I wanted my life back

Early in October 2011 I found out that my girlfriend was pregnant. To say the least, it was a shock, and a baby was certainly not on my list of things to do.
For around three weeks, we laughed, cried and talked for hours upon hours about what we were going to do. I was numb and for a long time, did nothing but sit in my bed and cry. Nothing could take the pain away from the situation, but the biggest problem was that nothing could help us make up our minds. My girlfriend didn’t know what she wanted, but I did. I wanted my life back, my simple, joyous and easy going life. What I didn’t want, was her to have to go through the ordeal of an abortion, and for my relationship to be ruined as a consequence.
I had just finished university at the time, and was tipped to be a professional screenwriter. I received the highest grade in the University for my screenplay, and was the highest achieving student on my course in the University in my final year. I was ready to put the time in every day and work at being a professional screenwriter. Writing is what I love, and my ambition knew no limits. To find out that my plan was potentially going to have to go on hold was traumatic, because suddenly I was lost.

If she wanted to keep the baby, I had to find a new direction.

This was something I did not want to do, as I had worked so hard on the way I was going. I was even tipped to go to best film school in the country.
We had been together for two years at the time. We work together in a t.g.i Fridays and make minimum wage at best. At the time, we didn’t even live in the same place. We had ten months left on our housing contracts and she was twelve weeks pregnant. It was not how I imagined my life to be when I found out I was having a baby.
In my head I had a good job, a nice house and I had been conscious of the making of our child. I wanted to sit in the room and wait anxiously whilst she did the test, and cry with joy when she told me she was pregnant. What I didn’t want, is for it to change my life in a negative sense. I wanted to want it, what I didn’t want, was the situation I was in.
The hardest part was telling friends and family, because everyone bombarded you with opinions that you neither wanted nor needed. If our minds were cloudy before we told our families, they were thunder storms afterwards. We were lost, and needed help. For three weeks, we went round in circles. She didn’t want to ruin my life by making me do something that I didn’t want to do, and I didn’t want to ruin her life by making her abort a child she could potentially want. All I wanted was to look in the mirror and like the person I saw looking back.
So what could we do? We didn’t want to make the decision, but it was more we couldn’t make the decision. We received such subjective and opinionated advice, that it was very difficult to take any real help from it all. What we needed, though we did not realise it at the time, was some objective and constructive help, someone that didn’t know us, someone like Margaret from the Beresford centre.

We had heard from my mother, that pregnancy crisis centres existed.

We searched for local ones on the internet and found the Beresford centre. We were on a very tight time limit, as we had booked the abortion. We had no idea if we were going to go ahead with it, but it brought us time. We had three days until the appointment and were desperate for help. We were expecting a long wait and to have to jump through hoops to get help, when in fact what we got was flexible and convenient.
Instantly, we began to feel positive about what we were about to do. Our situation was treated with the urgency that was needed and because of this, we felt that what we were about to do was going to help us. It was the first time I had felt positive in months. So we went, and were greeted with a glass of squash and a cup of tea. The staff make you feel at ease and safe. When you are so fragile, you need to be treated with care and the staff and the centre have this down to a fine art. Big smiles, nice conversations and comfortable sofas instantly pointed me in the direction of a better mind-set.
After a minute or two, we met Margaret. A kind, caring and loving woman who was going to help us make the biggest decision of our lives. After forty five minutes, my girlfriend returned to the waiting room and I went in with Margaret. Initially, I was a little reserved.

The worst part about unplanned pregnancy is the fear of being judged.

I won’t lie when I say that I was desperate for my girlfriend to have the abortion. I could see my hopes and dreams slipping away. The issue was, I didn’t want to tell anyone. You feel despicable, and hate yourself for thinking that way. I just didn’t feel ready, and it wasn’t what I wanted.
So I chatted to Margaret, and started off slow. I eased myself into the conversation before she invited me to boldly tell her what I wanted from the situation. She smiled and told me that it was OK to feel the way that I was feeling. She then told me that if that was the route we took, she would support us through it.
If I am completely honest, I expected to be judged, and I expected Margaret to try and tip the scales in one direction or the other. In actual fact, she was beautifully neutral. Once she smiled that smile and passed the wonderful words of comfort, you soon find yourself laying your cards on the table and bearing all. I was saying things that I didn’t even know that I felt, it was all coming out and I knew that that was OK.
So after my chat, my girlfriend came into the room. We talked about how we felt and what we wanted. We drew graphs of what our minds thought, and what our hearts thought. They were all fairly pragmatic and anti-baby thoughts, apart from one tiny point Lucy had written down that was from her heart.

It read ‘I can feel it growing inside me’.

Once I had read that, I knew we were having a baby. As I said above, I just wanted to look in the mirror and like what I saw. To my girlfriend, that baby was a real thing, and there was no way she was going to have an abortion if she saw that baby as something that was alive. I didn’t want her to kill something she saw as living.
Margaret knew it, and I knew it. I broke down and cried. I did feel like my life was over, but I was also relieved that I finally knew what was going on. For nearly a month I was in limbo and it was nice to be out, even if it was the situation I did not want.
Margaret offered me a tissue and told me everything was going to be ok. When people say that, you just smile and nod, because it’s just an expression, but I could tell that Margaret really was going to look after us. She told us that she was there for us, and that she was going to help us through the whole process and that we were going to work through this together. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

So for the next six months, the centre was our light at the end of the tunnel, and our pillar of strength.

We would have weeks where we would really struggle, and I personally would count down the days in until we reached our safe haven and talked through our doubts, our plans and our future.
During the pregnancy, I was breaking down, and thought some crazy thoughts and did some crazy things, but it seemed like no matter what I said Margaret would support my decision and help in any way she could. There was a point where I even talked of not living with my girlfriend and us living in separate houses. The insanity of that statement is only prevalent now, because I know how impractical that would be, but when I told Margaret she just smiled and offered us practical advice on housing schemes and benefits if that was what we were to do.
It felt like with every session we had, we grew and developed. This was not just with our pregnancy situation, but with our own personal and emotional development as well. When it comes to your support, it is not one dimensional, you are supported from every angle and learn that whatever you want to talk about, you can, and they will help.
As the sessions went on, our situation got better, and we were more and more prepared for the future. It felt like we had targets, things to improve on, but I didn’t feel the pressure to develop. There was no time limit on my improvement, and no set amount of sessions. We were not rushed and we knew we could take as long as we needed to help us, which was a wonderfully comfortable environment to heal and grown in. It also felt like we had a place to go when things went wrong, and that if we weren’t feeling too good, that was fine. We were allowed, even expected, to struggle. Margaret was there for us regardless.
So, six months later, our baby was born. She was 6 pounds and 8 ounces and was born naturally with only gas and air. My girlfriend has a severe needle phobia, but managed to do the whole birth without an injection.
This was yet another thing that the centre helped with. I was so anxious about the birth, and so was my girlfriend, but Margaret and the staff even volunteered to help her with her fear of needles. The support we got from them was unlimited.

I look at my baby now and can’t imagine my life without her.

It is hard, it is always going to be hard, but it is the best kind of hard. I say that she is the reason for the bags under my eyes and the smile on my face.
The best part of the Beresford centre is knowing they are still there for us. I know now, I could make a call, say we are struggling and they would book us in and help us out.
The support does not end when the baby is born, the support is everlasting. To know that we have that, is an incredible thing. I know that we will never forget Margaret and the staff at the centre, and will do everything that we can to help them the way that we have been helped.
Even now, I am looking into studying for a counselling degree and specialising in unexpected pregnancies. Perhaps maybe one day, when I am qualified, I can volunteer and help others the way that I was helped. That would be the least that I could do.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to the staff at the centre, for saving my daughter’s life. She’s my whole world, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without her, in fact, I don’t ever want too.

Editor's Comment

Thank you for sharing such a lovely story so honestly and openly. The struggle that you went through was very real and difficult, but the thing that strikes me the most is that I know you will be able to look in the mirror and like the person looking back. To know that you have been true to yourself and not to have lost who you are in the midst of the crisis will be so important to your future happiness and your role as a dad.
This story was sent in on 07/08/2012 and it's been viewed 1,244 times.

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