Guest written by anon.
“It’s a strange feeling seeing those two pink lines on a pregnancy test when you aren’t expecting them. The first words that escaped my mouth were “Oh, !£%$”.
You see, we weren’t trying for a baby. In fact, we already have two under four and a third, well, it just wasn’t in the plan right now. Just that morning I’d WhatsApp’d my group of friends asking if anyone else had experienced delayed periods after their vaccination booster, hoping I could put mine being a week late down to that. “I’m loathe to spend money on a pregnancy test when I know I’m not pregnant” I naively wrote, but they urged me to buy a test to be sure. I certainly wasn’t expecting the result to be positive when I was sat on my sofa eating a smoked salmon bagel.
Over the next week, my boyfriend and I grappled with all of the possible scenarios and outcomes. With one kid still in private nursery and another nearing school age but not fully funded for the hours he does, the financial implications of another child seemed at best prohibitive, at worst catastrophic. As two 30-somethings who work full-time and earn good salaries, we were left wondering how anyone can afford to have a third.
My initial instinct was that we must keep the baby, I’m a maternal person and I’d always wanted children. Having two kids just 18 months apart, we could tangibly see what our hypothetical child could be like, so it felt unnatural to do anything other than assume we’d go through with the pregnancy. But the more we sat on it, discussed it and thought it through, there was one clear shared feeling; neither of us were remotely happy or excited by the thought of a third. Even me, who wants to have three children. Just not right now. Among various other things in flux, I was in the process of getting a new job which would impact my eligibility for maternity pay, we were in the middle of a house renovation and are preparing for a relocation from one end of the country to the other… this just seemed like one thing too many.
Right up to having a consultation with the doctor over a week later, our decision was up and down. We tried to think of a way that we could make it work financially and logistically but we just couldn’t see a way forward. I spoke to a few friends, my mum and my sister-in-law, all of whom were very supportive and completely understanding. They all said the same thing: that they would support and respect us whatever our decision was and there was never any judgement.
On the phone to the doctor I broke down in tears trying to explain how much of a quandary I felt we were in “it just feels so unnatural to want to get rid of a baby when you already have kids and when you know that there are so many people longing for one”. This was another aspect of the situation I was really struggling with, as a few of my friends have had a really hard time trying to conceive. I feel like it’s in our 30s that these struggles really come to the fore as people start to feel the pressure of biology and seeing everyone else around them having babies. It felt callous and selfish to even consider terminating the pregnancy when two of my best friends struggled for months and were on the verge of IVF treatments. The doctor was just as supportive as my friends and family and made me feel really at ease as she recognised how much I was struggling with the ethics of our decision. I’ve always been pro-choice in that naïve sort of way you are when you never think you’ll be the one making the choice.
I was prescribed the medication to stop the pregnancy from progressing any further that afternoon, followed by the medication to allow my body to pass the pregnancy the next day. The process itself was painless, which I know isn’t the case for everyone who goes through a termination, but I allowed my body just to rest for two days and took my time in getting back to whatever my new normal would be. I needed to wallow and grieve for the baby that would never be.
I was really worried that my mental health would take a battering as I struggle with anxiety even during good times. That was a real concern for my boyfriend as well, something he only admitted to me afterwards. He was concerned I’d never get over making this decision as it’s such a monumental thing and something that I would experience in a totally different way to him. Actually, I’m not sure I can say anxiety played a part in my decision. I was in a really good place mentally when I found out I was pregnant so that probably helped me think about everything in a level-headed way, though I guess the impact of keeping the baby and how it would affect us, our finances, our kids, our plans, my job etc made me anxious. I’d been signed off by my therapist shortly before the abortion, and it’s testament to them and the work we did in our sessions that I’ve not been plagued with anxiety since it happened (bar a few brief bouts). I often struggle with guilt as a by-product of my anxiety, so there was a worry that I’d feel guilty forever, but I made a decision that I knew it was the right one and stood by it.
The abortion was a month ago now, and I haven’t experienced one moment of regret. I know we made the right decision for us and our family. But I’ve come to realise that my experience is something that is very much not spoken about, despite the fact that many of the patients who self-refer for abortions are not the teenagers that we imagine but grown women like myself who often have other children. I’ve chosen to write this piece anonymously because there are people I want to tell in my own time, but I wanted to do it for anyone else out there who might be feeling very lonely in their decision. You are not the only one.”