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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Birth of an Abortion!

“Can you share this video with me?” Nyah asked Clyde, her colleague at work. It was a 4:08min video on ‘Ambition vs Abortion’. Aimed at the unnecessary loss of life. As Nyah saved the video carefully in her phone, it occurred to her that she could use it as a learning tool for young girls and women who were seemingly uneducated in the ways and means of life and incidentally fell under the umbrella of activities that Nyah and her friends covered.

Weeks went by and life seemed uneventful. She had her share of PMS and didn’t hesitate to use the accompanying wrath on her boyfriend. He was, fortunately, a bemused yet considerate soul who knew better than to tick her off. Still something didn’t sit right with her. She had her share of health related concerns in the past: signature issues with women and the plethora of hazards their body must suffer in this 1 delicate precious lifetime. Nyah was active and on her toes. She had a high pain threshold and never fussed even in the most crucial situations… except if she knew she had indeed pushed it 1 too far. But this time around something didn’t feel right.

She tried to ignore a possibility. Her body began showing some changes but nothing so drastic that it stared her point blank. “There wasn’t any abdominal pain or morning sickness. Then what?” “Nah… can’t be.“ “I’m not that stupid!” took laps in her agitated mind. She couldn’t sleep and she couldn’t function. A simple test kit could make it all go away. But the sheer thought of buying that kit frightened her no end. She had never even bought contraceptive on her own except for an iPill. That too recently and very hesitantly.She knew that the efficacy of the pill was as predictable as the sweetness of the coconut water which was about to be hacked.

5 weeks late and unable to bear the suspense, she bought the kit and stared and fidgeted with it all night. She didn’t want to look at the device and yet she was as fascinated with it as the kids today are with the ipad. She drank water and then subsequently stayed up all night visiting the washroom. Idiot! Morning came and her bladder just ceased. As if her body knew that she was about to test herself. She locked herself inside and ensured her family didn’t intrude. How ironic as they gave her the widest berth of space and privacy anyone could ever ask for. 2 drops of urine in the ‘well’ and 5mins waiting. The instructions elaborately displayed in diagram and words and translated as well. Carried out with the kind of finesse she should have shown in her Chemistry board finals. This was different. THIS chemistry had possibly altered her biology or as she was about to confirm in 5mins.

She didn’t have to wait 5mins. 2 drops and 5secs later the stick arrogantly displayed 2 perfectly dark purple lines. The words wouldn’t come out and the thought wouldn’t calm itself. She had her phone. Called the boyfriend and wailed out an asthmatic “I’m pregnant.” He was calm or as later she would know… he tried to be calm for her. She paced her bathroom and every available corner of it to let the thought escape. She tried to breathe and scream that she could not be the unmarried pregnant gal who was smart and responsible and had barely decided if she wanted to settled down and bear his kin. Something immoral and humiliating struck her. This despite the fact that NO ONE knew she was pregnant and no one was about to know. Yet for that moment on the dark bathroom tiles, she could see her tainted reflection and self-imposed shame on being ‘that girl’. The girl Nyah had often read about in papers or listened to on the phone or gotten to know and just looked away. Now she was THAT girl and it didn’t bode well with her.

She cried and she felt palpitations of euphoria vs panic. She knew it was fixable and she had the financial and supporting resources. She knew she had the correct requisites to fix this. Or maybe this was a false positive. Either way the very calm boyfriend was agitating her. She immediately contacted a doctor friend and consulted her. Fortunately her friend was supportive and mentioned the obvious – If you are active it was bound to happen. Accidents happen. There was nothing judgemental about what she was making out to be. A quick chat and a reference for a renowned Ob-gyn, Nyah set about her day. With a knot tighter than anything she had ever known before in her stomach. 

At work, she perspired despite the central cooling which usually made her a snowgirl. She started walking and moving carefully. How ironic as she planned to eventually get rid of it. A close friend, she had confided in, waited with bated breath to know what was the result. Nyah gave her a blank stare. That was the answer. There was still no panic but definitely overwhelming emotions. She wanted to cry every second. Not sure why or which emotion was tugging at the lacrimation and yet she wanted a release. For distraction she again read up on pregnancy and termination. She tried to accurately calculate how far along she could be and then discreetly spoke to the doctor for an appointment. The doc had to leave early but given the situation decided to wait for Nyah at the hospital.

It was a Monday and Nyah didn’t know what a week was about to hit her. She entered the hospital, scared yet determined; with a composure that could cut glass. The doctor just like many others ahead was about to ask her only 2 questions: “Are you married?” and “How old are you?” That’s it. The doctor rutted out the termination routine like a prayer she could recite even in an inebriated state. It sounded cold, mundane. Nyah felt like her emotions and state wasn’t given enough sensitivity. Then yet again, how many cases had this Ob-gyn seen possibly in just a week. She was asked to get a sonography done to confirm and see how far along she was. The next morning Nyah went back to the hospital. She had to fill forms and answer questions related to age, marital status, name and status of the husband etc. Again obnoxious and insensitive questioning starting with when was her last period date which even the front entrance guard heard. What was worse was that the hospital was a spiritual hospital that did not believe in taking life or determining the gender of the unborn fetus in a country ready to get rid of life like it was a rotten potato. She had to lie that she was married only a few months back and her husband was out of the country. At each step she tried not to showcase her vulnerability which was blaring from her pale face, malnourished and sleep deprived eyes and a tremor she hid – poorly.

Sonography took about 5mins. The doctors (both elderly males) made her comfortable with routine questions. At each step every attending and nurse asked “Are you 1st time mother?” or “Is this your 1st baby?” This was just torture. Couldn’t they call it pregnancy! Terms like ‘baby’ and ‘mother’ softened her heart and made her feel like a murderer. She was almost afraid at 1 point that she would (in an act of momentary stupidity) decide to keep the baby. She waited, dehydrated. Dehydrated in mind, body and soul. Dehydrated from the thoughts and fear running through her mind. The sonography screen wasn’t shown to her and nor was it directly discussed. When asked to dress up and leave, she stared at the screen. Distinctly marked with a red arrow was a 5 week fetus at the base. A hazy greyish lump. It wasn’t big or distinct like the movies. But for her it was everything and her throat choked up. She called him. He was worried sick all throughout. He hadn’t left her side nor stopped being on the phone with her. She was afraid that she would feel different or react different if he were physically there. He asked her if she wanted to keep it. She thought he was being an idiot. But then really how many men would ask such a question or consider the option at all?

She stepped outside the hospital to get more money for the bills that were about to pile up. She used her moment in the ATM to ball out and just cry. ‘No one’s watching me here’ or so she thought forgetting the camera. Face wet, red and swollen she made her way to the 2nd floor to the Ob-gyn. The doc waited patiently for Nyah to completely exhale the overwhelming emotion that had swept over her from the moment she muttered ‘5 weeks’. That’s how old her fetus/baby was. She felt connected. How ridiculous and yet how this explained all the changes and modifications her body had thrown at her under the garb of PMS. There were legal papers to sign, declarations to sign and a long set of instructions. This termination was gonna be done by 2 powerful drugs. From the second that the 1st drug would be taken, there was no turning back. This was repeated at periodic intervals in the short time that Nyah had spent with the doc. I guess this was especially for women who yo-yoed between keeping and terminating. Nyah was clear 99.99% that she wanted to close this chapter of her life. The doc as a last resort offered her a piece of advice, 1 that can only be termed as a prematurely stupid: to leave the boy as he was a bad influence and would only lure her to bed again. Another abortion and she would be mentally and physically scarred again. Nyah left in a huff; fighting back tears which streamed for no fault of hers.

The drugs were costly and the purchase was a mildly overwhelming 1 as well. Pharmacies needed name, proof of address, prescription, signed documentation etc. The whole ordeal from the hospital, diagnosis, doc and meds made her feel like she was about to bomb the city. Pale, lifelessness, perspiration and tears defined her appearance. She was tired and just wanted to sleep through it all. She went to work instead. After her lunch was the 1st dose. Popping a pill had never been more nerve-wracking. She popped the 1st 1. Closed her eyes and pretended like it never happened. T’was a normal day. Till the TV ads and wall posters along the road and people around her all screamed mother, child, pregnancy, baby, the joys, the cuddly-wuddly moments. Could karma be THAT cruel! A few hours and she popped and wouldn’t stop bleeding. It was painful and felt like any ‘that time of the month’ except a lil worse. The process had begun… to end a life.

2 days later and wee bit calmer came time to take the 2nd and more powerful pill. This was the 1 the doc had warned her about. Stay home. Stay in bed. But Nyah was at work. Post lunch she popped the pill. 5mins in and she was perspiring like she was placed in a blast furnace. The cramping and pain was crippling and the blood drained faster from her brain than she could comprehend. She could only best describe it as ‘labor pains’. Well plainly put the 2nd drug is actually used to induce labor in women who haven’t delivered even after many hours (scientifically they haven’t dilated far along for the baby to come out). In termination, the uterus is forced to contract as much and as powerfully as possible to expel the fetus and all the nutrient and blood supply that was otherwise a cushiony womb for the lil 1.

The pain made her buckle and she couldn’t stand. From her rib-cage below she could only feel numb with pain. Sitting standing bending curling – nothing helped. The medic center was prepared for her. An on-call doctor examined her and couldn’t understand the nature or origin of such gruesome pain. Nyah kept sobbing and wished for it to go away. When the room had cleared and no one was around and before the doc could write a potentially counteracting prescription, she took a deep breath and informed him the drug she took. A sudden wave of change came over his face. It was deep concern and worry mixed with a relief of the knowledge of her pain and ordeal. He advised her to sleep in a fetal position with a pillow and blanket to comfort her. The next 6-7 hours was nothing but excruciating pain, heavy bleeding like a tap and nauseous oblivion. A friend was kind enough to drop her home. People at work assumed it was anemia or low pulse or general bad health. At least no one except her best friend knew the real deal.

She didn’t go to work or anywhere the following day. She spent the next few just curled up, unable to walk or remain comfortable. 14 days of non-stop bleeding and discomfort lay ahead. The human body is a wondrous machine. It can treat you well and badly – both in extremes. She was miserable and cried and bled – from the heart. She felt violated and foolish and had only him to blame. But her rationale mind occasionally made an appearance to remind her that she too was equally responsible and a consenting adult. No doubt this was an unexpected and unwelcome shock. And yet nothing felt right. The next few days her emotions played paddle and ball with her heart and mind. She spent time with a very nervous and overtly caring boyfriend who behaved like he had imported rare fine China. He was sensitive to her mind and needs yet even though he tread carefully, she found ways to beat him to a pulp. She needed a wall to pound against and since he had no way to help her; being that wall seemed the only way he could help.

The process drained her of energy and nutrients. Her body started to feel like it was crumbling. That’s an extreme depiction of the truth but mental anguish made it feel so. At an age where most women would have had babies, a husband and a future, she was busy terminating a part of it. Worse was that she NEVER wanted to be the terminator. Guess Arnold must be feeling proud about now. Her physical activities were limited and periodically she kept feeling her belly. There wasn’t anything there as of Wednesday. Yet her hands travelled to probably feel what could’ve been. The irony gnawed at her. She was in love and wondered if it had a foreseeable future. Now it was marred by something that left a distinct scar and it was getting emotionally tougher to get past it.

Fear had gone. Anguish was diminishing but the memory would not take a cue and hike off. TV adverts, posters, friends discussing babies, and the myriad of heavily pregnant women suddenly disturbed here everywhere. Why was a 5-week terminated fetus such a bane to her existence? Why didn’t love flow naturally towards the overtly supportive boyfriend? It all heckled her and being left alone seemed to work wonders for her. Solitary confinement was her best friend that had bailed her out of many an anguish and situations.

After 16 days of what seemed to last a year, she was done. Nyah was required to take another USG to confirm the pregnancy had ‘cleared’ (almost sounding like an infection) and that no contingency was needed. The relief she expected didn’t sweep over. Rewind. Replay. No relief. And neither did she do the USG. The thought of a glance at the now empty womb didn’t do her right and she felt like there wasn’t anything to confirm. There was nothing to choke or be overwhelmed over. Talk of pregnancy and babies didn’t hold her fancy. When he held her on her waist or her stomach she felt conscious. Void. Indifferent.

Empty space. Closed chapter. Back to normal… or what she assumed to be normal! Ambition vs Abortion Video