Yesterday was Abortion Providers' Appreciation Day. In honor of myself and my colleagues and friends and patients, I ate chocolate that was sent to the clinic (from a reputable, known source who wouldn't poison it, or anything, because yes, we have to worry about things like that) and I assisted with abortions. A day with chocolate and choice is a good day, and if I were the Christian type, I would say it was a day of blessings.
Blessings were on my mind because of a patient we saw a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't her first, or even second abortion. She remembered me from my roles in her past abortions and from my willingness to advocate for her to get birth control pills at a reduced cost. She spoke to me in Spanglish, and I noted that her comfort with English and with me had improved and grown snce her last appointment. "Tengo tantos hijos, y ay, no mas, no more! Pero thank you, you help me so much. So much con todos!" Putting my hand on hers, I thanked her for entrusting me with her care, and because I was trying to keep our conversation focused on her consent form, I acknowledged in Spanish, "I know that you're familiar with this process, but it still might seem scary for you." "Oh, no," she replied, now fully in Spanish, "I know God will be with me throughout everything. He'll be with me when I see the doctor." "Seguro," I assured her, thinking that it is ostensibly the same God who the protestors pray to as they ask to end abortion and to punish or help (who knows what they ask) the women who sin. I like the God who remains by the side of women during their abortions.
I also remained by her side during her abortion, holding her and and coaching her through deep breathing, interpreting for her and her doctor. She didn't need me, though, when she told the doctor in clear, practiced English, "Thank you so much for everything." The doctor replied in one of the few Spanish phrases she knows, "De nada," meaning, "You're welcome," but also, "It's nothing." And as I engaged the patient in talk about where she was from and reminded her to picture being in a soothing place (she chose the beach), she focused on me, clearly a bit bothered that I was bringing the beach into this when she had gratitude to focus on. "Que Dios te bendiga mucho," she told me, then repeated it in Spanglish, "May God bless you. May He bless you and your family, your friends, bless you." "Igual, igual," I told her, wishing her and her family the same, even though I've never said it in English. And later, as I walked her out of the clinic, arm in arm, and when I ate my chocolate yesterday, and every day I go to work, I felt very, very blessed.