Rhubarb pie

It’s 5am.

This is known as mom time. Me time.

Now that summer is here, it’s finally light out at this hour. The birds are chirping, the sky is a cotton candy hue as the sun comes out from hiding.

This is my favourite time of day.

This to me of day is peaceful, aside from the birds. It’s when I get most of my writing done; my thinking done.

I open Facebook and see the usual stuff. But more recently there was a buzz about the abortion laws being debated in the US, it makes me think of a story. It goes a little something like this.

There was a girl.

She was 16, had met a boy, and they fell in love. He was so sweet, had shaggy hair, and a lip ring. Together they skipped school, went to parties, and dove deep into a lifestyle of popping pills and staying up for days.

This girl was lost. She was smart, but didn’t know her place in the world. So much was falling apart in her home life that she just wasn’t sure of her own self. This boy was home for her. His family was a little strange, but they loved her and accepted her.

One day her period was late. She took a home test. Pregnant… even despite being careful with contraception (aka being on the pill).

In the car she said to her mother, “Mom, I have to tell you something…” He mother knew, and together they cried. Her mother said, “Honey, no matter what – I am here for you and support whatever decision you make.”

So they scheduled an appointment at a clinic in the city. The days leading up to it the girl was sick. She was tired, throwing up, and experiencing all the first trimester symptoms that come along with it.

The girl went for a dating ultrasound, but she went alone. Her boyfriend didn’t go. So it was just her, and she thought, “If this is how things are now, how will they be later on if I have a baby…?”

The girl and her mother drove together on the day of the appointment. A few protesters were out front with signs and it made the girl feel a little uneasy. Due to some threats that had been made, the girl could only go in alone; no extra visitors were allowed. She was to call her ride after the appointment.

She rang a buzzer, and gave her name and a code word. Someone let her in. There was paperwork to fill out, and magazines to read. But the girl was too nervous to absorb any of the information. She saw an intake nurse, and they went over some questions. The nurse asked about how she felt about the procedure, and if she was 100% certain about her decision to terminate. She thought… She thought long and hard about it. So many “what if’s” ran through her mind. What if we are meant to be together? What if we are actually ready to take this on? What is this is my destiny but I am intervening with fate? But then she quickly remembered she was 16, and still so very young.

The nurse asked about future plans for contraception, and drew a diagram explaining the female menstrual cycle. Then, she gave her some pills to ease her anxiety.

She went back into a back room where she was given a paper gown with a plastic tie to wrap around her waist. She was shown to a change room, given a key for a locker and instructed to put all her belongings into it. She was asked to remove all clothing from the waist down, and to put on the paper gown.

Humiliating.

That’s how she felt in the barely held together paper dress. Exposed and cold. Shaking with nerves. She sat down in the secondary waiting area with a few other girls in matching paper gowns. No one made eye contact. The sense of panic and nerves lingered heavy in the air.

A nurse called her name and she went into a small room with a little table and a computer screen.

“We are going to perform a quick ultrasound to confirm the location of the pregnancy, and how far along you are. We will also do a quick blood sample.”

The nurse pricked her finger and then asked her to lie back on the table. The gel was cool on her belly, and felt kind of nice among the tension of the day. No words were spoken between the two until she softly said, “Done. You can go back to the waiting room.”

The girl shuffled back to the circle of chairs, trying hard to not expose herself in the flimsy gown. She waited patiently for her name to be called again.

It felt like an eternity, but another nurse appeared and called her up. This time she was led to the back into a room with all sorts of medical equipment. She was instructed to lie on the table, and was briefed on the procedure.

“We will give you some gas, and you shouldn’t feel too much pain. It won’t take long…”

She was asked to get up on the table and scoot down to the bottom, with her legs up in the stirrups. Exposed and vulnerable. Then, she was given gas. Her body felt heavy and her chest felt like there was an elephant on it. A doctor appeared, and her and the nurse continued to converse about rhubarb pie, laughing about something. The doctor inserted something into the girl, and she felt an immense amount of pain. Cramping, pinching, and then a suction noise. The doctor left and it was done. Tears. The girl was hit with a wave of emotions, and all she could do was shake and sob uncontrollably. The nurse helped her up and slid on some mesh underwear and a pad. She led the girl into a waiting area with other women also in recovery.

The girl felt dizzy, and cold. A nurse came over with a blanket, and some crackers and ginger ale. The anaesthetic made her feel sick. As the meds wore off, and she regained some composure, the nurse came by and asked if she was feeling up to leaving. The girl nodded. The nurse handed her some paperwork and an envelope of medication, an antibiotic she was told. She went to her locker grabbed her things, and she shuffled to the washroom. She was feeling off. No, sick. She was going to be sick. She ran to the bathroom no longer caring about the gown coming undone and made it just in time to throw up. She sank to the floor, sobbing.

Exposed, vulnerable, tear soaked, and empty.

Completely empty.

This is what abortion looks like. Nobody chooses this path. Nobody wakes up and says, “Gee, I think this is what I want to do today!” But I cannot even begin to fathom where that 16 year old girl would have ended up should she not have been given the choice to regain control of her future. She would not have finished high school, or been an honour roll student. She would not have found an amazing career, or been as successful as she ended up being in life, rich with love and joy and family.

That girl won’t ever forget that day. As awful and traumatizing as it was, it was a second chance at life.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. People have different perspectives on things, and life experiences to shape those opinions. But to shame others for their life choices – I’ll never understand…

So here’s to the people who had to make hard choices and live with the consequences of their actions. I salute you. I stand by you. You wake every morning and put on a brave face. Maybe you feel guilt, or embarrassment. But you show up. I think that’s my mantra for 2019 – just show up. No amount of shame or sadness or anger is allowed to rob you of the joy in making memories.

Remember that, friends. You are not alone, and you are worthy of great things no matter what happened to you in your past.

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