I was a bit nervous when I agreed to hold a few patients’ hands’ during their abortions. It is a very different role from escorting. Escorting I know what to do. Handholding is something I had only done once previously for a close friend. To be there for a woman during an abortion, something so intensely personal was a lot more pressure. I’ll be the person she looks to; I’ll be the one she asks if things are really going to be okay. I risk saying or doing something that may actually make her procedure less comfortable. That was my worst fear. Instead of providing comfort; I may make her more uncomfortable.
The first patient who needed a hand holder was very young. She had never even had a pap-smear. She was terrified, but said she would not have a baby. She said no matter what she would not have a baby. She needed a few moments to gather herself and I talked with her until she was calm. I asked if she was sure the procedure was right for her and she responded with a very affirmative I cannot have a baby. We went over what was going to happen time and time again she gathered her strength and asked that no matter what the procedure would continue. I told her that the doctor would not put her life in danger, but assured her she would be okay as long as this is what she wanted to do.
The doctor came in and she turned a bit pale; however she just squeezed my hand. I didn’t watch the procedure only the patient’s face. She looked at me, and we talked about her favorite subject in school. She would make a face indicating she was in pain and the procedure was obviously uncomfortable; however it was very brief. It took only about 3 minutes. I asked her how she was and she said “it hurt some, but not as much as I thought it would”. She said it was like have severe menstrual cramps. As I walked her to the recovery room she thanked me for being there. She said she was relieved that this was over. She and the other patients in recovery were kind of smiling and laughing. I was surprised at how light the mood was. I like to think that it was because of how non-judgmental the staff was and maybe that I was there.
The women in recovery seemed relieved they did not seem like women who had regrets, which is something I wish I could allow the protesters to see. All the patients whose hands I held were somber and panicked until after the procedure. They all seemed to feel much better after the procedure despite having had minor surgery. This told me that these women were secure in that they had made the right choice for them. These were strong women who were capable of choosing the direction their lives should go. I wish that all those people who held those signs and passed out information about how abortion ruins lives, could see the recovery room. If they could they might understand that abortion does save lives. I know that at least some of the women there would have tried an at home abortion had they been unable to go to the clinic. They were not going to complete their pregnancy regardless of anything else. They had a safe procedure and will go on with their lives. It is by far the better outcome.