Everyone tells me I’ll feel relief afterwards – but what about before?

by A

January 6, 2022

*Note – I am writing this because everything I have read online is how people feel after their abortion. I haven’t read a single thing from someone preparing for an abortion or what those negative emotions feel like.*

I am going to have an abortion.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my head about this, but when I go to say them, my mouth turns numb. My fingers are numb too while I write this, weightless pieces of skin attached to bone as heavy as dust.

Everyone tells me I will feel relief afterwards. But what about before? Nobody talks about that.

Is it normal to feel so sure you want that termination, but so guilty about it too, so ashamed? Is it normal to not want to go near your newborn nephew because you are jealous that he gets to live while you’re not able to care for yours? Is it normal to want it over and done with today, now, this very second, but to avoid alcohol and soft cheese and the sauna because that’s what the guidelines say to do during pregnancy?

Don’t get me wrong here – the idea of bringing a child into the world with two parents who live apart is something I don’t feel ready or comfortable or safe doing. I have the utmost respect for single parents who do it alone, but that is not the right choice for me.

It’s just that everyone says life will go on and this will be just a tiny blip in the road, maybe someday I will laugh about it. Hey, remember that time I had an abortion? I might say to myself during Tuesday night yoga. That was wild. And then I will go back into downward facing dog or sit in child’s pose for a bit while I ponder what I did. Maybe.

But right now, the after isn’t what I am focused on. It’s the before. I have so many questions. I have gone through what’s going to happen to me with two nurses now, and I am struggling to find peace in the process because it’s all still so uncertain. When can I get an appointment? Nobody can tell me, Merry Christmas to you too, Nurse Jones. Can I take the pills at home? We’ll confirm later. Will it hurt? Maybe.

He tells me to trivialize it. I know he’s trying to be helpful, he’s always been measured and practical that way and it’s one of the things that drew me to him in the first place. He tells me to think of it more as a mole that needs scratching away from my skin, but it’s not. It’s a clump of cells the size of a vanilla seed with a brain! and a heartbeat! It has a heartbeat. A f****** heartbeat. I know he – and many others – disagree with me, and that’s fine. Everyone deserves their own experience. To me, that heartbeat deserves to be celebrated for what it is and mourned for what it’s not going to be.

While everything is in limbo, while I don’t know when the procedure will happen or where or how much pain I’ll be in, I can find no comfort in my decision, so focussing on those silly little details help.

You’re made of meat, he tells me. You’re a warrior. I don’t feel like a warrior, though. Warriors don’t take expired contraceptive pills. Warriors don’t dream about running into the sea in the middle of the night and drowning. Warriors don’t have panic attacks. Warriors don’t.

So what are you meant to do with those feelings? I practice gratitude. I am grateful I live in a country where abortion is safe and legal and free. I am grateful he will be there with me the whole time, that he will be there to make me laugh and make the process that tiny bit easier. I remind myself that someday, I will have a baby on my own terms. I will celebrate that positive pregnancy test and I will laugh and dance and cry happy tears when I finally get to meet my child. She will open her tiny eyes and clasp her tiny fingers around mine. Someday, I will be ready. It’s just not today.

But before all of that – I will climb the Three Peaks. I will join that swimming club at the gym I keep meaning to join. I will finish writing that book. I will get promoted at work. Good things await. I will go to Barbados and wear my skimpiest bikini. Maybe I will ask my cousin about that job he keeps dangling in front of me in Texas, or maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter. I will have options, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I was an upbeat person before this and this will not be the end of me. I know that these traumatic feelings and dark thoughts will pass – it’s never been in my nature to dwell. That is what I need to focus on while I iron out the operational details, and when it’s over, I will feel that little bit lighter. I will not let this decision break me, and soon, I will go back to being me.

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