Monday, October 11, 2010

Love and Rage

I often transport patients after their abortion. After the doctor has completed the abortion, I help the woman off the procedure table and into recovery while a medical assistant disinfects the procedure room. The clinic I work in does not offer general anesthesia and we sedate very few patients. So typically I am transporting patients who were fully conscious  during their abortion.

Some patients get up and want to walk out of the room with little help from me, others grab my hand like they have known me forever, some women cry, others grimace in pain, and some chit chat with me. I always tell them whatever pain they are feeling will decrease dramatically during recovery and afterwards. I walk them into recovery and help them get situated while the nurse begins to take their post-operative vital signs.

I often tell women the best way to tell how you will feel after your abortion is how you feel going into the procedure. When women cry buckets of tears in recovery I feel sad for them. I feel sad they are in whatever predictament life has wedged them into. Some women are silent, they stare at the floor or close their eyes. I want to tell women: Don't feel shame, don't feel sad, it's OK! So often, I believe that sadness is about the larger circumstances of their life that may have caused them to choose abortion. Whenever I see a woman go through these kind of emotions I try to ensure she gets information for post-abortion counseling.

When a woman goes through with the procedure because she feels like she has no other option, I'm saddened because I want women to have the ability and resources to make their own choice. I don't want women to have abortions because they feel like there is no other choice that could work. I see patients who are sad after their abortion just as often as I see patients who are elated they aren't pregnant anymore.

When a patient thanks me and tells me how comfortable she felt in the clinic I'm overjoyed, I know we are offering quality care. When a woman returns for her follow-up and looks like a new person, or like the weight of the world has been taken off her shoulders, I'm overjoyed. When a woman walks to recovery with relief written across her face I feel fulfilled and I know that we have provided her with a needed service.

Recently, I heard a male partner in the waiting room say, "No one who is here, wants to be here." And it's true, no one want to face an unintended pregnancy. The nature of the work I do fills me with love and rage. I'm enraged when people protest the clinic and when the state passes laws that make my job harder. I'm enraged when partners, parents, and friends are not emotionally supportive of the women they escort into the clinic, I'm enraged when a woman tells me she doesn't believe in abortion but her circumstance is different.

I am filled with love for each woman who walks through the clinic no matter what choice she makes. I hope for every woman she has someone in her life who can treat her with love and compassion after her abortion. The fact is a lot of women are alone, and a lot are accompanied by a minimally-supportive partner or friend. I wish I could make a pamphlet for support people who bring women to the clinic. I think it would go something like this...

Post-Abortion Support:

  1) Rub her feet, her back, anywhere she wants massaged
  2) Buy her favorite food
  3) Rent her favorite movie
  4) Clean up the house for her
  5) Cook her dinner, and breakfast the next day
  6) Listen
  7) Leave her alone if that's what she wants
  8) Pick up her prescription
  9) Take care of the kids or the dog or whatever else might need taking care of
10) Most importantly, trust her and listen when she tells you what she needs

1 comment:

This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.