I’m not sure how to go about writing this one. Half of me wants to share this and half of me doesn’t. So here goes.
I’ve never known if I wanted children. In fact when I was a teenager I was 100% sure I didn’t, but I think this was down to my desperate need to fight convention. During a turbulent on/off relationship that went on throughout my teens and into my early twenties an abortion was a no-brainer if a pregnancy had appeared. There was no way I could bring a baby into that situation. Combined with the fact that I had no money, still lived at home and was way too young and immature. But thankfully I never actually had to ask myself the question I already apparently knew the answer to. I carried on this mentality until I met my current partner, who has turned out to be the person I intend to spend my life with. I’ve also reached an acceptable ‘motherhood’ age I guess, the age where more and more people from my year at school are getting married or having babies. I’m no longer ‘too young’. It wouldn’t be completely out of the blue. It’s almost expected in your late twenties, perhaps. But would I still consider an abortion?
It must be obvious by now that I’m pro-choice. I’ve always believed a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body, that the unborn foetus isn’t a life until it is born, or until it is fully formed at least. I’m not sure how I feel about late abortions, severely traumatic situations may be just cause for one, but otherwise it’s a grey area, but I don’t want to get into abortion law. I know my opinion on the subject can vary drastically from that of other women but I always stood firm with my opinion. Turns out practicing what you’ve been preaching for ten years is harder than you’d think it would be. Nothing was set in stone anymore.
A few weeks ago I experienced intense nausea, waking me up at 6am on the dot. It worried me a little but I put it down to something I’d eaten and after a few hours I felt fine. Then the next morning 6am, like clockwork, I’m nauseous, but this time it doesn’t subside. I spend the next few days feeling sick. And as soon as I tell anyone I didn’t feel well their first reaction, every SINGLE time was “oh maybe you’re pregnant?” I can’t tell you how much I loved hearing that, but I’d shake it off, laugh, “I’m not, trust me” like there’s no possible way on earth I could be. But there could, oh god what if I am? I do a pregnancy test and, to my relief, it’s negative. But how reliable are they I wonder. Do I definitely need to do it on the first day of my missed period? I didn’t want to wait a week. So I take a trip to the doctors and he confirms my doubts and that all symptoms point to pregnancy, I could be pregnant. But he tells me I DO need to wait a week and take another test after my period is due. After he discussed what my ‘options’ were, midwife appointments/abortion clinic info, I became fairly certain I was, but I had no choice but to wait for the proof. This was going to be a long week. So I decided I needed to figure out how I felt about the possibility of being pregnant so when it came, if it came, I’d already have a week of thought behind my decision.
My decision had always been so clear, so cut and dry, but now I didn’t know what to do. Or I did know but was so confused with what I ‘should’ do and what I ‘want’ to do. At 26 shouldn’t I want a baby? Shouldn’t I want to have a child with the man I’m going to marry? So I thought about all the reasons why I couldn’t have one to justify it to myself and to those around me. We don’t have enough money to live comfortably without a struggle, we don’t own our own house, it’s rented from a family member and its tiny, essentially a one bedroom flat with a living room, bathroom and one bedroom, oh and its falling down around our ears. But the actual reasons are a little more selfish. I still want to travel, in fact I’ve been trying to fit in a holiday before we begin to seriously save for our own house. A holiday we’re so desperate for. A holiday that means more to me than the prospect of a baby. Please, don’t scoff at that sentence. I realise how selfish this sounds and I know this probably isn’t the way I should be feeling but that’s the honest answer. When I said this out loud to myself, when I really said it to myself and to my partner I realised, how on earth could I have a baby when this is how I feel? Despite my age, despite what might be expected, I’m just not ready, I just don’t want a baby yet. And I’m not sure I ever will, but after realising what my decision was, I began to also realise how hard it would be to follow through with it and to live with it.
I was ashamed to tell anyone. How would I explain this at work? Do I tell my friends? Is this something that might come up in conversation? Should I lie? I couldn’t even tell my mother. What if she was disappointed in me? What if my whole family were? I actually started to think that all women would hate me. That I would be shunned by every mother, every potential mother and every woman who wanted to be a mother. This fear of judgment almost sent me over the edge. So I reached out, to the exact audience who I assumed would burn me at the stake. I spoke to a colleague at work who has a baby and has lost a baby. Her excitement for my pregnancy was endearing. I almost wanted to keep it just for her. She didn’t assume, not even a little, that I might consider an abortion. The knife in my heart plunged a little deeper. She began to tell me how much a second child would be a struggle for her, so I asked her “would you consider an abortion?” “No”, she shook her head adamantly, “no, never”. And then she asked me, would I consider one. Gingerly I nodded. And she nodded with me. I waited for a drastic “how could you!?” or “why on earth?!” or maybe even “you murderer!” but none of that came out of her mouth. In fact she gave me some amazing advice. She told me to wait. Wait until I knew for sure, for only then would I know my true feelings. When I see those two little blue lines, only then could I make a decision. And no matter what, I should never let anyone judge me for my decision. Only the woman who finds herself in that situation knows what’s best for her and if an abortion is what’s best, do what’s best. I can’t explain to you what a relief this was, to know that I should have confidence in my decision. That I should have faith in myself to know what’s best for me and I should do it without expecting the rest of the world to hate me, without accepting judgment.
I wasn’t pregnant. I’m not pregnant. I was so sure I was, but I wasn’t. I felt different, I can’t explain it but something felt different. I think it was worry. Worry had taken over my life and then all of a sudden the worry had gone. After I knew I definitely wasn’t, two tests and one period later, I spoke to my mother, who “couldn’t understand” my potential decision. In fact she likened it to me putting my 9-month-old puppy to sleep. I know she’d support me, she said herself she would, but she wouldn’t understand the reasoning. I spoke to my brother, whose opinion means the world and I knew from previous conversations that he wasn’t a fan of abortion, but he’d actually changed his mind. He believes now that every time anyone uses contraception they are essentially halting the ‘creation of life’, so how different is an abortion? These two very different arguments gave me a lot to think about. But I still came to the same conclusion, a decision I realised I didn’t need condoning or condemning.
I’ve never known if I wanted children, in fact I still have no idea. Maybe I’ll reach an age were I’ll desire nothing more than having a baby, maybe I’ll never get there, but however I choose to live my life I shouldn’t expect or succumb to judgment. One day I’ll live like this, not fearing what people think, but for now I’m still trying.