On the experience of an unwanted pregnancy
I’m 21 and I find myself pregnant but I don’t want to be. My body feels wrong and I can’t remember when my last period was. Is it late? I’m not sure. But I feel a change in my body, so I take a pregnancy test. I stare down at the piss-ridden stick which holds so much power over me at that moment. Two lines. Two little blue lines stretching themselves across and onto me, wrapping themselves around my body. Your body isn’t yours anymore, they scream. But society never taught me any different.
I take another test which tells me I’m 3+ weeks, which means little to nothing. I sigh heavily, knowing I don’t want this but knowing how hard that will be to change. What do I even do? School taught us how to not get pregnant. It never told us what happens when you do. What happens when you don’t want to be.
I call my mum. We go to the doctor’s for a blood test and it comes back with what I already knew. I sit with my mum in that room, with the male doctor, with him smiling with excitement over my pregnancy. I tell him I don’t want it and he gives me a number to call. I’m grateful for the privilege of getting this number. I’m grateful for the support of my mother there in that room. What if she wasn’t there? I wonder.
I can’t bring myself to call the number. I don’t know what to say. How was I meant to prepare for something like this? My mother calls for me and says the appointment will be in two weeks. I lay in bed for the next two weeks, unable to move from nausea and exhaustion.
I have the abortion in my home state of WA where the law is blurred and abortion is legal if there is counselling and confirmation from someone outside of your body that you’re making the choice best for you. Abortion is legal up to 20 weeks. There are no safe zones.
After the two weeks pass, my mother drives us to a private clinic where they have locked doors and high security. No one is outside when we go in. I’m told to wait until my name is called. There are other women in the room and I wonder if they are here for the same reason. I’m not sure what else this service provides; school never taught us, society never told us. My name is called and a nurse pulls me into a room where I have an ultrasound to confirm the gestation. 7 weeks she says. Do you still want to go ahead with the procedure? Is she genuinely asking if I’ve changed my mind or is she trying to convince me to not proceed? It’s further along than I thought but of course, I still want the abortion. I knew immediately I wanted nothing else. After, we talk about contraception options and I opt for the IUD because it can be inserted at the same time. I’m thankful for my privilege in having this option. I’m thankful I am financially able to pay.
I’m lead into a small, dark room and told to change into cotton clothes with no underwear. Then a nurse escorts me into the operating theatre where there is a team of people waiting for me. The anaesthetist tells me to count backwards from 10. I do so but then can’t breathe and panic. He adjusts the dose and I’m gone. Not once before the abortion did anyone tell me what was going to happen. How the operation would work? What they would do to me? What would happen after? How I would feel?
I wake up in a room with a row of chairs with women who I assume are just like me, waking up groggy and sore. I’m offered water and crackers and told I can go. Still, no one tells me what happened or what will happen. Outside there are protesters and I’m thankful for not having to face them. My mum takes me home and I lay in bed in pain, drifting in and out of sleep with a sanitary pad the size of a diaper in my underwear. I bleed and bleed and bleed. For six weeks. I’m not sure if this is normal but no one told me otherwise. I have had an abortion but still, we remain silent. The receptionist. The nurse. The doctor. All are silent and if it wasn’t for the pain or the bleeding, I’d have no way of knowing if it really happened or not.
I’m so fucking thankful for being able to have the abortion safely and with so much support from my family. But not all women are that lucky. Not all women have the privilege of being able to access abortion. That needs to change. Women’s bodies, women’s choices fucking matter. Fuck your politics. Fuck the white men in power who have the audacity to believe that THEY have power over what women do with their bodies. Abortion is a human rights issue. We should all have the right to choose what we want to do with our own bodies.