creative nonfiction by Laura Ohlmann
I picketed outside a clinic as a teenager with my friend, Mary and her Catholic mother. We ate Tijuana Flats and went bowling afterwards. I was a non observant Jew at the time and I just wanted to be out of the house. I held a sign. By the time I was 19 I had bought my own abortion.
My mother’s astrological sign. I don’t know if she believed in astrology, but she wore a gold capricorn charm on her necklace that I now wear. It has a goat on it.
Milk that leaked from my breasts for several weeks after the procedure.
A dolphin carried her dead calf through the Bay of Islands in New Zealand for days, before finally releasing it. Her calf was a stillborn. Female dolphins have a maternal instinct and mourn their young, similarly to humans.
I met my significant other, Jon at a haunted house. We were both “scare volunteers.” He was a pirate and I was dressed as a dark angel. He sat in the Planned Parenthood waiting room while my cervix was dilated and the 3 month old fetus was removed from my womb (Planned Parenthood calls it “pregnancy tissue”). He bought me chinese food from the Pembroke Pines food court afterwards. There were protestors outside the clinic that day.
How much it cost monetarily to have an abortion in 2013. I keep the faded receipt in my closet.
Jennifer became pregnant first, then Amanda, and finally Kaitlin. They had all had abortions in the past, but had overcome it. It has been six years and I sometimes light a yahrzeit candle on November 16th.
It premiered in March 2006, 3 months before my mother’s death. The protagonist, Miley Stewart was a teenage girl. A couple years older than me and her mother had passed away from an illness.
My mother watched America’s Most Wanted from my bed with me on Saturday nights while she snacked on Circus Peanuts and Pik-Nik’s. I would hide my face behind a pillow and listen to Welsh’s voice tell us about unsolved kidnappings or murders. My mother wanted me to see how dangerous the world was. Years later we watched it from her hospital bed. I never watched it alone.
The man I’m still with years after the abortion.
The basenji and greyhound mutt that I adopted after the abortion from Big Dog Ranch Rescue in February 2014. I think of her as my surrogate baby.
The birth control that didn’t prevent me from becoming pregnant.
MIAMI BOOK FAIR
Two weeks after my abortion in 2013. Jon and I woke up late and missed Sharon Olds read from her new book, Stag’s Leap. We drove down to Miami from Boynton anyway, in the hopes that we would see her. We didn’t, but I bought my first poetry collection. We met up with Jon’s old friend, Craig at the Book Fair. Craig joked about how we must fuck a lot, that must be why we missed the reading. I had slept for over 12 hours that night and went to sleep looking up abortion stories from other women. We hadn’t had sex since the procedure. He was afraid of me getting pregnant.
The one in 2014 was the most difficult. I didn’t have my mother and I was incapable of being a mother. I went to Menorah Gardens, laid flowers on my mother’s grave, placed a stone beside them, and I finally told her about the procedure.
The birth control I now take to prevent a pregnancy. It lasts up to five years.
The facility where you can safely get an abortion and birth control. They gave me pretzels and water after the procedure. The nurse pulled a curtain around my chair so that my tears wouldn’t upset the incoming patients.
My mother and I walked the 3 mile route around Rock Creek. She was trying to lose the weight she gained from having hypothyroidism. I’m still trying to lose the weight I gained post pregnancy.
My mother’s name. The name I wanted to name my firstborn daughter. The name my sister asked me if she could name her first daughter a year after my procedure.
Jon’s brothers name who passed away in 2011. What I will name my firstborn son or daughter.
The period of mourning after a close family member dies. We clothed the mirrors in black cloth and mourned for seven days after my mother’s death.
The astrological sign my child might have had.
The fear of losing someone you love.
The sound the machine made when it sucked the fetus from my body. The device that was used when my mother died made the same noise. My father and I used it to siphon blood from around my mother’s body because she was unable to clot her own blood. She was in septic shock.
A Jewish holiday where you throw chunks of bread into a moving stream. The bread symbolizes your sins being washed away before the new year.