3 Pink Lines, And Then Exit

by Anonymous

January 19, 2021

One evening, I realised it had been 6 weeks since I last popped a Feminax to quash the monthly ache I both abhorred and welcomed. Ironic in my attempts at semi-responsibility, I bought the same pregnancy test I buy every time my period is late.

During the day, I had been at lunch with some old friends from school. We ate sushi and complained about how much the world expected from us mere millennials. After, I felt sick and blamed it on bad ngiri. “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted the salmon”.

I lay the pregnancy test on my bed. Wait 5 minutes, I was instructed. After 3, I shot a quick glance at the test as I returned to the room.

Well, fuck.

The on-again, off-again relationship with my best friend who sometimes forgot my worth was recently back on, and in the middle of the excitement it seemed I had also forgotten who I was and how babies are made. When we first began dating three years before, I was contending with an eating disorder that was proving difficult to shake, and hadn’t had a period in half a year. In our haphazard approach to contraception, we had never managed to grasp the hang of it once my periods did return along with my health.

Now we were back together after months of silence, and things had been going as well as they could for two people who could never seem to make it work. I wore the rising resentment of someone yet to forgive, shining it up to show the world whenever he came to visit without his best smile. He wore an inability to empathise and an overwhelming denial over that which had gone before. We were each to each other a reminder of the past and of the love we could not realise, yet I was absolutely addicted to our dysfunctional rhythm.

We had just returned together from a trip, organised for my birthday kindly by him, where I spent the entire weekend teary. When he queried my disconnect, I mumbled something about my lack of sleep and a feeling of impending doom. In truth, I had about as much idea why I was so upset as he did.

I told him I was pregnant, and there was a long pause, a “Fuck” at the end of the line, and then a promise that everything would be okay. We talked, both in way over our heads, and then talked more. We both wanted a family, and spoke about wanting it with each other. 2 graduations, a proposal, a wedding, a house, 3 children called Charlie, Oscar and Olivia. We began to imagine what our lives would be like with a child, and then came to a decision.

I had never considered my opinion before, on abortion. I had never given it a second thought, only to say that I was certain if ever the situation arose where I became pregnant accidentally, I wouldn’t hesitate to terminate, my choice as a womb-bearing person in the year 2017.

What I had not measured and was evidently not prepared for, was the gravity of this choice. I was told it was common to feel a sense of relief eventually, but that feeling never came. Rather surprisingly to me, the agony of what was happening spilled out in tiny sobs and fits of anger. This later gave way to the low hum of guilt and emptiness, a slow ache I felt I deserved.

What had I done? Was this my baby? Was this our baby?

Struggle came from my solo endeavour to justify and make sense of the decision we had made. I desperately wanted to know how my boyfriend felt and whether there was any common ground to our individual sadness, neglecting my own thoughts in my preoccupation with his. We justified our decision with the tangible promise that one day we would have children of our own together, when the time was right. Although I knew in the deepest pit of my grief that we had made the right choice for ourselves, this instinct was quickly and frequently cast aside by us both. I spent hours on google; “Am I a bad person?”

Everywhere I went, a reminder. In my dreams, on the screen, on hospital placement, Babies. One evening I met my boyfriend for a drink after being out with friends. Before I’d entered the bar with both my feet, he slid off his stool to introduce me to his friend; “We were just talking about abortion, he’s been through it too with his ex”. I appreciated the blunt yet endearing attempt to normalise what had happened, but not enough to accept the lack of sensitivity it brought. Later that evening, we fought, he got behind the wheel after too many pints, and returned the next day to make up. “We’re both psychos”, we laughed under bated breath.

At the recommendation of my mum and the internet, I took myself to termination counselling to deal with my feelings. I was looking for him to deal with them for me, disappointed with the returns of my misdirected efforts and vexation. Sat in the olive green waiting room, I looked around at the three other girls sat near me. Two of the girls had brought their partners with them. I wanted to discern how they had asked for this support and been given it. Had they screamed for it, calmly demanded, or tentatively appealed? Where was my partner in this? Suddenly I began to feel like I had been failed.

I wrestled with the impulsive desire to get a kitten; a creature of my own that would rely on me solely to live. The kitten I picked out was light grey with white spots on his face, a baby boy. I named him Seamus, Gaelic meaning “substitute”. I broke my mother’s heart when I told her of my imminent plans that evening to pick up what I believed would be the answer to all my pain and confusion. She sighed on the other end; “Darling, I know you think this will fix how you feel, but it won’t”. Her words stunted me; exposing the connection between my need to mother something, and my decision not to be a mother. I was given a choice; I could have Seamus if I believed it was the right thing to do. I decided Seamus must wait for my heart to catch up with my head.

The recycled disintegration of our relationship came shortly after these growing feelings of loss and confusion came to the surface, threatening the precariously balanced peace we had recently found. My boyfriend had reached the end of his limited patience with my grief, yet I had only just begun unravelling. Arguments and throbbing doubt ensued amongst us to create our current dysfunction. Picking where we knew it would hurt most, we had done this dance before.

Our abortion was the last nail in the coffin, the slow death of what we had tried desperately to resurrect. Once again, we had gently returned to the flawed versions of ourselves we each paraded when life got hard, a default setting. I knew I had not yet completely forgiven him for much of our past, and every glance at his face became a reminder of the baby I believed we had killed. He knew if he stayed we would continue to hurt one another, wondering if this misery was to be the sum total of us, forever. We were just one scared person pushing another scared person away, trying to love and attempting to heal at an arms length.

One night, just before I knew it was over, I felt it was over. Sitting in the car, it was 5 o’clock at night, but already dark. I was alone and trying to come up with a solution. The person I had loved since I was eighteen opened the driver’s side and slid in to the front seat. Looking at him, my heart sank. It stung us both, space and time our only saving grace. The “I miss you” we both held back as we said we didn’t think we were right for the other, neither one convinced of the certainty in this statement but willing to try something, anything different in order to feel better. For a long time after I believed this was our punishment, that the decision we had made to end my pregnancy meant, by virtue, we had also given up the chance of being happy together.

Shortly into the aftermath, I was given the opportunity to observe and scrub in on a total hip replacement surgery at university. Scrubs on, hands washed and gloved, I donned the heavy lead suit which crushed my shoulders under my surgical robe. For three hours I stood while the surgeon worked. When it was over, I was so impressed that I stood there for a while after the last stitch had been thrown. Suddenly remembering I was free to leave, I threw my gloves in the bin and awkwardly pried off the lead suit from my body, now numb to its weight. Was this it, the sense of relief? And in one cliche metaphor, here in lies the final truth; The things that have weighed you down needn’t keep you down. As I finally remember who I am, and who I was before all of this, I am able to slowly let go of what no longer brings me any peace and make space for the lessons which come back to break both our hearts in new and familiar ways.

We are all searching for the kind of closure that only seems to come with following a book to its final page. Usually, our own lives don’t provide us with the same feeling the last sentence does. Life is messy; things end abruptly, or rather too soon or too late, and without the plug of a full stop as an accessory to their conclusion.

A Closure for me;

I am human, and just like everybody else in this world, I don’t know what I am doing. I made a decision that was best for me and the person I loved, and one that I will carry for the rest of my life, gracefully and with ever-growing acceptance. I am proud that I was able to make such a hard and certain decision for myself and my future, a future that I will protect with the fortitude and persistence of a woman who will one day make a brilliant mother and Doctor. This decision does not define me, or the parameters of my happiness. I am allowed to feel loss, relief, sadness and hopefulness all at the same time. I am allowed to love someone while also recognising that being together only ever ends in pain. I am allowed to love and be loved again in a better way. I am allowed to let this go.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!