Submitted by: Beth
I knew I was pregnant before I knew for sure. Before I took the tests, I knew. When I first had a feeling, I decided to go for a walk. It was a cold night and I just started walking. I felt an odd sense of calm. I walked slow but I stood tall. I felt a pull to walk to the river. It was far and cold and dark, but I kept walking in that direction. As I walked, I put my hand on my belly under my winter jacket. I remember thinking, “I’ll take care of you”. I still don’t know if I was talking to the baby or myself.
I never did make it to the river. My legs started to go numb from the cold. The whole time I was pregnant, I wanted to be by or in water. I’d try to walk to the river in all directions. Most of the time I didn’t make it there. I had to drive to Calgary for my abortion because the wait in Edmonton was a week longer and once I had made my decision, I couldn’t bear to wait a whole week longer. The night before I had the abortion, I went for a swim. I remember wondering if the little thing in me liked the feeling of me being in water.
I had the abortion almost 3 weeks ago now and it took me until last week to unpack my bag from the trip to Calgary. I pulled out my bathing suit and cried. I felt so alone at the sight of it. I held it in my hands for a while and cried and then I put it away.
Now I just feel tired. I know I made the right choice, or at least I think I did. It was a really hard decision for me and after over two weeks of back and forth, it came down to me just having to trust my gut feeling and myself. I’m 24 and I’m still in school and more importantly, I’m not ready to lose my girlhood just yet. For me, girlhood is riding my bike on my own late at night, flying over the city lights, not knowing who I will be or what I will do, it is a type of magic that I’m not ready to lose just yet. But I’ve always wanted to have children and have always been fascinated by pregnancy, so the decision was really hard for me. I know the timing wasn’t right though, and I deserve to experience pregnancy and motherhood when I’m ready for it, when the time is right for me. I also know that there is some emptiness in me right now in my life that I need to look at. I do not want to bring a life into this world to fill a part of me up. I want to bring life into this world when I am filled up, not to fill a void. For me, I feel that I need to take care of myself before I can take care of another person in the way that I would like to.
Now things are kind of just returning to the way they were before. School has started again and my sister went back home after visiting for the holidays. It was largely her/our love that helped me to stay accountable to myself and do what I knew was best for me, so having her go back home was hard. There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak of not living with your sister anymore. Honestly I’m just tired and I don’t feel like I have energy for anything. I wanted to take the abortion as an opportunity for me to take care of myself but now I’m just stressed in school again and feeling unwell with all the busyness. I don’t feel inspired or like I want to learn anything. I’m not ready for things to just return to the way they were before. I feel sad, even though I know it was the right choice for me.
Dear Beth, thank you for writing down your experience so beautifully. I was struck by you being drawn to water. When I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was swim, or take a bathm but both were not within reach at the time. I took a swim in a lake a few days after my abortion, and just cried and cried, thinking how the little one inside me would have perhaps loved the water. That was a very memorable of my post-abortion period, which was extremely tough. It’s now more than a year later, and while I think I have accepted what has happened, I still feel like I have to heal, and that it’s going to take time. I’ve noticed that the forest and the trees really soothe me. I personally also felt that I should take the chance of taking better care of myself, and I’m not sure I’ve succeeded, but I’m trying to work on it. I recognise your desire to be ‘full’ before becoming a parent, and wish you all the fulfilment, late night bike rides, perspective and healing in the world. Hoping you are feeling a lot better at this point, and that you’ve been able to start to integrate the changes that have happened to you mentally and physically. Pregnancy transforms one, and so does the experience of abortion. Sending lots of love!