When I was 19, a few weeks away from turning the big 2-0, I suspected I was pregnant. I woke up nauseated almost every morning. At first, I thought I was smoking and drinking too much or my diet of McDonald’s was finally giving me the early death I deserved. My boobs were really sore, I thought it was from my miracle of a push up bra, or I was sleeping on my stomach too much.
It was midnight when it finally clicked that I was ‘late’, and I drove around town for two hours looking for an open chemist or gas station that would stock pregnancy tests. Alas, my small town did not cater to this sudden realisation that I needed a definitive answer to, so I waited until the next day.
I remember sitting on the cold tiles in the bathroom and holding that stupid stick and wanting very badly to wash my hands because I didn’t want urine on them (peeing on a stick is difficult). My best friend came home and I think the blank look of horror on her face was a mirror of my own when I told her.
My other best friend took me to her GP, because I didn’t have my own. He was nice and told me that he would refer me to a clinic to discuss my options, my head snapped up, I didn’t want to talk about options. I wanted to put this ugly moment behind me. More than behind me, I wanted to toss it out of the window and quickly drive away from it, watching it sit in the dust from my rear-view mirror. Which is what I did 4 weeks later.
The “specialist” (I use this term lightly) firstly congratulated me even after my appointment was to discuss termination options. I assumed he had forgotten what my appointment was about.
He gave me my options, to go into hospital for the termination or insert a pill and “experience a period, and it will be done”. The pill was the low cost of $70 and he made the option sound so easy and preferable. The idea of going into the hospital for a ‘procedure’ seemed overwhelming and humiliating; what if someone recognised me? Naturally I agreed to the option of being in my own home and to “experience a period”.
I was 6 weeks. “Your baby is the size of a bean by the way.” Every now and then I remember that when I see jelly beans. I understand now that the doctor disapproved of me and my situation. I had never met an adult who so openly despised me. I felt like Harry Potter going into his first potions class and realising a Professor hated him for no good reason.
I cried out of fear in the examination room after the doctor walked out. I was scared about what I had to do and because I knew the doctor was not supportive of my decision. The intern wasn’t sure if she should have comforted me or not. She whispered quickly that everything would be okay but kept glancing at the door that had been left ajar.
The day of was a normal day, I feel like it might have been a Thursday. My friend woke me up before she left for work and I inserted the pill and took a few panadol and went back to bed as instructed. A few hours later I vomited back up the Panadol and began to experience the worst pain I’ve ever endured. Something was terribly, terribly wrong. My friends were at work and I could never ever call my parents for this kind of emergency. I called my sister but hung up after two rings. I eventually called a mom of a friend who once insisted to our group of friends, “call if you ever need anything.” She took one look at me writhing on the floor and bundled me up in the car to go to the hospital. I needed a wheelchair to get 5 metres from the car into the ER.
There was nothing terribly, terribly wrong, I had been experiencing contractions, which I didn’t know were coming. I barely knew what a contraction was. My knowledge on labour comes from sitcoms and movies were the woman claws at her husband and screams ‘YOU DID THIS TO ME’ as he tries to feed her ice chips. The nurse kindly explained to me what was happening but if it was too painful for me, we should go ahead with the procedure. They offered me a tablet to stop me from throwing up, i think it was mostly fear that was causing the vomitting. A machine was wheeled into the room and I agreed, I just wanted the pain to go away.
This is the part of the story that I remember so vividly, I can recite the dialogue. I can describe people who came in and out, I remember a nurse telling me to stay calm and think of a happy place and I very distinctly recall not having one. I can remember with great detail the true abortion that happened. It’s a nightmarish memory, it’s not one that I often bring up from my archives and yet it’s pristine. But it’s irrelevant and it’s not the story I want to share.
Afterwards, I remember coming home and watching Gilmore Girls. The next few days are blacked out, it’s as though all of my energy was used up that day and I had no more left to remember the days after it. A few weeks later I packed some boxes and left town to try my hand at living in the city again. This had nothing to do with anything, but I was so appreciative to leave.
I think there was a certain expectation about how I was supposed to feel which I did not live up to. That’s what bothered me the most, the fact I was supposed to care about it more than I did. I’m not saying I went out the next weekend, shot up some heroin, climbed the town clock tower and screamed out FREEDOM in my best George Michael impression. But I didn’t wallow or dwell on my decision, which strongly indicates to me that I made the correct one.
Sometimes a friend would talk about it, she went through the same thing a few years later except she paid for the proper one, not the discounted b-grade option that I selected. The way she brought up the topic and spoke about it, I could tell it was something that plays on her mind a lot. She romanticises the idea of it. As Fuel sings, she dreams a champagne dream and reality escapes her. I don’t think about it very often—I am not plagued with guilt or doubt about my choice. I have never envisioned how my life might have gone. Now, more than ever, I am so thankful I was even allowed to have the right to choose.
I was harshly judged and misinformed about a painful procedure. I was vulnerable and humiliated but ultimately I did the right thing. I was allowed to choose the right thing for me.
The fact is this; I was not emotionally ready to be a parent or carry a baby then give it up for adoption. As I sit here writing this, I have $24 in my bank account for another four days. The only furniture I’ve bought outright for myself is the single armchair I’m sitting in and the bed I own. Prior to that bed I slept on a mattress on the floor. I’ve only just figured out what kind of job I really want and am taking steps to achieve this. I don’t have health or car insurance, but I do have a recently opened savings account. I have no problem living this way, but a child should not have to suffer my idiotic tendencies. I’ve been this way for a long time and it’s okay, I’m okay, everything is okay.
To say it was a completely selfless decision is a lie. At the time, all I wanted was to travel, and I was always toying with the idea of studying something. I wanted to float around in and out of different areas in the city until I found a place I loved. I wanted to try things and give myself the option to fail and try again. I have done most of these things. It was selfish decision for me but selfless for the jellybean.