Katalin Tamásfalvi is 33 years old. She was born and raised in Hungary and now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, working as a receptionist.
We have many fears, both rational and irrational, many an unhealthy combination of both. A lot of things many of us have in common, like spiders, horror movies, the inevitability of getting old…
I never thought that two purple lines on a cheap piece of plastic could make me as scared as I felt on May 22nd, 2018.
I was pregnant.
Here I was, 33 years old, single, and knocked up. Despite being born on the same day as Bridget Jones, my life didn’t have the benefit of being constructed in a film studio. My world is not perfect, it’s not even hilariously haphazard, I’m not a successful single woman choosing between two even more successful potential fathers who equally want to be a part of my baby’s future. This should have been the happiest day of my life.
When I was in my twenties I was clinically told the chances of natural pregnancy were slim and would be very difficult.
Thank you —
and fuck off.
All it took in the end was a dribble of overexcited pre-cum. How amazing it is that I got the chance to prove you wrong.
It didn’t feel amazing. I was terrified. Traumatised. I had always told myself if the miracle happened, I would keep the child. I am no longer too young and naïve.
Now I am old and naïve. I guess you don’t ever actually know your own mind until you’re forced into the situation.
So there I was, sitting on the toilet seat with my little miracle growing in my tummy and I didn’t know what to do. It was such bad timing. For the first time in my life I had real plans, and they involved accepting I would never have a little one to share them with. I had given up on the idea of being called mum.
So why now?
I was sure the first stick was faulty, and still certain the second one must be as well. As the law says, “one is considered innocent until proven guilty.” Surely pregnancy must be the same? The doctor would be my judge, the test would be my jury, and that little one… You understand the saying.
I pretended like my growing boobs were just a long-overdue gift from God, and my tiredness and cravings were easily overlooked.
When I called to make an appointment with the doctor, the lady on the phone informed me that the tests nowadays are so accurate that you don’t actually need the doctor’s validation. All you had to do was decide your next step, and either visit the midwife —
Or the abortion clinic.
My feelings were a mess, but at least the clinic provided a scan even before the 8-week mark. So I chose to go there because I was still sure it wasn’t true, and the scan would prove it.
For the week leading up to the appointment, my mind went into overdrive. I even started to make up a pro-con list, contradicting my firm denial. I searched online for the cost of baby supplies; I planned what I would do if I couldn’t work throughout the pregnancy and how I could possibly afford it alone. I was going mental.
This inevitably leads to questions about the father. I didn’t tell him at first. I already had enough stress to deal with, and I was scared to admit that I wasn’t sure how he would react. I only heard from him by text when his libido overcame him; or as we politely call them, the “I’m lonely” texts. I told myself that I didn’t see the point in telling him, as I was sure he didn’t want to be a father just now. I had to be sure I could do it myself, because even if he remained in the child’s life, I knew I could never rely on him to be the support I would need.
It was a terrifying thought, having a human I would be responsible for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Needing me every minute, relying on me like no one else ever had. There are the clouded thoughts that panic induces. What if I waste 18 years for a child that would hate me? That would blame me? What if I wasn’t good enough?
I wracked my brain but none of my friends were close with their parents and my own childhood was plagued with misery. Is it worth it — this dream I had been holding onto for a decade? What if I ended up hating this child because of the things I had to give up, the things I now wanted to do with my life? Most importantly — can I do this alone?
My friends assured me they would support me, for which I was grateful, but let’s face it — they have their lives and I cannot turn to them every time I am secluded in my flat and need to shower or to pee, but am too frightened to leave this newborn alone.
It was a long week. I went to the appointment alone, accompanied only by the raging thoughts in my head. Everyone told me that they would come with me, but like I said, they had their lives to live. It was that moment that made it clear that, yes, I would be totally alone for the biggest decision of my life.
It scared the shit out of me.
I still hoped the scan would show a false alarm, and I waited expectantly for this response for the doctor. She didn’t provide it. She was scanning my tummy, stopped from time to time. Did some measuring and without a word, left me to guess what was happening.
I realised finally that it was true, this was happening, and I had to make a decision right then and there about the fate of my child. My little miracle.
What followed was the hardest, the most painful decision I’ve ever had to make. It haunts me every day, because every day I have that little voice in the back of my head asking me if I made the right decision. And I know that I’ll never be able to answer it. I was scared. I was alone. It seemed the only realistic option.
In the end, I believe that the decision I made was for the baby. It may sound harsh, but the fact that I had conceived did not mean that it was meant to be; I don’t believe it was a sign from above. It was my unwanted miracle.
I spoke to the doctor and discovered that I was 6 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy. My body had been preparing for this gradually and carefully over the course of a month and a half, while my mind had been given just this brief window in a cold room in a clinic to understand and decide what to do.
My doctor looked concerned. She said that she didn’t want to give me the pill because she could see the conflict I was going through. She was right, but my fear and my lack of self-belief won the battle that was raging inside of me. I thought that I would be a coward if I left. I thought that if I walked out of the door I wouldn’t be able to return. I thought that it would be the wrong reason to keep a child. I thought, I truly thought, that if I really wanted the baby I wouldn’t be so hesitant and it would be a harder decision to regret in the long run.
But in the end, I regret the choice I made. Every day.
It was my baby.
It was my blood.
People tell me that I shouldn’t feel bad, that it didn’t feel anything — and that may be true. But I felt that I was a mum, even for just that short time.
It changed me, inside and out. My body had adapted to holding my little bundle of cells, and my mind had finally gotten what it had imagined for so long. And then it was taken from me. I took it from me.
I hadn’t realised it, but as my body had changed, so had my way of thinking. Even as I was deciding over my child’s life, I became unconsciously protective of it. The little monster made me crave junk food but still I would turn down the free doughnuts in the staff room. I stopped drinking coffee which had been a vital part of my daily routine. Even before I knew I was pregnant, I had stopped drinking alcohol. I just knew that it didn’t feel right.
I truly believe that the moment you fall pregnant, you are a mother, regardless of your choices after that point.
I have realised that not many people are aware of how termination goes these days. We all have an idea of the stigma of the coat hanger that has been used as a horror story for young girls for decades. The truth is more clinical but no less graphic.
First you are handed a pill. You can’t take it home in case you decide to sell it. So they sympathetically and professionally watch you swallow the last chance of hope you had. This stops the production of hormones needed to continue the pregnancy. I suppose it is what could be called a humane killing. Then they give you a package of four pills to take home, which you have to force up your vagina over the next 24 hours to complete the “termination.” But they do kindly provide you with latex gloves and even lube to make the process smoother.
You have to take a blood test because certain blood types react badly to the pill and if this is the case, an injection is necessary. Of course…that was me. So after taking the first pill and feeling like absolute shit, I crawled back to the centre to get the needle. The rest of the job needs to be done with someone else there as support just in case you lose too much blood.
I had asked a friend to join me after she had finished work, but sitting there alone dealing with the guilt and the sadness became unbearable. I called another friend of mine who had been through the same situation, and asked her if she was working because I was miserable. She was, but asked to leave early and quickly made her way over. I was so grateful.
After that, you wait.
I put on a movie to make time go faster, but I don’t even recall what it was. I just lay on a bed feeling empty,
Hours later the pain kicks in. It was probably the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Not just the physical sensation but what it represented emotionally. At that moment a part of me died. I stopped being a woman, I felt like a murderer. I hated the idea of being a woman. I lay in my bed and I imagined what the father was doing — whether he spared me a thought. I was physically and emotionally scarred and tormented. He never even looked me in the eyes, the event already blocked and forgotten as he moved on with his new girlfriend.
When the pain is gone, you think life goes on. Unfortunately life is poorly constructed.
Three months of constant bleeding as my body refused to let me forget my sins. A thorn of doubt stabbed into my mind, every hour of every day, telling me that the guilt wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. Every day was a renewed struggle to stay alive, and I wasn’t certain I even wanted to.
My brain knew I made the right decision but my heart would never forgive me.
It told me every day —
“You killed your child.”