Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
Eliza reflects on her abortions and on how, after each procedure, she just feels grateful and relieved.
How the hell did I get back on this fucking table? Or should I call it a chair, with its wipe-able cushion and paper cover for sanitary reasons. I look down and see that the stir-ups are covered with hand-knitted thingys. Should that make me feel more comfortable? But how frigging comfortable can I be, when I’m waiting for this stone to get suctioned out? Besides that, I’m spread wide and revealed. I can’t even imagine what the doctor will see down there.
This place uses seaweed to dilate you. Should I ask if it’s organic? Was it harvested off the Oregon coast or is it from China? It’s not time for an interrogation when I’m at a stranger’s mercy. I want them to like me, to be gentle, so I don’t bleed too much.
Last time, it was a pay and get out thing. I had saved the two hundred dollars from birthday checks in my first savings account. Plus I had to wait two weeks to go in, which led to secret punches in the stomach and thoughts about coat hangers.
But that was in Philly, when I was 19. My boyfriend went with me and saw someone he knew in the waiting room. He announced that we were there for an abortion. I made myself as small as possible in the plastic chair, blistering with anger.
Then, each procedure was like fast food, an in and out thing. They dispensed the required counseling with one question. An African American woman asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
I said, “Yes.” I wanted her to wrap me in a hug, and tell me it wouldn’t hurt. There were so many girls in the waiting room that day, I wondered if they were scared too.
Next they escorted you straight to the table covered with paper that stuck to your back. Obviously the hospital robe wasn’t really a robe.
I didn’t tell my mother then, and when I did, she cried. She worked for a pro-choice group and would have been supportive, but I was angry at her for reasons I can’t remember anymore. Now that I’m a parent I see things differently, and I’m sorry about hurting her.
As a girl walked out from the back, I had asked, “Did it hurt?”
“Not at all,” she said, and left with her pantsuit swishing. But it did hurt. His hands were cold and it felt like he threw an extra punch when he thrust the vacuum in. Tears rushed out as I cramped deep inside. I had been half sitting on the table, but suddenly felt like I was falling.
The nurse laid the table back, touched my arm, and said, “Rest a minute honey.” Finally I got up and took myself back home, which was my parent’s house.
And here I was again. Was it my fault, because it was in my body? I wished men could get pregnant too. Why did my womb want to make baby after baby? Did it mean I was super-healthy? I sure didn’t feel that way, I felt stupid and embarrassed. I should have got the IUD or the pill or something. The idea was that condoms were supposed to work!
Or was it the fault of those billions of sneaky sperm, like missiles stealthily tracking their target. Now that one soldier completed his mission, I had the parasite glued in. I wasn’t sure which guy it was since I was dating two. The first faded away and the other lost his job and became so pathetic that I moved on. Then I dated no one, and felt pretty good about it, until this complication.
After a missed period, and then a late one, I knew this egg meant business. So I got the double pack of over the counter test sticks. Alone in my bathroom, I sweated as I pissed on it. At least I didn’t have to tell my parents, and I don’t feel one bit ashamed, just aggravated with myself.
My good friend is out there waiting for me in the waiting room. Thank goddess, or whoever, for good friends. She is a Jack Mormon and married with five children. She makes great cinnamon rolls, so I decide to think about them. The way I can’t wait to get to the center. Meanwhile I stare at a poster of a woman flying in stars on the antiseptic wall. Maybe I should suggest some redecorating for the office? I’m getting cold here on the table staring around the small room. I wonder if the doctor’s have had abortions too? Most of my friends have, but not the friend waiting.
Just like the last time, I will be grateful and relieved when this is over, and no I don’t think of it as a life lost. I’m not a crazy person, just a reasonable woman. It’s an inconvenience, one I swear wont happen again.
Would I give up this moment or next half hour and never get it back if I could? Yes, I would. Two thumbs up for that one. I don’t want to be asked any questions.
Since this is a woman’s center, they should have female doctors, right? I never understood why a man would want to be a gynecologist. But I need this and I cant be complaining, even if it is a man. They are doing this for me, and its clean and safe.
Switching gears, I am thankful that I’m not in a back alley with a coat hanger. This will all be over soon, I tell myself, and I can even go to work tomorrow. This afternoon I’ll and pick up Jason from daycare like every other day. He will put his little hand in mine, and then I’ll hoist him into the car seat.
Ugh. The paper crinkles under my back, and I hear a knock. “OK, if I come in?” I’m relived it’s a female voice.
“Yeah, it’s ok.” I say.
Eliza Master is a fiction author and a graduate of the Kidd Creative Writing Program. She is a member of the Oregon Writers Collective and Words Workshop. The One Million Stories Project, Words Apart Magazine, Syntax&Salt and Snapping Twig Magazines have published her stories. Eliza is also a potter and does humanitarian work internationally. Wayzgoose Press will publish her three novels; The Scarlet Cord, The Exotic Flower and The Shibari Knot in 2017. She has two sons and lives in Eugene, Oregon.