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A sleeve of chill bumps wavers across my body as I exit the waiting room. The chilling reality of how cold it was hadn’t unnerved me until now. The nurse ushers me into the next room and urges me to take off my jeans. I was instructed to leave on my shirt.
Her voice is warm, soothing. For a moment, I find myself at ease. Until a male doctor enters the room and I am reminded of the occasion. Undetecting of my sudden discomfort, she continues to prepare tools for the doctor. He has yet to introduce himself but it bothers me none. Actually, I would prefer if he didn’t talk at all.
Hesitantly, I place my legs and feet in the provided stirrups. My toes and soles grow clammy as the room quiets and the doctor begins to explain the sequence of the procedure. In and out, I internally repeated to myself. In and out. With a steady breath I could manage to keep myself calm I hoped.
He inserts what feels to be a long scalpel into my vagina. I exhale deeply and clutch the side of the examination table. The instrument is extended further and already a severe cramping sensation is wreaking through my pelvis. I’m instructed to anticipate a sharp sting next and I notion that I’m ready.
I have yet to determine what caused more pain in that moment—the excruciating agony of the physical stress I endured or the dire reality that I was actively participating in the death of my own child. Either way, the anguish was real and entirely inescapable. Without thought, I grabbed the nurse’s right hand and clutched with all my might. My eyes burned as hot tears welled and streamed down my face. She gently places her other hand on my forehead and asks, “Is it painful or is it just emotional?” But in the throes of such an experience, how can one be expected to answer that?
The later sounds of suctioning still resonate in my mind today. It’s a noise I wish that I could forget, toss out of my memory forever. But the burden of guilt I continue to bear disallows me to. As I reflect on those last few moments lying on the examination table with my legs agape, I cannot help but cry. The crushing reality of what happened seems to be new to me each time I recount the events of that day. And I endure that horrifying experience again and again.
It does not pain me to societally be labeled a murderer, a killer, and horrible individual. The guilt others place at my feet holds no weight against the resentment I hold for myself. However, what does pain me is that I am not allowed to mourn. I am not allowed to grieve the life I created and shortly carried. Society reserves no sympathy for those who actively participate in terminations, no matter her decision for doing so. She is stripped of her ability to love, care, and feel the moment she terminates her pregnancy. And for the remainder of my life, I will be defenseless against the judgments of others as I continue to grieve the life of a loved one I wanted so much.