Most girls have had those terrifying few days of your period being late and your brain going crazy. If you asked my friends I’m generally a rational person but for some reason this time I was panicking. While I was sat in the library trying to revise for my A levels, all I could think about was my late period and the agonising back pain I was in. It was only three days after my period was due that I took the test, but for some reason I had an instinct that something wasn’t right. I texted my mum and asked her to get a pregnancy test, I left the library early and did it as soon as I could. It didn’t even take the 2 minutes that the packet suggests for the two red lines to appear.
I couldn’t stop laughing, not because I thought it was funny but because it’s how I deal with all my emotions: guilt, anger, hurt, no mater what I just laugh. I became more hysterical and eventually the tears broke. This couldn’t be happening to me, my A levels were in two months and on top of that I wasn’t in a relationship. Within 10 minutes of me finding out my mum dragged me off the floor and had me looking up the number of my nearest clinic and calling to book the initial appointment to get an abortion.
The next day I was just in utter shock, I couldn’t believe it had happened. I could not be more thankful to my best friend who dropped her day working in the library to come sit on my living room floor with me all day. She didn’t make me talk, she didn’t force me to shake it off, she was just there for me and I knew it. She continued to be my main source of support through the whole process and I could never make her understand how grateful I am for the way she supported me.
Having to tell the father was really hard, partially because he was away on holiday. When I asked him to come round to chat he caught on straight away. I was reluctant to talk about it over text as I knew he was with his friends and it’s not really the best way to have that conversation. He agreed to come over soon as he got back and didn’t forget to remind me of his feelings on the situation:
He wanted me to have an abortion.
He seemed quite shocked that I didn’t put up a fight about keeping the baby but really I wasn’t given the time to think about it. My mum seemed sure it was right and I certainly knew he wouldn’t want me to keep it. And frankly at the time I think I was quite happy that other people were making this decision for me, my head was going to explode with the stress of exams and excitement of end of school events.
Within a week we were rushing from school to the clinic for the first appointment. They confirmed I was pregnant and helped me to calculate a rough estimate of being 5 weeks pregnant. I was sent off with a form and a number to call so that I could find a hospital clinic to go to for the actual abortion. I called up the next day and they had two options I could either have an appointment on the opposite side of London in 5 days or I would have to wait 3 weeks for my local hospital. Neither of these were good options but I went with the three week wait.
The father wasn't available to come to the appointment with me so my mum offered to take the afternoon off work. I was there for about 3hrs, in and out of appointments with different medical staff. I had a blood test, met with a family planning specialist, a councillor, a surgeon, an ultra sound technician and many many nurses. They realised that I was even further along than they had originally thought and that pretty much ruled out a medical abortion. We arranged for my surgery to take place a month later. Most people wouldn't have to wait so long but because of my exam schedule and the lack of availability this was the soonest I could have it done. I have to say that the staff I saw that day were all lovely and it really was as pleasant as it could be. However I was not prepared for the last set of questions of the day when the nurse asked what I wanted to do with the ‘waste’, communal cremation or sensitive incineration. It was definitely not something I was expecting or something I felt I could decide without the father but I just went with my gut.
The next four weeks were awful. I had morning sickness for most of my pregnancy and thats not an easy thing to juggle with A levels. If I didn't eat something every hour I vomited. If I drank alcohol I vomited. Certain smells and my head was down a loo.
I became quite the pro at covering it up. At a friends birthday dinner I was slyly passing all my wine to the afore mentioned friend and then when I vomited just before we got in the club I managed to pass it off as a tactical chunder. The morning sickness was nothing in comparison to how awful I really felt, crying myself to sleep at night having total break downs where I ended up screaming on the floor shouting ‘I don’t want to kill my baby’. This was where I felt lonely and I envied anyone that was in my situation with a boyfriend because what I really needed was a hug and someone just to sit with me while I was feeling like this. People told me to distract myself, throw myself into my work, go out with friends but everywhere I turned there was a reminder. I didn't have a moment I wasn't thinking about it, even during my exams.
Finally the day came and I was weirdly calm. I was determined to get it over with quickly so that there was as little time as possible for me to change my mind. I kept reassuring myself that by lunchtime I would be home and the struggle would be over. The father drove and picked me up and we were off to the hospital. We got there and I was taken to the ladies waiting room where I was given a gown, paper pants and a pill that I had to insert to dilate my cervix. The anaesthetist came and spoke to me asking the normal questions they would ask before any surgery. They had to move me back by one patient as I had a sip of water that morning when I woke up. After a very lonely wait they brought me to the prep room. They got me to lie down on the bed, placed the heart monitors and inserted the cannula. All of a sudden there was a load of commotion in the operating room next door. People were rushing between the rooms and the next thing I knew I was being moved to the recovery area. It turns out that there had been complications with the operation before mine. Because my cervix had dilated they weren't able to send me home, as they did with the rest of the operations scheduled that day. I had arrived at hospital at 8am and by 4pm I still hadn't been into surgery, it wasn't exactly the quick in and out I was hoping for. And worst of all I was alone the whole time apart from the quick moment they let him come and say hello. Finally at 16.40 I was taken to surgery and at 18.30 I was discharged and on my way home. I think that for me this was one of the most traumatising parts of the whole thing. I was sat alone in a ward for 6 hrs, no phone just a magazine and a really lovely sister nurse who smuggled in the guy for me.
The next day I was determined to feel back to normal. I organised to go workout with a friend to sweat out the anaesthetic which made me feel very woosy. For the next couple of weeks exercise was the best outlet I could have asked for. I was determined to get rid of the stomach which had inevitably developed by the time I was 13 weeks and wanted to get in shape for summer so I could live the life of a normal 18 year old girl. I wasn’t really back, I was still crying in private and sure that I had made the wrong decision but to most people I was probably fine.
Over the summer I realised that there were multiple things I needed to deal with that I couldn’t do by myself so I started to see a therapist. I didn’t originally go for the abortion but it is inevitable that it would come up. Its really helped for me to talk to someone about it. It made me realise that I was actually allowed to feel the pain that was there. This doesn’t mean that it got any easier, there wasn’t a day I didn’t think about my baby, I was still crying myself to sleep and took to getting rather drunk when I went out so that I would just pass out soon as I got to bed.
It was a really tough 9 months but now my due date has passed I seem to be more at ease with my decision. I know that it was the right thing to do, not because I wouldn’t have been a good mother but it was not the situation or environment I envision my children being raised.
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