Sophie Cullinane | Features Editor | 1,243 day ago

Why I Was Thinking About My Underwear As I Waited For An Abortion

The Debrief: Tracy Parker, 24, knew having an abortion was going to be grim – but she had no idea about all the other random crap that would be worrying her minutes before
Illustration by Louise Pomeroy

‘I’m 12 weeks pregnant and I need not to be so I’ve taken the day off work and I’m at the family planning clinic, ready to get this shit sorted. I keep feeling my phone buzzing in my pocket but I’m ignoring it – I told my boss I have a stomach bug and I know she’ll be sending me passive-aggressive emails about all the work I should be doing from home. There’s a woman sitting opposite me arguing loudly with somebody on her phone in Spanish and a nervous-looking teenage boy sitting in the corner staring at the floor, but otherwise I’m alone. You’d think that all of the above would be enough to keep my mind occupied, but I can’t stop another worry looping over and over in my head and driving me insane – have I done my bikini line? And what underwear am I wearing?

Don’t judge me. There’s about to be a doctor very up close and personal to my private parts and I don’t want ‘bikini line humiliation’ to be added to avalanche of emotions that I’m already dealing with at the moment. It would be easier if I wasn’t here by myself, but all of my friends are busy at work and I didn’t want any of them to get into trouble by coming to the clinic with me. Besides, having them here would probably have made the whole thing feel more ‘real’ – if I can just nip this in the bud with the minimum amount of fuss then maybe I can convince myself that none of this is really that big a deal. Just like a smear test or an STI examination – annoying but something to get through.

I don’t want ‘bikini-line humiliation’ to be added to avalanche of emotions I’m already dealing with

I could have phoned my ex to let him know what was happening but what would be the point? We haven’t spoken to each other for weeks and there was no way I was going to keep the baby. I’m living in a flatshare with five other under-25s and I earn less than £20k a year – where the hell would I even put a baby? I don’t even have an ironing board and I still serve wine in mugs – I am not a grown-up. Besides, phoning my ex would just force me to face up to how miserable he made me and nothing could make me do that.

Me and him had been together for two years, but four months ago he broke up with me completely out of the blue. I was just beginning to get over him when he turned up at my flat, asked me back and we ended up having sex. We didn’t use a condom. When we woke up in the morning he told me that he had made a mistake the night before and that he didn’t love me and then he left. I should have gone to get the morning-after pill, but he didn’t come inside me and I had more pressing issues to contend with – like downloading 500 Days Of Summer and drinking four mugs of red wine.

So, three months later and I have no boyfriend, no sex life, an unkempt bush and a baby I can’t keep. I am still early enough to have a medical abortion – which would just involve taking a pill – but my friend had one and said that it was traumatic and painful, so I’ve decided to go with the surgical option. In the room, the consultant tells me to take off my underwear – which I’m relieved to see is nice – black and lace – and asks me to lie down on the operating table and put my legs in the stirrups. Now suddenly I don’t care about my pubic hair and I’m so scared that I wonder if I’m going to be sick. As he painfully injects my cervix with local anaesthetic my head is screaming with the injustice of this whole thing. How did I end up here, alone, while he is out there casually getting on with his own life? How has he got out of this while I’m risking my career and emotional wellbeing to deal with a situation it took both of us to create? Why is it him and this that I will always remember when I think about the first time I was pregnant? There’s a strange suction noise and, just like that, it’s over.'