A Sad Day

Written December 6, 1998

Friday was sad and more emotionally painful than physical. Luckily I had my sister there to offer support, and since she knew what I was going through, she was very helpful. My appointment was at 8:45am, and there was a lot of waiting involved, but it was shorter than I had expected -- I was home from Brookline at 12pm. I was about a half hour late for my appointment though because of the horrible traffic on Storrow Drive.

I also found it strange that of all the forms I filled out and signed, none of them asked my medical history, or my family's medical history. I had thought that was crucial information, and knew I had to ask it when I worked for a clinic as a counselor. Especially startling though was the form I had to sign which stated I understood that I could die as a result of the surgery. I didn't remember seeing that from when I was a counselor.

The first time I was called from the waiting room, it was for a urine and blood sample. After I gave the urine sample to the nurse, I had to sit in a chair while she took my temperature, which was 99.5. She took my blood pressure and then asked me several questions. She sounded so much like a recording, that she was talking too fast and I had to keep asking her to repeat herself. After the standard questions she asked the big one..."Are you clear in your decision today?". I hesitated and said "Yes." She said that was good and to go to the waiting room again. She said the next time she would call me would be because the doctor was ready to perform the procedure.

As I sat in the waiting room, I realized something regretfully. There would be no pre-counseling about my decision. As a counselor at the clinic I worked in, it was required for every woman coming there to have the procedure done to see a counselor there to determine whether their decision was clear or whether they were being forced to be there. I was a little sad that I would not have this opportunity. I wanted that opportunity. No one had been concerned about whether I was ready, not friends, family, or anyone else. No one had even asked me. I wanted someone to ask me. It had gotten to the point where I had almost fantasized about being asked that question, because I needed_ to answer it. Only I knew the answer. Everyone else only thought they did.

The anesthesiologist was the nicest person there. When I was on the table in the skimpy pink gown they had me wear, I hoped that guy was my doctor, but he wasn't. He had a very calm and gentle nature. And of course, he was giving me the injection that would help me get through this thing, so he was my best friend as far as I was concerned. he put the IV in my hand and had me point into something that looked like a small clip with another hand, and there was a continuous "beep-beep" sound the whole time I was in the room. After he was finished, the doctor came into the room, and he was really cheerful (which seemed a little out of place). He gave me a pelvic exam and said "Hmmm" (not the kind of thing you want to hear during a pelvic exam). I bolted upright and said "What?!" he said "Relax, you just have really big stretch marks". I asked him what the heck that meant and he said, "Could mean you have twins". I started sobbing, why did he have to go and say that on me? Thanks Doc. The anesthesiologist coached me on taking really deep breaths. Since the IV had been in there for several minutes, I said-- "When the hell is this stuff going to work?" And those were my last words before my head started spinning, and I was fast asleep.

When I woke up there was no one in the room, and my legs were still resting over the stirrups. Since I was feeling no pain, I thought the doc and the anesthesiologist went on a lunch break or something. Then the heavy-set black nurse came in. "What do I do now", I asked. "Just sleep honey, you have 5 minutes." Gee...thanks...I can sleep, really? Oh thank you. The last thing I wanted to do was sleep, and I had a splitting headache, and my head was still spinning. After the 5 minutes were apparently up, the nurse told me to sit up, pull up my britches and walk down to the end of the hall where the aftercare room was. So I guess it was all over. Someone had been nice enough to pull my underwear half way up for me, and when I stood up I understood why. I felt like I was going to faint, and was barely dexterious enough to pull them all the way up. I started walking up the hallway, which seemed to be spinning, when the nurse stopped me. Apparently my gown was untying from the back and she had the courtesy to re-tie it for me. All I needed was my gown to fall off at a time like this.

The aftercare room was interesting. There were 8 blue comfy reclining chairs which all had blankets on them. They were lined up in a row. When i sat down there were only two other women sitting. We all seemed to have the courtesy to leave one chair between each of us. The nurse took my blood pressure and pulse, then my temperature which was 100.3. Suddenly I felt really nauscious. I asked the nurse, "If I was going to throw up, where would I go?". She gave me a small plastic bucket and I lost it. I was the only one vomiting, and I felt bad for the women who were just staring at me as if they were thinking, "What the hell did they do to her????" This went on for about 10 - 15 minutes. I didn't feel like I was just getting the drugs out of my system, but the whole experience. I have to hand it to the doctor though, he did one thing that I considered a wonderful thing to have done for me and his other patients -- there were never any machines or instruments in the room for the whole time I was awake. I never saw anything that indicated I was aborting my baby, nothing. It just seemed like a regular gynecological appointment. Of course, since I had been a support person for women going through abortions at another clinic, where I would actually be in the room helping women breathe while the surgery was taking place (and they were awake for everything), I knew what the machines and the instruments looked like. And I knew what the agony on the womens' faces looked like as the machine sucked their babies through a tube like a malicious vaccuum cleaner. But I was fortunate that I didn't have to remember that scene. Maybe too fotunate, but I was grateful for it.

Apparently since I had upset a few women by being sick in front of them, I was awarded first dibs on the bathroom to get dressed. A nurse handed me my clothes, which they had stuffed in a plastic shopping bag. The bathroom wasn't very clean, but apparently someone had had the priviledge to throw up there not too long ago, so it hadn't been attended to yet. When I was dressing I noticed that I was bleeding a lot, but I was fortunate enough to know it was normal, because I was passing clots and would be for several days. I came out of the bathroom and spoke to the nurse who rattled off her "this is what's in the paper bag you're getting" shpeal. She sounded like a recording, probably because she had been and would be doing it for the rest of her career at the clinic. I got an emergency packet, a small amount of Tetracycline, a packet of birth control pills, a few condoms, and a prescription for a very strong pain medication, but I was told I didn't have to fill it unless I wanted to. After seeing that it had codine in it I muttered "No way", I would gladly take Tylenol instead.

I grabbed my paperbag and as I walked down the hallway the doctor said hi. I asked him if I could ask him a question, he said "Sure!" with too bright of a smile. I asked him if he could see anything..."Could you tell the sex of the baby, anything?" I knew I could ask this because I knew that the doctors always empty the contents of the aspirator and take a look to make sure they hadn't "forgotten" anything. The doctor said he usually can't tell til a little bit longer in the pregnancy, but said, "I can tell you there was a lot of tissue, more than we usually see. I can also tell you, but I'm not entirely certain, that there was a boy." He said it was unusual to tell that early, but that was his opinion. I wanted to know because I had a few people tell me they knew I was going to have a boy, and I was curious if they were right. I had really wanted a boy. And it meant that I could refer to him by the name I had given him. I could always keep Derek close to my heart.

So far I'm doing pretty good. Physically, there's been no problems. I've taken my temperature dutifully every day and I've taken Asodophalus pills to prevent infection, even though I wasn't told to do that. I slept a lot that day, and did cry a lot. It is very difficult to not resent several people who were not supportive when i needed them. I also resent the people who told me I had no other choice. Even though I could not have taken care of the baby, I did have the choice of adoption which I personally would have rather taken. But the appointment was made for me. Even though I am 23 and not 13, I felt I was treated like a child by those who should have supported me. Even though they say they meant well, and I guess I believe them, I felt I needed more time to make my own decision. Its hard for me to believe those people love me when they tell me now. Because I'll always remember I had another option. This was the hardest decison I ever had to make, but on the other hand feel like I didn't make it. In a way, I feel like it was not on my conscience, and that there are a few others who will have to answer to that "sin". If there is a next time, which there HOPEFULLY NEVER WILL BE, I will make MY own decision. I would hopefully later be in such a position that I would not have to worry about money, being disowned, or being unloved. When Derek and I meet again he will have a mother who is ready to take care of him.

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