Last night my husband and I watched Obvious Child. It’s an atypical romantic comedy about a woman (Jenny Slate, who is wonderful) dealing with the emotional turmoil of a break up when gets pregnant after a drunken one-night-stand, and decides to get an abortion.
My husband warned me that it was about an abortion. I told him that was okay. Abortions aren’t triggering for me, I have watched movies and read books with abortion as a main part of the plot and been unaffected. I honestly wasn’t worried about it one bit.
I don’t know what it was about this particular movie, but the abortion was definitely triggering for me. It wasn’t the way they handled it–I thought they did a really commendable job managing such a sensitive topic–it must have been me. It probably was the two cocktails I drank while we watched it. Whatever it was, I kind of lost my shit emotionally. It triggered the most upsetting re-living of my ectopic pregnancy I’ve endured in a few years.
In the six years since it happened, my ectopic pregnancy has been distilled to a few heavily filtered memories. They come to me, clearly warped around the edges by time and grief, in a series of gut wrenching flashes: Handing my husband the father’s day card when I returned from New York, bursting with the news that he himself was going to be a dad. The first bright red clot I passed in my old bathroom at my parents’ house, crying on my mother’s shoulder as she whispered some inane pretense about how these things happen and I’d be okay. Lying alone, in the sonogram room of the ED as they searched for a sac but found nothing in my uterus and something, they weren’t sure what, in/near one of my tubs. Clutching my husband’s hand and chocking on the sobs as they suctioned the contents of my uterus in an attempt to see if there was any linger “pregnancy tissue” that would assure us I didn’t have an ectopic (basically giving me an abortion). Bending over so they could give me two shots of methotrexate, one in each butt cheek. Calling our parents to tell them that it was over. Finally being released into the cold night air, unsure of how we’d get home.
I’m so far away from all that now, I honestly almost never think about it. The last time it all came back to me was when a friend asked me what it was like, physically, because she was getting an abortion herself and wanted to be prepared for the pain. I was trying to get pregnant with my second child at the time. My friend and I didn’t speak for a while after that.
Time really has healed this wound. Most days it is a smooth scar that I doesn’t draw my attention. It is a numb patch that might as well not even be there. But sometimes the pain flares, hot flames licking at me from the inside, and I cry out in surprise and agony.
Last night was one of those nights, and I wasn’t at all prepared.
I guess abortion is triggering for me, after all.