As I click on the like button for supporting babyloss month, I’m reminded of how a heart can literally feel like it is broken. The physical hurt in my chest crippled me, yet I didn’t lose a baby, I let my baby go! Abortion, termination, induced miscarriage, whatever we name it, it is a dirty word, a secret to take to the grave. I don’t want to hashtag shout my abortion, ( I’m not a hashtag person anyway) but if it is true that 1 in 3 of us will experience it then why aren’t we helping each other by talking about it in a supportive context? Some of you reading this might wonder why I chose to write about this. After all it was a choice not a loss? I believe it’s both and it took me completely breaking down uncontrollably during a recent smear test to realise that. The poor nurse thought she’d seriously hurt me, I was sobbing so much that I couldn’t speak, it brought it all back. She was the one who described it as a loss and told me it is ok to grieve an abortion.
I am ashamed to say I was one of those women who respected the right for women to choose but when it came to my own beliefs I always said I could never abort. How stupid and naive I was? Especially since my first pregnancy was a surprise, whilst still at school, today I’m looking at the brilliant young man he’s become, I’m so glad I had the courage to keep him. He turned our life around, everything we did afterwards was for him so he could have what I’d always craved; stability, opportunity and a place to call home. Anyway fast forward 20 years, a mum and dad still together, two good careers, a beautiful home, annual holidays abroad, weekends full of activities and 4 gorgeous children. From the outside we had it all, some might say we were due for a fall and in a way I’m grateful that it was me that fell and not one of my perfect little people.
The month I found out I was pregnant had been horrendous, work was unbearable to the extent I’d suffered a breakdown, I’d lost 2 stone in 2 months, my milk had dried up, my oldest child was having a bad time away from home, I’d supported someone I love after an attempted suicide as well dealing with massive expectations from extended family. This lethal combination ended up with my doctor prescribing me a kitchen cupboard full of drugs, to be honest I didn’t know what I had, I was treated for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anorexia and insomnia? Unbeknown to me I must’ve just conceived ( goodness knows how at the state my body was in) so for the next six weeks I continued blindly with the medication until I woke up with that familiar feeling. When the test showed positive, I panicked; how was I going to go back to work with all that entailed? How was I going to cope with two babies under 2 years? How could we stretch our limited resources and time between 5 children? I wasn’t coping now, how on earth could I do it all? However, as soon as I put in the expected dates into those websites and talked to my best friend, I had calmed enough to think logically. So for a few days I was pregnant and secretly hopeful. Then it hit me about the tablets I was taking, the risks to a foetus seemed overwhelming, this wasn’t just my concern. I was nearly 40 years old, I’d stopped eating, my husband kept talking about how would we cope, work were hassling me about going back, people were expecting a lot of me and my children were slowly losing their mum. So we made the appointment. I cried nonstop through the initial appointment and scan, my husband wasn’t allowed in the room which made it worse, I was really alone, I even asked it if was twins or triplets ( as if that made sense? ). My mind was all over the place. Eventually through my tears we chose to medically induce a miscarriage the following week. The next week was a blur, I was suicidal. I went from blaming myself, to my husband, to the people who pushed me to the bottom until the day came where I was sitting in the hospital with my husband next to me and the nurse standing in front of me with the first tablet and a cup of water. My mobile pinged, a friend had just given birth to a boy. How ironic? In my head I was begging someone to say stop. But all that came out of my mouth were sobs. My head knew what the sensible option was but my heart desperately craved that baby. After you take the first tablet you wait a day until you go back for the rest. Not knowing what to expect I turned up with my husband, on a ward by myself, I felt numb, the sickness overwhelming ( apparently that was my body fighting the drug so the nurse helpfully told me, even my body was trying to keep the baby) and the cramps goading me with the blissful memory of childbirth. I listened to the same song over and over again so that in the future it would be a form of self punishment, a reminder of what I’d done. I stared at the bluebells growing outside, wishing God to take me instead. Nothing happened that day so I was sent home with a list of instructions to rest and to go back in 10 days.
No one comforts you after an abortion, there are no flowers, chocolates, visitors. Only a year before my house was full of friends and family coming to cuddle a newborn, laden with gifts laughing over endless cups of coffee, but now only a couple bothered to comfort me, the odd text but we were left to it. I tried to tidy up my life, I went back to work and began to tell a select few about the abortion. Family are trickier, some still don’t know. My husband doesn’t like people knowing, whereas I wanted to scream out loud just how much I was hurting.
But no matter how much you try to put on an act, it’s the dreams that fracture your heart further. In my dreams I’ve given birth, my husband has handed me a baby girl, I’ve seen her walk, I know her name, I’ve touched her face, heard her voice and I’ve watched her play with my grandparents. I look for clues everywhere in photographs, of strange faces or lights, turning the radio on to suddenly hear that song.
Life after abortion is hard, you move on regardless and no matter whether or not it was the right choice, you live with that decision every minute. For me I still calculate dates, look at other babies at the age she would’ve been and wonder if it would’ve worked out. Nonetheless I’m grateful for what she has taught me, that suicide is not an option, to love the children I have unconditionally, just how much I do really love my husband for everything he does for us and that there are always second chances. I ask for forgiveness from her everyday and if this was the last experience of pregnancy for us then so be it. It really was the breaking and making of our family. But for now I will grieve our loss, allow myself to cry when no one is around and look forward to seeing her in my dreams.