I could never have imagined that I would be sitting in this waiting room, about to do the unthinkable.
Such a good little Catholic girl. How did you end up here?
Well, when you have no self-worth, a series of bad decisions can turn into a nightmare in a big hurry.
He was a few years older, out of college. Really attractive, and a great musician. I was completely captivated by his smile and his sense of adventure. Thrilled that he was into me, I gratefully accepted whatever scraps of attention he gave. But one night, things went too far, too fast.
And you know, I think in the midst of that final act, I already knew what was happening. A visit to the crisis pregnancy center confirmed my worst nightmare. A place I never thought I would be, a statistic I never thought I would contribute to.
I was nineteen, a sophomore in college, and I was pregnant.
I drove, shaking, to his apartment. His response to the news was doubly crushing. “Now I will have two kids by two different women, neither of whom I intend to marry.” So not only was he unsupportive, but I knew there was no possibility we would ever have a relationship either. It seems silly for me to have hoped for that now.
I told very few people about the decision I was making. I was in college and decided to ask people whose opinions I respected – people who were older than me – for some perspective. The staff of women who worked in my dorm agreed that I should end the pregnancy. The friends I told had no words of advice; they were as shocked as I was.
I happened to be watching the election primaries that spring when I visited my grandma. The subject of abortion was raised as we watched, and she turned to me and said “My aunt told me that if I ever got into trouble, she would help me. I want you to know that if you ever get in trouble, I’ll help you, too.”
And there it was. My way out. Free of charge. I confessed to her that I was 8 weeks pregnant. I told her my story, and without judgment, she wrote me a check. That was the first and last time we talked about it.
On a clear morning in April, he and I drive to the clinic in silence. There’s no comfort that he’s here with me. He’s just coming to support me because he shares my guilt. We sit together in the waiting room. Soon, they call my name.
My name. Here. In this god-awful place.
Intense shame fills my entire being. Aside from that, I can feel nothing.
A nurse comes to the room where I have changed into my gown, and rouses me out of my shell-shocked state. I had been left alone, probably too long, pondering the reality of my decision. She guides me into the operating room and the staff speak to me about the procedure, their words washing over me, meaningless. I am too far gone to comprehend them. I am already someplace else. The anesthesia mask is placed over my face, and I drift slowly into the void.
Some time later, I am forcefully ripped from unconsciousness and wake to feel excruciating pressure and pain. I am lucid enough to realize that the final suction is taking place, and I am witnessing the moment of the death of my unborn child.
I scream in agony, my heart ripping in half. The staff tries to quiet me, and they place the mask back over my nose and mouth.
Blessedly, I slip back under.
I wake to find him sitting next to me, apologizing over and over, tears streaming down his face. The single moment I am ever sure that he cares about me. As I watch him, I think, “What has come before today was hard enough. Who will ever want to be with me now?”
I sit up slowly,
exhale a ragged breath,
and then the whole world shifted.