The first thing she said was "You must have planned this, accidents like this don't just happen!"

By anonymous on 17/09/2009
surgical abortion

I hadn't told anyone that my period was late, or that I'd suspected I was pregnant and I took the test alone in my house, convinced it would come out negative. When I saw the little blue plus sign, I was completely shocked and burst into tears. I didn't really feel upset or happy, or any sort of comprehensible emotion, just an overwhelming feeling that my life was going to change and that I had a huge obstacle to face.

I called my boyfriend immediately, explaining what had happened but after a couple minutes on the phone, I'd managed to convince myself that the test was wrong and that I wasn't pregnant. Luckily, he was a bit more realistic than I was and booked his ticket to come down and support me immediately.

After the second and third tests, I couldn't avoid it anymore. I retreated into a sort of emotionless bubble, completely confused and always on the verge of tears but never knowing exactly what I was crying for.

At 20 years old, I felt emotionally ready to have a baby but as a final year uni student with no money or home of my own, I would not have been able to continue with the pregnancy without some sort of financial support from my parents.

It was the summer holidays so I'd moved back down to my family home for a few months but when I found out I was pregnant, my parents and sister were abroad so I was alone and had to tell them over the phone.

My mum and I have always been close so I wasn't afraid to tell her, but sadly, her response wasn't at all what I would have expected from her.

"You must have planned this," was the first thing she said. It might be a cliché, but it felt like a dagger through my heart as I realised that I wasn't going to get the unconditional support I needed from her. "Accidents like this don't just happen."

I tearfully explained that I didn't know what I wanted to do but she chose to ignore this, telling me that she'd pay for the abortion and to book an appointment at Marie Stopes for two days time - when she was getting back - and that we'd go together.

Instead, I made an appointment at a local NHS clinic for the next day and went along with my boyfriend. I don't know what I expected, what advice I wanted but like my mum, the nurse assumed that having an abortion was the obvious choice and she just filled in the forms, herding me along to the next person and towards the termination of my baby.

I felt so angry at the time, and all through the next few weeks and even now still that I wasn't allowed the chance to actually talk about my options.

It was assumed by everyone that because I was going to get a good degree at a good university my life was a set path and that this incident was just an inconvenience to be quickly and discreetly overcome.

But by the time I had the consultation at the clinic, five days later, I already felt some sort of connection with my unborn baby which was stronger than any other instinct or desire for anything else in my life.

I'm a sensible person and the pregnancy was unplanned so these feelings caught me completely by surprise as I started to think about baby names and imagining whether it would be a boy or a girl, what it would look like. I enjoyed being pregnant, even for that one short week.

The consultation was quick, the nurse unsentimental and business-like. All the way through, I felt the same anger bubbling inside me that I'd felt at the previous appointment and when talking to my mum. It was as if my attachment to the pregnancy, my acknowledgement that it was my child was wrong or unnatural somehow.

No one asked how I felt or talked about anything along these lines and it was as if I was overreacting somehow. I still feel that way now, like abortion is an everyday occurrence and the pain I have experienced and still feel now is my own fault, my own weakness.

When the nurse did the ultrasound, she turned the screen away, making small talk as I tried to forget that she was looking at my baby, the baby I would never be allowed to see. The image was printed, face-down, and subtly put in an envelope in my file which was given to me to hand back to reception.

Maybe I shouldn't have done it, but I snuck off to the toilets and took out the picture. It was only a small white blur but seeing it just reiterated the fact that it was real, going ahead with the abortion was a significant thing and not just an everyday procedure to be ignored and brushed under the carpet.

The appointment was made for a surgical abortion in two days time but even then, I thought I wasn't going to go through with it. As I walked out into the street with my mum, the weight of it all became too much and I burst into tears. She held me as I sobbed but let go once I got the words out. "I don't want to have the abortion".

We went home in complete silence, and I could just feel her disappointment in me. At home, we had a proper talk and I explained my feelings. I had no career plans, no real justification for having the abortion. I felt emotionally ready to look after a child. I already felt something for the baby and felt protective of it. I explained my anger at everyone's reaction and refusal to discuss the matter, and how I felt my free will had been taken away from me.

As good as it felt to get all of this off my chest after bottling it up for so long, her response was so upsetting.

I didn't expect her to give me money, to allow me to stay with them indefinitely, to babysit when I went clubbing with my friends. All I wanted was a place to stay whilst I was pregnant so I could sublet my room at uni and work to save up some money until the baby was born and my boyfriend graduated.

But I was told that under no circumstances would I be allowed to stay; if I wanted to have the baby it would be completely on my own, living in a hostel.

I continued to explore my options but by now I knew that abortion was the only path open to me. Because my parents are quite well-off and I'm over 19, I'd be entitled to no benefits and definitely would have no hope of getting a council home. I would literally have to live as homeless before I'd have any support from the government.

So I went ahead with the abortion.

As I lay down on the bed in the operating room, I was crying almost uncontrollably. "You are crying because you are scared. But don't worry, it won't hurt," the doctor said. But I wasn't scared, I was sad.

I had a conscious sedation and felt no pain at the time, nor do I remember anything of the procedure. I came round from the injection in a sort of haze which I think I stayed in for a couple of days, feeling completely numb.

Later that day, I experience awful cramps and nausea which, bizarrely, I was grateful for as they were easier to deal with than the emotional aftermath I really feared.

It's been three weeks now since I had the abortion and I do regret it, but the main emotion I feel is anger. I feel angry at my mum for not helping me through it in the way I needed her to and I feel angry at myself for not having the strength to go on with the pregnancy on my own.

Although my boyfriend has been so supportive and is there for me whenever I need him, sometimes I feel angry at him because he's allowed to go back to his normal life and doesn't feel the pain, regret and grief that I do.

I have no interest in going out at all, socialising just seems so forced. I gave up my baby to keep the life I have now but continuing in a degree I don't enjoy and going out and getting drunk all the time now seems even less fulfilling than it did before all this happened.

My cousin, who is three years older than me, is pregnant with her first child now and, realising that she doesn't have enough money to raise a child, is moving back in with her mum who will help and support her. Although I'm happy for her, I also feel jealous which is such a horrible feeling to live with and every time we talk about her baby it brings up all the anger I feel about my own situation.

I expect that over time I will be able to let go of what happened. Reading the stories on this website has helped me to see that the attachment I felt to my baby wasn't stupid and wasn't a childish overreaction. Although it's saddening to hear of so many people experiencing the same pain, I do feel less alone.

My heart goes out to anyone in a similar situation.

Editor's comment

Thank you so much for writing your story… A mother’s dream for her daughter can all so easily get in the way of the actual relationship, can’t it? It sounds like your mother went into rational mode and wanted to fix the situation for either her own sake or yours, perhaps motivated by her own need to have a successful daughter at uni who achieved her goals and fulfilled the dream. Sadly, attaining the dream meant that her relationship with you has been damaged. You heard your heart’s voice clearly but had to silence it in the face of little or no support and lack of hope for the future. It’s no wonder that it feels like you’re just going through the motions. Nothing means the same anymore, does it? You’ve suffered not being heard and being misunderstood in the process. It’s no wonder you also feel angry, thwarted – blocked even - in your desires by someone else’s. You sound so alone in it. You sound as if you are an intelligent, sensitive, self-aware person, and I am confident that you can come through this with support. It would help you to get in touch as soon as you can with your nearest centre so that you can talk with someone who understands the pressures you have been under and why you feel the way you do right now. Certainly, your attachment to your unborn baby would be respected and upheld as real and valid. Anger is also recognised as one of three main emotions that women experience after abortion, so there is hope and healing available for you. Do get in touch…we’ll be thinking of you.

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