“Oh wow, the nail polish on your toes matches your t-shirt! Would ya look at that?!” The anesthesiologist chuckled to himself. The IV had been inserted into my arm only a few moments earlier, and my brain was still freely processing information prior to the anesthesia’s impending effects. My nail polish did not, in fact, match my shirt. My shirt was gray, and my polish was a light olive green. OPI ‘stranger tides,’ to be exact. All I managed to do in reply was make a slight smile. The voice inside my head was screaming at him. I came here to get an abortion, now just do it already.
Getting an abortion is by no means simple. However, after enough time passes, I have already seemed to forgotten that it happened to me. I rarely think about it. I don’t associate myself with pregnant people, pro-lifers or pro-choicers, or anyone else who enthusiastically takes part in a conversation regarding the legality or morality or abortion. I am just a regular girl with a promising future who happened to get pregnant at the wrong time in my life.
I didn’t realize I was pregnant at first. My period was a week late, but that happened on occasion, especially when I spent time worrying about it. My boyfriend was the one encouraging me to take a pregnancy test. I laughed it off and kept assuring him that I was fine. Coming from someone who has had multiple pregnancy scares before, there was not a single ounce of me that believed that I could be pregnant. I willingly obliged his pleas and took the test. A straight line indicated a negative result, and a plus sign indicated positive. The straight line formed immediately, as expected. I sighed in relief, musing over my boyfriend’s unnecessary worry. Suddenly, the test caught my eye as I realized that the light shadings of a vertical line were starting to form. The line was faint enough for me to question it’s legitimacy, but dark enough for my heart to plummet.
I walked back to the bedroom. I immediately pulled out the instruction packet, even though I knew what it would say. My boyfriend looked at the result, we looked at each other. It was real, and I was pregnant.
Planning the abortion was tricky. It was expensive, especially for a broke college student who didn’t want to use her parents insurance, and needed to be secretive. The fact that I was pregnant was highly classified information. My boyfriend and I vowed not to tell anyone. I couldn’t gossip to my friends, the ones who I usually shared everything with. We wouldn’t tell anyone in our families.
My initial appointment at Planned Parenthood had a rocky start. The receptionists were cold and bratty; I suppose they come standard like that at any health care establishment. However, my perception quickly changed. I met with the social worker, who was one of the kindest people I had met in my whole life. An intern sat in the room with us and took mental notes of our conversation. When the social worker left the room, we exchanged some words. We briefly skimmed over the topics of college, internships. My immediate reaction upon hearing her internship experience and future plans was to share mine. I stopped myself. I was the one sitting here holding numerous pamphlets on abortion procedures and had an embryo the size of a bean (give or take) inside of me. In this scenario and at this particular moment in time, we were worlds apart. We were like mirror images of each other in alternate universes.
The appointment for my surgical abortion was two weeks later. I felt nothing out of the ordinary the morning of. If anything, I felt slightly rebellious. Although my instructions were no food or drink after midnight, my boyfriend and I went to a diner at 1am and I treated myself to pancakes. My calm mood came to a halt when I had my pre-checkup with a different social worker. She was cold, abrupt, and rude. For the first time in the whole process of planning my abortion, I felt an incredible urge to cry. This was not the person I wanted in with me to hold my hand. I was just a number to her. She was going through the motions of her job requirements. There was no soul behind her eyes.
The rest of my story is mundane. The anesthesiologist who commented on my nail polish also commented on my last name. He had a friend with the same one who moved out to California for some girl. There was a picture of a butterfly taped onto the ceiling of the surgical room. “They really should move that and make it more center…” the soul-less social worker commented, as she held my hand. The doctor came in and smiled. The IV in my arm was in and pumping various painkillers and amnesia-inducing medications into my bloodstream. I was instructed to just take deep breaths and relax. The next thing I knew, I was in a room with various other recovering women.
I looked around, regaining my consciousness and my stream of thought. Our reclining recovery chairs were in a circular formation. I scoped out my fellow abortion-mates. Most of them were minority women, eyes closed and unconscious. One woman had her face grimaced in pain. I felt fine. Pleasant, even. The only other white woman sitting in recovery looked to be about 35 and was typing away on her iPhone. How did she even get that in here? I felt envious. I kept trying to give subtle signs to the nurses that I was ready to get dressed and leave. I fixed my hair multiple times. Kept checking the time on my watch. Anything to convey the message of “look at me! I am awake and conscious and fine! Let me leave!” Finally, I was asked to go and change back into my clothes, and to make my follow-up appointment. I was so eager and excited to greet my boyfriend in the waiting room. I practically skipped there, reopening the door with a smile on my face. He had been more nervous than I was. I just wanted my smile to be the first thing he saw. A way to immediately signal that I was alright.
My abortion happened almost a month ago. I don’t even think about it. It doesn’t make me happy, sad, angry, excited. In fact, it makes me feel no emotion. It is simply just something that happened. I am not traumatized, nor did I have any strange reactions. Within a day I felt back to my normal self. The only thing that concerned me within the week following the procedure was my lack of emotion about it. My nonchalance. Everyone speaks of abortion in such a moving way. Everyone has a compelling story to tell. To me, it felt like just another day. I was pregnant, and had an abortion. I am okay. And that is all.