Lysa's Story, Before and After

This is my 6th pregnancy. I have five children, two of whom are from my current husband, Joe. We have three older boys ages 12 1/2, 10, and 81/2 and two girls, ages 5 and 22 months. We both work and are barely able to scrape the money together for rent, bill, food, etc.

I haven't had a formal test yet, but I know I'm pregnant ... I can always tell.

We've opted for an abortion, although how we'll pay for it is beyond me. I have to come up with about $280. I'm afraid to ask anyone for money to help. I couldn't stand the snide comments about 'how I got myself into this predicament again' and 'didn't I learn from the last 5 pregnancies'.

Why is it that if I kept the pregnancy and went on state medical care, that they (the state) would pay large amounts of taxpayers' money for the maternity care, but the state won't help pay to get proper birth control and an abortion? I don't qualify for medical and birth control isn't free.

My last pregnancy was so difficult I've been warned to not have another. I don't want to imagine the cost to the taxpayers on this one. I'm maybe 7 weeks and I'm already having complications. I'm so swollen I'm having trouble walking.

So here I am, facing the heart-rending decision to have an abortion. I feel partly relieved that soon this will all be over, then I look at my five healthy children and remember nursing each one, marveling at the feel of the precious little tugs on my breast as they suckled. I remember the tiny toes, gossamer soft hair and skin, the intoxicating baby smell, the tiny, warm, wiggly bundles. I recall each individual kick in my womb and racing home from the radiologist with video tapes of ultra sounds to show friends and family. First steps and first words. Baby giggles, and milk breath. And the overwhelming love. Oh, God! This is killing me.

It's not that I think we're horrible or irresponsible people. We're not. We tried hard to be careful. I've had 4 of my 5 children conceived while on birth control.

Hell, I even made two appointments for a tubal ligation. My first trip got me as far as the hospital, to only be turned away and told that my AHCCS (state medical coverage in Arizona) had been canceled just three days prior... Here, you have to wait 1 month before your surgery. I only had 6 weeks of medical left, just enough to take care of the postpartum period.

The second time I had to go to court, incidentally for child support that I've been trying to get for 10 years for the two older boys. I tried to reschedule the court, but they held firm. No reschedules. If I didn't show up I would be held in contempt of court. I tried to reschedule my surgery. Nope, another 30 day wait. And then, no more AHCCS, again. I went to court, missed the surgery (court ran til 11:30, and then I was told that it was to be rescheduled. Go figure. My surgery was scheduled at 9. And I never did make it.)

I believe every woman has a choice. I believe every woman has a right over her body. I admit, at one time I felt different, that women who had abortions were doomed to hell for murdering helpless babies. That they should all be condemned. I watched on television as abortion clinics were bombed and sat in self-righteous indignation, spouting that they deserved "what they got". I'm glad that I have over come this ignorant way of thinking, this terrible, shallow condemnation of my own sex. But it still doesn't make the decision any easier.

We've gone over the pros and cons of this over and over again. If I have the baby I'll be in bed for most of the pregnancy, which means no extra income, no time for the other five who are already deprived enough of me. Then there is the possibility of suffering a stroke from the high blood pressure I 'm already suffering in just the 7 weeks of the pregnancy. We are financially struggling, we don't have room, we don't have time. But it is still the hardest thing I'm going to have to do. But I'm thankful that at least I do have the choice.

I wish I knew step-by-step what will happen to me. I don't know anyone who's ever had an abortion, so I don't know what to expect. The clinic tells me little, perhaps just not to scare me. I'm told there could be mild discomfort, but they'll put me to sleep if I'd like. I think I'd like that a lot.

Can anyone tell me in detail what I will experience? It's going to make this a bit easier, I think, to not have any surprises. After my experience is over, I will contact this website again and tell it in detail so the next woman will know what to expect. Thanks for a great website to support us through all this.

Lysa, 6 Jun 1998

Now that it's over...

I wrote my story in a few weeks ago. Those of you who read the stories may remember me. I have five children, and was expecting another. We had no money, time, etc., for another birth and now I'm likely getting divorced from my husband.

Well, I had my abortion today, at Ab Services in Phoenix, Az. It's run by a wonderful doctor. He has been performing abortions since longer than I've been alive (since '65) and really knows what he's doing.

I spent the night at my friend's house the night before the procedure. I was scared, apprehensive, and got little sleep. My friend Roxanne and I got to the clinic at about 8:40. The clinic was a small building, unmarked and rather nondescript in a quiet neighborhood. Unfortunately, upon arrival what did we see, but a crowd out on the sidewalk, with signs telling us what awful people we were for wanting abortions. Ironic that they were all men.

We drove to the back of the building for parking and got in with no further harassment, other than the visual assault of the signs and the nasty looks. We walked into the waiting room, which was already full. There were women of all color, age, size, background in the room. I'm not sure what I expected to see, but all the women looked like anyone you would see at the mall, market, etc.

The room had several comfortable couches, and a small TV. Other than that, it was rather stark and there were no pictures on the wall. I kept thinking that the place really needed to brighten up and said so to my friend Roxy. I signed my name on the roster and sat down to wait. After about 15 minutes, a nurse called my name and gave me a stack (about 5 or so actually) of papers to sign. So far, so good. Then came the interminable WAITING. Seems like two staff members called in sick and they only had 4 or 5 staff members for that day.

After about an hour (I sent Roxy home) the nurse called my name. She went over the paper work carefully, answered my questions, took my payment, gave me a gown (now, if you are a bit overweight, take two! One for back, one for front. Trust me!!) and sent me to the restroom to change. Everything off from the waist down. I gave a urine sample and sat down (carefully!) in another room with women already gowned.

It was extremely awkward. No one seemed comfortable enough to talk. Now, I'm the type that NEEDS to talk in stressful situations, so I tried to coax them out of their shells while we all waited to get our blood drawn and weighed. I hate to see people ill at ease. I'm the type of person who has to talk or else I'll go nuts from my own fears. After several attempts at conversation, the other ladies finally lowered their guards.

Actually, some of them seemed to really need to have their stories heard. We all told our reasons for having the abortions and I was rather surprised that everyone there had similar reasons. All of us had prior children. All of us had used protection. All of us were either separating or divorcing, and we all agreed that we were doing this for our all ready existing children's futures. No one was doing it out of selfishness. The decision, all agreed, was the hardest they had ever made.

After awhile, a pleasant gentleman who was a physician's assistant, came in and one by one, checked blood pressures, drew blood, weighed us (ugh! I had gained 5 pounds). As each of us were processed, he would take us separately into a private room and do a more thorough exam (lungs, heart, etc.) then give us ultrasounds to determine how far long we were. He did this internally, with a vaginal transducer. ( I think I scared him. When he told me to lay back for this procedure, I asked it the date was already over with and that I normally get dinner and a movie before going this far. I get weird when I'm scared!! Fortunately, the staff at AB Services have a good sense of humor!) He was very gentle doing the ultrasound. Afterward, he sent me into a larger room (once again, no pictures, no plants) with a TV, VCR, and a stack of movies. We sat watching "Clueless" (perfect movie, as none of us had a clue as to what would happen next.) After about 20 minutes, I was called back. The other women wished me luck and in I went, heart pounding and dry mouthed.

The nurse took me to a surgery room, and helped me up on the gurney. She explained everything carefully to me about what would happen, gave me more background on the doctor, then had me put my legs up onto leg stirrups. She was very comforting. She kept me covered and stayed with me until the doctor showed up. He was a sweet, older man who reminded me of someone's grandpa. He walked in, then was immediately called back out again.(His wife called) I told the nurse,'" Gee, that was quick! Can I go home now?"' A few minutes later he came back in again, and playfully asked, '" Hey, what are you doing back already? Didn't I just see you?" I told him I worked really fast! (once again, my morbid sense of humor in stressful situations)

All joking aside, he was very soothing and efficient, and even inserted the IV himself. He injected two syringes of medication, telling me to breathe in and out deeply. I was sleepy almost immediately (Unfortunately, I have this minor problem with anesthesia; I have a tendency to wake up from it...usually before surgery is over!)

I woke up (as expected!) as he was injecting anesthetic into my cervix. Ouch! Then I dozed off again, only to awaken again to the dilators he was using to open up my cervix a bit more. Ouch again! I felt like he was yanking my cervix up and down and all around. I remember jerking some and whimpering, and he stopped, patted my leg and told me to relax. He tried so hard to be gentle!. He went as quickly as he could. By the time he was ready to aspirate my womb, I had dozed off again. I woke up to the noise of the machinery. Somehow, I thought it would be noisier. Then a few more tugging feelings on my womb and it was over. They helped me move back up onto the gurney, placed a sanitary napkin between my legs, covered me with a warm covering, and slightly achy, I was wheeled to recovery. There I saw all the other women from earlier. Over at last! We were just all relieved it was over. I remember reaching over groggily and holding hands with the one girl I had spoken to the most out there. I remembered her telling me she was a nurse, in the midst of a divorce.

And wouldn't you know one else had no memory of the procedure. Lucky me.

We stayed in recovery for about 20 minutes, just talking. There was such a sense of rapport, and concern for each other. We may never see each other again, but today I felt like these women were my friends. The nurse came by and checked us out, and gave us our post-op instructions. Those of us awake enough hugged each other good bye as each of our rides showed up.

The staff was friendly and courteous. The doctors and his assistant were wonderful. The procedures were done carefully, with concern for our feelings as women. And thank God for the good sense of humor they all had! That got me through this more than anything.

Even so, this is not something I would ever care to have to go through again. The decision to terminate my pregnancy is the hardest decision I have EVER made. I hope to never have to make that decision again. But at least I had support and a caring abortion provider to make it a bit easier.

Thank you to those who emailed me before with letters of support and information. I really appreciated every word. Now I am hoping my own story will help the next woman/girl who has to make this decision.

24 June 1998

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