I wake up full of dread, but in no pain. I focus on getting my children ready for the day and packing my bag.
I am anxious about the pain to come and I am feeling angry and resentful with my husband. We are both on edge and snap at each other. I lock myself in the bathroom to cry silently so my son will not hear me.
On the drive to the clinic, I decide I have to talk to my husband about the day before. I tell him how hard it was to absorb the intense experience. I tell how hard it was to know the exact moment my pregnancy ended and how difficult it was to go through that alone. I tell him that I am scared to go through the dilation by myself.
He is angry and scared as well. He is mad that he can’t help me, mad that he feels torn between my needs and taking care of our children.
As we drive over I realize that I am having contractions. They are not too painful, but they are frequent. I am not surprised given my medical history.
When we arrive at the clinic, there are two people waving brochures at us as we drive into the parking lot. It takes a minute for me to realize that they are anti-abortion protesters. My husband is angry and wants to confront them. They are two old people just standing there. They do not yell anything at us or try to harass us, so I tell him to calm down.
I walk in the clinic and see the head of counseling. She knows why I am there and asks if I want to come in the back to lie down where it is more comfortable. I know this means I will have to leave my husband, but since we have already decided there is little point in him waiting all day, I decide to do it now. Still I tear up as I hug him goodbye.
As I walk into the back, the counselor asks how I am feeling. I tell her I am contracting. I am brought into a room with those weird medical recliners that are ironically what they often provide for new fathers. The crying woman from the previous day is already there. She is already crying. We talk a little bit about how we are hungry. I say that I cannot believe we have to be back here without our support people and she agrees. The young woman from the day before comes in. She is obviously in pain and is completely silent. A nurse comes in and asks them some questions, but she cannot find my chart. I soon find out why. The head of counseling comes to get me. At first I do not understand. I ask if it is time for the cytotec. She explains that the doctor has decided to take me straight to the OR since I am contracting. I am relieved. I quickly text my husband. I am glad that I have pretyped the message that the surgery is about to start since I have no time before they take my bag away.
I am taken into a dressing room and given a gown, booties and a cap to put on. I am jumped to the head of the queue. I walk into the OR and see my doctor. He tells me this is the top OR staff and tells them I am a professor and advocate for the cause. While they prep me the OR nurse tells me about life before Roe and what she saw. This is why she works at the clinic a day a week. The scrub nurse tells me about the protesters when I ask about them. She says that while the clinic has escorts for the weekends, the protesters are usually these old people who are quite civil. We talk about how lucky they are not to have the awful situations that exist elsewhere.
The anesthesiologist gives me an injection and the next thing I know I am in recovery and it is 10 o’clock. I am in pain, cramping. The nurses are kind and bring me a heating pad. I call my husband to tell him I am out of surgery. Recovery is a huge room with women continually being wheeled in and walking out. The nurses offer me pain meds once they have checked my blood pressure and taken out my IV.
I walk back over to the first room where I am given a drink and some crackers. The crying woman is gone, but the young girl is still there. Obviously she is still dilating and in pain. I get dressed and wait for my husband. Women come and go and I just sort of zone out, dozing. . My husband needed to pick up my son so it takes him about an hour and fifteen minutes to get back.
In the car I take the pain pill I packed. I feel strange, relieved, exhausted, and drained. We stop for some food since I have not been able to eat. We talk a little. We had a friend to take my son for the afternoon in anticipation of a much later discharge, and we decide that since he has been looking forward to it, we will stick with that plan.
My husband and I stay in our bed all afternoon as per my recovery instructions to take it easy. He watches the new Batman movie on TV while I intermittently sleep, play on the computer and finish listening to my audiobook. I am not in any pain. By the time my children are home I feel well enough to get up and make them dinner. I give my daughter her bath. The only difficult part is the restriction to not lift anything that weighs more than ten pounds, but my husband lifts her out of the bath and into her crib later that night.
It is all oddly anticlimactic.
10 months ago