"I can't believe people make this harder than it already is."
Despite the prevailing stigma, no one "hopes" to get an abortion. We don’t throw "let's all have abortions" parties. We aren’t going to the club hours after our abortions to find someone else to get us pregnant so we can have another abortion. This line of thinking is absurd and laughable at best.
Anti-choicers have no idea how the majority of women who choose abortion truly think and feel before, during, and after the legal procedure. So I’m going to clarify a bit by letting you know some of the thoughts I had while having my abortion.
When I first found out I was unexpectedly pregnant, I cried. I immediately knew what needed to happen. I had just spent the past two years pregnant. The first year, my daughter was born prematurely and died after birth, leaving me with a hefty case of birth-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Then I went through a difficult, high-risk pregnancy and complicated birth with my son. He wasn’t even a year old, and I was pregnant again.
This time, however, I didn’t want any of it. I scheduled an appointment with a local clinic right away, got a sitter, and went with my partner to the clinic. I admit I was nervous and afraid, but also set in my conviction to terminate this pregnancy and move forward with my life and with my family.
Once I was at the clinic, and prepping for my procedure, this was my thought process:
1. "Is this going to hurt?"
The first thing I kept thinking of and worrying about was the pain. Would I feel anything during the procedure? I’d already experienced what it’s like to get a cerclage (cervical stitch) and birth injuries, so while I feared pain, I knew I’d be able to handle it.
2. "What if I want to stop?"
This was a fleeting thought. I knew I wanted to have an abortion and wasn’t going to change my mind. That said, I was afraid there might be a moment of too much pain or discomfort, so I wondered if I could stop the procedure at any point. My nurse assured me I could stop at any point in time if necessary but assured me it wouldn’t happen. She was right.
3. "This is the right decision. I know it is."
Thanks to abortion stigma, I found myself needing to reassure myself that what I was doing was, in fact, OK. That I was correct in making this decision. While I briefly wondered what it would be like not to go through with it, I was comfortable with my choice.
4. "What kinds of pain meds will they give me?"
I have sometimes responded negatively to certain pain medications, thanks to my anxiety. As I got ready for the procedure, I wondered what I would be given to manage the pain.
I’d asked for “twilight sleep," which I later learned meant a strong dose of an equally strong drug called fentanyl (which I was familiar with from my son’s time in the NICU). Believe me when I say I felt absolutely nothing.
5. "Am I going to hear or see anything?"
As the moment got closer, I looked around the room and noticed a big machine and some medical tools. I’m never comfortable in doctor’s offices, and especially not right before medical procedures. I was a bit nervous that I might still be fairly lucid and would see or even hear something I’d rather not.
Yeah, that didn't happen.
6. "I wish my partner were here with me."
One of the things I disliked about my procedure was having to do it alone. In my mind, and at the time, I felt like it was his responsibility and right to be in there with me. Still, I can imagine it could be a bit traumatic for a partner who isn’t sedated, because well, it’s still a medical procedure. There’s a reason partners aren’t allowed in with you during surgery, either.
7. "The nurses and doctor are so nice."
Just before the gave me the sedatives and pain meds, I was shaking and teary-eyed. I was still afraid, not to mention still full of pregnancy hormones. The one major thing I appreciated was the staff being so kind and gentle toward me. One of the nurses even offered to hold my hand throughout the procedure.
8. "I'm getting sleepy."
As the doctor injected some drugs into my arm, I recall instantly feeling more relaxed. The room was fairly quiet, and I started to feel like I was sinking away from it, if that makes sense. Everything had somewhat of a soft focus lens look to it.
Then, well, I was out.
9. "Did it happen? Is it over?"
Next thing I know, the nurse is trying to help me stand up and get dressed. I felt completely disoriented. “Did it happen? Is it over?” I asked the nurse. She smiled and said that it was done, and that I was being taken to recovery. I felt like I’d been asleep for hours, but she told me it had been just a few minutes. It felt incredibly bizarre.
10. "I wonder how everyone else is feeling."
I was then taken to a recovery room with a number of other formerly-pregnant persons. It felt strange to sit there, knowing we had all just gone through the same thing. I wanted to reach out and talk to them all and tell them they were OK; that they made the right choice. But I just stared off for a few minutes until it was time for my husband to get me.
11. "That wasn't bad at all."
When I saw my partner, I smiled. He’d been nervous as well but felt much better once he saw me. “Are you OK? How was it?” he asked me. “That wasn’t bad at all,” I told him.
And for me, personally (as well as a reported 95 percent of women who choose abortion) it was the truth.
12. "I can't believe people make this harder than it already is."
One final thought I had in those moments right after my procedure, was how ridiculous it is that people are shamed for having abortions. It makes no sense to me. None. I can't comprehend why certain people make it such a big deal, and how much harder they make it women who choose abortion
In the end, it’s a personal decision, one that isn't as "traumatizing" as many would lead you to believe, and one that should always be respected.
This article was originally published at Romper. Reprinted with permission from the author.