I had just turned 30. I was content, healthy and in a somewhat stable relationship (that dissolved not long after the event). I had a job in finance
for the government and I had recently relocated from Australia to New Zealand. Like most of my friends, I acted as if I was still 19 and my ‘things to do’ list was as long as my shopping list. I had just discovered I am 6 weeks pregnant, but I decided immediately to not keep the baby.
I knew I couldn’t support this child on my own and I am not willing to accept government handouts in order to do so. Even through all the heartache and the grief, that I will continue to feel for the rest of my life, I knew without a doubt, I had made the right decision. The days leading up to and following the termination were incredibly emotional and draining.
I rustled through my bag for my novelty babushka doll pen and crouched on the linoleum floor in front of the check out. There was no hesitation with the words, they fell onto the card with such ease as if I were filling in my name and address on a form. It was no coincidence that the card matched the flowers. I cannot leave the house without my shoes matching my belt and my belt matching my bag, I blame my Mother for that. I knew that every person that saw me at the door knew why I was there, and the glares from the passengers at the bus stop had removed me of my innocence. It had been seven days since my appointment but I still felt apprehensive about opening the door of the clinic, but this time it was closed.
Twelve days had passed since I discovered I was pregnant. The doctor slid a plastic rectangle across her desk and poked her eyes over the top of her glasses, without a word I knew what it was. I threw my hands over my head and grabbed my neck for support, my doctor stood up in preparation to catch me if I fell. I cried with a nervous shiver that rattled my whole body. If the doctor had said, I was carrying a Border Collie there would have been less disbelief on my face. Six years before this day I had been diagnosed with a condition that would mean I would most likely need assistance to have a child, but that was not enough to change my mind.
We had five days from when we found out to our clinic appointment and, as we were not NZ residents, five days to come up with $2000 (I was incredibly lucky to have friends that assisted with this). The degree of emotions in those days were extreme, at times they were crippling at others they left us in fits of giggles on the floor, but at all times it was unavoidable and never far from the first thing on our minds. I was careful in choosing the friends I confided in at this time, learned a few of them had been through it themselves. The moral and religious aspect of the situation creates uncompromising views and the majority of the population possess a strong opinion on it. Even in today’s society it is a taboo topic and one that is rarely discussed openly, gosh I could not even bare to tell my Catholic mother in fear of her wraith! Therefore, I immediately took comfort in those friends that had been through it. They were forthright in delivering details and even though they were thousands of miles away, I could feel the warmth of their embrace every time the enormity of the situation overwhelmed me. I kept reminding myself that if they had been through it, I could go through it.
The day arrived with terrified tears and emotional exhaustion. I crossed the road to the clinic to avoid a group of pensioners. They were carrying signs stating they could help me deal with my unplanned pregnancy, but I could not think of one thing they could help me with though I assumed it would not be financial. With every thought I had in my head I now had immense anger and an almost overpowering will to tear the bibles from their hands in disgust and silence their prayers with duct tape.
Once inside the clinic, I was lead to a room with a recliner chair, television, DVD player and an odd choice of DVD’s, (‘Knocked Up’ was not my idea of entertainment at this point.). It was the first time I felt content and comfortable in weeks, I had to fight the feeling of guilt as I leaned my chair back to watch Oprah.
I passed the counselling and evaluation, with a level of excitement (the kind you save for those moments when a professional decides you are fit to make decisions about your own health and wellbeing). I placed the first pill on my tongue, whilst the doctor exclaimed ‘Once you take this, you can’t go back!’ I swallowed the RU486 pill minus any doubt, she pushed her glasses back up her nose and ushered me out. The process of termination had begun, in 36 hours I would no longer be pregnant. It was something that was relieving, terrifying and uplifting all at the same strange time. Every minute that passed, I felt guilt and remorse. Even though throughout the entire ordeal I had not once considered having the baby, but now I had just drastically slimmed my already thin chance of ever having a child. Ahead of me now was the biggest challenge, I had to prepare for the following days procedure: an induced miscarriage.
The next morning, I returned for my second dose and consequent passing of my embryo. My partner came with me, he spoke in jest for the twenty-minute walk to the clinic, but on arrival and our walk up the stairs, we gripped each other’s hands in silence. My nurse came in with handfuls of pills and instructed me of what to expect. The pills were going to dilate my cervix and cramp my uterus until it was incapable of holding the contents of my womb. Now it was real. Now everything I was scared of for the last 5 days was happening and the next few hours, I was about to be exposed to a pain I hoped to never endure again. Within half an hour, the cramps had begun and I was demanding painkillers like the cigarettes that depraved me of, they would last at most half an hour as they too succumbed to the strength of the pain.
Three more hours passed. We were becoming impatient, the nurse instructed me to stand to speed up the process. Soon after, I felt an unfamiliar movement and rushed to the bathroom as if to relieve myself. I sat on the toilet with a bedpan; I pulled the bell to notify the nurse I had finished. She informed me that it was over I had passed the embryo. I hesitated but passed a fleeting gaze at the bedpan as she held it. It was smaller than I imagined, beautiful but frightening in a strange way. The nurse asked what I had requested be done with ‘it’. I stumbled, my words were lost, I stuttered, tripped, threw my arm behind me to grab the sink for support. She reassured me it was all okay and cleared me back to the room. J was still reclined in the same place, but leapt to his feet when he saw my tears. We had been imagining this moment for days, ‘This time on Thursday it will be over’, and it was, finally. The nurse came in for one more dose of painkillers, she hugged me and thanked me for my strength, and I returned the gratitude. I sought out the other nurse and bestowed my gratitude upon her as well, and followed it with a mighty hug.
We caught a taxi home, never let go of each other’s hands. I lay on the couch for the following three days, almost unable to move. I was intoxicated with grief, unable to stop crying for the first 24 hours, even for sleep. There was no regret, just disbelief, sadness and the realisation of what had happened. After a week, I was only now coming to terms with the knowledge that I was pregnant. The sight of the bedpan woke me from my slumber each night, and continues to soften my once steel exterior. I never thought I would experience this, but I have. It stoked the coals of a maternal sense I had ignored and strengthened friendships I know now, I could never do with out.
After the first failed attempt, I returned to the clinic 8 days after my appointment. I had with me the brightest cyclamen pot on the shelf. Fuchsia pink, teamed with a hot pink card and a matching bow around the base. I wanted to thank them, praise them, just in case they had not heard it lately. They are some of the bravest, strongest and courageous women on the planet and without them I could not have been.
The relationship dissolved a year after, and soon after the break-up he confessed that he was not happy I had terminated the baby. I still have no regrets 4 years on and am still convinced I made the right decision. I told my mother about tit a few months after my sister died suddenly, my mum was 100% supportive and regretful I didn’t feel I could tell her. My new partner does not want children, and I no longer do either. He knows about my abortion and while I recited the story he held my hands and expelled empathy. I know I am incredibly lucky, and will be forever grateful.