On that which starts and ends in the womb

Maya Novak-Herzog
Human Parts
Published in
14 min readApr 4, 2023


I got pregnant in the summer of 2021. One month later, under the lights of planned parenthood’s finest fluorescence, I felt the exhilaration of fentanyl for the first time.

“This is the best I’ve ever felt,” I told the doctor as she tapped out the Mario soundtrack on my cervix with metal scalpels. “I can feel God in this Planned Parenthood.”

But what I would write about later, in my journal, was not the tools they had used or the God I had spoken to, but the memory of the Apple juice and carbs the nurse gave me afterward as she observed me. She, the qualified observer, had asked me to pick: graham crackers or goldfish, but I, unable to decide, pleaded with her for both. The aforementioned fentanyl had required 24 hours of total dietary and hydration abstinence, and the Costco array of snacks was irresistible.

What I remember most is the tiny graham crackers shaped like teddy bears. I dipped them in apple juice and bit their heads off. The nurse told me about her daughter as I waited. Later, she told me how lucky I was to have a boyfriend that sat in the waiting room for the entire procedure. She said, ‘do you know how rare that is to see here?’ and I really did feel so lucky.

When I read this journal entry about the apple juice and the graham crackers and feeling lucky out loud to my boyfriend, he…