There's that moment every month when I get my period that I feel like a small weight is lifted. Even if I hadn't been sexually active at all, I still felt relieved. I guess I took that for granted, because in July 2009, I didn't get that relief. Instead, I got two weeks of waiting and praying and denial, before my best friend dragged me to CVS and made me take a pregnancy test. In the movies, those moments when the character awaits her test results are usually so drawn out and long and tense, but for me, it took 30 seconds and two pink lines to change my life.
Oddly, I felt absolutely nothing as I watched that test develop. I wasn't scared, or sad, or shocked. I was just very matter-of-fact and analytical as I turned back to my best friend and said, "get online and look up Planned Parenthood's number so I can make an appointment to take care of this." It was like I was having a mole removed; not a baby. But I knew that if I started to think about it as a human life and not a cluster of cells, I wouldn't be able to go through with it, and being 25 and unemployed and completely broke made the prospect of motherhood a seeming impossibility. Please don't judge me as being callous or heartless because of my reaction; I just knew that my emotions could not get involved because that was going to lead to a far more difficult situation.
Once I called Planned Parenthood and made the appointment for that following Saturday, I was faced with the single most difficult part of the entire process: telling my mother. I was ten thousand times more frightened of that than I was of the abortion itself, and not because I thought my mom would hate me or disown me. Rather, I knew that my mom had an abortion at my age, and it would kill her to think that I would have to go through the same thing. I was debating just not telling her at all, but my best friend (who remains the only other person who knows besides my mother and me) convinced me that I cannot do this alone. I called my mom at 9:30 PM on the Thursday before the procedure, and of course, no one answered. I tried to maintain a light tone in my message, but fear has a way of making itself known, whether you like it or not. My mom called back twenty minutes later, and she could barely ask me what was going on before I burst into tears and blurted out, "I'm pregnant." She went silent for the longest 30 seconds of my life before uttering, "oh cupcake, I am so sorry you have to go through this." We discussed everything and I told her that the procedure was on Saturday, and it was immediately decided that she was going with me, no questions asked.
Saturday morning, I arrived outside Planned Parenthood in the heart of Chicago at 9:08 AM, with my mother close behind me. The hardest part of the day was the waiting. You fill out some paperwork, then wait. You go downstairs, and wait. You get a vaginal ultrasound (which is as fun as it sounds) and some blood work, and you wait. Finally, around 1:00 PM, I saw the doctor, who very quickly but kindly explained everything to me and sent me on my merry way. Now, at this point, I am exhausted and cranky and in no mood for anything. So, in the universe's infinite sense of humor, I go out to my car to head home, and my car won't start. Really? Really? REALLY?! God bless AAA, who sent out a technician to get it running, and I finally headed home. I treated myself to Portillo's because I felt that I deserved some cheese fries and God help the person who stands between a hungry woman going through her first abortion and her cheese fries.
Now, the doctors and nurses told me that when I took the dissolving pills the next day, I might feel some cramping and bleeding similar to a heavy period. I pray for the person who has a heavy period like what I went through. For almost TWELVE HOURS, I writhed in agony on my bed as my body contracted and expelled the cluster of cells that I had (privately) named Conor Matthew. I have never experienced a pain like this, and I hope to God that I never will again. It was as though someone has taken a baseball bat with nails pounded into it, and twisted it clockwise into my uterus for the better part of a day. They don't MAKE enough Tylenol with Codeine for this kind of situation. The hardest part of the day, though, was when I managed to stand up and go to the bathroom, and as I sat there, I felt a large blood clot slide out of my body, and I knew in my heart that the baby was gone. It's funny, as it happened, I felt absolutely no emotion, but now, as I type my story, I'm almost beginning to feel the reality of the situation.
Well, that brings us to this moment in time right now. I don't know how what I'm thinking or feeling, partially because I feel like I SHOULD be thinking or feeling something, and I feel more guilt over my lack of emotion than I do over the abortion itself. The relief is so massive that I can't really focus on anything else, and you know what? That's okay with me. Right now, I can't force myself to feel or not feel what isn't genuine, and I'm going to have to take each day as it comes. I hope I don't regret my decision, but if I do, then I need to remember what my best friend told me on the day we went to CVS: "You're going to be an amazing mother someday, but now is not the time." And until someday comes, I'm comfortable with my decision. Conor wasn't meant to be born right now, but when he does come into the world, you had better believe that I will love him like none other. After all, it's not like I don't have the love to give right now...I just don't know how to give it.