How many abortions have you had? One
What were your circumstances at the time of your abortion?
I had moved out of my boyfriend’s apartment in order to save what was left of a very toxic relationship. We disagreed on lifestyle choices and it wasn’t a good situation. I wanted to travel and he didn’t. He wanted to smoke cannabis and do cocaine leisurely and I didn’t. I found out I was pregnant a week after moving out. It was devastating. I had finally put the distance we needed between us. I wasn’t breaking up with him; he just needed to see how hard it was for me to forgive his ways before. It took a lot for me to take him back. He was supposed to be quitting drugs to save the relationship and it wasn’t working for either of us. It should have been for him. I was the only one who wanted him to stop. His friends didn’t see the damage he was doing to himself and me.
How many weeks pregnant were you?
I was supposed to be 9 weeks but when I was in the counselling session before surgery they said it looked closer to 11. When we first found out I was probably 3 or 4 weeks. I just didn’t want to go through with an abortion. I kept putting it off hoping my boyfriend would make the decision. Hoping I would wake up one morning and it would be a bad dream. In the end we made a list of pros and cons. It didn’t change how I felt. It was horrible. I remember telling him I didn’t want to kill my baby. I remember not wanting to tell my mum. I remember thinking why had I not left sooner.
What type of abortion was performed?
I had a vacuum abortion.
Did anyone pressure you or coerce you to choose abortion?
When my boyfriend and I found out, I was so upset. His first words were that ‘we don’t have to keep it’. Looking back I think he didn’t want me to be upset but I was so angry at his comment. I couldn’t believe he would say that. We were at his apartment and in the bathroom. Cigarette butts where still fresh in the sink from a party. It took us to get pregnant for him to see the problem with that. I was numb with the shock of it. I would go to work and cry in the bathroom, cry on my break. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I wanted my boyfriend to say the drugs were gone and we can do this. I needed him. I remember a counsellor told me to do what I believed in. I didn’t believe that abortion was right. I didn’t believe in our relationship and I didn’t trust myself to be a single parent. I didn’t want to resent my baby for the things I wanted to do.
How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?
Prior to the abortion, my boyfriend did all the organising. I was so mad I just wanted him to deal with it. I wanted him to see what he was doing and change his mind. I didn’t want it to be like the drugs, and for him to want it for me. The more he organized the more I thought ‘wow! he doesn’t want this’. I wasn’t thinking about me at all. Maybe he wanted me to be the strong one and say we should keep our baby, I don’t know. I remembered seeing images from posters and had never thought I would do that to my baby yet I assumed they were all so big and we were so early on in the pregnancy. Time seemed to go so fast. I booked a ticket to go away for a few weeks and get my head together. I figured it was only a few weeks and maybe he would realise what he wanted in that time, and I would have had my trip. But the more he kept quiet the more time went by and I was scared if I went away and came back that he’ d leave me on my own.
I thought abortion was the right thing to do in our circumstances. Now I know what a fetus looks like at 11 weeks. It’s haunting.
Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?
Not by anyone who had been through it, not by anyone in counselling. All everyone kept saying was do what you believe in and I was so confused. I needed support. My boyfriend had said at one point that his parents would not mind so much. I just wanted him to want it.
What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?
I remember wearing a plain black t shirt. I remember the floor was really cold and I was the only one there without girlie clothes. My boyfriend packed my bag. It had an old man’s robe and men’s slippers. I felt so cheap. I remember crying the entire way up to each floor and waiting room. I didn’t belong there. My boyfriend said we could turn back but when it had gone that far I just wanted to get it over with. I remember mostly the gas being put on my face and a nurse asking me if I liked vodka. That it would smell a bit like vodka. I hate vodka.
What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
I went into autopilot. I just tried to be strong but I was devastated. I just focused on getting away for my trip.
How has your abortion affected you?
I can say without doubt it has been the most painful experience of my life. When I came home from my trip my boyfriend broke up with me. He and his friends wouldn’t talk to me and I think he told them it was something I wanted and it wasn’t. He kept saying if I talked about it he would never speak to me again. I was a mess. I even went to visit his parents. I was worried he would do something to himself. Yet they say he was really happy and that I had to move on. It made no sense. They shut me out and sent me a four page long email on what a horrible person I was. They told me that they knew of women who had been in ‘similar situations and had handled it better – even worse, women that were unwilling.’ That was such a betrayal from my boyfriend. I think he hated himself so much that he had to play a victim. They told me anyone who ever met me, hated me and that pity was something they affiliated to someone they had some sort of affection towards and that they couldn’t say – they pitied me. He moved on pretty fast. Met someone new and made me out to be a crazy ex. He made out that my trip was more important. He went back to his ways and I was left to deal with it. He had said ‘if you have a bad day, I’ll know why. Let’s not talk about it’. I couldn’t breathe for wanting to scream about it. I wanted to be sure we would make it together as a couple before bringing a baby into such a toxic situation.
How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
I haven’t been able to get close to another guy in about 6 years. I seem so confident and can hide it so well but I was hurting so much. If someone had held me I’d have fallen apart. I was adamant that my ex should deal with it and didn’t want any other guy to. I felt we owed it to our baby to learn from it and not leave it so horribly.
My family saw a massive change in me. My relationships in the family were always strained but the anger I felt was on another level. Every thing I ever resented came up in huge fights. I was angry at secrets and angry at trying to help people and getting nothing back. When I told my mum she was really cold about it. It wasn’t long after that I became really sick. I started to bleed heaviliy. I couldn’t go anywhere. Daily I lost so much blood. I felt a lump in my abdomen and I was so traumatised I was convinced it was my baby. It was a tumor and a very large one. I had it removed after a long time of medication but everything took its toll. I was put into a false menopause in order to stop the bleeding and it didn’t work. I turned to anti depressants after that. I was living in fear of not being able to have children at 25 years old. I lost faith in the people I thought cared about me. No one could see the loss. I was just some crazy girl who was ‘depressed’ or not over it or needed to move on.
What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?
I’ve tried everything. It hurts accepting that I am the one who has to take responsibility. I’ve felt incredibly alone. That’s been the hardest thing to swallow. That I failed at that relationship. That I couldn t get anyone to understand how hurt I was. I was always aware of counselling but it was too long winded. I was hurting so badly I needed more. When I came across abortion recovery groups on the internet I was desperate. It was my last chance. When given the opportunity to acknowledge my baby’s short life it helped a great deal. To be able to cry and even wail at how hurt and angry I was meant so much to me. No one judged me or laughed at me. Now when I have a bad day I look to a stronger force than me. I don’t know what kept me going throughout it all but I believe there are some really good people out there.
Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?
It’s not the same for every woman but in my experience you’d be kidding yourself if you think it will fix anything. You’re going against a natural process. There is a natural grief that will be with you but when you can’t talk about it, it becomes something else. Depression, nightmares, panic attacks, stress, headaches. When you see children you will notice a reaction in yourself. Everyone’s situation is different but I didn’t make the right choice for me and paid a very high price. I don t know how to get close to anyone now and I still get scared that I won’t have children. If your reason is a quick fix – DON’T DO IT. Pregnancy is the most natural thing in the world – believe in yourself.