"What do they do with it, you know, afterward?"
My friend asked the question after I'd talked at length about the procedure. She'd asked me lots of questions throughout my story, throughout the last two weeks. She even rubbed my swollen belly. "Careful. It's contagious," I warned her.
But this was the first question she asked me that threw me, unsettled me, and my answer got caught in my throat for a second.
"Oh, uh," I struggled, my energy suddenly drained from me. "They incinerate it."
"Yeah," I was quiet for a second. "I had actually forgotten all about that, but the nurse told my boyfriend and I just before the laminaria insertion. It was surprising."
"Wow." She sounded stunned, but in a very removed and clinical way. "I've always wondered, you know. I mean, the hospital must go through so much human bio-waste. What do they do with all of it?"
And off she went, chattering without thinking about all the things a hospital must get rid of in a day: kidneys, appendixes, aborted fetuses... I felt sick to my stomach.
I didn't tell her straight up that it was a painful question or that I didn't want to talk about it. I just tried to segue us back into the story of the procedure.
"Well, I do remember thinking when I came to in the operating room--I could hear all these things being thrown away and gloves being taken off and stuff like that. And I thought, I wonder if any of those sounds are the... you know," I said. "But I was back under really quickly, and when I woke again, I was in my recovery room, and then..."
I continued rattling on just to get past the moment. But it stuck with me.
After she left, it kept coming to mind. Laying in bed last night, I brought it up to my boyfriend. He got upset. "Why would she ask such a stupid thing like that? What was she thinking?"
Honestly, I don't know. This is one of my best girl friends--the only girl friend who I told about my pregnancy and abortion.
I know she didn't mean to hurt me. She's had all sorts of clinical questions about the entire process, as she's never had an abortion, and I'm a very candid person. She wanted to know if I felt different knowing I was pregnant. She wanted to know if it felt "like something had gone on down there" after the laminaria insertion. She wanted to know if I "felt hollow" after the evacuation.
I've answered all these questions relatively unemotionally and openly. I think it appears that I'm handling everything really, really well. I think that she didn't even think about how her question might affect me because I appear, on the surface, very unaffected in general.
And while I haven't and don't have any regrets, I was feeling relatively unaffected until last night when my friend asked that question. Today, I am really sad. I feel loss and grief in a more acute way that I haven't felt since I was ambivalent about my decision.
When I started this blog, the subhead didn't mention abortion. It simply said: "A pro-choice blog chronicling an unplanned pregnancy." I was confused, upset and unsure I could choose to terminate a second trimester pregnancy. I actually don't remember at what point I added "and its abortion," but I did add it. After talking with many support people and weighing endless considerations for myself and my future children, I decided that terminating this pregnancy was the right choice.
I do feel loss, but I am not and will not be unhappy. My choice was right for me, my partner and the potential life I carried for 14 weeks. I am grateful to be 26, unmarried and without children, paving a life path that is right for me and that will allow me to flourish as a woman and, one day, a mother.