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Recovery felt like coming back to life.

by Liana

December 12, 2017

WARNING: The woman in this story is named Tamsy, however, this is my story, Liana. Making this a third person narrative was an exercise in a writing class I took on.

 

In the employee bathroom of the Rite Aid down the street from her house, she stared at the stick in her hand, thinking to herself a watched pregnancy test never boils.

Checking the box to make sure she followed all the steps and the product was functioning properly, she continued to stare at the screen on the stick, waiting for an answer. The little clock on the screen was flashing. This meant the test was processing. How long did it say? Three minutes? Two? How long had it been, one?

The first person to call was her boyfriend. Through his shock, he was able to extend support, however shook he must have felt, he reassured her whatever she wanted to do he would be there for her. She wondered if that would still be the case if she wanted to keep it. It was irrelevant. There was no conflict in her mind. There was no doubt of what to do next, only how to get it done. It annoyed her that he couldn’t take this burden on for the both of them, it had to be her, fucking seahorses.

At brunch with her girlfriends the dark humor ran rampant:

Let’s drown this sucker, chugging a mimosa.

How about we have an abortion shower?

Oh my god, yes, and you can register at a sex shop.

I got it: name the baby Mission, so you can abort mission!

She never considered it a baby. Not for a second. It was a foreign thing her body was responding to like a parasite. It made her sick, not just in the morning, all day, everything nauseated her. Lemon helped, but if some asshole on the subway pulled out a tunafish sandwich, it was over.

When she called her doctor’s office to set up an appointment, the woman on the phone started to say congratulations but was interrupted by an emphatic NO, I’m getting an abortion. The woman on the phone made her say the A word. Made her! Congratulations is never the first thing you say when someone tells you they are pregnant, especially if you work in the medical profession, what the fuck kind of training did this woman receive?

Later, her gynecologist let her know: the IUD is only 99% effective, you’re just part of the lucky 1%.

Yeah, not exactly the 1% she wanted to be a part of.

The irony of Tamsy’s life was that she had behaved recklessly and slept around for many years without anything: no STDs, STIs, no pregnancies, no nothing, she was very lucky. Then when she finally has a single sex partner whom she has been with monogamously for many years and finally gets an IUD, that’s when she gets pregnant. She used to just pop the morning after pill and hope that shit worked.

During her reckless days it was always played out the same way. Some guy would catch her looking his way a few times at a party, and she wouldn’t look away, not a single demure cell in her body, the whole thing: shameless. And desperate. The stink of her limitless libido radiated in a heat of pheromones all around her, following her like a cloud. It often enticed people. Sometimes, not so much.

There was this one time in high school when she had sex with this guy and he took off the condom half way through without asking. Came inside her. Didn’t get pregnant. There was this other time, she was in college, and had sex with two guys in one night: one around the time the party was just beginning and one around the time the sun came up. Both men did not wear condoms. Or maybe one did. Both came inside her. She was wearing a nuvaring at the time. Didn’t get pregnant. The nuvaring was a friend’s idea that she got free from a Planned Parenthood clinic. The birth control brigade, a real girls night out.

Another time she was having fun with some college friends, after graduating, and was flirting with this hottie Mexican soccer player, always a weakness for her, and once the good times swung by this guy’s house, he took her into his bedroom and fucked her with the smallest dick you’d ever seen and she really wanted it to stop but didn’t say anything. At that time, she was on the pill. She would forgot to take them every now and then. Still not pregnant.

There was this one time, the hottest story: she had sex with a co-worker when she was working at this luxury health gym place on the upper east side as a front desk girl.  It was tradition for front desk girls to get with trainers. She was not exempt. So she chose this delicious taken piece of hatian ass that decided he wanted to try her out before going big. One day, he told her to meet him after her shift and he’d pay for a taxi to take her home. He fucked her from behind and it was quick. He used a condom. We should do this again, he said. So he called that weekend and told her to meet him downtown, took her to a pay-by-the-hour hotel, complete with mirrored ceilings, round bed, and TV, streaming non stop porn. They fucked for a couple hours. She was not on birth control then. He came inside her. The next day she took the morning after pill, Plan B. It was fifty dollars. Still not pregnant, mind you.

The first time she had intercourse it was non consensual. It took years for her to call it rape. It takes a while for women to process that sort of trauma. The first time she had sex with someone she loved was a decade or so after that. Her journey through adolescence was spent masturbating, sucking dick, and trying to convince her best friends to be her lovers. Turns out, that’s not how it works. She put up with a torturing amount of unrequited love, while still having sex with anyone who’d take her. There were no orgasms… for her. That didn’t come till much later when she learned she had to ask for it. She also learned that, apparently, pleasing a woman is a hard thing to do, and most men aren’t very good at it.

Luckily, she was in a relationship with a man who wasn’t ashamed to learn; he was her best student. He came home, the night she peed on the stick, and she ran up to him with such abandon she hurt him a little. She was just so thankful she could hold him, so thankful he was the one, so thankful she wasn’t a teen in trouble, alone, trying to figure out if she should tell her mom what happened. It could have been one of those randos during college. Or worse still, could have been a tinder guy.

When she started to call people, close friends and family, to let them know that she was terminating the pregnancy, a strange phenomena occurred. The more women she told, the more stories she heard. Other abortion stories, other pregnancy scares. Her sister, her aunt, her mother, her great grandmothers, her friends, all had their own abortion stories. Some just took a pill and miscarried at home, others took multiple tests before going to the doctor, just to make sure. Her favorite story was when one of these women was in a relationship with another woman and had to tell her girlfriend that she had gotten pregnant; obviously, the baby wasn’t the girlfriend’s. So this loyal girlfriend went to the abortion clinic to terminate the pregnancy of her cheating girlfriend. Now that’s hilarious, in retrospect, maybe not when it was happening.

There was another story someone told where they had to go through a crowd of protesters, preaching pro-life nonsense. That must have felt awful.

A similar phenomena happened when she shared her assault story. The more women she told, the more stories she’d collect. These are the secrets we carry with us. Sometimes living with these secrets feels like too much of burden, weighs heavy on our hearts, keeping us in bed for days at a time. It’s ok for it to hurt. It’s ok, we remind ourselves. And then, on Monday, we get up and go to work.

So the day came when she finally would be able to take care of it. Ten weeks in. After yelling her at gynecologist for her pregnancy, as if it was his fault, she made an appointment at a clinic he referred her to. They enter the waiting room of the clinic, her escort and her, to rows of light brown chairs facing a mounted HD television streaming CNN, all watching the latest natural disaster. Hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, across the coasts, tearing up lives, ruining plans. You’d have to be a clueless moron to deny climate change now.

She walked up to the receptionist desk and handed over the proper identification: state ID and insurance. Such a relief to have insurance, thanks Obama. The procedure would eat up two paychecks at least, if not for her insurance. That day, the whole thing would end up costing her nothing. She had the kind of insurance where she wasn’t even paying premiums, it was the medicaid kind of insurance, that’s how.

The lady handed her a clipboard with instructions to fill out everything. Also, she added, this is the name we will call when we are ready for you, and handed her a laminated slip of paper with the word Nebraska on it. Lady Gaga came to mind. You, you, and I, Nebraska I’d rather die. She sat down and filled out medical history forms, address, all that stuff they needed. Returned the clipboard and waited. More girls came into the waiting room. Many brown and black bodies. Very few white bodies. Other states were called.

Nebraska.

She stands up and is given a bracelet with her name and some identification numbers. A nurse sitting at a desk explains what will happen for the next three hours. She also schedules a follow-up appointment for the patient, asks her to put her signature on some things and tells her to go back into the waiting room. There she returns to her escort, a close friend who has offered to bring her loopy ass home once all this is over with and the anesthesia slowly leaves her body.

Nebraska.

It’s for real this time. She leaves behind her things with her friend, who sends her off with a wink. Then she is led down a hallway, through a security locked door, and enters another waiting room, this time with that special pre-op feel. She is given a gown, booties, hair net, and blanket. They keep it cold because it makes it harder for germs to thrive, explains the nurse. One girl is still getting changed as she leaves the locker room. Then she enters the waiting room again and watches one girl get her blood drawn, another going to the bathroom to pee in a cup. She sees her future.

The women make it as comfortable as they can, joking about how frigid the waiting room is, smiling as they pass, joking about sweet nothings. This is their job. They work here. Good morning, Doctor Henderson. Morning, Trish.

The sonogram is the best part. She gets ushered into a back room by a Russian nurse, who lubes up the sonogram camera. It looks like a sterile dildo with a condom on it. Put your feet up, come down, all the way, all the way down, good. Then she sticks it in without much warning. It occurs to her the last time she had something inside me her it felt a lot better than this. Then silence while the photos are taken. She pulls it out. You can see the photos falling out of the machine like a photo booth strip at one of those photo vending machines, the ones they have at bars or parties where you hire a planner. Well you’re definitely pregnant. That nurse must crack herself up.

She has now graduated to the pre-op chairs that come with their own privacy curtains. Soon an anesthesiologist will come in to give her an IV and ask some questions, protocol. After that, the doctor will come in and explain in more detail exactly what will happen from the second she is asked to leave her pre-op chair to the date of her follow up appointment. The doctor will tell her she is in good hands. She will feel surprisingly reassured by this banal statement. Many more girls will come in and out of pre-op, with their matching little booties, and hair nets, and gowns, and glazed over eyes, as she waits for her turn.

Tamsy Jordon. In this room they say the girls’ names.

A nurse leads her into yet another room where other nurses and doctors are rolling another girl on a gurney. She tries to look over but the nurse pushes her along. Dr Henderson, your patient is going to be in OR one. Thank you, Janise.

Take off your gown, dear.

She does as she’s told whilst meandering around the operating room. She’s never been in an operating room before. Come here, sit down at the edge, put your legs up here, scootch down, good. Hi, I’m Justin, I’ll be your anesthesiologist today. You’re gonna feel a slight burning sensation and then you’ll be out ok? This patient has no allergies, we all agree. Yes, echoes the room.

She wakes up in a post-op bed, lethargic, dizzy, and disoriented. It takes a moment but she realizes she is crying. You just got out of surgery would you like some apple juice or tea? Tea, please.

She wakes up again in the same place moments later. So you’ll be taking antibiotics for the next few days to prevent infection, how you feeling? You done with your tea?

She is slowly assisted out of the bed and told to use the toliet. After having the most satisfying shit of her life, she gets back to her post-op bed to find it isn’t there anymore. Come here, Miss Jordon, the nurse calls from down the hall.

She sits on a chair with a wee wee pad on it. That’s what they use to train dogs. And apparently prevent blood stains. A girl in a blanket in the chair next to her asks if she is cramping. No, not really, Tamsy responds. Fuck you. The girl says it playfully, with a smile, but she means it.

Far from mourning a loss, the recovery was not nearly was traumatic as it was supposed to be. These things are supposed to be painful. You are supposed to feel shame for getting knocked up, shame for not doing all you could to protect yourself. You are supposed to feel guilt for the way your body did what your body is designed to do. The shame and guilt are supposed to paralyze you into silence and the silence will eat away at your self worth until you’re a shell of a person, pretty and collectible, but lifeless. For Tamsy, this was not the way of it; recovery felt like coming back to life. She had a rush of energy like when you can finally breathe deeply after weeks of sinus congestion.

She was one of the lucky ones, and would openly admit to that fact. Her phone was full of texts and voicemails from loved ones and she knew, too well, there were some who didn’t have loved ones, some who had to deal with the decision all on their own. There were some who had to cross borders to get to the clinics that would give them the procedures they so desperately needed. There are women who don’t have access to money or insurance or sex education. Those who have no choice. There are some women who are too young. And this is the shittiest part of being a woman, hands down, the absolute worst part. All the baby making parts but when you’re having sex, you’re just having sex, you’re not always thinking about those parts…ok honestly, like never, you’re never thinking about those parts. You’re thinking about how good it feels. Because it feels so good.

A few months later, Tamsy and her boyfriend were watching a movie and started to snuggle. He let his hand slip between her legs and rub her clit over her underwear. She pretends not to notice and then jumps at him, giving him a giant kiss, wrapping her arms around him. Within moments they are naked on the couch, kissing and holding each other. He stops and kneels at the edge of the couch, separates her legs and buries his head between her thighs. She lets him atone. As she drops her head back in ecstasy, she realizes she’s started to cry. All of a sudden, uncontrollable tears stream down her face. Baby what’s wrong. He stops, sits next to her on the couch, holds her tight as her naked body curls around his. There were no words. Because sometimes there are just too many feels.


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