Submitted by: Jen
That’s what I have to write on all the medical forms – of which there have been many, since my abortion 2 years ago. Two years full of regret, sadness, and a collapse of my previously stable mental health.
My first pregnancy was to a man I didn’t want to be with. I desperately wanted children – but not with him. My greatest regret was getting pregnant to him in the first place. The decision to terminate was 100% mine. Yet still I grieved. I imagined it was a girl. In my mind, I named her Josephine. I apologised to her every day. Less than a year after the abortion, I met and fell in love with my future husband. I was still grieving my pregnancy loss, but it didn’t feel like something to share in detail with a brand new partner. I told him about the abortion, but omitted most of the emotion.
My second pregnancy, a girl, came not long after. She was also unplanned but welcomed by both of us (Live birth #1 on the medical forms).
My 3rd pregnancy, a boy, was – wait for it- planned! (Live birth #2) It was only when I looked at this baby, cradled in my arms, did I realise that I no longer felt sadness about my first termination. It had been over 4 years. Without the loss of my first child, I would never have had these two amazing children and the wonderful life I had.
My 4th pregnancy did not come easily. I desperately wanted another baby – my husband did not. It was several years of discussion before he finally relented, and Live Birth #3 (a boy) came along 5 years after the last one. My husband never wanted this baby, and it showed. During the pregnancy, we moved to a different city, and our lives changed drastically. He showed the baby very little attention in the first 2 years, and it broke my heart. I poured my love into our 3rd child, because I felt I had to love him enough for the both of us. After 2 very difficult years, I decided to move back to my hometown, to be closer to family. I told my husband, fully expecting that he would stay and the kids and I would go home. That’s how distant we’d become. But he shocked me by saying that’s what he wanted too, and within 6 months, we’d moved back together as a family.
And that’s when things got better. My husband morphed back into a devoted dad to all 3 of our children. Our family repaired itself. Things were good…
My 5th pregnancy happened not long after my 40th birthday. Our children were no longer babies by then – our youngest had just started school, and our first born was almost a teenager! And we were old! We were so beyond babies…
And yet…and yet… I wanted that baby so badly. I knew with all my heart I couldn’t go through with another termination. I knew I was pregnant for at least a week before I took a test. I didn’t even look at the test. I just handed it to my husband and said “don’t freak out.”
I’ll never forget the things he said:
“Why can’t we be like all those other people who try and try and never get pregnant.” (We have friends who’ve had years of failed IVF attempts – he’s saying he’d rather that…?)
“Its a no-win. Either we terminate, and you’re miserable for 10 years, or we keep it, and I’m miserable for 10 years.” (Did our children make him miserable? Our youngest was just 5yo – did he still have 5 years of being miserable?)
I know that these things were said in the heat of the moment, in a time of high emotion. I was no help, as I was almost catatonic. I knew he would be resistant – he wouldn’t want to go back to the baby stage, he’d be worried about the finances etc etc – but I didn’t think he’d be so adamantly against it.
Ultimately it was my decision. I felt these were my choices:
(1) Choose the baby and break up the family. Best case scenario – I would have to endure the 2-3 years of hell that I had with my last child, parenting alone within a fractured relationship. Worst case, the family would break up completely, and my kids would be crushed. My pre-teen, already teetering emotionally on the cusp of puberty, would likely go over the edge in a family breakdown. My sons would be destroyed. (And in my head, my imagination ran wild – My husband, being only 40, could potentially move on, meet a younger woman, and start a whole new family with brand new babies…)
(2) Choose to abort. Everyone and everything would go on as normal, and the only one hurt would be me.
So I chose to protect my family. I chose to abort. And I have regretted it every day since.
I cried for the first few months, and then regularly for about a year. I don’t cry about it often any more, but I think about it every day. I think about HER, because I imagine it was a girl.
I’m 42 years old now, so there’s no undoing it – there won’t be any future babies. And all those medical forms? That’s because during the ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and the abortion, they found other growths which have required many multiple exams and procedures. One of the most tortuous parts of my existence now is enduring ultrasound after ultrasound – not for the once joyous experience of listening for heartbeats and measuring tiny feet – but to document growths and inform future surgeries. Ironic too, that the womb that so recently held a potential human is now scheduled for permanent removal from my body. And so the trauma continues.
In the last 2 years, I have aged 10 years. My body is failing me, particularly (and ironically) my uterus. After 40 years of very stable mental health, I have started seeing a psychologist for the first time in my life. I have developed anxiety, phobias, and incapacitating anaemia.
But I guess I am also recovering. Life is good sometimes (often) and my family is amazing. I am trying to hold onto my relationship, because despite making him sound like an ogre, he is not. He is loving and kind and I have shared all of these feelings with him. I love him dearly, and he is my best friend in the world. But I guess even your bestest friends can hurt you sometimes – and I guess it’s how you move through that hurt that is a true test of your friendship.
I guess time will tell.