I had been in a strong, loving relationship with my partner for five years and we were living together, hoping to marry in the future...
I found out I was pregnant one summer when my period never came. This was a total shock as I had been on the pill and we had used contraceptives. My immediate thoughts were that I had to tell my parents and that they would think badly of him as his first wife was pregnant when they married. I honestly didn't know how he would react and was totally unprepared for what happened. I told my boyfriend and he immediately 'frosted over'.
The deep love and support he had always shown me froze as he 'felt sorry' for the dilemma 'I' was in. I was totally shocked that he felt this way and felt completely alone and abandoned emotionally. Once we got over the initial shock of the pregnancy, we sort of discussed 'what I would do'. It was made very clear to me that it was 'my problem' and that 'I had to make a decision'. He said he would support me in whatever decision I made and that he would 'always be there for me'.
I didn't know what to do - was he saying we were over? I attempted many, many discussions with him but on each occasion, unless I spoke about 'resolving the issue', abortion arrangements etc, he didn't want to know. He kept saying over and over that he didn't want any more children and that he didn't want this baby. I accepted what he was saying but wondered where our love had disappeared to and what I was to do now. After all, it was a joint problem I felt.
At one point out of pity, I am sure, he offered to marry me but then said he couldn't do it as he couldn't bring up another child and if I insisted on having the baby, he would leave me. We came to a decision that abortion was the only option, him because it was the only way he would accept me, without the pregnancy, and me because it was the only way I could have him and so we reluctantly sought the abortion process.
He said that it was the 'wrong time' and that 'we would have children one day' and that 'it was just like a period'. I was exaggerating my thoughts of it as a baby. In the weeks prior to the abortion, we went to a family wedding where he proposed to me and told everyone we were engaged. I was sure he loved me. We also had an idyllic holiday in France and were very much in love. The pregnancy was always in my mind as my maternal feelings grew and I hoped he was changing his mind. There were occasions when he seemed to accept it. Once when I had morning sickness, he went to a French pharmacy and explained in full animation that his 'wife was pregnant' and that he wanted something that 'wouldn't harm the baby'. He also stopped me from smoking and got me fruit smoothies from the bar saying I 'needed to eat well now'.
I felt happy as he was talking about the baby in a caring, kind way and I was sure we wouldn't go through with the abortion. When we came back from France, it all came crashing down as we journeyed to the clinic. I panicked in the car, and in the clinic, and was taken to a private room where a nurse assured me I was 'doing the right thing'. I felt sad inside and lay on the bed reciting prayers for Our Lady to take the soul of this baby and bring it back to me one day, as it wasn't the right time.
I remember thinking that my boyfriend had said we could have had the baby if we had more money, as money a big issue. He simply felt too old to earn enough to support another family. I read the newspaper that had a £40,000 competition in it and hoped he had checked our numbers. Perhaps we had won and he would come running in to rescue me.
In another room, a girl whose boyfriend was in the army shouted out that she wanted to leave and an attempt was made to stop her, but she fought her way out to the nurses screaming that she was wrong and would regret it. Little did I know then that she was probably the only person there who wouldn't. After the event, I felt sad and empty and couldn't really talk. I loved my boyfriend and wanted him to take me away from there and we went home and I went to bed for three days.
There was an initial feeling of relief - the problem had gone but little did I know the emotional impact it would have on the rest of my life. I still felt pregnant and still 'looked forward' to the birth although my tummy never grew. My boobs lactated as though I had given birth but there was no baby. The post natal depression still occurs and hit me hard several months after the baby should have been born.
I dyed my hair, lost weight and did everything I could to run away from myself. I hated what I had done as it had always felt wrong inside and my relationship with my boyfriend suffered as I blamed him for wanting an abortion and felt he didn't love me enough for it to happen in the first place.
To get off focus, we married the following year and over the course of the next 15 years three children followed, the youngest being one. Each and every pregnancy is a reminder of the first - how can one be joyful and one not be? How can I deny my first baby? I didn't - I brought it up at every opportunity the sadness hit, seeking the support of my husband who had tried to bury it in the past. Our relationship suffered as a result and is still suffering although to date we have survived.
I had and have a real dilemma - I was too weak to save my baby and start a life on my own and give my boyfriend up but that is what I feel I should have done as I feel he would have accepted the baby, had I stood on my own two feet first. I now feel 'independent' in our marriage and don't rely on him as I should. I want to, but feel scared of trusting him again. I feel I want to go back and leave him and bring our baby up on my own, start a life for myself and gain the self esteem the whole experience has robbed me of. Most of all, I feel a terrible guilt of a mother who has abandoned and hurt her child. Each and every birthday, pregnancy anniversary and abortion anniversary is as fresh and painful as the first.
This week my child would have become an adult - 18! Just think of the childhood I deprived him of, the future I stopped. At 31, the pain came pouring back to overwhelm me so much I thought I would never cope with it. It never goes away and I have robbed three beautiful children of their elder sibling. Our relationship has suffered damage and I cannot personally move on. I don't know what I should have done or what I should do now if anything.
I do know that for me to kill your my own love child is an incredibly wrong and terminally painful thing to do and I question my relationship a lot. Is it really that strong and was it? If it was, then how could this have happened? It’s a terminal grief that rises with every other bereavement and casts a dark shadow over your life for days or weeks at a time, throughout the year. Please think carefully before you do this - it will affect the rest of your life.
Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your story with us…It seems you have struggled for a long time with your deep ambivalence about the choice you made, suffering anniversary symptoms, as well as grief, guilt, loss and regret. It’s a significant week for you, isn’t it, thinking of who your eldest child might have been as a young adult. The sad thing is that you have been in the place of regret, pain and sorrow for so long. You may feel that you have no right to come out of it or be free of these feelings, as many women do, but abortion is not the unforgivable sin.
‘The Journey’ recovery programme is a sensitive programme that takes you through your story, helps you navigate the emotions of grief, guilt and anger, as well as forgiveness. It is not too late – or too early – for you to say all the things you ever wanted to say about your abortion experience and learn how to relate to it in a better way, so that you can become who you are meant to be too. It’s time to do something for you – and be released from years of carrying this by yourself. Contact your nearest centre, ring the helpline or use Online Advisor. There is hope and healing for you. We’ll be thinking of you.