When I went to the doctor to begin the first steps of the abortion, they gave me a lot of information on what to expect and when to begin worrying.
I first took anti-antibiotics, just in case. Then, they gave me a medication that would stop my body from sending nutrients and whatnot to the fetus.
The next day I took anti-nausea medicine and later, the actual abortion pills. There were four pills total. I was not to swallow them, but to put two on the inside of each cheek and let them slowly dissolve for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I was to swallow the remaining pills and just… wait.
I was also given a prescription for Tylenol and codeine. I had no idea how much I would need it.
About 20 minutes after I swallowed the rest of the dissolving pills, I became sick. I was simultaneously throwing up and going through sporadic bouts of diarrhea. The cramps started, and were so bad I couldn’t tell if I was going to start shitting all over the place, or expelling my uterus. It was both.
The pain was so bad, and I was so embarrassed about everything that was happening in front of my boyfriend, that I laid on the floor in the bathroom and passed out for I’m not sure how long. I think my boyfriend said an hour, but I don’t remember.
By the time I woke up though, I was feeling much better. My bowels were back to normal, I wasn’t throwing up and the cramps had temporarily subsided. I sat on the couch and while my boyfriend tried to find something for me to watch to take my mind off of things (the only way he knew how to soothe me) it started again. Except, this time was different.
My uterus was beginning to empty itself. I could feel a mass moving through my vaginal cavity, I could feel it leaving my body.
By this time, I was nearly high from the endorphin rush of all the pain. I had yet to take my pain pills because I thought I could be be strong and that I didn’t need them. When the mass finally left me, and I waddled to the bathroom to take care of my business, I pulled down my underwear and there on a pad was a massive blood clot, nearly the size of my fist. It was almost solid. I could pick it up with my bare hands and it would contain itself.
As someone who has always been interested in blood and guts and bones and decay, I was thrilled and very interested in seeing something that is normally on the inside on the outside. When I was done oohing and awing over this biological fascination, I threw it in the trash and went on with myself.
The cramps came after that. I thought the cramps before were bad but these cramps were the most painful thing I’ve experienced. My back hurt, as if someone were ripping my spine out through my front. My hips were killing me, my whole reproductive system felt like it was disintegrating inside of me. I withered on the couch, on the floor with pain. I moaned and screeched until my boyfriend finally made me take the Tylenol and codeine, and even that just numbed my brain, not my body.
It wasn’t until I got up, hours later to go to the bathroom that I remembered the huge mass that fell out of me earlier that day.
That mass was the fetus- I remember thinking that over and over and over and over… until I couldn’t think about it anymore. It hadn’t hit me until then that it had passed, in one swoop, and that now my body was just expelling the leftover fluids and uteran wall.
I can’t really tell you what it was like. I can’t give you an accurate description of what it felt like to see the product of my abortion. It was a blur. I was so overwhelmed with sadness and regret, worry, anger. I felt alone and loveless. I felt selfish.
It was all too much for me and I asked my boyfriend to take out the garbage. But, halfway down the stairs I stopped him:
“I can’t just… throw it in the garbage.”
He stared at me, unsure of the right thing to do.
I, myself, was unsure.
I tied the trash up and put it in my hallway, out of sight, until I could think of something to do with it. Throwing it out in the garbage would be treating it as if the experience, and the reality of what was going on was disposable, and therefore insignificant.
At the time I was in too much pain to really consider the right thing to do. I was bleeding for a long time and then became so depressed about everything that I totally abandoned the bag in the hallway.
Months later, after my boyfriend and I broke up, I went out of my way to remind him that we had business to take care of before we officially parted ways. I could not do it alone.
We decided that we would take the remains and put them in the river near the apartment we shared for over a year. We often went to the park together to walk the dog and it was the most pleasant place in our hood-life, junkie ridden neighborhood.
We met up one evening, after I’d got off work, with the intention of fulfilling our plan. To my surprise, he brought wild flowers that he picked from the woods near his house on the reservation, sage and an abalone shell to perform a traditional, smudging ceremony. I was so surprised an impressed that this person who so poorly supported me during my abortion put forth so much effort to make this ceremony mean something to me. It was extremely important to me that we try our best to tie up the lose ends and it meant, and still does mean, a lot to me that he went the extra mile, for once.
We walked through the neighborhood, passed the beer store, passed the dope houses and to the river. I put the remains in a paper bag and on the way, collected rocks to weigh it down. We stood there, together, near the water on a beautiful spring day and he performed a smudging ceremony between the two of us. He asked me if I had any last words to say and I said, “no”, not because I had nothing to say, but because there are no words appropriate for the guilt and loss I feel. We split the flowers, beautiful purple wildflowers, and after I dropped the bag in the water, we threw our flowers in after.
We stood there for what felt like a very long time, watching the bag sink down below, and the flowers drifting on down the river, with the scent of sage and juniper and sweet grass still lingering under our nose’s and in our clothes’.
Of course, I cried, and once again I was surprised when I saw tears down his face.
At the time, this felt like closure. But now that my boyfriend and I are not at all together, the father of my child far away from me, I feel an even worse emptiness that keeps me up at night and follows me in the shadow of daylight.
When I meet new people, I wonder if they can tell. It must be written all over my face: guilty.
I want desperately to be a mother, and in my mind I am- but without a baby.