Real-life stories ten years on
Over the next few weeks I have 4 stories from different women who have had abortions. This first story comes from a mother who, 10 years ago, had a teenage pregnancy which she made the difficult decision to terminate. This story, and the one I will share tomorrow, tells the tale of what happened to her on a personal level and how she dealt with the situation over ten years.
A little while ago I wrote about abortion. I gave it a somewhat provocative title, “Abortion – is it a dirty word?” but in all honesty I didn’t know what the current thinking on Abortion is. It still appears to be a taboo subject. After a new friend through this blog asked me my opinion on her having an abortion (she’d accidentally fallen pregnant soon after having her first child), I realised how isolating this decision really can be for women.
I had a huge and varied response to that blog post, and what I hadn’t anticipated was the number of women who contacted me directly to tell me their own experiences. I was truly touched by their willingness to trust me with their intimate, heart-breaking stories.
No matter your stance on abortion, I feel as though these stories help to shed some light on what can be an isolating and humiliating experience for women. And in the stories today and tomorrow these women were so young; little more than children. For a country that is pro-choice, where was the support network for these young women? I just sincerely hope that it has improved in 10 years.
Teenage Pregnancy and Life – Ten Years After An Abortion
Ten years ago I found myself in a position I had never wanted to be in. I had a couple of reckless years. I was kicked out of home at 17, dropped out of college, started working full time and found myself renting a room in a shared house. My life seemed to have taken such a turn – I was thrust into an adult world, I was very young for a 17 year old and found it hard to cope.
The next 2 years I spent on a journey of self destruction. I worked long hours and spent most evenings in the pub with friends. I dated a lot of people – if you can call it that – and didn’t have much else in my life. My family had fallen apart, I worked all the time, evenings and weekends were spent drinking. My world was tiny.
Everything came to ahead in May 2004. I found out I was pregnant. Pregnant by a man who was 36 and with zero sense of responsibility. When I told him I was pregnant he hung up the phone and I haven’t seen him since. I spent days in my bedroom, crying. I was, I thought, anti-abortion. I’d got myself into this mess but what could I offer a baby? I earnt £800 a month working in a shop. I had no childcare, I had no family to look after me and a baby. I wouldn’t be able to stay in my house share with a baby. The council wouldn’t help me with housing as I was earning too much. I couldn’t stop working, where would I live? I had no-one to talk to and couldn’t see a way out.
I went to the doctor. My GP. Someone who had seen me grow up. I told her I was pregnant, she worked out the due date – 18th January – and started talking about planning things, appointments, antenatal things. I cried, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t get the words out. I didn’t want to know its due date. I didn’t want to know anything about it. I hated myself and wanted to detach myself as much as possible from the baby. From life.
I told the GP I couldn’t have a baby. I couldn’t look after it. I had to get rid of it. She was shocked. She kept asking if I was sure. I needed a second doctor to agree, apparently. My GP referring me for an abortion wasn’t enough. So I was booked to visit a hospital clinic a week later. A whole week of thinking about the baby growing in me, tearing myself apart inside, crying and feeling so helpless; I didn’t know what to do.
I went to the hospital and waited my turn. There was a male doctor and he asked me questions about my reasons for wanting an abortion. He asked me about my sex life, about contraception – or lack of – and he told me I needed an internal examination and STI tests before they could agree to a termination.
I’d never had a smear test or any kind of examination like that before. I had to lay on a bed with my legs in stirrups whilst this doctor examined me. Tears ran down my face as I lay there. Humiliated. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be in this situation. Why had I got myself into this mess? I just wanted to go home. Home to my Mum where life was lovely two years before.
I was finally allowed to have a termination after agreeing to everything the doctors said. I had to have another internal examination from a nurse for STD related things and a blood test. This was all negative and now, writing this, I’m not sure why any of it was necessary. I also had to agree to have a coil fitted at the same time as the termination. The doctor didn’t want to see me again in a few months time. He really thought I’d let that happen? Right then my life couldn’t have got any worse – I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get back there.
On 12th June 2004 I went to our local hospital at 8am. I booked a cab and the driver made polite conversation. I was numb. I got to the waiting room to see other girls with their Mums. All with someone to look after them. I was by myself. So lonely.
I had to sign a form giving consent to the operation. I also had to tell the hospital who would be looking after me for 24 hours afterwards. I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t have anyone. I didn’t even have anyone to pick me up from the hospital. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I hadn’t seen my older brother in a few years but I knew he’d always help me if he could. I sent him a text and asked him to pick me up from the hospital later that day – whenever the hospital contacted him. Telling him why I was in hospital was mortifying. I felt like I’d let everyone down. I hadn’t let anyone down more than myself.
I don’t remember much of being in the hospital. I know I got changed into a hospital gown and lay on the bed. At some point they took me down to theatre and as I lay on the bed with the mask over my face I saw the same male doctor that examined me previously. He was the one performing the surgery. The nurses got me to count backwards and the last thing I heard before I went under was them commenting on how blue the veins in my arms were.
The next thing I remember I woke up, groggy and half asleep still. Confused. I was in a transitional room and a nurse was clearing me up. She told me to relax and go back to sleep. I asked her where my baby was, what have you done with my baby? She seemed shocked and thankfully I don’t remember her answer.
I woke later in the hospital bed and shortly after my brother came to collect me.
Over the next few days I recovered, slowly. My whole body hurt and I lost a lot of blood. By the end of the week I was pretty much back to normal. Normal? I had no idea what was normal anymore.
Every day was a struggle. I thought about the baby constantly and all I wanted was to have a baby. I was glad that the coil had been fitted and also glad when I met a man the following month – A man who I told everything to immediately and who loved me anyway. That man saved me from the demons in my head, he gave me something to focus on but it didn’t stop me thinking about my baby.
Every year on 12th June I would cry and hate myself. Every year on 18th January I would cry and imagine a baby, growing each year. It didn’t help that my baby brother was born the month after my termination. I have a brother who is 6 months older than my baby would have been.
Ten years on and I am now married with two beautiful children. When we found out we were pregnant with our first baby the first thing I said was ‘I thought I was broken’ and I cried, and cried like I have never cried before. I had spent the previous years thinking that I could probably not have children now, that really I didn’t deserve to have children. I hated myself and even now part of me still hates myself for the decision I made but I know, deep down, it was the right decision for me at the time.
An abortion is never an easy decision to make. It is a decision that haunts me even now and a part of me died with that termination. Gradually though, I have been able to file the termination away inside of me, to not think about it as often. But that doesn’t stop it from upsetting me, from it hurting every time I do think about it, from me crying whilst I type this.
I didn’t use abortion as a form of contraception. I was stupid, naive and incredibly young emotionally. I was in a bad place, I made a mistake and having a termination gave me a second chance. For that I will always be thankful.
Thank you xxx
You can read Amy’s Story about her teenage pregnancy and abortion here.
If you find yourself in a similar position, I found this site through the NHS and they offer Pregnancy-related advice.