I got into an airplane, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and thought it was over. As if the act of leaving could end the misery and marriage.
It wasn’t over yet.
Soon after I recovered from the jet lag I discovered the cause of my nausea and aversion to some foods. My period was late. I was pregnant.
Of course, I was. My fertility at it’s prime has been bombarded with other person’s fertilizer every other day. It was part of the plan that me and Lasse conceived at the very peak of our love delusion moment – that we were going to get married and we’d have three children: boy, girl, boy. I had thought that we’d start to work on the children in a year or two when we settle down but Lasse started to work on them right away. It seemed inappropriate for me to haggle over the details of the deal, after all, what is one year sooner or later compared to Eternal Love?
Besides, I was married to the man. We were supposed to be on the same page on every issue. A wife can dispute her husband’s taste in porridge but he has total authority on financial matters (did I make any money? No) and on how many children they will have (am I fertile? Yes).
Most of my husbands in the past didn’t want any. So I was taken by surprise with Lasse’s enthusiasm to make them.
The problem was, I made a very poor mother. I knew it because I already had a son who was six. I didn’t have any money, nor owned a house or apartment, nor had necessary emotional stability to be able to be a full time responsible mother. I was a sister to my son. My mother was a mother to us both.
Lying wide awake in the night I knew what I had to do.
In the country where I was coming from – USSR – there was one major contraceptive – abortion. The other one was crude condoms that Soviet men complained were “protecting from everything, including pleasure” and they flatly refused to use them. As the men went around spreading their seed indiscriminately it was left up to women to weed the unwanted seeds out. My grandmother had 4 children and 16 abortions. She died of uterus cancer at age 52. When I asked my Russian husband at the time to help me to think of some ways to protect me from pregnancy and abortion he said:
– Why do you think you are better than others? Everybody’s doing it.
He didn’t want to use condoms, he didn’t want to pull out, he didn’t want to think about it. If I was so sensitive about the issue, there were other women who would accept him without such conditions.
My very first abortion took place 8 months after the birth of my son, at a women’s section of a regional mental hospital where it was determined that I was 8 weeks and that I couldn’t possibly continue the pregnancy because of the heavy duty psychotropic pills I was taking.
– There is not a slightest chance the baby will be normal, – a committee of three doctors, all women, concluded.
They scheduled me for an abortion two weeks later.
It turned out I was not the only one at women’s section of the regional mental hospital in need for an abortion. That uncomfortable early morning lined up in the hallway there were 12 of us, all mentally unstable and saturated with poisons that prevented us from killing ourselves.
– Do you have anesthesia? – one of the patient’s quietly asked the female gynecologist when she walked out of the operating room.
– What do you need the anesthesia for?- the gynecologist asked loudly so that we all could hear. – You like to fuck, you suffer the consequences. Keep in mind, childbirth hurts more.
In the Soviet receding pool of resources there were simply not enough anesthetics for every case that needed it. Dental and gynecological fields had to do without it.
I didn’t want to be the first in line, but I didn’t want to be last. What had to be done, had to be done, better sooner than later. I contemplated the precision that executing abortion required and reckoned that the doctor’s hand might get better by the third patient so I lined up as fourth.
– You are so young,- the doctor said after she briefly glanced at me and turned to her clutter of instruments.
– I only look young, – I answered and wanted to add that beneath the surface I was very old, but this was no time for displaying personal wit.
– Open your legs, – the doctor instructed.
She took a metal instrument that looked like strange, complicated scissors and the other that looked like a small ice scream scoop with a long handle she put aside to be handy.
She came towards my open legs and coldly looked at my parts that preferred warmth and privacy above everything.
– Relax, – she commanded.
I couldn’t stop the cold shiver jerking my limbs in anticipation of terrible pain.
– I can’t do it if you aren’t relaxed, – the doctor got annoyed.
There was nothing that would relax me at that moment, but I had to try.
I started to sing. As I sung I focussed on my lungs pushing out the breath that larynx and vocal folds caught, making a sound – a note doh. The sound raised towards the sinuses of the nose and forehead. I noted how vibration in the sinuses multiplied the sound. I shifted my focus from the pain of the metal scissors cracking my cervix open to feeling how the cheeks and tongue formed separate letters making up words. I concentrated on the precision of the notes I wanted to hit (C Dm C G C ) because whatever was happening, I was aware I had an audience.
I did feel the sharp excruciating pain but I was not supposed to scream, nor to complain. All I did I sung the lullaby while the long-handled ice cream scoop scraped bit by bit out of me something that might have been life but never had a chance, as it was a result of my husband rejecting the Soviet-made thick, pleasure-decreasing condoms and my unwillingness to stand up for myself. It was not wanted, not planned, not meant to be. My inability to be a mother, my drive to suicide made up the rest. I would have killed myself before I delivered.
I sung till the doctor said:
– Good girl. Get up. Next!
I got up.
A good girl. I felt defeated, humiliated and horrified that I was a major accomplice in a deed that produced so much blood and small unrecognizable body parts in a white enameled medical tray. Guilt, shame, pain started to work on consolidation of the leftovers that was my Soul just an hour ago.
– Never. Never again, – I said to myself.
Well. Here I was, six years later, about to do the same thing again.
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