I had an abortion nearly a year ago, and I can honestly say I never thought my life would be back to normal.
I had an abortion nearly a year ago, and I can honestly say I never thought my life would be back to normal. I was 21 at the time, just finishing my last year of University. I had one deadline to go!! I was on the pill and had noticed that I didn't bleed on my break. I'd run out of pills and was waiting to go to the doctor’s for a repeat prescription and in that time I noticed I still hadn't come on. I laughed off the idea of being pregnant. I’d been taking my pills regularly and it had been a while since my partner and I had slept together... there was no way!
After a couple of weeks my boyfriend pushed me to do a test, so I did. I was alone when I took it, and looking back I really wish I had waited till someone could have been with me, but I was so convinced I wasn't pregnant at the time I just wanted to prove I was right. When the test turned positive I broke down. All my fears were suddenly a reality. I rang my sister straight away because she had had a termination five years before and I just needed to speak to someone who had been in my situation. She calmed me down and reassured me it wasn't too late and I had time to really think about what I wanted to do. I was so scared to tell anyone because I didn't want to be forced into anything. My boyfriend and my parents were both very supportive and urged me to look into all the options available to me.
My boyfriend made it clear that we were in no position to bring up a child, with me living off a student loan and wanting to finish university, and him working full time in a bar for a very low wage. I spoke to one of the counsellors on the CareConfidential helpline and they were fantastic. She urged me to think about how I felt about abortion before I found out I was pregnant and how I feel now, and trying to separate what your head is telling you from what your heart is telling you. It didn't make the process any easier but staying calm and writing down all my thoughts and speaking to my family made me feel like I wasn't going through this alone.
I looked into all my options. I spoke to the university to find out what I could do if I kept my baby. I spoke to a nurse at the University health clinic who offered to refer me to a hospital for a termination if I wanted. I couldn't decide. When I was sitting in her office I was convincing myself I could keep this baby... but two days later I was back in her office and left with a referral letter for the local hospital. I couldn’t get an appointment for three weeks, and I was shattered. I didn't know if I could wait that long, I was so scared I would change my mind, and I did constantly. There were days when I knew I could care for this baby, but inevitably I decided that that was a life I didn't want yet. My boyfriend kept my feet on the ground and we both knew that for us this was just not the right time.
Fast forward three weeks and I was in the hospital for my consultation. The wait seemed to last forever, but eventually the nurse we saw was so lovely. She really put me at ease and when I burst out crying, she held my hand. Signing the consent form made everything a reality. I'd never seen my baby, never felt it kick, I didn't really 'feel' pregnant but I knew it was there, growing away inside me. After taking me in for a scan to determine how far gone I was, I was back in her office. She offered me the medical procedure because I was just ten weeks and after explaining the procedure, I felt more at ease. I wasn't going to have anything intrusive done to me. I felt like this way would give me more control, and more of a
I went home. I didn't really feel any different. Everything was so surreal but a couple of days later when we were on our way back to the hospital, I broke down again. Taking that first tablet meant there was no going back and I had to see this through. We were given a private room, and after the initial blood pressure checks a nurse came in with a tray and on it were four tablets and a plastic insertion tube. She explained that I needed to insert them as close to my cervix as possible and lay down for about thirty minutes. Nothing was rushed; she simply said 'when you're ready, just take your time.' I gathered my thoughts for a few minutes and did as she had explained. I changed into my pjs. It was so nice to have something familiar, something that reminded me of home.
It didn't take very long for the cramping to start, and it got worse and worse. I reacted badly to the pills. I was vomiting and had no control over my bowels; it was humiliating and I broke down again. A nurse eventually came in and gave me an injection to stop me vomiting, and another for pain relief. It eased the pain, and I drifted off to sleep. After an hour or so the nurse came back in with another tablet for me to take orally. The cramps had disappeared and I needed more until I had finished the procedure. I couldn't lie down because it draws out the process; gravity helps. I took the tablet and sure enough the cramps came back. I'd been in hospital for five hours by this time and all I wanted to do was go home. I hadn't eaten because the pain relief had knocked me out, and I was exhausted. I was told to push as this can help speed up the process, so I did, and eventually I felt it. I was so relieved, so tired, so mentally drained; I spent the next couple of hours sleeping whilst they kept me under observation.
When I got home it finally hit me, and I curled up in my boyfriend’s arms and sobbed myself to sleep. Finally I could get my life back on track, but I felt ashamed, how could I do this? I'd always imagined getting pregnant to be something to celebrate; I didn't get the fairytale. I was back at work three days after. My boss knew but I didn't speak to anyone else. It was very much just 'get on with it'. I would speak to my mum if I was feeling down but then I got so used to spending my time at work putting on a front, I got used to pushing things to the back of my mind. A few months later I had a breakdown. I couldn't handle it anymore and I started the post-abortion counselling. It was the best thing I ever did. Having someone to talk to that wasn't part of my everyday life allowed me to express a lot of feelings that I hadn't been able to tell anyone else. After just a few sessions I had noticed a difference within myself. I got to tell my story, I was able to verbalise the shame I felt, the insecurities I had. But eventually they went away.
If it wasn't for CareConfidential, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I can look back on that experience positively. I wish I'd never got into that situation, but I was lucky to have the support around me to allow me to come to my decision. I still partly regret what I did but I know I made the right choice for myself and my partner. The hurt will always be there, but time is a great healer, and now I have many ambitions for the future and am working hard at university to make my choice really count. I couldn't deny myself the life I had chosen anymore. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to make the right choices for myself and one day I will bring a child into this world when I am ready, and I will love that child more than life itself.
Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your story with us…It sounds as if you were in two minds at the time, with your head telling you one thing and your heart telling you something else. You tried to be brave and do what you thought was right in the circumstances, but actually you were already feeling the pain of it even before you went through with it. It was quite a stressful time for you.
It’s good that you found some support from your nearest centre. It sounds as if you were quite relieved to be able to share your burden for the first time, allowing your heart feelings to surface for the first time. It may be with the anniversary date approaching that you need to revisit this event in your life, as your head still seems to be saying one thing and your heart saying another to some extent. It might help you to resume your journey of recovery for a while and see if there is any deeper healing available for you.