I never had any maternal feelings until 1999, when I hit the age of 41, when suddenly I became desperate for a child.
I never had any maternal feelings until 1999, when I hit the age of 41, when suddenly I became desperate for a child. In retrospect, I now realise that this was my hormones acting up, because at 42 I had the menopause. I had been having an affair with a married man, who was the love of my life, for 30 years. I stopped taking the pill without telling him, and when I got pregnant he said he would leave me if I had the baby. I didn’t want to lose my lover, and I had a phobia of childbirth (because when I was a little girl my mother had told me stories of how awful childbirth was, stories of caesarians and episiotomies etc) and so, in a panic, I went to my GP and asked for an abortion.
My GP was on holiday, so I had to see the locum. All she said was "It will take months on the NHS so you had better go private." So I rang a private clinic in Ealing and made an appointment, and a week later had the abortion. No counselling was offered to me, either by the NHS or by the clinic. I knew, when I was sitting in the waiting room before the abortion, that I did not want to go through with it, but I was so scared of the act of childbirth that I felt I had no choice. It was a suction procedure. The surgeon offered me a local anaesthetic but I turned it down because I felt I deserved to suffer like my child was suffering. It was very painful, but it didn’t last long. I shall never forget the moment when the surgeon looked at what he had sucked out of me and pronounced "Six weeks. You can get dressed now."
Afterwards, in the recovery room I went into shock, my temperature plummeted and I cried and cried, but nobody came as there were no staff in the room. It took me a long time before I could get up and leave the clinic. My lover was waiting outside and he drove me back home where he dropped me off before immediately driving back home to his wife. I have cried for my baby every day since.
I had a nervous breakdown in 2004, from the guilt and grief, and fantasised about stealing someone else's baby, and if I saw a pregnant woman in the street I wanted to punch her stomach because I was so jealous. I used to break down in tears in the street if I saw a Mothercare shop or the baby products aisle in Boots. I lost my temper whenever I had to speak to colleagues at work if they had photos of their children on their desks, because I was so jealous. In the end, I lost my job because I could not control my emotions at work.
My lover died in 2005 of cancer, and my life fell apart. I have been suicidal and every day I wish I was dead, like my baby. I see no point in doing anything because I have no children and nobody to leave anything to after I die. I have no family, no husband. I will never have children or grandchildren. My life is empty and pointless.
I went to a pregnancy support centre but they refused to give me counselling because they said I was too depressed to start counselling. I approached another centre but they also refused to give me counselling on the grounds that I was too depressed to begin it. They told me that counselling for abortion makes you feel worse before you feel better and they did not want to be responsible for "pushing me over the edge".
I knew, before I had the abortion, that I would regret it, but I thought that I would be able to live with it anyway. I did not realise how profound the regret and guilt would be. It is now 8 years since I had the abortion, and I still cannot bring myself to speak to, or look at, women who are pregnant or who have babies, because it is too painful for me. I murdered my own child and hate myself for it. I am 49 years old now, and I honestly don’t know how I can live another 30 or 40 years in this mental pain every day. If only my GP or the clinic had provided me with a midwife or health visitor who could have talked to me and allayed my fears about childbirth, I would not be in the position I am in now. But my GP was too busy to talk to me, and, let's face it, it was not in the clinic's own financial interest to talk me out of an abortion, so they didn’t even try.
Editor’s note: Thank you for sharing your story…you have obviously been profoundly affected by your experience of abortion. I would like to invite you to visit the centre in Newham in the East End of London – you can find contact details on this website. This centre is experienced in helping women like yourself with more difficult symptoms of post-abortion stress.
With regard to the way you felt you were received at the centres you visited, you are welcome to make further comment, or even a complaint, if you feel you need to, by going to the Contact Us page of the website and using the relevant email address displayed. Your comments will be treated confidentially and you can view the complaints procedure if you wish.
Whatever your situation, there is a way forward towards recovery. It’s not the end for you. It may mean that the centre provides help with your GP’s knowledge and support, but I want to encourage you to visit Newham and see what is available there for you. There is hope.