I had a Thanksgiving abortion. This was good because I don’t care much for the holiday and was provided ample time off from life to recover. I spent the morning preparing for the experience. A mound of warm blankets, heat pads, ginger ale, tea, one can of emergency Vernors, a bag of ice for snacking, a playlist of b-rated movies, one soft cat, a thermometer and a bottle of Percocet (an abortion gift), Ibuprofen 800 (prescribed), an antibiotic, an anti-nausea medication, and four pills of Misoprostol. The video I watched at the clinic informed me that cramping could begin as soon as thirty minutes after taking the medication but up to twenty-four hours to pass the pregnancy tissue. I would be having a miscarriage at home. I could expect contractions, nausea and bleeding. At three o’clock I washed down a half Percocet and one anti-nausea with a tall glass of water. At three thirty I placed two pills against the left side of my cheek, and two pills against the right cheek, took one deep breath, and pressed play on John Carpenter’s They Live. The pills dissolved slowly into a paste of wet sawdust in my mouth. I lay there with swollen cheeks for forty minutes until I could wash away the remaining pill-goo from my gums.
They tell you every woman’s experience is different. What a shit way of skirting around it. When a doctor prescribes you pain medication, you should find out why and then ask for more.
I started bleeding at four thirty, then a little pain. It didn’t resemble typical ovulation pain. It was more substantial. Deeper. Lower. Buried. It’s a peculiar thing to consciously feel one of your internal organs. At first, it was like a large fist slowly pressing out against my uterus, moving across one hip to the next and back. Then, a boulder rolling between my ovaries. I applied more heat and felt heavy. I fell asleep for a little.
Sometime between an alien police raid and Roddy Piper’s final blow my body transitioned into animal. Something took hold of my abdomen and began to ring it out. I woke up covered in sweat and blurry-eyed. I vomited. Then I was taken over by electric, resonant throbbing. I didn’t feel prepared. I expected waves of pain, but this was relentless. It could be a full ten minutes of this miserable state before a moment of stillness. There was more throbbing than there was not throbbing for several hours. I bled more.
I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t stand up, and I couldn’t sit. I walked around hunched over, crawled on the floor, sat cross-legged, laid on my side, on my stomach, with my feet up and my head down, then my head up and my feet down but nothing was comfortable. I was trapped inside of myself.
It was six thirty. I vomited again and fell asleep. It was more exhaustion than sleep. I didn’t rest. I just gave up for a little. It woke me up again at seven thirty. This time, worse. I must admit, when I’m in pain sometimes I cry. I didn’t cry once. I was somewhere else altogether.
Everything became a sort of alternative reality where I was floating above myself. I transcended pain and became primal, and bloody. A relentless electric shock. I vomited again. Then felt something drop out of me.
I didn’t look.
I collapsed again at eight forty-five and awoke at nine thirty. The third act was unforgiving. I’m not sure I have real memories from these final hours. Everything was white noise. I bled and I bled until I expelled one last something. I didn’t look and I didn’t care.
At ten fifteen it was over. Time was thick. I was suspended in that moment immediately after an old television has been turned off, when you can hear the static and a faint ring although nothing’s there anymore. I drank some ginger ale. Ate some mash potatoes and fell asleep. Strange dreams.