I am ready to talk about it…over a year on.
I remember going to the doctors for my depression and anxiety, and in the back in my mind I knew I was way over a week late for my period. I had tried to force these thoughts to the back of my mind, but it was refusing to stay there like a naughty child. Just before I left the nurse’s room, I burst out “I haven’t come on my period”. She could see the fear in my face. She passed me to the tube to go to the bathroom outside, my dad was in the waiting room, on the way back from the toilet, I frantically grabbed my dad and said “come into the room with me please”. He looked at me very confused, but shuffled behind me anyways. He sat himself down, still very confused, as the nurse took the tube to the corner of the room for testing. “I just didn’t want to be alone” His face dropped and so did mine as I repeatedly asked, “what does it say?” And she replied “It is positive, sorry.” “No, no” I screeched. I burst out crying. I panicked. My heart was racing. I continued to ask how I get rid of it, and so the journey that changed me began…
I will never be able to forget the nausea, deep in my tummy, rumbling, that was beginning of the wave of morning sickness. The wriggling feeling in my stomach got progressively worse until I was sitting on the bathroom disabled toilet floor at work, hanging my head over the bowl throwing up my guts. It was the height of summer, so my weird cravings for ice lollies for breakfast wasn’t as obviously weird as it would of been if it was winter, but it was still very random, I would just laugh it off and say I was just hot or something, hoping my colleagues wouldn’t realise my random behaviour. I won’t ever be able to forget the exhaustion. I felt like I had just lost 10 round with Mike Tyson, I would just about manage to eat something and then I would run upstairs and get into bed and sleep through until the morning like I hadn’t slept for a week. I couldn’t stay awake past 7pm, and even that was a struggle. I remember the walk to the train station would take me an extra 15 minutes when I was pregnant, my feet would just drag, I was so tired and every step was so much effort.
As time past I started to touch my tummy in bed with the strangest feeling, I could feel it in my body. I don’t remember the exact moment, but for a split second I imagined if I didn’t go through with the abortion and once that thought entered it never really left. I would go back and forth from minute to minute, it was frustrating everyone around me. I don’t believe it is unnatural for a woman with a life growing inside her to want it to end.
The first hospital appointment.
My mum came to support me. We walked into the hospital, and asked for the department, which happened to be located inside the maternity ward. Great. I was so ashamed, sitting next to the exciting mums to be, with their excited husbands, waiting to be called in for their ultrasound. Yep, I had to have an ultrasound for an abortion. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, but as soon as I entered the dark room the nerves and shame hit me all at once. My mum began to cry, pleading with the nurse, ‘does she have to do this?’ why was an ultrasound necessary, to check the life I was terminating is ok. It made no sense to either of us but apparently, it was routine. I slide my body onto the dentist looking chair, staring up at the panels on the ceiling. Counting to stop the tears. My mum couldn’t hold her tears back. ‘Could you just pull your shirt up and trousers down a little bit please?’ The nurse assistant asked, she was about my age, in fact she looked younger, I wondered if I knew her, what she was thinking of me. I was so ashamed. I had imagined this moment over and over, but not in this way. I had looked forward to having children since I had started puberty. I was born to be a mother. I had watched this process on the TV so many times, never did I think that the first time I would be experiencing this would be in these circumstances. As she placed the cold gel on my lower abdominal and pressed the tool into me the tears ran down my cheeks. ‘I don’t want to see, I don’t want to see’ i frantically told her. She looked at me with pity. Sadness. I stood up, and had an urge to look, my mum begged me not to, but I knew if I didn’t then I would forever think what did it look like. ‘Can I see please?’ She looked at me as if to say, are you sure, you just said you didn’t want to see. I look at the black on the screen, but It was nothing like what I had seen on tv, or I had imagined. ‘Where is it?’ I asked softly. She points to a light grey dot on the screen. A sense of relief rushed through my body. I sighed and walked towards the door after thanking them. We had to walk to another room, another department, surrounded by new mums, pregnant women and their supportive partners. There was a young girl, pregnant, with a little girl, and her mum. The little girl was mixed race, she was about 2 or 3, she was extremely cute and my heart went warm. I touched my stomach and couldn’t believe what I was doing. My mum looked at me with sadness and frustration, she was as confused as I was I could see it in her eyes. She wanted to keep me away from playing with the little girl, but she was hard to ignore, she was running around the waiting room, playing in the little house, giggling. A giggle that was infectious. She knew, she knew I was imagining, that could be me. We were called into another room, this time to take my weight and height, nothing much. Then sent back to the waiting room. There was a lot of waiting around, it was like it was designed that way, to make you feel as guilty as possible. Time to think about what you are about to do. Another call, this time it was the physiatric assessment. I blurted out, I want to keep it, but no one else does. The nurse tried to reassure me that I would get support and it is my decision, but my mum’s anger was overwhelming and I couldn’t be bothered to have this conversation anymore, I didn’t feel like I could keep it. We walked out, we didn’t look at each other, we both didn’t say a word. We didn’t know what to say. Back to the waiting room… eventually, I was called again, this time for a blood test. There was a sense of relief, knowing this was the last stage, of this appointment anyways.
I called the hospital, I wanted to move the appointment back, I wanted more time. I needed more time to process my decision.
The second hospital appointment, the start of the end.
My dad picked me up from my workplace. I hopped into his work van. I was feeling extremely sick at this point, the morning sickness had gotten really bad. I couldn’t keep anything down and I was sipping on ginger beer at work. I had already been to the doctors in the time to get anti-sickness medication. Half of me was ready to get this over with so the sickness could stop and I could return to my normal life. I was trying to think of all the positive things, the things I will be able to do once it is over, like the gym, drinking, not being sick every day, staying awake past 6pm. We pulled out to the maternity ward, the same ward that gave life to me. Me and my dad made awkward conversation, trying to avoid the real situation. I went to the small clinic, that was masked ‘Clinic 22’. I was in a rush, a rush to get it over with. The room was empty, just three nurses stood talking at the reception desk. She took me to another dentist-like chair and handed me the tablets and the white plastic cup of water. I stared at the pills in my hand, there was no turning back now. The moment I swallowed I felt a relief and immense sadness in the same instance. I told the nurse I was experiencing extreme sickness, that I was being extremely fussy with food, she told that is common of a female baby, but I couldn’t think of the gender of the life I had just begun to terminate. I rushed out, I was welling up and demanded my dad that we just get out of here quickly. He was playing around with the coffee machine in the waiting room.
…48 hours later. The day.
My mum woke me up. It was early in the morning and we had to be at the hospital by 9am. As soon as I woke I felt sick, today was the day I had been dreading for almost three weeks now. I remember the long silent car journey, neither of us knew what to say. I tried to close my eyes and go back to sleep, but I couldn’t and before I knew it we were pulling into the multi-storey car park of the hospital.
As we pulled up to the maternity ward, (…where I was born), once again, at least the initial fear had damped slightly due to the regularity of the visits since I had found out I was pregnant. However this time was different, I knew that after today it would all be over. I wouldn’t be coming back to the maternity ward for a check-up or an ultrasound or for the birth of my baby. Confusion of emotions swirled throughout my body. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet. But yet I wanted this nightmare to be over. I was scared, will it hurt? I was angry, why does this have to happen to me? Luckily, the morning sickness had started to dampen also from the tablet two days prior which had started the process of detachment.
The smell of hospital filled my nostrils. The lifeless long white corridors. As we walked in my mother and I were ushered to my hospital bed. All the other beds in my ward had the blue curtains wrapped around the bed. It all felt very shameful and awkward. My bed was right by the window, with a view of construction workers, nothing pretty but just seeing the fresh air and daylight gave me some comfort. I nervously sat myself on the bed until my nurse came over. She took my blood pressure (the first of many times) and gave my a hospital band for my wrist. I felt like a specimen. I felt so ashamed, fearful and the sadness covered my face. Thankfully the nurse was absolutely incredible, I couldn’t have wished for a better nurse and carer for the worst day of my life.
She instructed me to lay down as we spoke about the political event that was overwhelming the news that day. This distracted me for a short while. I passionately explained the impact of the political occurrence to the nurse and my mum. I was instructed to remove my trousers and underwear and lay on the bed to prepare for the first stage of the abortion. She placed four large tablets into my vagina via a large syringe. I was instructed to lay completely flat and still for an hour. Then I must move about as much as possible and wait.
I could hear crying and sounds of pain from the bed opposite as my mum tried desperately to comfort me. Rubbing my hand and talking to me, knowing that any minute now the pain would start and that I too was also be screaming in agony. No sex-ed class could prepare me for what was to come next. The pain began. It pierced through my abdomen. It would come in waves, strong waves, just like contractions. Well that’s what they were. Induced labour to remove the unwilling fetus from my womb. They go severely worse, and once I was able to move again my mum kept repeating to me that the more I move the quicker this will all be over.
Every time I was to go to the bathroom I must collect everything in a bowl provided in the toilets, place a lid over the top and write my bed number on it and then hand it to a nurse. The embarrassment was overwhelmed by the pain. I didn’t have the resources in my body to focus on the shame. My mum asked for some painkillers for me. The nurse took my blood again. I would walk up and down the ward to get ‘things moving’. My mum would walk up and down with me most of the times. She wouldn’t let me lay down as much as I wanted to. Hours went by, I kept getting up to go to the toilet, the bleeding was like a heavy period. I kept feeling like going to the toilet would take the pain away but it just got progressively worse and the ‘waves of pain’ got closer together. Crying didn’t help it only made tenser and intensify the pain. I asked for more painkillers until I was eventually given liquid morphine. I stood and spoke with a young girl at the hot drinks machine. She was only 19 and was with her friend because she couldn’t possibly tell her mum. We spoke for a brief moment, it distracted me from the pain. Hours had passed and still no sign of the end. It was approaching 4pm. I was in so much pain and was exhausted. “Mum please can I just lay down for 5 mins?” She was trying the ‘tough love’ approach and she did surprisingly well. She knew the more I was active the quicker the process would be and the sooner we could get out of the hospital. She wanted this day to be over as much as I did. The pain and sadness in her eyes killed me. She let me lay down, she said she was just going to run to the car to get something and when she comes back I have to get up again.
The bed had never seemed so comfy. I shut my eyes and drifted off to sleep. I was woken by my mum stroking my hand. Since the morphine the pain had subsided dramatically. My mum told me to get up and try walk another length of the ward. I swung my legs around to the side of the bed and gently put weight onto my legs. The only way I can describe it is it was just like I had drunk a gallon of water and then had wet myself. The blood was everywhere, there was a puddle on the floor, I spread my legs apart and looked at my mum like I was a toddler who was scared. I had never felt so ashamed and vulnerable in my adult life. The blood has soaked through my underwear, my pj trousers and onto the floor. I started to cry and my mum went to get the nurse. I didn’t move from the bed, legs spread apart the puddle of blood. Two nurses came and were so incredible, they reassured me and told me not to be embarrassed. I placed my clothes into a plastic hospital bag and my mum had got me a hospital gown to put on.
I went to the bathroom, and as I pulled down my underwear there it was. The remains of my unborn child. It was a clump of blood, a light pink colour. I took it off and placed it into a bowl just the others and passed it to a nurse. I waited outside the room where they took as the ‘bowls’ It looked like a lab. She came out and looked me in the eye and said “yes that is it”. It was over, the pregnancy, the baby, the pain, the morning sickness, was gone. Over. I waddled back to my bed and told my mum. A wave of relief came over her face. I laid down. And the nurse came over and told me I was just to wait one more hour, they had to observe me. Right before it was time to leave the nurse came over again. She took my blood pressure for the millionth time and told me I still had one more part to the procedure left. What? But it was over I thought to myself.
Again I was obstructed to lay down on the bed without my underwear. If I had ANY dignity left, they made sure it was non-existent. To stop the risk of infection they had to place 2 large tablets in your anus, yet your bum. That day I had my bowel movements monitored and observed, I was sick in the hospital bathrooms, I was drenched in my own blood, I had someone take my blood pressure every hour, I had tablets in my vagina, and now this… Well I was able to laugh, I mean how much worse could it get? Soon after me and my mum left. The car journey home was another silent one.
The day after ‘the day’…
I get this deep, ache in my stomach whenever I see on social media or in person someone else with a newborn or pregnant. Envy mixed in with pain. My womb telling my heart ‘it’s not fair’. But I do try remind myself at least I can have children, just another day, another time, another place.
But let me tell you something that day, the whole process, has scarred me for life and I just wish that I knew more than I did prior to that happening to me. I write this in the hope that it will make others like me think twice before having unprotected sex if you do not want to risk getting pregnant.
Clinic 21 – Rosie outpatients department 01223 217664
Clinic 22 – Maternal and fetal medicine 01223 256 832
Clinic 23 – Maternity assessment 01223 217 217
Clinic 24 – Early pregnancy unit 01223 217 636