A medical abortion...This is long but worth the read, please?
I had a medical termination 24.10.06 and today is my "due date". I had been with my boyfriend just over a year when we discovered I was pregnant. I was 20, as was he. Both of us were in love and deeply cared for each other. However we were faced with this life altering decision. After four positive pregnancy tests and a doctor - I was in complete denial! I thought I would be able to keep it between myself and my boyfriend without telling my parents, but after the second day of holding this secret, I had to tell my mum. My boyfriend and I were completely thrown by the news and after letting our parents in on the secret we decided to go through with it. However, I was meant to go back to the doctors to let her know my decision and I couldn’t bring myself to say the words "I'm going through with the pregnancy".
I had just started my second year of my HND in college, planning to go to uni the following year, still lived with my parents in an overcrowded flat etc. I had no stability in my life that a baby deserved to be born into. Something deep inside me knew that the baby at this time in life was not right. I was trying so hard to do the right thing morally that I was missing out the right thing for me. My boyfriend was terribly excited, but he looked at it as a chance to prove himself - to be a daddy and pull his life together with me and the baby being the focus. I knew this was wrong.
The day before I went to the doctor, I told my boyfriend I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy. He was devastated. Once I explained my realistic reasons, he agreed with me and we decided on a termination. By the time I was booked in for my first hospital appointment I was around 9 weeks. I had to wait a further four weeks for the actual procedure. I had to go through the medical termination.
The first hospital appointment, I had blood taken and was tested for any STI's. I then had my scan. I was told that I wouldn’t be shown this scan. However I deliberately asked for my boyfriend and me to see it. If anything would change my mind, it would be seeing my baby on the scan. We saw and we were happy and smiling, but I snapped back into my reality and remembered why I was there. During the weeks of waiting, I acted like a pregnant women - I watched what I was eating - didn’t drink alcohol etc etc, all the time knowing I wasn’t to be pregnant for much longer.
We went back to hospital for my first pill which stops the pregnancy hormone, i.e stops the baby’s heart. We went for lunch and discussed whether we were making the right decision. The actual day: I was in hospital for around 7.30am. I was given vaginal pessaries and also anal suppositories. This was embarrassing and degrading. I was then told I would experience pains similar to labour. I was told that I had to pee into a bed pan each time and leave it for the nurse to monitoring any bleeding. The pain was horrendous. I lay in a room, with my boyfriend helplessly by my side, rolling about crying in pain. I asked for pain relief. However they were reluctant to give it as they knew it wouldn’t be long before I "passed".
Around 1.30pm, I quietly got up from my bed and went into the loo in my room. I was told I would know when to expect it. However this was a complete surprise. I felt a "glub" - I looked down and there it was. The only way I can describe it - swinging by the ankles from me. It had arms and legs, head, the lot! It just needed time. I calmly shouted my boyfriend to get me a nurse who ran in and told me to push to get the umbilical cord out, which I did. The procedure went "well" - there were no complications. However as I was trying to fix myself, sobbing uncontrollably, I turned around to see my tiny baby face down in a bed pan of blood. It is these images that will haunt me forever and a day.
I was kept in till around 5pm to monitor bleeding etc, then sent home. My dad collected us and mum met me at the door. I went to bed and mulled over what had just happened. My boyfriend has been amazing, so supportive and I don’t know what I'd do without him. I then carried on with my life as though nothing had happened, until a month or so later. I began to struggle with my feelings and the images I saw on a daily basis. I felt weighed down with guilt, shame, anger, sorrow and any other negative emotion. I felt something was missing. I began to isolate myself from friends. I lost all motivation and cried every night. I avoided anything pregnancy or baby related. My boyfriend’s sister in law discovered she was pregnant at the same time as me. She is due this week also. Everyone appeared to be pregnant, my best friend, my boyfriend’s other sister, people I worked with, on TV etc. I felt like they were all out to get me. I thought terrible thoughts towards them all. I became so angry and so snappy, my confidence, self worth, self esteem, everything about me, changed.
One night I decided to seek help through this website actually. The online advisor was great, a great way to tell my story without seeing anyone. I then decided to go to counselling within my nearest centre - the pregnancy crisis centre in Glasgow. My counsellor is great, non judgemental, supportive and a great listener. Termination is a controversial subject which many have an opinion on. It was important for me that I wouldn’t be judged or have religion thrown at me, as I’m not a religious person. The centre provided all that and more. It’s teaching me to separate the feelings which are overwhelming me every minute of every day and deal with each individual feeling.
The program that is followed is called "The Journey". I would really encourage people to go for counselling at least once, if they are struggling with the decision they made, as I am. I am still struggling but I have comfort in the fact that I am working on it. There is so little support on dealing with the aftermath of termination in hospitals and doctors, which makes people feel like they are alone, when they are not.
I am only 21 with hopefully a long life in front of me, but I will carry this with me forever. I made a decision which was right for me at the time and I need to learn to move on. I will have my children later in life, never forgetting the one I gave up, especially with it "due" on the 1st May. I am very much a pro choice individual who believes that each person is unique as is their decision making and they should never be judged. Each person deserves to forgive themselves and move on with their life. I will never risk falling pregnant again until I know I can cope and provide a life for my baby. Termination is still the loss of a child, don’t forget it and let yourself grieve. For those who are contemplating termination, the decision is not one to take lightly, however, if it’s the right one for you. There is obviously a lot more behind my experience and thoughts and feelings. However, this will do for now. X
Editor’s note: Thank you so much for writing in. You have had an experience that has affected you profoundly – one that confronted you with the reality of your pregnancy and termination. All the post-abortion symptoms you describe are well-known and your story will help others see that they are not alone in how they feel. I’m really glad that you have had the courage to seek support and begin the process of recovery and healing. Perhaps now your head and heart can come back and be at peace with each other through the counselling you are receiving. We’ll be thinking of you.