Abortion

Being naked, to find yourself whole again.


She comes to me at night. Her giggle. Her whispers...


A cold winter night, the city of Madrid is adorned with festive lights, as people wander the streets after work to get the weekend started with drinks and dinner. The family scrambles around the penthouse apartment to get dressed to head out for dinner. And there she is, laughing, giggling, skipping around the foyer, waiting for me to get her ready for the cold night. A gentle smile comes across my face, in adoration, I love her spirit! A red cashmere sweater, an orange wool scarf, a heavy red wool coat... I carefully dress her up. I clothe her with Love. As the men scurry to the door in the background, I kiss her on the lips and gently stroke her curly coiled hair. It's time to head out.


"Do you hear me?" I could feel a touch on my shoulder. "Take it slowly, you are still drowsy. Take your time to get back up," said the nurse as I tried to re-orient myself. I winced to make up the shadows from the glaring neon lights above my head. I slowly became conscious of the ceiling, the paper thin hospital robe and the cold air conditioning breeze on my skin as my body was covered with nothing but a single bed sheet to warm me up. The nurse re-entered the room with a small kit of big blue pills and a glass of water. "Take these pills every day for a week, to wash it all out," she explained. "There will be a lot of bleeding for a while and you will feel some sharp pains in your abdominal, but that is normal. You can get dressed now, you're all done," she said with a smile. I was fixated on the hospital bed, feeling completely blank and empty, thinking "What just happened, what did I do?"


The sun was still perceptible in the cool Manhattan air. New York City was unusually quiet, as I made my way to the abortion clinic. My steps were confident, appointment scheduled, a decision made, I knew exactly what I was doing when I entered the lobby. The clinic reception area was unassuming and impersonal like a hotel lobby, but a bit darker like an underground basement. You felt welcomed and no judgement, but also like you were hiding a secret. I looked around the room to see if I would see that recognizable face, but the lobby was completely empty, as though I was the only patient. I grinned and shrugged my shoulders unsurprised to not see that face I was looking for, it was still really early in the morning. I still felt confident about my choice as I sat down to fill out the forms. I had gone over these questions when I went to the university clinic to double check that I was really pregnant after multiple home pregnancy tests. I had gone over these questions with myself when the doctor had confirmed that I was indeed pregnant after the test. I had gone over these questions when I walked myself through Union Square to my partner's job to tell him I was pregnant with his baby. I had gone over these questions when I watched him non-reactive and ready to run away as I told him the news. I had gone over these questions when his reaction made the decision clear to me. I had gone over these questions when I realized he didn't care and broke down into tears in front of him. Feeling as I was the only one who had the courage to take responsibility, I suddenly took a hold of myself, wiped my tears and said "Don't worry, I'll take care of it. I made an appointment. Here are the time and date. Join me if you can. I'll see you there," and walked away.


"Don't worry, I'll take care of it. I made an appointment," I said.

I handed the filled out form to the receptionist and sat down in the lobby waiting. I waited for them to call me in, but secretly, I was also waiting for him to show up. "Good morning, please follow me," said the nurse. I stood up and followed her through a heavy wooden door. We transferred into a clinical bright room, with pristine white walls, neon ceiling lights, and metal steel cabinets. And there they were, the other patients, young and old, women of all facets of life, facing the same looming decision. I could read the conflicting hardship of this decision on their individual faces, and could not understand why, I, on the other hand, was still able to remain so decisive; it hadn't dawned on me yet. The nurse took me to a changing room and showed me the hospital robe and bonnet that was laid out for me. "Get changed and leave your clothes here," she explained. "When you are done, walk down the hall and sit down. We will come to get you when it's your turn," she said with a smile before walking out of the room.


I changed into the hospital robe and put on the bluebonnet. I walked down the hall, and there, a lobby filled with women patients in the same uniform awaiting their turn. I was floored, a wave of emotions hit me and my mind began racing. "What is this? What am I doing? Am I ready for this?" I looked around me, but all the women's heads were crouched over as though they were all processing the same thoughts I was. Their faces were slouched with guilt, shame, and hurt. I quickly put my head down too in fear that I was breaking a sacred agreement amongst us not to stare and violate each other's personal spaces. "I grew up fearing to bring shame to my family and to myself by getting pregnant unceremoniously, without wanting to, or preparing for it," I thought. "I had all the tools to ensure pregnancy was a choice and not an accident! How did I let this happen to me?" my mind continued to scramble. I found myself beginning to slouch too at the heavy burden of my thoughts and this moment; "How did I get here?!" "You're next," said the nurse smiling at me. I lifted my head and saw the nurse standing by an empty rolling hospital bed, tapping the mattress to signal I hop on. As I stood up, I watched as one by one, the women around me took their turns to hop on the hospital beds and get whisked away like obedient servants who surrendered to the final Decision. I hopped on the hospital bed, and slowly laid down, one vertebrate at a time to rest my body on the mattress. The time had come and it felt like an eternity.


I can still feel it. My senseless body laying on the hospital bed, in a thin hospital robe, my thighs touching the cold metal that spread my legs apart. Six shadows hovered around me as I tried to discern faces through the bright neon ceiling lights of the operation room. Nurses and doctors were shuffling around the room, in between my legs, each taking their turns to speak to me in efforts to reassure me and ease the burden of the moment. But all I could sense from them was routine. Before I could grasp what was happening and muster the courage to respond, I was put to sleep. But till this day, it feels like I was conscious through the whole operation. I can see still feel the cold touch of the scalpel in between my legs, the warm drops of blood dripping from my genitals, hear the vacuum sounds of the machines taking away the embryo and the synthetic feel of the doctor's gloves against my skin working to piece me back up. I've never felt so broken, exposed, pulled apart and naked in my life.


"Nurses and doctors were shuffling around the room, each taking their turns to speak to me in efforts to reassure me and ease the burden of the moment. But all I could sense from them was routine."

To have a part of you taken away so mechanically takes you on an indescribable soul journey. So much of me was ruptured and shattered that day. The man I loved and conceived the baby with, left me alone with my decision, a decision he secretly thanks me for, for making it for the both of us. I felt betrayed, violated, alone, like my very heart was pulled from my body. How was I going to overcome this? How was I going to live with myself or what was left of me? Then came the tap on the shoulder. "Do you hear me?" said the nurse. I got dressed and went home to recover.


I had an unbelievable support system, that was always by my side; it took one of the darkest hours in my life to know I am always surrounded. It took me many years to heal from this experience, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. I had to forgive myself, society, the way I was raised, men and the man I conceived with. I am still mending some broken parts of me and still learning the full extent of that experience and what it had to teach me. I am still making amends with my relationship with children, with me and parenthood. But she comes to me at night.


I can still feel her, her love, her presence, her forgiveness, healing me. How is she able to forgive me?!!! She forgives me because she had already known I would decide to have an abortion before I did. She had already understood why it wasn't her time to come into being yet, while l worriedly made my way to make the announcement to my partner. She had already known her family was not yet together, while I struggled to accept the man I was with, did not love me. She comes to me at night, into my dreams, so real, so alive. She knows we will be together again. So she comes to me at night, till the day will come, when I will put that red coat on her on a wintery evening in Madrid, kiss her lips and touch her golden curls as we head out the door together.


With Love,

IA



Artwork by Alexa Masucci