I feel strange writing this because it’s not the sort of event in your life that you talk about – certainly not in any kind of positive light anyway. Let alone sit down at your computer to type it all out.
I haven’t spoken much to friends or family. I haven’t really processed how I feel or what I think yet. But that’s okay because I know I will one day and that’s not what this is about.
This is about telling the abortion story that you never read about in magazines or novels or interviews. And that’s the story of the people who help make it happen. The story of how they make a day that is right up there in terms of the horrible moments of your life… bearable.
I found out I was pregnant 6 months ago. Given that I had been on the Pill for some time prior, saying that it was unplanned, sounds like an understatement. I had several hours of total disbelief after taking the test. I just refused to believe it was true.
After three more peeing-on-stick experiences and almost two litres of Diet Coke, I had to stop denying the fairly obvious. I called the man who was jointly responsible for the situation and explained what was going on. He told me that the choice was mine, that he’d back whatever decision I made but that he was of the firm view we should terminate the pregnancy.
I’m not going to talk to you about the decision and how I came to it. Whether you support that choice or not, it was the choice that I had made and it wasn’t one I was going to change my mind about. What I do want to talk about is my experience with Dr Marie (Marie Stopes International), the clinic who performed the procedure.
I’d seen enough Hollywood blockbusters with angry protestors outside of buildings with placards, chanting and yelling about how a foetus is a life, to have a clear picture in my head of what the experience was going to be like.
I expected a scary nurse. I imagined a judgmental, begrudging doctor. A waiting room full of teenage girls and drug addicts. I saw brutal scenes of me lying on a hospital bed with my legs apart and litres of blood staining the sheets below me.
But it was nothing like that. Nothing at all.
At my first appointment, I was buzzed into a small, simple and friendly waiting room – it was no different from my usual doctor’s office and nor were the people inside it. The buzzer exists so that anti-choice campaigners can’t come in and disturb the patients. That was a little confronting but also oddly comforting. I felt surprisingly safe and secure.
My cousin and I sat and waited and filled out paperwork. The receptionists who handed it over to us didn’t speak in quiet sombre tones, like we were in a funeral home or something. They weren’t bubbly and excited either but they were pleasant and friendly. The normality of their approach made me feel calm.