By Sarah Eisenberg
It was an unprotected one-night stand.
I was near the dumpsters of the New York Library, where ‘Ghostbusters’ was filmed, at 3 am. You may say I was rebellious – or hip – or stupid. But there I was anyway. Afterward, I stopped at a 24-hour pharmacy and bought Plan B medication. I’d never liked the effect birth control had on my hormones, and I wasn’t having sex all the time, so Plan B did the trick.
Two weeks later, I realized I hadn’t had my period in two months. I’d never been that irregular. There I was, watching a movie with a friend, trying to escape and not dwell on my issues. When I got home, I felt my boobs…and they were really sore. I got a pregnancy test – to be honest, I had one ready just in case. I took it, and before the three minutes were up, a little pink plus sign appeared. That is how I, a 23-year-old with no job, no boyfriend, and no one else, ended up preggers.
I couldn’t tell anyone. I was too depressed. I kept thinking, I f**ked up. In my brain, it wasn’t the guy’s fault, it was mine. I was the one in the wrong. I was the one who had to deal with this. But I didn’t know how.
Sobbing, I called the friend I saw the movie with and she came back. We decided the right choice was to get another test. When we went to the CVS, she grabbed a Plan B herself, just to be safe from her own sexual experience the night before. Other than my second pregnancy test, we also got ice cream and beer – we’re classy…sometimes.
The decision was made: I was going to abort. Sitting in a Planned Parenthood waiting for my name to be called was the next thing to do, right? There I was, sitting with another female friend in a room with a bunch of men supporting their women – not happy about it, but there. I thought maybe I didn’t deserve that. But I couldn’t think about that, I couldn’t show that. I couldn’t be weak.
My name was called and I walked into the clinic. I was indeed pregnant. And when the woman learned I’d had two sexual partners in the past two months without having a period she assumed it was the guy from seven weeks before, even though he’d worn a condom. I didn’t tell her that my body didn’t feel pregnant after that encounter. As the woman kept talking to me, I just kept nodding my head, pretending to understand what was going on. The procedure’s cost was $500, and I set up an appointment for the following Wednesday. The abortion pamphlets didn’t include answers to the questions I really had: whether I was supposed to call my parents, or the guy, or how I was supposed to act.
Calling my mom for help was hard. I acted like I was some tough biker chick. I could tell she was angry and scared for me. She had me call my aunt, whose husband was a gynecologist. I wanted to say, “I’m having an abortion, am I doing this right?” My aunt told me that Planned Parenthood was a good call, and that she’d be there if I needed anything. My biker chick persona didn’t need anything – it was the wounded girl beneath who didn’t want to see the light of day.
Driving to the downtown Planned Parenthood a week later with my friend, we listened to Katy Perry’s “Roar” in the car. My tough girl self was clutching a stuffed animal. I was a tiger. I was fierce. I was far from ready.
When we arrived, I filled out paperwork, handed them my credit card, and after a short wait I was getting an ultrasound. They asked if I wanted to see. I couldn’t speak so I just nodded. The doctor and I saw nothing. She wasn’t sure what this meant – maybe I was having an ectopic pregnancy. They wanted to continue with the procedure, but there was a chance I’d have to go to the hospital it they didn’t see anything, in case it was stuck in my fallopian tubes. I nodded along as they inserted an IV and ushered me to the room where a bunch of women were waiting for their shmishshmortions – it was easier to give my abortion a silly name so it didn’t feel as scary.
There we were, and ‘Sex and The City’ was playing on the TV as we all waited silently for drugs to take over our systems. In the episode that was on, Miranda gets pregnant and wants to get an abortion, but Carrie goes on about how she should tell her baby daddy. All of us in the waiting room squirmed in our seats. We all knew Miranda ends up keeping her baby. None of us felt like we had the power to stop what was happening. Some women were shaking their heads, others were holding back tears. I giggled. This no longer felt real. Nothing was going right.
I got called in to have the procedure done by the hottest nurse known to man, and I was so angry at myself. I hated men right now. My lust for them was what brought me here – how could I find this guy attractive? Then the drugs took over.
Waking up, I felt woozy. I had a diaper on and was told I needed to go to the hospital. The ectopic pregnancy thing was still a possibility. I was confused, and even more scared. My friend came back for me and listened to the doctor tell her what was going on. I just kept acting strong. I’ve been acting since I was seven years old, and I felt like this was the biggest part I would ever play.
We went to the hospital and they did another ultrasound. The nurse was fishing around my belly and I cried knowing she wouldn’t find anything. The walls of my strength were shattering. Finally, after they’d drawn my blood, they said they’d check my blood levels in 24 hours, and until then there was nothing else to do.
The next day I drove to the hospital alone. They brought me back to the ultrasound room – the dungeon – and I burst into tears trying to explain everything. The nurse said, “Oh honey, if you put pregnant on your form they take you directly here. Honey, where’s your baby daddy?” I burst into even more tears. Where was my baby daddy? Am I going to be alone forever? – Duh, I thought. I can’t even have a baby.
It turns out I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy. I was just 2 weeks pregnant, like I’d thought. I was baby free, ectopic free, and alive. I felt more alone than ever.
After many months, I decided to start writing, and I couldn’t stop. I wanted to explore how we handle these things, whether it’s miscarriages, abortions, shmishshmortions, deaths, loneliness, depression, etc. Nobody knows how to do it right. I definitely didn’t. I started writing my story into a webseries called ‘LAdies’ to express my journey of dealing with sadness around others and how my mom, friends and even men did love me, even if it wasn’t how I wanted to be loved.
Friends wanted to support without knowing the words to say- they were just there, and that should have been enough- but I wanted answers and hope. Mainly I was writing about the part of me that wasn’t dealing with my emotions with my abortion. In ‘LAdies’, Ruthie is being strong but not letting anyone see all the fear and sadness beneath the surface. The best friend character, Caroline, just wants her friend back.
When sadness or walls come up, we don’t know how to deal with people. All we can do is be there. I am thankful for the people who stuck by me when I wasn’t a functioning person and all the love I have now. Writing this piece was harder than writing “LAdies” – I think being this honest was something I wanted to abort. But I breathed through it, talked to my three best friends and would write in coffee shops while I made eyes at barista’s, they may have been teary eyes but I still got it. I wrote for the people who are also dealing with rough stuff in their lives. If you feel lonely, it’s okay, just remember, ‘Sex in The City’ isn’t always right. <3
Sarah Eisenberg is a director, writer and actor based in Los Angeles. Most recently, she is releasing her second season of ‘LAdies’ where she’s the creator, producer and lead of the web series about friendship, abortion and LA traffic. She also wrote and starred in a short film ‘iLove’ which played at Beverley Hills Earlier this year, she was a semi-finalist for the Series Fest Storyteller Initiative for her original script ‘Friend-Zoned’ which she co-wrote with Becky Wangberg.