Words || Sarah Vanderfield
My sister’s room is next to mine
I wondered if she could hear me crying
When I was alone with my body
That no longer felt like my body
It’s a weird feeling
To want to escape the thing that sustains you.
My friend lent me a red jumper
I wore it every day for three weeks
It was comforting to have something big
Separating me from my body
Separate mind from body
Separate mind from body
I went to work the next day
After I’d found out
I had to stop
And sit down on my walk there
I dropped the bread loaves
I went home early.
I watched all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies
I watched Avatar the Last Airbender
I watched Sweet Home Alabama
I could already feel spirals of shame
Winding down through my ribs
And settling deep in my uterus.
The misoprostol slid down with it
Carving out a burning reminder,
You deserve this pain.
I found moments of solidarity
With each time the bleeding was too heavy
And it fell onto a seat
And I had to apologise
There was a caring word
A certain nod
A ‘I have been there’.
To the woman who ran into the bathroom to give me another pad
To the driver who asked if I was okay instead of how to clean up the mess
To the friend who had been through this just two months before
Who stayed on the line and talked me through the process
To the friend who called me two months later and needed to talk
I hear you.
To the receptionist who smiled and explained how to fill in the forms
To the GP I saw on Valentine’s Day who nodded ‘termination yes?’
To the woman taking my blood who maintained her gentle composure
While I was crying everywhere
To my family who made me laugh because what else
To my manager who told me she could cover me if needed
To my work colleague who gave me a hug
To my friend’s mum who ran to the shops to get me Kool mints after I vomited
To the doctors and staff who stayed open during the pandemic
To the activists who fought for abortion rights
I know we must keep fighting to defend the right.
To my gran who had to do this a much harder way
To those who we failed to provide health care
To my best friend –
who slept next to me while I cried,
sat next to me at appointments,
called the 24/7 nurse line for me,
calculated when I could take my next pain killers,
set alarms so I would not wake up in pain,
gave me a safe space when I needed one,
And to anyone reading this
I got you
If you need.