I'm writing these words just over two months after my abortion.
I met the guy a couple of weeks before, and he caught my eye straight away. The lead singer of a band, he reminded me so much of Jim Morrison, lead singer of the 70's band "The Doors" whom I love. He liked that I thought of him this way. I wanted there to be more to us than this one night stand, but we lived so far away from each other, and I'd never have the time to travel to see him whenever we wanted. So we decided to stay friends.
A month later, it was the Christmas holidays. I have a fairly large family with several older brothers and no sisters. Being the only girl in the family has always been great as I’m the "special one." I wasn't conceived the usual way. As my mother had so many boys and always craved a little girl she could put in frilly pink dresses, they decided to try "sex selection." They spent a lot of money to get me, as they had to travel to Florida to have the procedure done as they hadn't brought it to the UK clinics yet. The boys in my family are typical guys. They like to go out, drink, cause havoc, and just have fun. I always enjoy these nights out as a family as we're all so close.
We decided we'd all go out one night. After my first drink, I felt my stomach turn a little. I decided to take it easy that night and just have a couple. For the next few weeks I started to feel strange things going on with my body. As a smoker I always like that first cigarette in the morning, but at this time it seemed to bring a rather large nicotine rush, which on two occasions brought me to the ground as I fainted. My appetite seemed to shrink, I just felt sick at the sight, smell and taste of food, which really annoyed me on Christmas day when my mother went to so much trouble to cook us all this beautiful meal that I could hardly touch!
I was gaining weight fast and I didn't know why. Of course, after three months you'd think, "is it not obvious?" but since I’d last had sex, I had three regular periods. Now, I personally cannot rule out pregnancy even as I’m on my period, as my great aunt went her whole pregnancy with regular periods. So I now decided to tell my mother my concerns, as she knows more than anyone I know about pregnancy. She picked me up from work this particular night, and after listening to her ramble on about her day, out shopping with her friend, we pulled up on the drive. She took the keys out of the ignition, placed her hand on the door ready to get out and I stopped her. "Mum, I need to speak to you about something, I’m quite worried..." Her face dropped, clearly concerned. I told her all my symptoms; she agreed it sounded like I was pregnant. My biggest worry, however, was the fact that I hadn't had sex in three months. And what worried me even more, what if it wasn't that time that got me pregnant? What if I got pregnant the month before...? Was it too late to find out I was pregnant?
My mother insisted I go straight into town the next morning, and buy a pregnancy test. As soon as I found out the result, I would ring her and let her know. Sure enough, I got the answer I expected. This was a Friday morning, and my mother had planned to go away for the weekend to see her cousin. I told her to go and I would be OK. And so she left that afternoon to spend a "relaxing" weekend away from the troubles she'd been having at home. The whole weekend, I seemed to be more concerned for her than me. She's been on the verge of depression and wanted to get away from it, but now I’d sent her away with more worries.
She came back the Monday morning and we went together to see my G.P. I told him everything. I couldn't say more than two words before I broke into tears - the first time I’d really cried about my concerns. He was very supportive, and wanted to do an internal examination to evaluate just about how far along I was. He asked if I would like a nurse to come, but I said no. I trusted him. My mother was there. More than anything I just wanted to get it all over and done with, without having to wait around for an available nurse to come and watch my doctor insert his fingers into me. After an extremely uncomfortable poke around, he predicted I was approximately 13 weeks along. It seemed a lot, but in the way he put things, I felt comfortable in knowing we still had plenty of time to get it sorted, as I admitted straight away that I didn't want to keep it. In some ways I was lying. I love children, I have two nephews I adore, and I know when it’s my turn, I will be a fantastic mother. But now is not the right time. I have been a pianist since I was three, and it’s my biggest passion. I want to travel the world, playing in every restaurant, wedding, concert, orchestra... it wouldn't matter to me if I only made £10 a day, as long as I made something of my talent, I would be happy. I couldn't travel the world with a baby on my back.
My G.P. agreed I was making the right decision and cracked on with arranging something straight away. I left the clinic relieved and emotional. My mother, constantly supportive in my choice, was also relieved I wasn't going to be another teen mother, not fulfilling her dreams and plans. The next couple of days I waited anxiously by the phone, waiting for the call to say the appointment had been made and it was going to happen. Finally, I got it. I had made the appointment for a week later at the Marie Stopes clinic. I couldn't wait to get it done and out of the way, able to carry on with life as normal. Emotions ran high and low the next few days. I must have gotten through two tins of "Celebrations" chocolates, ironic i guess, with not much to celebrate. But it was the chocolate I wanted, not so much a craving, but more a comfort food binge.
I told my brother, the only brother to know all my deepest darkest secrets. We had long conversations about the right and wrong choices. In some ways he didn't agree with abortion, saying that pregnancy is a blessing, which I agree. But I had stuck with my thought all along; it wasn't the time for me. We arrived at the clinic that Thursday after a long drive around random streets, taking wrong turnings trying to find the place. I waited in the waiting room, not so much nervous, more anxious to get in there, get rid of this thing, and get out again. My mother was the one who felt the nerves. She always has. Any competition or performance I’d ever participated in with my piano, I’d be relaxed, and she'd be sat with the sweaty palms.
I followed the nurse into a room, where she had a look at my ultrasound to get measurements to see just how big the foetus was. She told me I was 16 weeks along. I was lucky in a way as the do not perform abortions at this clinic after 17 weeks. She led me to a room where all the women/teens who were having or had just had abortions were sitting in their comfy chairs, looking half dead. It was in this room where I began to feel more nervous than ever. The nurse came over with four pills. I was to take these pills with as little water as possible. They were pills that would "soften my cervix." This term made me cringe. And so did the constantly increasing stomach pains I was to have for the next hour. I waited in more and more pain until it was my turn for the operation. I would be under a general anaesthetic, which I had never experienced before.
By the time the nurses wanted to take me in, I had no energy after all the cramps and pains I was having, so the two of them helped me out of the chair and into the O.R. They helped me take off my trousers and underwear, and over to the operating table. I was in no end of discomfort and they stuck needles in here and there, and placed my legs into position. I was scared. Scared of the anaesthetic, scared of not knowing, but mostly scared of how I would be afterwards. I had seen girl after girl enter and exit the O.R after their abortions, and each one looked worse than the last. Finally, I was asleep. After 15 or 20 minutes, the operation was over and they were lugging me back into the other room where I would relax until I felt up to leaving. I must have been sat in there for 10 minutes before I felt conscious again, with a hot chocolate and a packet of chocolate chip cookies beside me. The nurses were laughing at me... I was confused. "Do you ever shut up?" Excuse me? What is this woman talking about? What’s so funny? Apparently I’d been yapping away to the nurses since I left the operation, I had no idea. All of a sudden I’m talking and talking away to these ladies about how I felt so energetic and good, better than I expected. I wasn’t even thinking of the words before they left my mouth. It felt pleasant. I felt relieved.
My mother came back to the clinic to pick me up, and we left. I couldn't thank the nurses, doctors and all the staff at the clinic enough for their help and support. That night, my mother fed me a lovely meal, and made me a delicious chocolate pudding for afters to cheer me up. It was delightful. I was shattered. After eating about five people’s share of food, I had to drag myself to bed. Climbing slowly up the stairs, holding myself, I felt this strange discomfort in my stomach. Id eaten so much, i felt huge and bloated... but at the same time I felt more empty than ever. I didn't know how to carry myself. I arrived to my bedroom, perched on the edge of my bed. I began to attempt to undress myself, and I suddenly burst into a howl of tears. It hurt to cry, it hurt even more that I couldn't cry in comfort. I wanted the relief of letting out my emotions. My mother came upstairs and helped me lie down. She lay next to me with a hot wheat pack for my stomach, cuddled me and told me to scream out my tears as loud as I needed. She'd been through the same years ago, but she told no-one, which meant she had no-one. I curled up to my mum and soaked her with my tears. We talked for an hour or so until I tired myself to sleep.
The next two weeks were emotionally hard. Although I coped rather well, there were many annoying and heartbreaking things happening to my body and emotions. My breasts had started to leak milk, which was embarrassing and hard to hide when I had another brother in our home that I had not told and didn't intend on telling. My breasts hurt so much, and I had no supportive bras. My mother went out the next day and bought me two huge bra's made for comfort, a box of breast pads for the leaking milk, and two big industrial sized packs of pads for the blood and discharge I had. I couldn't have asked my mum to be more supportive. She was a diamond and still is.
Now, two months on, I still agree that what I did was right for me. I don't regret anything, other than, of course, getting pregnant in the first place. It’s still hard to not feel emotional. Even just writing this now has brought me to tears, but it’s also a relief to write down my thoughts and feelings. I think I may suffer slightly from PAS (Post Abortion Stress Syndrome) which I am working on and feel I will overcome in the next couple of months. Everyday I think, "What would things be like right now if I didn't go through with the abortion?" and also, "What would life be like for the next 10 years...?" I will never know the answers to those questions, but I’m more excited to see what the future will bring, and knowing I didn't ruin my chances of being the travelling musician I have always wanted to be. I can't wait to be a mother and have a family, but I want to do it the proper way, after I’ve spent a good few years doing what I’ve been aiming towards for the past 19 years.
I respect any woman or man who is against abortion. I do feel glad, however, that I am pro-choice; otherwise I may have ruined my life long ambitions and dreams for good. I think any young woman (who is pro-choice like me) who finds herself in this situation where they have become pregnant unexpectedly, should seriously consider her future before she commits to any decision, because a child is a huge responsibility, and should be brought up in the best environment possible. Also, I’d like to add… If you have had an abortion and find it hard to cope with stresses and emotions, you should try writing down your story as I have. This last hour has been very therapeutic and has helped me put my thoughts into perspective.
Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your story with us…It sounds as if you’ve been more deeply affected by this experience than you perhaps realise. Even though your decision makes sense rationally, your heart is hurting. You’ve tried very hard to keep your self together, with the help of your wonderfully supportive mother, but I think there is a strong undercurrent of emotion within you that you hope isn’t going to overwhelm you. Abortion is a profound experience, whatever the circumstances that led to it, and your heart may need help to recover properly from the pain it feels. Rationalising your choice, and making firm decisions to be successful with your piano playing to make your abortion ‘worth it’ somehow, may not be enough for you to get through this healthily. It sounds as if you need to be a little more honest with yourself about how you are coping and find some support from your nearest centre, the helpline or Online Advisor.