Yeah, after the White Russian guy, pregnancy reared its fascinating head.
I was in no way ready to have and raise a baby. I felt like I was still trying to discover life and uncover just a little of me! Seeking an abortion seemed easy in 1977. My GP referred me to an obstetrician. I informed him that I was not ready to have baby and wanted a termination. He examined me and gave me information as to the date of the (so many different ways of saying it!)ABORTION!
I was living at home. I had confided in my mother (but first in my dear sister). I could feel the displeasure, the disapproval, the pain I had caused my mother. Back then I had a very loyal good friend, Di, who worked on the same ward as I. She had insisted that she would take me to the hospital for my D. & C. She had a red Celica and lived on her own in a lovely apartment. Her family lived in some Northern Ontario small town, so she really was independent.
It was Toronto East General Hospital. I was directed to a certain ward. It was a long ward with about 12 beds, (no private room for an abortionee, I guess) and a desk, cum-nursing station at one end. A nurse led me to my assigned bed. Within the hour, every bed was filled with a young women. I know that most of us chatted nervously to one another. I recall that one of my fellow patients was a mother of 2 who was in the more advanced stage of pregnancy, perhaps 4 to 5 months along. She, of course, would be having a saline abortion. I am positive that she had a good reason for her termination, but I do not recall what it was. I guess you could say that all of the patients in that room that day felt a certain kinship and did not judge one another.
Back then, our admission routine happened the day before our scheduled surgery. We were offered a sleeping pill hs, which of course I took. I am sure that my mother visited me that evening, because that is the kind of mother she is. Di came back with some magazines for me. I also recall that some of my fellow patients, depending on which obstetricians’ patient they were, had seaweed ‘tents’ inserted into their cervix-es that night so that their cervical os’ would be stretched open. I am grateful that my ob/gyn did not follow that procedure.
The next morning I woke with that familiar mix of dread, rumbling empty tummy and sordidly dry mouth. I was given a 10mg Valium pre-op pill, which of course I gratefully swallowed with 30 ml of water. I can’t remember if I got the im scopolamine. Funnily enough I recall as I lay there in that preoperative haze, the nurse telling me that my procedure was almost not approved. Abortions then had to be approved by two physicians. I had no idea that my ob/gyn had not secured final approval until minutes before my D. & C..
When I awoke I had a few moderately painful cramps… (serves you right!). I remember that not only I, but others in the ‘assembly line’ were offered ‘292’s’ (ASA with 30 mg codeine) for the post-operative pain. That with the aftermath of the anaesthetic dulled the (emotional and physical) pain somewhat. As the nurses were taking our vital signs, we were given (us in the ‘assembly line’) bowls of warm water, soap and washclothes to freshen ourselves up before our discharge. For some insane reason (complicated, screwed up, attention seeking… no, drug seeking I imagine), I recall dipping the thermometer surreptitiously into my bowl of warm water. I am sure that the reading was insanely high as the nurse got another thermometer to slip under my tongue, glancing, I swear, quickly at my bowl of warm washing water! what the hell was that about????
Of course I did not have a fever, and luckily for me, no more was said! Most of us in that long room were told that we could get dressed in anticipation of those who would soon be arriving to drive us home. I recall feeling sorry for the young saline abortion mother across from me, who was writhing in pain as the cramps to expel her dead foetus, would have been in full force. Obviously she would not be going home so quickly like the rest of us.
All in all, it was not a bad experience, but I must admit that being a ward with a dozen other females all there for the same basic reason did make me feel just a little like we were being singled out ‘for our sin’. This sense increased when I learned from a fellow nurse, and friend of Di, that she had had an abortion the previous year. She had a private room at the Toronto General Hospital (no, she was not rich or privileged) and had demerol for post-abortion cramps! This seemed to me a much more civilized and ‘normal’ way of undergoing a surgical procedure. But then again, I believed that I deserved less than respectable (not that it was really) treatment for getting rid of my baby!!