I decided to write this take, not to gain sympathy but to let people know that having an abortion is not a simple process. It isn't an alternative to contraception and it isn't undertaken lightly. I think sharing my personal experience might help others in one way or another. To either make sure they take adequate protection or to understand that it isn't an "easy-fix" to a problem you yourself created. That it is a traumatic event and not something people just pop to the clinic during their lunch and have done, then back to normal the next day. To possibly enlighten those who are considering it to the realities of the process. Although I support a woman's choice to abort I don't ever think it should be a go-to option. It should never be taken lightly and it may effect you for many, many years to come. Looking back at my own experience I wish I had known more, had someone to talk. Someone to look out for me and help me deal with what was happening. The outcome may have been different, it may not have. I won't ask that you won't judge me, I know many will and that's your right to but I think judgement should come with understanding too. This isn't intended to sway anyone either way, it is merely a first hand experience of a controversial issue.
I was 21 when I fell pregnant. I was dating a man I had fallen in love with before I had kissed. He said he felt the same and we were wildy and crazily in love - as many young people are. We were passionate and reckless and one night we went too far with that and had unprotected sex. Just once. It isn't very likely that one instance will get you pregnant, but it can happen and it did to me. At that time I had moved away from my home town to a city about 100 miles away. It was my first time away from friends and family and I was acting recklessly. I was working hard and playing harder and I was enjoying the freedom. I think many of us go through a stage like this, the supposed immortality of youth can make us act very irresponsibly.
Despite having such strong feelings for each other, my boyfriend and I began to see less and less of each other. I was working night shifts and he worked long hours himself. It had been about a month since I had seen him when I realised I was pregnant. I didn't take a test but I knew: my body was giving me all the signs and I knew enough to know what it was. I felt terrified, confused, alone, ashamed and I only had him to turn to. I called him up and asked if we could meet. He was very short on the phone and said he had time to meet before he started his shift. I met him outside of his work and felt right away that he couldn't be bothered with me. I managed to spit it out and tell him that I was pregnant and he just stared at me. He finally managed to say something along the lines of "well we haven't had sex for ages". At that point I knew that I was on my own with this. That no help or support would come from him. I didn't have much to say to him and just let him leave. When I got home I was totally numb. I felt as if I floated all the way in a world of my own and when I closed my front door I felt even more alone. My only option now was to keep working until I couldn't anymore and then try and raise the child on my own, with no financial or emotional support from the father. If he didn't want anything to do with me then that was my only option if I wanted to keep the baby. I texted him a day later and told him that it was a scare, that I wasn't pregnant after all. I suppose I was stil in love with him because I wanted to stop him worrying, I wanted his life to go back to normal if mine couldn't.
As I sat alone in my apartment I didn't cry. I didn't call my mother or my friends or my siblings for help. I stopped going to work until I got so behind with bills that I couldn't stay in my apartment anymore and had to move home to my parents house. This is when I began to lose it. I would cry every night to myself, every morning I would wake up and remember what was going to happen to me: that I was going to be a mother of a child I didn't want. That my boyfriend was not the man I thought he was, that he had amandoned me at the first chance. That this innocent baby was hated even before it could speak. I hadn't heard from him since I had lied to him and told him I wasn't pregnant and I hadn't told anyone else either. I was still very much alone and very lost. I would lie in my bed punching my stomach, I remember at one stage purposefully falling down the stairs - desperate to get rid of the baby: I hated it. I hated myself. I had to stay covered not only to hide my very slight bump but also to hide the self-inflicted bruises all over my body. At my lowest point I considered suicide. I sat on my bed with a bottle of pills dropping them into a glass of water one by one, considering whether to swallow them or not. Considering if they would kill me and the baby or just the baby. I wanted to die so desperately.
For some reason I snapped out of my incapacitated state and managed to get to the doctor. He tested to see if I was pregnant and I told him I wanted an abortion. I didn't make eye contact with him for the whole meeting. He gave me leaflets about adoption. I took them from him and slid them into my pocket without so much as a glance. An appointment was made for me at the hospital:
"Do I have anyone who could take you? You really shouldn't go alone"
"Yes" I lied. "I have someone who can take me".
The morning of my appointment I left the house and caught the train. I waitied outside the consultation room, totally numb still. There were no thoughts in my head, I just needed to hold it together and get through this meeting. A nurse came out and called my name, looking me up and down as I stood up. We went into the small, dimly lit room and she asked for me to pull my clothing up so she could take an ultrasound: they needed to see how far along the baby was. I hesitated as I was scared she would see the bruising, but thankfully the room was so dimly that she either didn't notice or didn't care. I lay down on my back and faced the wall, avoiding looking at the two women. They muttered between themselves for a while as they scanned my belly then asked if I would like to see it - my baby. I declined their offer. I couldn't risk seeing it there, it's heartbeat sounding away from inside me. I felt sick. I wanted it gone, I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to make any kind of connection with it. I suppose the reality still hadn't sunk in, I was deperately trying to disassociate myself from the entire situation. The nurses said they were done and that I could pull my clothes down. They turned the lights on and then proceeded to talk me through what would happen. They never asked if I was sure this is what I wanted, they never asked about my mental health. They didn't ask me anything, just talked me through what I had to do:
The process is a two-step one for someone at 12 weeks, which is what I was. The cut off point at the time for a medical abortion. The first step is that I orally take two tablets that induce a miscarriage. I was to return two days later to receive the rest of the treatment. She handed me the pills and left the room while I took them, she returned with some forms and some instructions and asked me to sign some paperwork. I have no idea what the paperwork was about and had no interest. I just wanted to leave. I got home and stayed in bed for the next two days until it was time for my second appointment.
I was brought into a private room with a bed and a commode. I was not under any circumstances to use the toilet outside of the room. I was told to change into a robe and lie on the bed and someone would be with me shortly. She handed me the TV remote and asked if I wanted something to drink. I remember being appalled at the time, appalled that she thought I could lie there drinking coffee and watching television as I killed my baby. I politely declined the offer of a drink and she left me alone.
About an hour later another nurse came in and explained what she was going to do: two tablets would be inserted into my cervix and this would cause me to expelthe foetus. The process could take many hours to complete and I was not allowed to leave until they were certain it had been completed. She administered the drug and left me alone. About a half hour later I was writhing in agony on the bed, my insides feeling as if they were being stabbed and dragged out of me. I began to have contractions and felt a desperate urge to use the bathroom. I was told I must use the one in the room as they must monitor everything. The feeling passed but the contractions did not, I found that "bearing down" seemed to help, the same as if you are giving birth. The pain was excrutiating and I could feel things moving as I tried to push. After an hour of this I was lying in a bed covered with blood and tissue and was almost hysterical. I was covered in it. My dead baby. I lay there moaning until finally the pain passed and a nurse came in. She lifted the sheets and saw the mess and went to fetch soem things to clear it up with - there on the sheets was a tiny tiny foetus: my baby. Curled up and lying there on the green bedding. One tiny black eye looking out, dead to the world. It's arm close to its face as if sucking it's yet-to-be-developed thumb. I will never forget that image. The pain and distress just disappeared and the numbness returned. I suppose a coping mechanism.
The nurse cleared away the bedding, taking the baby with her. She returned with fresh sheets and made the bed for me. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible, to extract myself from that place. They told me I couldn't leave until all the bleeding had stopped, that they would check in on me soon. Shortly after another nurse came to me and asked if I had stopped bleeding. I lied to her and said I had - I was so desperate to leave. They asked who they should call to come and pick me up,I told them I had already made arrangements. She looked at me dubiously and asked if I was sure, that I should not be leaving alone. I told her it was fine, they were waiting for me outside.
Eventually I was allowed to go, the bleeding had almost stopped by now but not quite. I snuck to the bathroom and cleaned myself up before the nurse asked to check me over. I was fine to leave she said., jus make sure to rest yourself and don't do much exercise for the next few days. Any problems, any bleeding I was to come straight back. I left the hospital and mised my train home, the next one meant I missed my connection and having no money, that meant a four mile walk. By the time I got home I was in agaony again and bleeding heavily. My parents still didn't know so I just showered and went to my room. I stayed there for the next week, bleeding and in immense pain. Too ashamed to ask for help, to guilty to return to the hospital: I felt as if this was part of it, that I deserved this pain for what I had done. Eventuallythe bleeding stopped and the inflammation and pain subsided. I got back up and went and applied for a job at a local bar, I started in a few days. For the next 12 months I pretended it didn't happen. I began drinking heavily, every day. I became cold and distant and pushed my friends away to avoid the risk of telling them what happened. I got into an abusive relationship which isolated me from the people who cared about me and I thought I deserved it all. When I was hit: I deserved it. When I was emotionally abused: I deserved it. Anything bad that happened was my own doing and I should take it all without a word of complaint. It was a dark time for me, so dark that I didn't even think about suicide as I was convinced that was unfair, that I should have to endure these sufferrings for being such a bad person.
I've made my peace with what happened now. With myself. I'm not proud of what I chose to do, but I do think it was the right choice. I don't think that at that stage I was capable of being a mother, and certainly not to a child I already hated and resented. I dread to think what would have happened to it under my care. What would have happened to me....but this was my choice and I fully accept that and everything that came with it was my doing. I just wish I had reached out, I wish someone had reached out to me and sat me down, spoken to me, just listened.
Many men are anti-abortion, I can understand why they feel that way but they can never, ever understand what it is to be pregnant. Ever.
I know many women are anti-abortion, and I can understand why. To have a life growing inside you, a life you created on purpose or not. To punish that child for your mistake by taking its life is a wholly selfish act but when it's only yourself you have it can be hard to feel any hope for you or that baby, when you know you can't even care for yourself.The fear is overwhelming.
As I said at the start, I do not write this for sympathy. I don't need or deserve any sympathy. I write it to show a grim reality of a choice. One we so easily argue and fight about without addressing what actually happens.
This is just my story.