Read Rain Dance Online

Authors: Joy DeKok

Rain Dance (4 page)

“A check is fine.” The last thing I needed was an insurance claim. The only people I wanted to know were Mike and the medical personnel involved.

As I paid for the procedure, an image of the woman at the clinic who couldn’t get pregnant flitted across my mind. That situation wasn’t my problem, and I would never see her again. I forced thoughts of her away.

Sandy thanked me and slid a brochure across the counter. “This contains the recovery information.”

I stuffed it into my purse. “How long will it be?”

“The exam and procedure are usually completed in under an hour.”

“No, I meant how long will I have to wait?”

A door beside her desk opened, and a nurse in teal scrubs asked, “Are you Stacie?”

“I am.”

“Come this way, please.” Her nametag read “Darla.”

I followed her down a narrow hall. Her soft-soled shoes squeaked on the old gray linoleum. Pro-choice posters lined the walls.
Propaganda!
flitted into my nervous brain.
No way!
the next thought countered.

We entered a small room with an exam table and two sheet-covered machines near the stirrups. Darla handed me a gown.

“Undress from the waist down, tie this in the back, and take a seat on the table. I’ll return in a few minutes.”

There was no dressing room, so I hurried to change. I could not look at the machines. Instead, I sat on the edge of the exam table and counted floor tiles.

The nurse entered with the doctor. Small and wiry, Dr. Adams shook my hand and told me to lie back.

She lifted my gown and warned, “This gel is cold.”

I jumped in spite of her warning.

She rubbed an instrument gently across my abdomen.

Moments later Darla wiped my belly clean, and Dr. Adams said, “We’re ready to begin.”

“Will I be getting any anesthetic?” I didn’t want to feel anything—anywhere.

“You aren’t far enough along to need it,” the doctor said. “During the procedure, I will dilate your cervix. Then you will hear a loud noise and feel some mild cramping.”

She said to the nurse, “Let’s get started.”

Darla helped me scoot to the end of the table and guided my feet into the stirrups. Then she covered my knees with a sheet. The metal speculum was cold, and I stiffened from my toes to my clenched eyes.

The doctor patted my knees. “Relax. This part is no different than a normal exam.”

I willed my muscles to relax. One by one they obeyed.

When she finished a brief examination, the doctor explained, “You’re going to hear some strange noises right now. It’s nothing to be concerned about.”

As the machine invaded my innermost parts, hot tears slid down my face into my ears and hair. I asked myself silently,
Why do my mother’s ways have to be my ways?

Searing pain and sudden spasms coincided with the whir of the second machine. My whole body shuddered. It hurt. Bad.

“Please—no!” I heard myself cry out.

Darla bent down and whispered in my ear, “It’s too late.”

The machine whined as it stopped, reminding me of a vacuum cleaner shutting down. My problem had been permanently eliminated.

Where is the relief? Why do I feel so alone all of a sudden? Where did this emptiness come from?

The doctor washed her hands. “You may experience some minor cramping and spotting for the next few days. It shouldn’t be any worse than your period. Whatever you use for menstrual discomfort will work. If you experience any excessive bleeding or pain, call us.” With those words, she left.

The nurse helped me sit up and offered me time to rest in the recovery area.

“I just want to leave. Can you please give me something for the pain?”

“Take some Tylenol and rest when you get home,” she answered. “Here’s a pad. You will most likely have some discharge for the next few hours. Get dressed, and you can leave.” The door sighed shut behind her.

As I got off the table, some blood dribbled down my leg. A wave of dizziness and nausea assaulted me. On the wall beside the sink was a paper-towel holder. I grabbed several of the rough sheets and turned on the cold water. I pressed the damp paper between my legs with one hand, hoping I was cleaning up excess fluid from the procedure and not a fresh flow. I held on to the sink with the other hand as blood soaked the wet towels. I hoped this was normal.

My reflection in the mirror above the sink stole my breath.
Who is this sad woman?

I dressed, hoping the pad the nurse had left me wouldn’t overflow before I got home. To my relief numbness settled over me as I prepared to leave. I stepped into the empty hall and followed the exit signs. When I reached the front desk I asked Sandy to call me a cab.

I waited in the entryway between the two doors looking out a side window. The old couple stood out there like silent sentries. When the cab pulled up, I walked past them, holding my head up.

I gave the cabbie my address. I could not walk several blocks, and I no longer cared what the doorman or anyone else knew. More cramps stabbed my abdomen, and I reassured myself,
You are a woman—you just took advantage of your reproductive rights.

The driver turned up the sound on his radio. Roy Orbison sang, “Pretty woman walking down the street . . .”

The emptiness stretched its twisting tentacles from my belly into the core of my being. I heard my first grade teacher say,
“Pretty is as pretty does.”

“There is nothing pretty in what I did today!” I whispered to myself.

I handed the cabbie another ten dollar bill and pushed open my door. I felt a warm rush of blood as I stood up. Dizzy and nauseated, I made it through my front door and stumbled past the kitchen to the bathroom, where I attempted to throw up. Dry heaves wracked my body. I had fasted yesterday and today. As I stood up more warm liquid ran down my leg.

 

 

After replacing the old pad with a fresh one I called the clinic. “This is Stacie Cutter. May I speak to Dr. Adams, please?”

“Dr. Adams is with another patient. How may I help you?” Sandy asked.

“I’m nauseated and bleeding pretty heavily.”

“This sometimes happens. Try lying down with your feet up for a while. If you’re still filling a pad every fifteen minutes or less, go to the emergency room.”

I rested on the floor with my feet on the couch. Ten minutes later the warm liquid crossed over the barrier. I grabbed the phone and punched in number two on the speed dial.

“Dad?”

“Stacie! What’s wrong?”

“I had an abortion this morning and I’m hemorrhaging—can you come right away?”

“Where’s Mike?”

“Chicago.”

“I’ll call an ambulance.”

“No. Please, just come.”

“I’ll be right there.”

“Please don’t tell Eve.”

I couldn’t even get an abortion right. My mother’s scorn was the last thing I needed right then.

“I won’t.”

In the emergency room, a female doctor examined me. “There is no sign of perforation, and the bleeding has stopped,” she concluded. “If there is any spotting between now and your next period, see your regular gynecologist. If you start to hemorrhage again, come right back in. Here is a prescription for a stronger painkiller. Get some extra rest the next couple of days, and keep your feet up as much as possible.”

A nurse helped me off the gurney. “Your dad is getting the car. When you’re dressed, I’ll walk you out to the entry.”

 

 

Dad waited in my living room while I changed into soft gray sweats.

“I’m so tired.”

“Where’s your quilt?”

“On the top shelf of the front closet.”

He brought the quilt and a pillow to the couch. Tucking me in he said, “I love you, Stacie.”

“I love you too, Daddy.” The little-girl term of endearment felt right. I breathed deeply of his cologne as he brushed my forehead with a kiss. As rich as he was, he still wore English Leather. It had come to represent his steadfast spirit.

“Does Mike know about the abortion?”

“No.”

“Are you sure that was a good idea?”

“He’ll be fine with it.”

“I hope you’re right. I don’t want to leave you alone, but I need to go pick up your mother. Do you want me to stop back later?”

“No need,” I mumbled. “After some sleep I’ll be good as new.”

I heard him walk away, and the door click closed.

“Why don’t they tell you getting an abortion is hard?” I asked the empty room. “That you might change your mind too late? That it hurts in more ways than one? And why, if it’s legal, do I feel so awful? I don’t do guilt!”

I wanted to cry but couldn’t. The desire for tears scared me and the emotional pain confused me far more than the physical experience. I begged the misery to stop its relentless invasion.

It didn’t.

 

Chapter
3

 

Jonica

Sleep eluded me on Monday morning so I got up.

I wondered about Stacie again and wished she’d stay out of my mind. As I cleaned the house, I wanted to pray but questions distracted me.

Did she get the abortion? Did she throw her baby away?

She was just one big interruption.

My stomach burned as anger worked its way deeper, and I started flinging the same old questions at God. Since He hadn’t answered I decided I’d keep asking.

“Why do You give some people children who don’t want them and withhold the blessing from us? It’s not fair!”

“I
rain on the just and the unjust.”

I’d heard sermons on the subject and didn’t want to continue this discourse with the Divine.

 

 

 

The phone rang, and the old cliché saved by the bell rang true—or so I thought. The caller ID showed Ben’s sister’s number.

“Hello, Natalie.”

“Well?” she demanded.

“Well what?”

“Come on, Jonica—how did it go with Dr. Steele?”

“You know Ben and I decided not to pursue any more testing or heroic methods.”

I wanted to go back to bed. No one asked me questions there.

“That’s ridiculous! A couple in our church conceived and delivered two beautiful children because of the new conception methods. What’s wrong with you?”

I clenched my free hand into a tight fist and my nails pressed into my already bruised palm. I couldn’t seem to release my fingers enough to get relief.

“Ben and I agreed on this before we started infertility testing,” I reminded her.

“If God gave humans this knowledge, He must expect us to take advantage of it,” she countered.

“There are too many moral questions we are uncomfortable with.” Glad for cordless phones, I paced from room to room while we talked.

“Like what?”

I fought anger and the temptation to hang up. “We’ve talked about this before. If three fertilized eggs are placed in my womb and two don’t attach, they die, right?”

“You think too much.”

“These kinds of decisions require thought. We’re accountable for our choices. Besides, now we can love and spoil your boys even more.”

I expected this comment to move us in another, more positive direction. Natalie and Dave often shared their family times as well as the joys and challenges of parenthood with us.

“That really bugs me. You cannot think for one minute that caring for my kids will make up for not having your own. They may look a lot like Ben, but they are not your kids.”

“Natalie, please. You know we love being aunt and uncle to your boys. We don’t pretend for a moment they are more to us or we to them. Don’t choose to misunderstand.”

Then she hit me with, “Are you sure this is what my brother wants? He loves kids and would be a great dad. Why aren’t you willing to give him this when you know how much it means to him?”

“You know Ben and I are in agreement on this . . .” The words came out in a hiss as I tried to keep from saying what I was thinking.

The fact she thought I’d intentionally hurt Ben this way almost justified the verbal return attack waiting to slip off the tip of my tongue. Before I could give the words their marching orders, she continued her assault.

“Yeah, well, Miss I-Get-Whatever-I-Want, I’m not so sure about that. He’d do and say anything to please you.”

Had she missed the fact that I’d never get the one thing I wanted more than anything—Ben’s babies?

“Wait a minute . . .”

Her slams continued as if I’d said nothing. “Besides, I’m not sure if I can even trust you with our boys anymore.”

All the air rushed out of my lungs and I couldn’t catch a new breath. The sensation reminded me of the day in second grade when I fell off the swing and landed flat on my back. Unable to get up, I stayed on the ground, gasping for air, sure I was going to die.

“Why?” I whispered as a tiny amount of oxygen entered my lungs.

“You are not a mother—you won’t understand their needs. And besides, I don’t want you acting like a second mother to them. They have a mother—me!”

I exhaled as the ache sweeping across my heart plunged its way into my stomach. My body shook in an avalanche of anger.

“I need to go. We’ll talk later.”

I threw the phone on the bed, stomped to my dresser sobbing, and started sorting socks and refolding T-shirts, thankful for the mindless task. “Who is she to judge me?” I growled out loud. “God, I’m tired of focusing on getting pregnant. I’m sick of waiting for the perfect day when kids will make us a real family. A man and woman are a family.”

“From
the beginning I created them to complete each other.”

Anger drained out of me as if someone had pulled the plug in a full sink. God agreed with me.

I looked at the paraphernalia on my nightstand. I gathered up the thermometer and graphs we had faithfully used to determine the right time to get pregnant.

We’re finished.

Relief surged though my body as I threw them away. I blew my nose and washed my face. Exhaustion replaced all emotion. The clock read ten o’clock—too early for a nap—but I crawled under the quilt on our bed anyway.

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