BY SARAH DEVEAU
It was my second ultrasound. I had been bleeding heavily, even though it was only the seventh week of my pregnancy. The nurse was smiling and tilted the screen towards me. She pointed out my baby’s heartbeat. Just a tiny flutter. Hardly anything, really, this green and black fuzzy little butterfly wing. I returned to the little curtained stall, got dressed, and walked to my car. I made it as far as the Safeway parking lot two blocks away before I couldn’t see the road anymore. I cried so long and hard I thought I’d black out.
It doesn’t take much to set me off. A sweet baby on a commercial, the teenage mother with a child in tow, the quick glance from friends when the topic of babies comes up.
Some of my friends know. I couldn’t hide it, couldn’t push it down anymore.
I had an abortion. I can usually say those words to close friends in a normal tone of voice without a trace of tears. In public I try to keep a straight face, remain calm. Most of the time. Sometimes I have to excuse myself and attempt to maintain composure until I find a washroom stall I can lock myself into, sobbing into my sweater sleeves.
I am [now] 20, a university student. I have a well-paying job and my IQ is in the top 5 percent of the population. I am not stupid. But I was scared. I knew I could support a child. I even knew I could probably give it a good standard of life. It wouldn’t be lacking in anything.
I would be.
And that’s why I chose to have an abortion. I would have lost my chance at an education, travel opportunities, a challenging and demanding job. So I got scared.
I made a mistake. I knew it on the way to the hospital. Even that was a trip. I got to have my abortion in the hospital, where everything is clean and the nurses friendly and the doctor refers to my baby as
“the fetus.” I didn’t have to worry about protesters or dirty clinics or even the cost. Our health care system pays for your first abortion.
After I completed the forms, I was led into a room away from my boyfriend where the nurse asked me if I was sure about my decision. I said I was. I lied. I was screaming inside. I returned to the waiting room, surrounded by other women being comforted by a friend or boyfriend. Under my breath I whispered to my boyfriend, “I want to go home. Please can we go home? I don’t want to do this, I changed my mind.” He kept saying it was ok, that everything was going to be alright.
I wanted him to take me out of there. I couldn’t do it myself. Trembling inside, still on the outside. And I just waited. I didn’t move, I didn’t say no, I didn’t stand up, I didn’t leave. It just seemed so hard, so difficult. As if murder was the easy choice.
I remember laying down on the table, there were three or four doctors in the room. They gave me drugs through my wrist and I spaced out. My first taste of drugs. Then the nurse was helping me up, and I looked at the bed while getting dressed. On the tousled sheets was one spot of blood. A single, perfectly round, crimson red drop on the bright white sheets.
Recently I got a memorial tattoo. It’s an armband of vines and flowers that wraps around my arm. There is a break in it with the date of my abortion. I tell inquisitive people that the date was the day a close friend died. I guess that’s almost true.
I still believe abortion is a woman’s choice. But it wasn’t the right choice for me. I made my choice and it was a selfish one. I’ll regret it for as long as I live.