I haven’t changed my clothes in days. My ridiculously long hair is clumpy and oily, trailing down my back in a mess of tangles. I don’t recognize myself on the few occasions I put on make up. There’s really no reason to bother anymore. I cover my shadowy eyes with large sunglasses so no one can tell I’m crying.
April 2015. A dilation and evacuation pregnancy termination is a brutal procedure. I’ve always been fervently pro-choice, and ending the life of my very sick baby girl in order to save her from suffering did not go against my value system. Still, none of the activism I’d participated in as a student had prepared me for a second trimester abortion of a much-wanted pregnancy. I loved Molly, and here I was saying goodbye way too soon.
The hospital in my town is Catholic and the local clinic did not perform later term procedures, so I had to have my termination done at an abortion clinic in Tacoma. I was apprehensive upon seeing the facility with it’s well-weathered exterior that was begging to be painted and freshened up. As it was, it looked like…a shack. My husband walked me past the protesters–me, visibly pregnant at 18 weeks, shaking like a leaf. We were buzzed in and immediately whisked into a private waiting room and I was given a Valium. The women in the main waiting room were ending unwanted first trimester pregnancies. Many of them were alone. I felt guilty, because how could I compare their suffering to my own? Some of them must have been broken too. When I sat down in the private waiting room, I started sobbing hysterically. The staff was kind, which in a way made me feel worse.
A D&E is a two or three day procedure, depending on how far along you are. Mine was two days. The first day, they place laminaria sticks in your cervix to soften and dilate it. These are made of seaweed, or can be synthetic (my clinic used the synthetic ones, so they don’t need to use as many). This can reportedly be extremely painful and my clinic put me under twilight anesthesia. I also received an injection to stop Molly’s heart. I don’t remember a thing except waking up with horrible cramps. I was terrified.
The clinic wanted me to stay at a hotel nearby in case I went into labor. When I demurred, they agreed to let me go home since we weren’t that far away.
That night, the pain was terrible. I felt like someone was stabbing my lady parts, over and over again. They had prescribed painkillers, but I misunderstood–they had said not to eat or drink anything after midnight, so I didn’t think I was allowed to take the pills. I sobbed all night, unable to believe that this was happening to me when I so recently had been so happy.
The second day, I woke up and fought the urge to stay home with every cell in my body. But there was no choice. I had to go back.
They gave me Cytotec to dissolve in my cheeks to soften my cervix. We sat in the private waiting room, my body wracked with rhythmic cramping and we watched COPS, which I hate. Geoff was given coffee, but I still couldn’t eat or drink. I remember wishing that he would turn down the coffee as a show of solidarity, but…ehhh. I had the Valium, so I suppose it balanced out.
Finally, I was taken back to the room. I lay on a metal table and was again given twilight anesthesia. The nurse asked me if I had any pets. I asked when they were going to start and they told me they’d finished. They had scraped me empty. Molly was gone.
And these two days feel like a lifetime ago and these two days feel like yesterday. And those two days changed me and now I have a spanking new soul I haven’t become accustomed to yet and these two days left me damaged and I don’t know if I’ll ever. feel. better. again. .