A few months ago my sister called me with some bad news. She said that she…
Three years ago I wrote about my experience of having an abortion here after the news that was circulating about abortion laws in the US. I talked about being pregnant, the difficult decision to have a termination, what the procedure entailed, how it affected me and how ridiculous it is that laws decided by men to control women’s bodies were being implemented. Well, here we are two years later, debating the exact same issue.
If you know me you know by now that I don’t write about the things that are easy, because the things that are easy don’t move me enough to write, although it is deeply saddening and pains me, even now, to write about having a second abortion a year after my first one.
It was 2020 and I had been signed off work for 8 months because of my mental health issues that were exacerbated by the first abortion. I had lost my job, my sanity and my will to live. Horrifically depressed feels like an understatement but I don’t want this to be a sob story about my struggle with depression. I want to tell my story as plainly and as honestly as I can bare.
I found out that I was pregnant for the second time the weekend after my 26th birthday where I had been celebrating by partying for days and sniffing godknowswhat. It wasn’t until I was coming down the week after, when I began to regain some sense of reality, that I realised I was a week late on my period. I wondered why I had been uncontrollably heaving up into the sink the days prior to finding out, I put it down to the pills at the time, but I had lived this routine of popping pills and throwing up for a while now so I knew this vomiting was different. It wasn’t unusual for me to see blood occasionally in the sink after a heavy session but it was unusual for me to be throwing up for several days afterwards.
During these several days of throwing up and recovering from my birthday weekend, the whole country had been put on a strict lockdown. Yes, that’s right, I’m taking you back to the very beginning of the pandemic. It was a daunting time but I felt more suffocated by my own mind and body than I did by the news that we had to stay inside. My periods were pretty regular despite my irregular and chaotic lifestyle so I knew I had to find out what was going on. It’s difficult to say if it was the post drug paranoia or the slow return to sobriety that caused me to do a pregnancy test as soon as I could function well enough to do so but I soon found out the reason for my frequent vomiting.
When I found out I was pregnant I didn’t tell anyone, except my partner Matt, who was with me at the time. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so numb. I wanted to keep it because I thought that it was a sign from the universe to have a child because I had managed to get pregnant again despite taking the precautions to avoid it. But I knew I wasn’t a suitable mother and although I loved him to my core, I didn’t think Matt was a suitable father either.
Matt and I acted like two wild partying teenagers who had just turned 18, even though I was now 26 and him almost 39. Growing the fuck up, getting sober together and having a child with Matt were a distant dream, one that I fantasised about many times after getting pregnant but one that I knew was always out of reach. We lived a lifestyle that was manic, albeit passionately in love, we were both completely neurotic: I loved him an insane amount but we were disastrous together. We definitely weren’t parent material. In fact, I can see now that we were both quite mentally unwell and using drugs to cope with our overactive minds. It was no situation to bring a child into.
A few days after I had a positive pregnancy test my sister video called the family with some news. She announced she was pregnant and having another child. Of course I was happy for her, but hearing that news, especially having not told anyone my own news, I felt as though my body was about to break into a million tiny pieces right there and then. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I had to smile and pretend my heart hadn’t just slipped through my stomach and onto the floor.
The days passed and having been through an abortion the year before, I knew I had to be quick with making a decision. I heavily considered not having the termination, I wanted to create a family and Matt told me he would support me with whatever I choose to do. At the time I was glad to have someone support me and allow me to make the decision I wanted but looking back, I wished I could’ve handed that responsibility over to both of the men I went through this with. Why did it have to be me who decided when we were both the potential parents? Obviously, I know the answer and this question is more of a cry for help than something that needs any reasoning. It was completely isolating and overwhelming carrying such a heavy burden. It still is sometimes even now.
People think that having an abortion is an easy as “yes or no” but no one talks about the guilt, the shame and the regret you slip in and out of feeling throughout the whole time and for years afterwards too.
Fast forward to today: I am currently on my period, which is what prompted me to write this. I wanted to share that yesterday I cried. Today, when I sat on the toilet watching the blood trickle down from my crotch into the water below, I looked at the viscous red stains floating below me, each drop as thick as the last, and I noticed that tears were falling from my eyes with the same density. I was crying again. I realised that I wasn’t crying because I was in pain or that where I was right then was an awful situation, I was just remembering a time that had passed that was difficult. Yet still, I was the same person sat on the same toilet watching the same process of menstrual passing. I had been shedding this blood for years but it always felt thicker after I had the abortions, not because it was, but because the emotion I had attached to it was heavier. I let myself sit there and watch and cry for a while longer and then I got up and continued on with my day.
Flashback to 2020: I decided to have the termination 4 weeks later. I went with the same process that I had before which was the home abortion option where you insert the pills into your vagina yourself, what with it being lockdown, they encouraged people to do this. I can’t write the details of the procedure because it is too painful but if you read my first blogpost about the process, you’ll know that it went wrong and I had to be rushed into hospital. The same complications occurred the second time except I was told I couldn’t come into the hospital because of covid, I had to stay home and be observed by Matt who was informed of what to do over the phone. What I can tell you is that I was in severe, extensive pain. The hospital sent stronger painkillers to my home which arrived the next day and after that I spent the rest of the procedure floating in a tramadol haze.
I’d love to say something here about abortion laws and women’s rights but honestly, who is really listening? Do I have the energy to keep fighting a relentless war that takes no prisoners and feels so out of reach? Do I mull it over and become obsessed with every news story that announces another strict legislation on our human rights? Do I consume all of the stories until the rage and despair consumes me? Or do I just try to exist in the best possible way I can, do the least harm and drift off into my own little bubble, creating calmer thoughts and nicer stories? I guess you could say I was ‘lucky’ because I had legal and safe(r) abortions. This, I am grateful for. But I don’t have any answers for those of the world who endure harmful practises and are being ostracised and criminalised for making choices about their own bodies.
Most of the time, I share my writing with the intention of reaching people who may have experienced similar struggles, I usually imagine I am writing to someone, but this time, I am writing just for me. However, if you do find you get something from this then you’re welcome. Writing is the most beneficial, cathartic process I have found that transforms my pain into something less painful and amongst other things such as swimming, exercise, reading, music – it has saved me from falling too deep into depression. Although, when it comes to how I have abused my body and when I think back to the trauma of the two abortions, I know I need to write a lot more to process this pain.