Translated by Chloé Sautter-Léger
It was all weird. The night before, I wasn’t able to sleep, thinking about what I’d be going through the next day.
I think about all the possible contingencies inside and out. Am I making the right decision? I still have exactly 8 hours and 35 minutes to change my mind. Because after that, it will be too late. Everything will be over.
But isn’t that what I want—everything to be over? The morning sickness—correction : my permanent sickness, since I am nauseous every minute of every day—and the vomiting, the headaches, my weird appetite that’s and my sudden disgust of all the food I used to love. It may sound ridiculous, but it is really unpleasant when each time you make yourself a meal you like…ouch! As soon as it’s ready, the smell gets to your stomach and you have to throw up. Alright, no more pesto either apparently! The list of ingredients to avoid just grows longer and longer.
Ah, and the hormones. Those classic hormones. Making you break down in tears for no plausible reason, or pushing you into a state of frustration you would never even have imagined. The cause? Unknown. And one moment later you feel like crying out all the water in your body because you are the worst person on Earth who doesn't deserve to live.
That morning, I felt like an insignificant dot within a mass of people who simply make their way to this clinic to get an abortion, just before going to school.
In the waiting room, people smile, others are distracted; some girls look depressed, and others, indifferent. Some guys have concerned faces while others are just on their phones waiting for it all to be over. I feel like I’m at the SAAQ waiting to get my driver’s licence renewed; not in the waiting room of an abortion clinic.
Then again, is there a “correct” attitude towards abortion?
I wouldn’t think so.
Then, of course, comes the meeting with the social worker. Are you sure of your decision?
How in the world can I be sure? A decision that I have to make in such short delays, but that will change the rest of my life?
No, I am not sure of my decision, and I never will be.
After all, Why don’t you want to keep it? You already have a B.A., you’re finishing a second one, you’ve got a great job and perfect happiness with your boyfriend.
“You seem hesitant. Don’t you want more time to think about it?”
If only it were that simple. Am I selfish to say that I want to continue my studies and complete a masters? That I want to pursue some fantastic projects? That I still want to travel before having babies? At that moment, the feeling was awful. The feeling that I had the possibility to go on with this pregnancy and give this child an incredible life, but that I was choosing instead to be selfish, removing it so that I could “live more.”
The moment has come. I expose myself, in all my vulnerability, on the table, hoping for everything to go as fast as possible before I change my mind. Since I was crying and the doctor wanted to reassure me, she said the following words, which I repeat over and over in my head:
“Don’t worry, in 20 minutes, it’ll all be over.”
No. It’s after 20 minutes that everything starts.
Putting everything into question, moments of sadness, regrets, dreams where a different life flashes before my eyes—a life I could have had if I had made a different choice. Nightmares where life gets back at me for taking this decision, for acting selfishly according to my own desires. Feelings of shame, for having failed at using protection properly. Not a day goes by without me thinking about the decision I made at that moment. And what is making me most anxious is the feeling that these thoughts are not about to soon go away.
An abortion is not easy to live. I act all tough, I don’t talk about it, I pretend I’m over it. But I’m not. For a number of people, an abortion is a simple and efficient procedure, without any afterthoughts. For many others, the voluntary termination of pregnancy is a hideous action done by egotistical people.
But it is much more complex than that. The day I was placed with this decision, I became aware of the complex continuum of contingencies in front of me, and the entangled web of implications. If there is one piece of advice I want to give, it is that we should not judge.
Don’t claim that you would know exactly how you would live in such a situation, because I can tell you, you do not. Don’t treat a woman according to your own views and feelings about this procedure. Don’t look at the woman with unnecessary pity, or inversely, as an incarnation of evil.
Because each woman has her own story and her own way of living it.
The obligation to live with the emotional consequences of her decision is hard enough.
She does not need the additional strain of multiple judgments.