I Am the Help I Need
I am going to Hell. My credentials consist of: getting expelled from Catholic school, running over a blind skier and having an abortion. Seriously though—it’s my body, it’s my choice, it’s my abortion. That is your church, your God and your beliefs—we don’t need to share. Let’s leave it at that. Good.
I grew up in a white-bread suburb where moms lived inside Tupperware containers and yoga pants, and dads road-biked and did cocaine during annual boys’ trips to Aspen. I went to a nice little public school where “William” taught art, “Wayne” taught recorder and “Shelly” taught sex-ed. I learned about HIV and the menstrual cycle, but fuck you, Shelly. Maybe fourth grade is too young, fine—un-fuck you, Shelly—but nobody taught me what to do when I was two months pregnant, alone on a toilet in Armstrong, waiting on hold, waiting on break, wondering if my peers thought I had explosive diarrhea. Good. Great.
Thank God for the man beside (and often inside) me. He was my only confidante for a long time. Throughout the ordeal, I felt stunted by my silence. I had become well-practiced in admitting error by my freshman year of high school, but admitting that I was pregnant felt too cliché, too obvious. And unfortunately, unlike the tattoo on my lip, it wasn’t going to fade away in two months. I am a big woman; everything is big for me. But somehow, during a time when I was supposed to become exponentially bigger, when I was incubating a cluster of cells inside of me, I became so small I almost disappeared. I don’t want to write a love story, at all. I just want to give credit where credit is due: The previously mentioned man loved me hard when I needed it.
I figured out I was pregnant when he convinced me to pee all over my hand/pregnancy test and face the truth. Denial is: “Baby, it’s great, I don’t have my period so fuck me.” The single line pops up—positive—and I shut down—negative—and sit in silence in my room. I try telling myself that it is ridiculous to cry because I have called Planned Parenthood and made an appointment, my boyfriend and I have scraped together the cash, and it is going to be like getting my tonsils removed, just less painful and down south. But I cry quietly in the bathroom because I am scared—scared of what I’ve been told, because of the anti-abortion billboards and the horror story videos.
I needed a leather-clad fairy-godmother with a big bosom (good for nestling and sobbing) to tell me, in catchy sing-song rhyme, that this is what happens when you get pregnant and you cannot afford (mentally, physically or financially) to raise a baby.
She would tell me to fear nothing. It is a minor surgery, it is fast, it is $360 and the women at the clinic are really nice. She would dance about and tell me never to be ashamed, as I am a beautiful vessel of life, a 21st century lady who is doing her best. Then, because she is my fairy godmother, she would know to remind me that, “YouTube is terrible. Do not YouTube anything related to abortion because the videos will freak you out.”
I would nod my head and say, “Yes, FG,” but maybe I would sniffle because I had already watched them. So then she would tell me, “Talk to people, eat a Popsicle. No drama. If you want to cry, do it—loudly and publicly. Drive up to the Planned Parenthood parking lot (near the 24-hour Waffle House) and ignore the two assholes who are going to ‘pray for you’ on the corner. Check in, sit down, bring a second pair of underwear and some pads. Please, do not wear a thong. Give them the cash, answer their questions and receive your ultrasound. Then, look at the galaxy that is your uterus, that black and white photo which maps out constellations of life inside you, and know that this is a beautiful thing and it can happen again, when and if you want it to.” She would brush off my sheepish thanks and continue to sing, “Take the anesthesia, wake up, walk out. The post-surgery cramps are a bit painful and too strong for Tylenol. Lay low, watch movies, listen to Life of Pi on tape. Conjure me and I will bring you a heating pad for your belly.”
Later she would whisper, “You are you, you are not small, you are not an idiot. You are a big, beautiful woman.” Good.