She remembered the exact moment that all oxygen left her body. She tried to lick her lips, but they too felt dry. Like sandpaper upon sandpaper. She cringed at the feeling, returning her focus to the doctor before her. His lips kept moving, bright pink against his light skin. She watched them move, knew they were making sound, but she struggled to hear what he was saying. Everything sounded like humming, like she had been put into a glass box, but no one else noticed. She looked around her, posters and pamphlets covering the otherwise white walls of the small examination room.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
She looked over at the plastic uterus that sat on the counter next to the sink, trying to comprehend how everything inside of it led up to this moment exactly. Now to the small table of tools. Metal thing after metal thing. Everything had been so uncomfortable inside of her, and she cringed at the very reminder of it. Once more, the many colorful pamphlets around her caught her eye. So You’re Planning to Have a Baby; Baby and You; What To Expect in Your First Trimester. She couldn’t look anywhere without seeing something that reminded her of what was to come. She tried to tune into what the doctor was saying.
“We have options for you, Caroline, should you want to choose an alternate route.” The doctor said. His voice was gentle, careful. She assumed he’d done this before. “You’re still in the first trimester. If you choose not to carry to term, we have a few options for you. We can set up an appointment with your parents, and we can—”
“Please, can I think about it first?” Caroline interjected, her tongue finally finding the strength to speak. “I mean, you said I still have some time. I’d like to, ya know, talk to someone about it.” She gave a small shrug, and the hospital gown she wore rustled louder than she would have liked.
“Yes, yes of course. Take as much time as you like,” the doctor said. He took a card out of his pocket. “If you have any questions, or concerns, or just need someone to talk to, here is my cell phone number. I’m available at all times of the day.” He held the white card with bold, black lettering on it out to Caroline, who took it with a small smile. “I’ll leave you so you can get dressed. Isabelle, can you get her some pamphlets?”
The nurse nodded, going over the large wall and picking out a few. “You know, there’s no judgement here. Whatever decision you make, it’s your body.” She handed the pamphlets over. “Do what you think is best.”
Caroline nodded and took the pamphlets, shoving them into her large black purse. She felt numb as she took off the medical gown they’d given her, trading it in for her white dress with the too thin straps. Her mother and father weren’t home, so she could it without her cardigan. But as she stepped out into the waiting area, she regretted her choice. It felt like all eyes were on her, like they knew her thoughts. She kept her head down, her shoulder length red hair shielding her from seeing those around her.
They all sat around at one side of the room, the walls a calming blue, a small book shelf hidden away in one corner, stocked full of children’s books, near the mountain of toys that were laid out. She watched as she left, the little boys and girls, none of them maybe older than a year or two. They played with the colorful blocks and plastic dolls. She wondered what it would be like to see her kid join them.
Caroline broke her train of thought as she pushed out the large, double doors that led outside of the Planned Parenthood. Her purse felt heavy as she continued to walk towards the bus stop, the pamphlets threatening to stick out if she dared to try to take anything out of her purse.
What was she going to tell her mother? The woman didn’t know she was seeing a gynecologist, let alone having sex and needing one. She didn’t feel comfortable going to their family doctor. She knew that they swore to some oath keeping patients medical stuff secret, but Caroline and her family had gone to Dr. Teresa for years. She didn’t want it to suddenly slip at one of her little siblings’ check-ups that their seventeen-year-old daughter was pregnant.