I guess this is the first time I’ve actually put down my thoughts on this subject in so many words. I’ve briefly spoken to my Mom and Grandma, and my very closest friends about it but even then I really struggled to vocalise what I’d been mostly internalising. It’s a subject I know everyone has their own views on, and understandably it’s a very sensitive matter so I really hope not to offend anyone that reads this but this post will be about my experience with termination. I can kind of already imagine eyes widening at the thought of that or the discomfort that reading this might cause, but I do write this all with a heavy heart and conscience and a lot of raw emotions that I still don’t know how to deal with.
Being raped is a harrowing experience to begin with, but to find out afterwards that you have fallen pregnant is Earth shattering. In truth, I blame myself for the pregnancy. If I had been thinking clearer in the days and certainly first week after the incident it might not have came to be, and yet again I find myself ruminating over “what if” scenarios and spiralling into sheer panic and despair.
I’ll admit that I’ve never particularly been in what you would call a long-term relationship, I just never had the time before and work always came first. I’d never been in a relationship with anyone that I looked at and thought, “yeah, this could be it” and honestly that doesn’t really bother me, but I have always known that ultimately I would like to have my own children. I love kids, and becoming more involved in teaching and volunteering and with friends and family members creating tiny humans it’s shown me that it is something I’d like at some stage in my life – but ideally with someone who I love, and with someone who loves me. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that when finally I did become pregnant, it would be because it was forced upon me by someone who I can only describe as an abhorration. Ironically in the past I often wondered if I was infertile due to never having any pregnancy scares at all between relationships or casual encounters. I guess I was in a very small minority that has just been incredibly lucky. So when the moment finally came, that I gave in to my suspicions and took a test (actually, many many tests) for that to come back actually positive, my heart sank right out of my body and just disappeared. It wasn’t supposed to happen like that, and I wasn’t meant to feel like that. I always pictured it as a moment that I cried with happiness at but instead found myself sobbing uncontrollably into the shoulder of my best friend.
I was carrying what would grow to be the child of the man that raped me. How do you even begin to process that information? I didn’t know what to do, and this situation was in fact the catalyst that finally made me speak to my family about what had happened. I spoke to my Mom, who I will forever be grateful for her total honesty about her opinions and her own near experience of termination when she was pregnant with me. Ultimately, no matter who I tried to seek advice from (few that they were), the decision was one I had to make for myself and by myself. I sought out the opinions from the people that I did because of what they represent to me, and because I value all that they could say. My thoughts were all over the place about this potential life that had began to grow inside me; Do I keep you? Do I get rid of you? Who am I to decide on the fate of a life that has had as little choice in the matter of being as I have had? I knew rationally that for me to raise a child in a city, and actually country, that I’m not from and have no family in would be a life altering event. Although I had the full support of my wonderful friends and family if this were to be my choice, ultimately I would be doing it alone and would continue to be alone for what I imagine would be a very long time. Being pregnant and single, or a single parent particularly in my circumstances is a fairly strong repellent to any hopes of a relationship at any point in the near future. It would mean finding somewhere to live on my own, changing my entire work and personal life. Yet, even with the rational knowledge of all that I couldn’t help but feel guilty for considering getting rid of it. This little collection of cells was only doing what it was intended to do – to grow into a beautiful little human that deserved to be loved and respected no matter the circumstances of how it came to be, and who was I to take that away and say it was wrong? I felt so overwhelmingly selfish about the thought of getting an abortion just because it would turn my entire life upside down and it was an inconvenience to me.
I spent all my waking hours going over and over all the possible outcomes of each decision, and time was running out as I could already feel symptoms coming on. The “morning” sickness (more like morning, noon, and night sickness) was unbearable; smells and tastes that wouldn’t normally bother me in the slightest or that I enjoyed suddenly turned my stomach and I spent most of my time in an Olympic standard sprint to the bathroom. Coupling this with my existing emotional problems and mental health issues, I felt so hopeless. I spoke to my GP who confirmed that I was indeed pregnant and went over my options which were as you would expect. To me though, it came down to two: To terminate or not.
Eventually, I made an appointment for a termination which my best friend came with me to. I was silent for the entire journey there and up until I was given my dating scan – there it was. That tiny little thing on the screen was my baby, and I was just about to kill it. I sobbed for the rest of the day until I couldn’t cry anymore. I had what is called a “Medical Abortion” which means as the pregnancy was still early on, I would take medication to force my body into miscarrying. It was both physically and emotionally painful.
I find myself thinking about it throughout the day and during the night. I have horrible vivid dreams about it. I keep thinking at what stage I would have been at now and if it was a little boy or girl, what they would look like, the type of person they would grow up to be. I think to the 10th of October to when my due date should have been and wonder how I’ll feel then; if I’ll feel at peace with my decision or whether I’ll still feel this deep ache of regret that I’ve done something so fundamentally selfish and wrong. It’s still raw, so who can say whether I do actually regret my decision and I suppose only time will tell if this is the case. If of course I come to later in my life and haven’t found anyone to have had children with, then yes, I suppose I am right to feel regret but it will be a burden I will have to carry for my own selfishness.
Knowing whether you’ve done the right thing or not seems to be such a difficult answer to come to, and sometimes I wonder if certain things can ever be “right” or “wrong” or whether they just are what they are, determined by the situation they apply to. I hope in time to come to terms with my decision, but I can honestly say that I’m really not sure sure how I will.