? Do I have the heart, the mind and the wallet to do this again?
The answer is no.
Oh, dear God, please, no.
I make an appointment at the women’s center. In ten days at 8 am. Ten days is very long. That leaves time to feel things happen inside. I alternate between: “Do I keep it?”, “Do l tell the guy?” and “Do I have the balls to deduct this expense from my taxes?”
A-Day comes. I am so lucky not to live in a city of rednecks who protest in front of clinics with pictures of pseudo-foetuses drenched in ketchup. No. I am greeted with kindness and regards. Everywhere hush and whispers. People are roaming on the tips of their hearts. It smells of love with a faint scent of demise.
In the waiting room, some women, some girls. We avoid eye contact. There is a sense of discomfort, a kind of shame at having been “had”. I’m the oldest and the youngest isn’t more than fifteen. Poor little trembling thing. I would take her in my arms, but her boyfriend is rubbing her back, baseball cap lowered on his guilt.
When they call her, the pimply one remains, hiding behind his cell that he is asked to turn off. He nervously takes a Martha Stewart magazine and pretends to be interested in the making a sweet potato pie.
It’s my turn. They offer me a special herb tea and some breathing techniques for the pain. Or, if I prefer: drugs. I opt for total numbness. I am not lectured, but I am advised to be careful next time. Yes, I messed up, Ma’am. I messed up bad. I won’t do it no more, cross my ticker and hope to die. Let’s go! Get that thing out of me before I get attached!
Naked from the belt down, I lay on the table, feet in stirrups. Like at the dentist, I am asked to «open wide». I spread. I get… prepped. A needle pricks my wall. It’s a bit painful and I panic. I don’t want to suffer. I am calmed and comforted while a machine rumbles Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! A sound of utter doom.
Each step is explained. I’d prefer not. I play brave, fingers joined on my thumping plexus. I look up to the sky, with a fleeting thought for Jesus shaking his thorn crown with disappointment. Just when I think the sound of the machine is unbearable, the vacuum kicks in.
Shhhrrrrrooooogggglllll !!! It slurps my insides like a gruesome Hoover and I see pink slush come out the tube. Oooh, forgive me, tiny one, forgive me!! I close my eyes on the horrible gurgling that follows.
They reassure me they’ll be done soon. There is only the curettage left. It scratches; it pulls; it tugs and it cleans. Despite my efforts, a tear runs down in my ear. One of the nurses strokes my hair. I am told that it’s over. I get up on my elbows, dazed. And I don’t know why, but I want to see.
After a slight hesitation, they show me half of a peanut explaining that this is the embryo. Then, they show me a small transparent film welded to my almost baby. It’s the amniotic sac. Looks like the wing of an angel.
I am brought to a recovery room. There’s the girl and her boyfriend. She’s crying a river. The young man consoles her as best he can, head down, tail between his legs. Again, I am offered herb tea plus some oatmeal cookies. Thank you, but no thank you.
The days that follow will be filled with successive waves of relief, emptiness, sobs, blood and back to relief. I made the right choice. But it is impossible for me not to think that I’ve killed a piece of the future to save mine.
An abortion is a necessary privilege. But it would be outrageous to think that this is an easy solution for us. On all the faces, that day, there was an infinite sadness in front of ultimatum. From now on, these girls will ponder from time to time: “Today, he or she would be two… five… ten years old…»
We are free women. It’s not for others to decide how to take life in our hands…
… Or how to survive with death on our souls.