It has been five years, three months and one day since I had my abortion.
I was in a long-term relationship; I adored the man I was with. I loved him very much but the relationship had sadly started to break down. After the miscarriage, we decided to give each other some space and go our separate ways. But, our relationship was not simple, that is why we loved each other so much. During this split I found out I was pregnant again. I couldn’t believe it; I felt so stupid. I’ll never forget having the realisation of being pregnant; I didn’t need to take a test. I was walking up the stairs to my office! I can still see it now. People are right. You ‘just know’ if you are pregnant. I hope to experience that feeling again one day.
After some thought and consideration I decided that I was going to have an abortion, it all seemed quite simple. But my body started changing and I just remember feeling so tired and sick, all I can say is ‘thank God for tracksuit bottoms!’
I spoke to my friends and decided that it was best if I didn’t tell my partner. I never told my family. I didn’t want to be a disappointment. At twenty two, I had ambitions. I wanted a career, I wanted to go out and dance the night away still. I couldn’t cope with a baby, or be a single mum. This is what I told myself over and over again.
Unfortunately, my partner and I had an argument and I blurted out in anger what I was going to do that weekend. One of the things I am not proud of.
The night before my abortion I went to a quiz night (don’t ask) with my cousin, mum and dad. It was an odd night, we had quite a giggle…I felt that it was quite nice for me to be in their company, almost like she got to meet them. We won that quiz. When I got back to my cousins, she was surprised at the size of my stomach! That was the last night I went to sleep stroking my little girl. What was I doing?
We picked my partner up and drove to the clinic. The road used to haunt me; I couldn’t drive down the M25 without thinking back to that day. Finally we arrived, we had got lost! Outside were the protestors…I felt so ashamed. My partner lost his rag and started shouting at them; I suppose he didn’t know what else to do.
I’m asked if I want to speak with a counsellor. I declined. I just wanted this over with now. It was my turn to go for a scan. They show you your baby. He determined that I was 8 ½ weeks. I can still see the little white splodge on the screen, but that was our baby, totally perfect? Was somebody trying to tell me something? I felt like I was at the cheese counter in Tesco’s, the number system totally reminded me of it! The different type of people in the room with you is amazing. If you like people-watching, go to a clinic. It is the weirdest place. You get women from all walks of life sitting in that waiting room, all with the same look on their face. None of us are really there.
Before the scan, I spoke with a lady about the termination and whether I had decided to go completely under or be semi-conscious or awake. I declined any anaesthetic.
My number gets called…this is it? This is the moment my life will change forever; I will never ever be the same person I was. Never, ever.
The room is like a sitting room. There are about eight big armchairs in the room with a desk in the left hand corner. I go through to the operating room and I’m asked to remove my trousers. I lay on the couch…the nurse is very nice. She puts me at ease, or as much as she can anyway. The doctor enters the room; I have to put my legs up in the stirrups.
I’m a little bit blank at this point but I know the nurse is standing next to me, holding my hand and explaining that I’m going to feel a little bit of pain that is like a period pain. All I can say is I hope I never ever have a period like that. He moves his arm backwards and forwards, I can’t believe how much this hurts, I’m going to throw up….I’ve never passed out before, but I have now.
When I come round, it’s finished. The doctor walks out and for some reason I thank him? He’s just taken my baby away; it’s been put in a little blue bowl…that is our perfect baby. What have I done?
The nurse comes over and tells me to lie down for a little while longer. I’ll never forget it, she says to me, ‘I’ll just move the towel down, so you can get some of your dignity back’. Comical. That left me the moment I walked through the door.
I can’t lie there, I need to get up, and I really need the toilet! Common apparently!!! I stand up and feel very, very light headed. I walk out of the room, bent over a little and go to the toilet; as soon as I enter I’m throwing up. I remember looking at myself in the mirror, I’m so pale….my eyes are dead. Our baby has gone.
During this time my cousin and my partner were feeding the ducks! He said it was the most surreal thing that he has ever done.
We go back to a hotel; I can’t go home. The night consisted of lots of tears and staring into nothing. For weeks, months, I replayed the procedure in my head, over and over. The pain of what I’d done was immense. The guilt was so self-consuming; I’ve never ever experienced anything like it.
My relationship just deteriorated slowly; I couldn’t have sex with him because the motion was like the procedure. I hated myself, I wanted to die. I wanted my baby back. For a couple of years, we worked our way through it. This in itself was so destructive. I couldn’t find any energy to look for help. He told me I was suffering from post abortion syndrome. Great!
Anyway to cut a long story short, my partner had an affair and we decided to go to Relate to deal with the lack of sex, his betrayal and my anger! We did this for about a year, all the while I was stuck in this place. I enjoyed drinking to the point of oblivion but it would always result in me losing it, crying, shouting and torturing myself. Funny thing was, I didn’t need the drink to do this. I remember being in a bar one night and all of a sudden I broke down. I was in a right old mess. I just couldn’t believe that I was out…how could somebody like me enjoy themselves, how dare I? I was disgusted with myself; I was so angry, so guilty. The reason for me having this abortion was because I was going to make something of myself, just look at what I’d done with my life since then.
About two and a half years ago now, it came to light that my partner had been living a double life and had heavily got back into his addiction, coke and crack. He had been seeing the same girl as before. My life just collapsed.
It was one night when I was searching on the internet that I found CareConfidential. I wrote their number down, went for a very long drive in tears, stopped in a lay-by in a really remote place and called them. The lady was brilliant, she didn’t judge me, she listened and sympathised with me, and she made some excellent observations about my partner which made me smile! Finally somebody on my side! She suggested that I get in touch with my local centre which I did.
During this time I had told my mum and dad about what I had done. I had to, my partner was threatening to tell them – ‘baby-killer’ is what he called me.
I now had the support of my mum and dad; I wished I had done this a long time ago. I arranged to see a wonderful lady who explained “The Journey” recovery programme to me. What I loved about it was you worked on it, then I was given questions to take home and answer, and I loved this because I could write about how I felt. I am sure that if I wasn’t comfortable with this, we could have done it during our sessions together. The following week we would speak about what I had written.
So many different things came to light and I started to not feel so guilty, so angry, and so resentful. At the end of “The Journey” I felt so different; I can not explain it to you. Tonight while I have been writing my story I’ve sat here in tears but the difference today is that I stop crying and I pick myself up. I can look myself in the mirror and truly believe that I made the right decision for me and my baby. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t think about her. I do. She is my star and every time I look up, she is there twinkling over me.
I have moments when I’ve danced around the living room and pictured her dancing around with me. I’ve cried but I’ve pulled myself together. That is what “The Journey” has done for me; it has slowly given some of my baby back. I’m not a baby killer; I don’t have to keep on punishing myself.
During this time I had never told my sister about what I had done and this is something that really upset me and was stalling my recovery. I spoke with my amazing counsellor and we discussed me telling my sister. It took a couple of sessions but she gave me the confidence to speak with my sister.
Through “The Journey” recovery programme, I got my sister back. She told me that this now explains my behaviour for the past few years. We now have a relationship that I cherish. I still want to strangle her at times but, hey, that is the joy of having a sister!
I wish I had done this about 3-4 years ago but I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t grieved. And that is what it is, grief mixed up with an untold amount of emotions. But, ‘The Journey’ walks you through that.
My advice to anybody – when you are ready – is go and speak with somebody at one of the centres. You are not on your own. You are not evil; you are a human who has lost a baby. You have a right to grieve. The punishment can and will stop.
Editors note: Thank you for sharing your story…it will help many to see that there is hope in a very dark situation and that women can learn to relate to their abortion experiences differently with sensitive support. It sounds as if not only do you have your sister and your baby back, but also yourself. Your tears today are not tears of pain, but tears of remembrance and that’s ok. Thank you for your affirmation of our work.