I couldn't turn my abortion into art

Yet as I looked around the room, my expectations began to shift. This wasn’t the liberating environment I’d expected to enter. The uncomplicated message of those protests led me to think that legal abortion would be light. Lite. I wasn’t prepared for the saturnine cloudiness of the room, all those sad-looking women burying their faces in tabloid magazines…

The first thing I thought when I awoke from the anesthesia was that I’d never be pregnant again, that I had just squandered my only chance at motherhood. I was sobbing — I had arisen from the depths of the medication this way — as they rolled me into the recovery room where the other women were lying, almost all of them with a friend or partner or relative to brush their hair back or offer them ice chips. I could not stop crying, big heaves and gulps of it. The nurse came over at first to soothe me and then to quiet me…

She sent the doctor over. “Sometimes we have to massage the womb,” he said, inserting his hand inside me and pressing. This did not stop the crying, but eventually it stopped the pain.

Or, at least, it stopped the physical pain. The begging cabdriver and the woman on her ninth abortion and the shocking suction in my womb: It was too traumatic for me to make art of.