Sep 032010

Well, I’m not sorry. And why should I be? I’m lucky, I worked for years in medical laboratories, where I saw many POCs (products of conception) and you cannot convince me they are anything more than potential babies. What? Those little red jellyfish? Some of them much older than mine was … It was like this. I was old enough to know better. I had never had a pregnancy scare – not in nearly 20 years of sexual activity. I was 35. I didn’t think I was terribly fertile – I’d had STDs as a teenager, and that led to pelvic inflammatory disease. And I’d never even had a scare, despite numerous contraceptive ‘failures’.

Until one week I was away overseas on business, and I met a cute guy. I hadn’t at the time been sexually active for more than 15 months. I had condoms in my suitcase. I didn’t go and get them. Yes, it was risky. Yes, it was stupid. But it happened.

Next mistake: I could have got the morning after pill. I didn’t. I almost forgot I had taken the risk. Yes, I was blase. Some weeks later, I realised my period hadn’t come. I’d never kept accurate track of it, but I knew when three weeks had been and gone and it STILL hadn’t come, and my breasts were swollen and tender, that maybe something new had happened…

I bought the test in the supermarket. I tested myself early next morning. It turned positive so quickly there was no doubting it. I called my doctor when the clinic opened and went in for a blood test to confirm. It came back the next day: positive. After nearly 20 years…. guess I’m fertile after all 😉 The doctor asked what I wanted to do. I explained what had happened. In my view – and having been an unwanted child myself this perhaps impressed itself more heavily upon me — a child needs to be wanted. And a child needs a father. That in itself, to me, was sufficient reason to terminate. However, I thought I should consider all the options. After all, it felt kind of nice being pregnant! Although it wouldn’t stay that way, I knew.

And the reality was, I was in no position to care for or support a child, either financially or emotionally. I had spent years trying to establish a career – and I had just reached the point where I felt I could begin getting somewhere with it. I had no support network. No partner, no family (I’m a migrant), no money. And I did not want a child – I had never wanted a child.

I will be eternally grateful to live in such a civilised country. No one tried to talk me out of it. No one judged harshly. No one treated me badly. My doctor referred me to a local abortion clinic and explained the procedure. There were three choices for a simple suction curettage – local, IV sedation or general anaesthesia. I would have selected a local (I’m a bit chicken about being put under) but my doctor said to go for IV sedation because ‘it’s much better that way’. So I said, sure, OK.

I rang the clinic immediately and made the booking. They said they could take me two days later if I wanted. I figured sooner was better than later so I said ‘sure’.

That day, I called in sick at work. I told them I had a tummy bug. Hell, it wasn’t so far from the truth! Having done my best to terrify myself, going to all the so-called ‘pro-life’ websites and reading all their ignorant and evil propaganda, and trying to find out as much as possible about the experience, I must say I was pretty nervous on my arrival to the clinic. My knees were a bit wobbly and I felt hyper-alert and jumpy. Fortunately, there were no protestors outside that day. I was very impressed with the security of the clinic and with all the lovely, kind people who worked there, who quickly made me feel at ease. I went through all the counselling and testing and so forth and was still absolutely resolved to go ahead. I climbed up on to the table. When the needle went into my arm for the anaesthesia, I straightaway started to feel all high and floaty. I said, ‘Does it work as quickly as that?’ and the anaesthetist (lady) said ‘yes’. And then I lay back down. Next thing I remember is my head clearing in the recovery room. I thought ‘oh!’ ‘It’s over – I missed it!’

This might seem strange, but (maybe because of my lab experiences) I was kind of curious to see how it all worked, although I knew there might be pain. But it was certainly very nice not to remember a thing! I sat up straight away when I realised it was over and the nurse said, ‘hey, lie down again for a bit!’. So I did but I quickly felt well and wanted to get up and go to the seated recovery area for my long-awaited tea and biscuits! I was soooooo hungry! With IV sedation you have to fast for six hours beforehand, and I don’t usually miss meals 😉 Plus, there was all that ‘excitement’!

There was a little cramping, but I was given some oral tablets to kill that pain, and a little blood I noticed on the surgical gown when I changed back into my normal clothes. Altogether, there was very little blood, either immediately after the operation or in the following days.

However, I understand that some people bleed quite a lot – it’s an individual thing. I went home about half an hour later when my flatmate arrived to pick me up. I walked slowly because I was still woozy from the anaesthetic (but in a nice way!) and I went and bought my antibiotics for the next week, then had a yummy burger and fries. Then I dozed on my couch at home for the rest of the afternoon.

And back I went to work the next day. Wow, I kept thinking, that’s not like the old days! That’s not like all the horror tales about abortion that you hear – and read – about! That was really easy! Isn’t modern technology wonderful? It helped a lot, I think, that I was very clear about my decision from the get-go and that I have no moral qualms about whether a six-week-old foetus is a baby. To me, it seems pretty clear that it’s only a potential baby. Yes, it is a killing, but nowhere near on the same scale as killing a real person. Not even on the same scale as killing a cow or a sheep, in my opinion.

And I believe the medical facts are with me on that.

I kept waiting for these feelings of guilt, depression and/or sorrow to appear as advertised by so many. Nothing.

I made what was the best decision for me, and certainly for any baby that might have resulted. The father? Well, he doesn’t know. Maybe he would like to know – but in the circumstances I don’t think it would have been a good idea to try and contact him. Anyway, although we were both reckless and foolish, I figure the final onus is on me. I’m the one who had the power to get emergency contraception, and I’m the one who would have had to carry and care for the child. Not him. So, really, I think it’s fair that it’s the woman’s decision.

Sorry? Are you nuts? I would certainly have been sorry if I’d had to bear a child. And so would the child.

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