Warning: well-deserved strong language ahead!
I bolt awake at 2 a.m. concerned that I am not feeling more like shit.
Heart racing, I pick up my phone and Google: “How long does it take for misoprostol to kick in?”
The suggestions offered by the Google machine range from one to four hours for cramping and bleeding to ensue.
I do some quick calculations.
The four little pills I had tucked (two on each side) between my cheeks and gum had dissolved over the course of about 40 minutes. Having forgotten to set the timer for 30, they had gotten around 10 extra minutes in my mouth before I swallowed the remaining chalky sludge with a glass of water.
That was around 8:30 p.m. so we were coming up on six hours.
Opening my silver, sticker-covered Mac, I search through my emails for post-abortion consultation follow up correspondence. I find the 24-hour hotline number and dial.
I want my man. I want my mommy. I want to cry.
The nice lady takes down my question, my location, and promises to have a doctor call me right back.
Abortions have come a long way from the horrifying shit show that I remember seeing unfold in the movie “Dirty Dancing.” Penny, the dancer, had to have one after finding herself impregnated by Robbie the Creep. The movie was set in the 60s—abortion was illegal.
They described what had occurred for her as a guy arriving with a fold-up table and dirty instruments to perform the procedure. In the scene, she was sweating, clearly in pain, and highly distressed. It was kind of terrifying for my then 12- or 13-year-old mind to wrap itself around. As a budding adolescent myself, I had no context for sex, even at the time. Abortion was simply a Hollywood horror.
There is nothing horrific about my own abortion. It’s 2:28 a.m. on a Monday morning and my anxiety was threatening to momentarily swallow me because the Google machine doesn’t have all the facts.
The nice doctor who calls me back gently informs me that it can take up to 48 hours, for some women, for misoprostol to kick in, and if nothing is happening by 8 p.m. this evening to call them back and, if need be, they can mail out a second dose so I can still complete this process from the privacy of my own home.
Though the tension in my jaw is still threatening to crack my molars, I take a deep breath and repeat to myself, “You’re okay. This is normal.”
Of course, there is nothing normal about having an abortion, no matter the circumstances. There is merely the grace of living in a modern age in which I have been able to arrange this entire procedure via multiple phone calls, a telehealth appointment, and a small discreet box of meds arriving right to my doorstep.
Aside from watching “Dirty Dancing” every day after school for a six-month stretch when I was a teenager, my early abortion indoctrination was, in a word: evil.
There was a movie called “A Soul That’s Free” that was written and directed as part of the anti-abortion propaganda generated by the New Age cult that I was raised in. In the movie, a woman faced an unplanned pregnancy. She was essentially shown the soul that wanted to come through. It was impressed upon her how she had a responsibility to the soul, and it concluded that abortion was a grotesque sin.
At around age 14 or so, we were forced to watch an abortion procedure being performed as part of our ethics course. It was sickening and it had the desired effect of turning me completely against abortion. That is until I, myself, got pregnant.
I remember—at age 17—hearing the words, “You’re pregnant.”
I was at the sliding scale health clinic in the town where I currently live and I had just tested positive for pregnancy. It was merely the official process of confirmation.
I had spoken with the soul. “Please go away. Not now. I’m too young. I’m so fucking scared.” Laying in the dark, I had shot little darts into my uterus trying to kill the embryo.
However, upon the confirmation of my pregnancy, I knew I was going to keep her. I knew it was her. And I knew nobody had any goddamn business telling another person what they could or could not do with their own body.
Me finding out I was pregnant—at age 17—instantly dissolved my anti-abortion conditioning.
Fast-forward 24 years and I had a slightly different reaction when I saw those double lines on my home pregnancy test.
Oh, hell no!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my man. He loves me. This little zygote was conceived in love. Lack of love is not the issue. It’s that we are both in our 40s. He’s still raising kids and I am a gawd blessed grandmother of a freshly minted toddler!
My granddaughter just celebrated her second birthday. While at the party, I sat along the edge of the pool and watched the sweet little cluster of twentysomething hens all gathered with their children, clucking around my darling daughter. Watching them all together, the message was clear to me: you are no longer in this phase of life.
I am in an odd phase of life. I call myself a fertile, blushing, crone-like creature—and the description fits.
As a healer, I have an intimate relationship with death, both acting as a death doula for clients and helping people to relinquish aspects of themselves that are ready to expire—aspects that no longer serve them.
Healing work and death work are sisters.
Grace and grief share a body with multiple eyes and fingers that search and see in many directions, yet beat with the same heart, same blood, and same truth running through the same veins. This is the crone in me speaking, and though she is a mother to many, I am not about to begin that process again at this point in my life.
Yes, I still feel the flush of maidenhood. My body is pink and juicy and clearly still fucking fertile. That being said, I do not wish to re-enter motherhood right now and that is my right.
Women have been seeking abortions for as long as we have been bearing babies. It has been the work of witches, wise women, and midwives to usher life into as well as out of this world.
Life is beautiful and, I believe—sacred. So it is with love, respect, reverence, and gratitude that I make this choice.
It is to the Goddess of Death that I now turn, raise my cup, and invite to drain this unrequested life from my womb, as is my rite.