It was 6 am on a rainy morning in april. We had just returned from a trip to Puerto Rico where we took a pregnancy test, the indication of which she termed to be "aggressive". We had been together only a few months but I felt so sure about her, the kind of feeling that hasn't flowed over me since I was a foolish teenager.
She walked into the back door of my house, dressed in grey sweatpants and a hoodie. She looked at me somewhat sheepishly, into the eyes that clearly could not find any sleep the night before. The thoughts kept flowing all night and I couldn't slow them down enough for rest. We aren't irresponsible kids. We can handle this together. I can support a family. What kind of a woman does this at the age of twenty-eight? What kind of a man does this at the age of thirty-three? Is it even a decision that I can disallow? Can't we talk more about it before we drive? All that I can stammer out is, "Are you sure that we are making the right decision here?" to which she automatically responded, "yes". And nothing else.
We took the test halfway into our vacation, and she didn't want to ruin the rest of the trip by stopping her drinking and snorting coke. What a waste that would have been. The rationalization being that the child was already damaged by the drinking from the last few weeks anyway. Maybe it was true, or maybe we could have just stopped the mess right there and been responsible adults. Where is the fun in that though?
There is an ear-shattering silence in the car as we drive. She made the arrangements, to the only clinic she could find that didn't require some sort of counseling before the pill was taken. A simple pill, swallow it and the whole ordeal is over. No more pregnancy, no more worries. Of course, that also meant that we would be headed into North Philadelphia in a really shitty neighborhood. This particular place would give you the pill the first time they saw you in office. No others would. The rain pours over us as we drive, and I think about the irony that we end up at the clinic ten minutes early when we always seem to show up everywhere else twenty minutes late. As we park my stomach feels as though it is tied in knots, and I want to fight for the life of my child. It's her decision to make.
We walk briskly, a white couple in a black underprivileged neighborhood. It's 7am so we, at least, feel safe enough. I stay in between her and anyone passing on the sidewalk, protecting her even through this. Trying to do what is right even though I feel our presence here is completely wrong.
In the waiting room there are morning shows on the television and a patient questionnaire in her lap. She puts down my address for fear that anything from the clinic would go to her parents' home. One question stands out.... "Do you want to see the embryo during the sonogram?" No is her answer.
I walk back into the room where the sonogram will be taken. I try to be supportive. I don't support this, though. Even as I love her. What are we doing here? I want to see the embryo on the sonogram. The doctor enters and smears jelly over her belly and begins. Then a tiny figure appears on the outdated screen. I see it, she never will. At least not until it's in the toilet. They don't tell you much about that part at this clinic though.
We then wait to go into a the doctor's office where he sits awaiting us behind a desk. There is a pill on the desk in front of us. He has us sign several waivers and then asks if we have any questions. He assures her that she can go back to work the following day. No pain, just a bit of discomfort, not unlike your period. The waivers she signs say otherwise. He picks up the pill and hands it to her. She hesitates. He says, "Don't think about it, that won't do any good." I'll never forget those words.
As we head home the silence is even louder. She starts to feel pain in her abdomen in twenty minutes. We stop to fill the pain pill prescription the doctor gave to us at a pharmacy neither one of us would ever go to again. Guilt is evident in this action.
We worked together, so we both missed work to go to the doctor's office. This also made me witness everything that unfurled after the little white pill was swallowed. She stayed at my place because she was in so much pain and she didn't want her family to know what was going on. She never wanted her family to know what was going on, but that is another story altogether.
The pain she went through was excruciating. Physically speaking it was easy to see, the emotional toll was unseen but felt. That pain we both shared, even though it took weeks for us to talk about it. At first I wouldn't talk about it at all, I just tried to comfort her and be there for her. There was no going back, so it was the only thing that made sense at this point. I still loved her.
She went through the pain pills in just three days. I still don't know if she liked the pills or if she was just in that much pain, but it was pretty clear she was hurting. I called the "doctor" and arranged for an additional prescription for her. He called it in, and she went through them too, I ended up calling a good friend I knew from rehab that had a prescription pill problem to find a contact for more painkillers for her. I felt such guilt in that I cannot explain.
Fourth day, 7 pm at work with her. She bends over in pain and runs over to the bathroom. She emerges ten minutes later and comes to my office door. She tells me that she lost it. That beautiful thing from the sonogram was dropped in the toilet at work, simply flushed away. But it's not that simple. The drug kind of tears it into pieces, which come out at different times. RU486 is a particularly evil drug. The bulk of it came out then, though. She took a picture of it with her cell phone before she flushed. I don't know why. I don't know if she still has the picture. I told her to show it to me, and she hesitated. I told her that if there was any person in the world that she would ever share that picture with, it would be me. Otherwise why even take the picture, she had already seen the scene. She showed it to me. I fought back tears. I don't know why I asked to see it either.
Two weeks of pain, ugly emotional pain for me. Same for her, but mixed with the physical pain as well. The loss of the embryo didn't make her pain go away. She cramped severely for two weeks, well into the follow-up appointment with the "doctor". She, as did I, hated the "doctor" at that point. He was full of shit about what she could expect. He had six women in the waiting room along with us when we were there to take the pill that Monday at 7am. No other men were in the room, and they were open until 5.During the follow-up she got a clear bill of health. Even though she still had abdominal pain, and would for another two weeks. I guess it's fitting in a way.
It took a month for her to break down into tears and sob into my chest, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorrrrrry...." She said she would never make the same decision again. She'd never have to with me. Not that I wasn't complicit in the situation.
We broke up four months later, I knew that she never really knew if it was my child or her exes. I would have welcomed it either way, and what a fool I was. All I can say is don't ever give your love to a woman before you know her character.