Extremely Painful & Incredibly Good

by Barrie Noland

October 9, 2020

November 2019: IUD inserted.

August 2020: Pregnant.

Thanks, body.

Abortion was a forgone conclusion. My clinic said both a surgical procedure and an at-home medical abortion cost the same so I chose the home route thinking it would be cozier. After raising the money for the procedure through a women’s choice support network, I make the appointment, go, take my first pill, wait 24 hours, and then stick the next 4 in my cheeks.

Hour 1

I feel odd in a general sense. A twinge? Yes? No? No. Nothing. Nothing?

Hour 2

I pass a silver-dollar size clot that appears to be only blood. Cramps are mildly reminiscent of a very light period.

Hour 2.5

These cramps feel more like a full-swing period, I’m bleeding a bit more.

Hour 3

“Cramps” are in full swing. I am uncomfortable and laying in bed, pretty much 70% focused on my lower belly. These are also swiftly becoming not cramps. These aren’t period cramps as I know them but I don’t have experience to know what they actually are.

Hour 4

Serious pain. Worse than I expected though I read all of the materials and googled thoroughly. Different, unknown pain. These are not cramps, I realize: these are contractions.

I would have preferred they told me to expect contractions, not cramps. I’ve never birthed a baby so I had no idea what contractions were like and it was unnerving to experience the disconnect between what I knew as cramps and what I was feeling, and it made things worse. It was like a fully grown person was standing on my pelvis, both feet planted in the center on my uterus. When I stood up, I felt my whole bottom half forcibly dragged down. When I sat, I felt I wanted to drill into the ground. Nothing was comfortable.

I vomited, at one point, completely by surprise.

Hour 5

Been on the toilet expelling nothing at all from any orifice for an hour. But feeling as though I must expel something or I will surely implode? Is not the entire purpose and point and pastime of my existence right now only to expel all my contents? Because that’s what it feels like.

Lie on the bed: horror. Stand up: horror. Sit anywhere: abject horror. I truly start to become concerned because this kind of pain is not mentioned even in passing in anything I read or what I discussed with the clinic.

It feels like my whole lower body is completely out of my control, an animal unto its own that wants something I don’t understand. My hips front and back and sides of them, my front encompassed, my lower back, the whole assemblage is girdled with braided steel pylons gripped by the magnetism of the very fucking earth and pulling DOWN.

For what I now know to be The Last 5 Minutes, I lie down stand up sit on toilet lie down stand up walk around whining whimpering I Don’t Know What To Do because nothing feels right or painless and something is wrong no matter where or how I exist. I lie down.

I hear with my body a tangible painless *plup!* that seems like a large clot passing. I lie there for another minute, and when I finally resign myself to getting up I push a tissued hand between my legs (Where are panties?? When did I wear them last?) and waddle to the toilet. When I sit down and look at the tissue the liquid on the tissue is clear and that is a surprise.

The fetus is in the toilet, it is pale pink-grey and the size of a Sudafed. I don gloves and I scoop it out because this is my goddamn abortion and I will do as I please. It looks like a tiny shrimp with a dark but draining meatus of heart tissue at the center and there is a translucent blood dotted tether untethered accompanying.

I noticed the contractions stopped. They had blinked out while I was breathing once. They ceased to exist. A heinous primal yank abruptly…..wasn’t. The absolute instant the business expelled, the business was done.

Flushing the fetus is a confusing, complex moment regardless of anything I am and think and have willingly done in the last few days.

I take pictures to put on the internet because I didn’t see pictures like this on the internet when I was doing my research so that means these pictures should be on the internet.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!