This can be ok

by Ika

July 9, 2019

It’s been about three and a half weeks since I saw two lines appear on a pregnancy test. I had been pushing myself to do the test for longer. I kept postponing, simultaneously because there is no good time to receive bad news — and on the other hand because I continuously managed to convince myself that it wasn’t happening. I had an IUD. I had never felt as safe and protected as during the three years since it had been placed. I found an excuse for every symptom. Late period: my PCOS. Growing breasts: extended PMS from waiting for a period. Vomiting after two beers: stress at work. I had managed to convince myself that my exhaustion meant that I was slipping into a depression. But then I tripped over a symptom that I couldn’t excuse: the overwhelming disgust of sitting on a metro between other people’s scents.

I cried when I finally did the test. Called a doctor calmly, then a friend sobbing. But it was almost a performed reaction — in reality I had no clue how to react.

The doctor I visited the next day questioned my reasons for not being cheerful. Asked if I wanted children. “Maybe some day”, I said. He looked at the screen, said: “you’re thirty. What future are you talking about?”. He asked me if I had a partner, I answered that I did not. He asked me when we broke up. I said there hadn’t been a steady partner. He said that if I ever wanted children, now is also a good time. There is still an IUD inside of me, I wanted to snap at him. The proof that I had tried but failed. And he was telling me I should be happy. He looked for my IUD inside of me. I felt intruded both by his instruments and by his words.

I had a flashback to ten years prior, when a falsely positive pregnancy test had driven me to an abortion clinic filled with shame and loneliness. I didn’t have friends I trusted back then. It had taken me four years to tell someone about the abortion that I never needed to endure. This time, I surrounded myself with friends immediately, leaned on them. Let them come over with chocolate. Let them listen to my endless confused blabbing about my body that felt like a stranger’s body. At night I caught myself apologising to my belly. It confused me. As long as it was inside me I couldn’t be sure. All I had to do was nothing and I would become the mother of what I was convinced would be a truly beautiful child. But I couldn’t imagine it. Not now. I have high hopes for myself as a mother, but I have equally high hopes for myself as other things. It’s their time first.

I found so many pro-choice arguments focusing on traumatic and painful reasons for abortion that I questioned the legitimacy of mine. I found so many stories of abortion regret that I had become convinced that regret is a natural hormonal reaction of ending a pregnancy. I had read so many horror stories about medical abortions that I kept the emergency number of the hospital really close.

Here’s how mine went: The gynaecologists in the hospital were all compassionate, kind and took me seriously. None of them asked me why. I took the first pill and nothing happened. Took the second series of pills the next day and cramped up bad. But although the cramps were heavy, they were familiar. They made me uncomfortable, but not scared. In the evening my body calmed down and I could comfortably watch a movie and sleep. I took another series of pills the next day. Almost nothing happened. I felt fine, took a walk in a park with a friend and ended the evening with some work together over a beer. Today I had my check up. I’m 80% there, there is still tissue in my uterus. That wasn’t entirely expected. I decided not to take more pills. Let’s see what my body can do. I’m getting tired of bleeding but I’m not in pain so I’m not too bothered. I wasn’t supposed to swim or have sex for two weeks and now it’s going to be about a month. That’s all.

If a friend came to me now telling me she wanted to end her pregnancy this way, I would confidently tell her that she will be ok. It’s scary, it’s confusing, and it’s incredibly unfair. It’s might be different for everyone. But this can be ok.

There is no regret. I am grateful and happy — that I had kind gynaecologists that didn’t judge me. That I had amazing friends to lean on who sent me flowers afterwards. Grateful for the ‘father’ that respected my choice even if it wasn’t his initial one. That the law is on my side. That it was safe and free. That the government subsidises my freedom of choice. That no one had the right to question me, unless it was to kindly ask me how I felt and how it went. This is what I want for women everywhere.

I am also angry. I am angry that my IUD was never placed well, and at the gp that didn’t want to check its placement when I went and personally asked for a check-up. I am angry that for three years, I had unsafe sex while thinking I was safe. I am angry at that time 2.5 years ago when my breasts hurt like never before and I thought it was my copper IUD. I am angry at that period when I was exhausted for weeks and I thought I was down and incapable. I am angry at that time last year when I threw up for mysterious reasons and put it on stress. I am paranoid and scared for all the times that I might have been pregnant. For all the miscarriages I potentially had. For all these symptoms that I never recognised until I got to know what pregnancy feels like. I made a conscious decision to quit hormones because they were taking their toll on my wellbeing and my relationships. But what hormones had been raging through me instead? I feel failed by my doctor back then and my doctor now for not taking me seriously, not checking on me, not hearing what I’m saying. And I’m just one of the stories of women around me that were sent home by doctors despite their various serious concerns about their sexual health.

Refusing to check me as prescribed, and when I requested it, took away the control I tried to have over my body and my future. The control I thought I had. I never wanted to have an abortion and I am mad that I needed one that could’ve been prevented. But I am grateful that I could. And I feel empowered with the realisation that I am connected to all these women that decided for themselves when is and when isn’t a right time.

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