No Quiero Hacerlo

I remember lying there on the table, feeling completely disoriented, the anesthetic smell of the room seeping into my pores. The fluorescent lights played tricks on my mind, making the whole room seem surreal, like part of a dream. I kept hoping I’d wake up and this would all have been nothing more than just that: a terrible dream.

I was listening to my doctor speak on the phone in Spanish about a vacation he was about to take. I thought to myself as the tears slid across my temples that, if I could just tell him the words in my head, I could stop all of this from happening. They kept parading through my mind, begging me to say them: No quiero hacerlo. What would he do? My mother had signed the papers; was the choice even mine anymore?

No quiero hacerlo.

He was saying something about flying to Miami. Would he listen to me?

I don’t want to do it.

———-

I was sixteen, I shouldn’t be here; shouldn’t be worrying about how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Not that I had been given the chance to worry about it much. My mother had made the decision for me: an abortion. There would be no babies in her house and if I chose to have it, I was out. With nowhere to go, I wasn’t left much of a choice.

If I couldn’t keep this child that was slowly being created within me, I knew that I at least wanted to put it up for adoption. Neither choice was allowed as an alternative to the unthinkable atrocity I was being forced to commit. I knew my mother didn’t want me repeating the same mistakes she had made: a young mother at 15, forced to drop out of school to marry her baby’s father. Maybe her heart was in the right place, somehow, but I still couldn’t help but feel that there had to be another way. A better way.

My boyfriend, the baby’s father, was in full agreement with my mother. He had even given her half the money to pay for the procedure and would soon be leaving for the military. I couldn’t raise a child alone at 16; even I was logical enough to know that. It would be hard enough with a solid support system, but to have no one to rely on for help, there would be no way for me to provide the sort of life that a child deserved or even needed.

Still, no matter how many times I brought up adoption, it was always quickly vetoed. I never stood a chance against the army of people pushing me towards abortion. My baby never stood a chance.

———-

When we first arrived at the clinic and the initial paperwork was completed, they had to see just how far along I was. An ultrasound revealed that I was close to eight weeks.

I lay there staring at the little black and white screen, marveling at what they were showing me. It was really nothing more than a little blob at this stage – a peanut – but that little peanut had a very distinct head and body, tiny little arms sticking out near the top and tiny little legs at the bottom. I could even see its little heart beating at what looked like a million beats per minute. It bounced happily around in its little aquatic haven, so completely unaware of what was about to happen.

I fought back tears, watching this little being, and I remember wondering if it was a boy or a girl or even if they had any way to tell this early. I didn’t ask. I knew if I opened my mouth to speak, there would be no stopping the tears.

When everything was finished being documented, I was brought into a different room to await the procedure. My doctor, the man so casually making flight plans to Miami from Detroit in the midst of all my heartache, was a man of Hispanic descent. I don’t think I ever caught his name. We didn’t talk much. In fact, no one really talked much. I tried as much as was possible to distance myself from the situation.

They started an IV and I watched as they hooked me up to the saline drip, then left me to wait while they retrieved the appropriate anesthetic.

My head was still swimming. I felt nauseous and tired. I wondered if the baby’s father would be there like he had promised when it was over. Was he thinking about me, lying here in this room, on the verge of destroying what we had created? Tears welled up in my eyes for what seemed like the millionth time in the last half hour. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. We loved each other. At least, I thought we did. But how could he say he loved me when this was what he wanted? I sighed and tried to make my mind go blank.

The nurse came in with another bag that she attached to my IV pole. She looked sympathetic as she hooked it up to the maze of tubing coming out of the tape on my hand. She must have seen the look on my face when she came in the room.

“It’ll be alright, honey. Nothing to be afraid of. It’s all very routine and it’ll be done before you know it.” She patted my arm.

I didn’t tell her that that was what I was afraid of.

When I was in 8th grade, one of my classmates in an English class had done a report on abortion. He hadn’t been allowed to show the video he’d had as part of his research, but he did explain it in great detail: how the fetus was vacuumed out of the uterus and how it instinctively tried to get away in what appeared to be a panic, knowing it was something dangerous and life-threatening. How they then inserted something to crush the fetus’ head before vacuuming that out as well. Even without seeing it, that video was playing plain as day in my mind.

The tears were threatening again as the nurse left. What the hell was I doing here?

It seemed like forever had passed before they finally came in to start the anesthetic. There was chart-checking, some quiet discussion verifying details and proper doses of medication, then a mask was placed over my mouth and nose and I was told to count backwards from 100. I don’t even remember making it to 98.

The only thing I was thankful for was that, once the medication started to do its work, my mind could finally stop tormenting me with all the what-ifs and whys. It was like a blurry, numbing reprieve.

When my eyes finally opened, I realized that someone was trying to wake me. One of the nurses was patting my cheek and gently shaking me in an effort to get me coherent. When I became aware of where I was and what was actually happening was when I began to notice the rest of my body as well. The cramping was more severe than I’d thought it would be and, yet, the only thing I could truly feel was an overwhelming sense of emptiness.

A quick glance around the recovery room revealed about ten other beds, three of which were filled with young girls, only one still asleep. I quickly averted my eyes from their curious gazes, shame riding across me in waves. How could they just be sitting there so casually? Eventually, a nurse came into the room, but it wasn’t to take me anywhere as I had been so desperately hoping; it was merely to verify that I wasn’t bleeding too heavily. At that moment, I didn’t really care if I was or not.

I just wanted to go home.

I was relieved when they finally came to wheel me out to the waiting room where it would be my mother’s responsibility to see me safely to the car. I was still groggy and weak, but I quickly forgot that when I saw that my mother had gone to get my boyfriend and brought him to the clinic.

They managed to help me out to the car, though I can only imagine how. I felt like a drunk staggering across the parking lot. I briefly wondered why there was no one there with picket signs taunting me for being a murderer.

My boyfriend climbed into the back seat of my mother’s 5-door Ford Escort, then helped her get me in next to him. I leaned in close to him and put my head on his chest as he wrapped his arm around me. The last thing I remember about the ride home was him and my mother carrying on a perfectly casual conversation as I drifted in and out of consciousness. Like nothing had happened. Like life would just carry on as usual. Maybe theirs would, but I knew mine would never again be the same.

I knew I would forever be haunted by what had happened. I would always wonder if I could have changed things by fighting harder, by talking to more people than I had already. If I could have found the right person to talk to, if I hadn’t been afraid of infuriating my mother by directly defying her, everything could have been different. A life could have been saved.

That tiny little life bouncing around on that screen was ended because I was young, irresponsible and naïve. I would have given anything to take it all back.

I still would. I find myself wondering, when I look into my children’s eyes, who that person would have been today. Would that child have been the daughter I never had? Another son? He or she would have been born in the fall of 1992, around the time of my seventeenth birthday.

A full-grown adult by now, going on 19. Living a life that they hadn’t been allowed to begin; a life that was taken away from them.

The amount of guilt that goes along with all of these musings is monumental.

And it doesn’t fade with time.

———-

This post was written in response to a prompt by The Red Dress Club.

This is a writing exercise in two parts:
Part I
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. (Maybe it’s an image of your father or mother doing something they did regularly; maybe it’s a visit to a grandmother’s house.) Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. (Take 10-15 minutes to do that…)
Part II
Now I want you to investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions: Why has this stuck with me? What did this mean to me at the time? Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? How does it feel to look back on it? How does it still affect me (or not)? (Take 10-15 minutes to do that.)

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About Caitlin's Concepts

Mom to 4 boys and drowning in a sea of testosterone!
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23 Responses to No Quiero Hacerlo

  1. Jenn says:

    Wow…I’m crying for you right now.

  2. Andrea says:

    Oh my G-d. What an intensely emotional story. My heart and my body are responding to yours, to your pain. Physical and emotional. I am so sorry for the loss you experienced, and the unfortunate lack of control, lack of time to grieve I am sure you experienced, as well.

    The way that you intertwined the Spanish and the doctor speaking captured me from the get go. Breath-taking. Leaving me breathless.

    Thank you for sharing this for this prompt. It is beautifully written and I hope that it helps you as you “get it out on paper” (so to speak). I send you virtual hugs.

  3. Shell says:

    Wow. Just wow. What a weight to carry around with you. So passionately told.

  4. You are so incredibly brave for sharing this. I knew three girls who got pregnant the summer after our senior year of high school. One kept it, one gave it away and one had an abortion. I’m so very sorry you had to go through this. Sending hugs your way.

  5. Mandi says:

    I don’t even know where to begin. My heart breaks for you. While I can’t identify with your experience, you told your story so well I feel like I was there. Thank you for making such a brave and honest post.

  6. mrsbear0309 says:

    What an intense read, must have been that much harder to write. I ache for you, for how much of it was taken out of your hands. Powerful story, thank you for sharing it.

  7. Jessica Anne says:

    Wow. That was, I think, the most brave and honest post I’ve ever read. I felt like I was right there with you, in your head, feeling what you were feeling. So sad. I’m so sorry you had that experience. Thank you for sharing it.

  8. You were a child. You were a child.

    That’s what makes this so sad, how you blame yourself for not fighting harder, but you were not who you are now, and having to go through that incredibly heartbreaking experience made you that much stronger.

    Your words made me feel your pain. Hugs to you..

  9. Katie says:

    thank you for opening up this painful part of your past with so much trust. to us. I just want to wrap you in my arms and take this from your mind and heart.

    You took us there. As painful and horrid as it was, you took us there. Wonderful writing, but oh so painful.

  10. Elena says:

    What a brave & amazing post. I can’t imagine how hard this was to write & hit publish. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Frelle says:

    Thinking of you. I just wrote about mine, will leave a link to my blog post (which I don’t normally do when I leave comments). My choice was my own, and not made for me… But I carry those same feelings with me every day, and they started the same time yours did. I was 19 in the spring of 1992, and my child would also be 19 this coming fall. My guilt will always be there, too. And I will never know if I could have made a different choice, all I can do is speak my truth now and hope it validates or encourages others to do what they need to heal. I’m so glad you wrote this, it was very brave, and you wrote it so beautifully, too.

  12. This was incredibly brave for you to write. To put these words out there for all of us to read makes you very vulnerable and I for one am honored that you trusted us with this story.
    I do hope for you that the guilt fades.

  13. i am impressed by your courage in writing and posting this. i applaud you. you told the story well, despite how diffcult it must’ve been. i can’t begin to imagine. my heart is breaking for you.

    i hope someday you can let go of the guilt. you were so young. things happen….

  14. Katy says:

    Referred by twitter–this was an amazing piece of writing. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life. I am certain it wasn’t easy to do.

  15. Elaine says:

    You are so brave to share this with all of us. I’m so moved by this and can only imagine what you went through and still go through. My heart goes out to you. xoxo

  16. Kelly says:

    WOW. Very powerful post…and my heart just aches for your teenage self as well as your adult self. Such a hard thing to go through and to share.Thank you for being so brave.

  17. Leighann says:

    My heart aches for you.
    I have no words.
    Just know I’m thinking of you.

  18. Mandyland says:

    This was absolutely heart breaking. So completely tragic.

    You were so very young. Your choice was stolen from you. I can’t imagine how powerless you felt, but your writing brought forth your pain. I’m so very sorry.

  19. Ash says:

    I’m so very sorry for your experience and heartache. So very sorry.

  20. Melanie says:

    Wow. I had a very similar experience when I was 21. Like you, I had both my mother and my boyfriend pushing me to have an abortion – telling me I was too young to raise a child and that it could affect my career – my future. Like you, they were with me when I had the abortion and they were there to bring me home. Like you, I’ve wondered if I should’ve fought harder – I was legally an adult and I wasn’t 100% behind having an abortion. I wanted to explore all my options but felt like I wasn’t given a chance to.

    Thank you for putting so beautifully into words what a lot of us, who have gone through having an abortion experience and face in those moments after it is done along with the feelings that stay with us in the years following. It’s been 20 years since I had mine but every now and then – even after giving birth to 3 boys – I still think of my baby that didn’t get to be born. She/he would’ve been 21 years old this year.

  21. Taylor says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. God bless.

  22. Jessica says:

    Oh wow, I am so overwhelmed by this post. I wish there was a way to take the pain and guilt of this away for you. I was also pregnant at the same age and we were so, so young. There is no way you can take responsibility for what you had to do when you were still a child. No way. I just want to hug you through this screen. This was an amazingly honest, brave post. I feel honored that you shared this with so many of us.

  23. CDG says:

    I cannot imagine such a weight to carry.

    At the same time, I want to absolve you of it, because, as Cheryl said, “You were a child.” That you were forced in a direction an older, wiser woman might, and I say might, since I can’t deny any woman the chance to make the decision for herself, have made differently, is not your fault. That you carry such guilt saddens me deeply.

    You’re truly brave to share your story. Thank you for that.

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