I wanted to be able to be a good mother, not just a mother

by Nina

November 11, 2021

I became pregnant of a man who loves me dearly and who I love dearly, with almost every kind of way there is to love but romantically. We are not a couple, nor will we ever be – but the love we hold for each other made a strong cause to the accidental attachment I created emotionally to the possibility of life I was holding in my belly.

When I found out, there were many signs I had been ignoring for some weeks after a pharmacy test came out negative. Those signs were very similar to the symptoms I had the previous year, after a cyst that healed by itself, which is why I wasn’t particularly worried, although aware. It was only when my breasts started growing that I realized what was happening. I immediately bought a test, scheduled a phone medical appointment, took it the next morning, and then called the “father”.

He was the most supportive he could possibly be; his mother had died the previous month and the timing was… interesting, to say the least, given that we had been involved for about four years, in which the only protection we ever used was the pill, which I take religiously everyday at 4pm. I cancelled my plans that day, I told him I had already scheduled the doctor to start the abortion process because I knew that’s what he would want too, then I confirmed it once again that those were his wishes. We spent the afternoon together and even went to a university party – we decided life should continue as normal. Not only were we both unemployed (he was waiting to be called in for the army and I was preparing to move temporarily to the US from Portugal). It was the logical thing to do. I had taken MDMAs for the first time the previous week, we remembered. I had smoked cigarettes, even if in a small amount. I drank alcohol. Would the possible baby be harmed by it, perhaps?

That afternoon, the doctor called and sent a prescription for a blood test. We went to the health center the next day, signed some papers, and were told to go to the main hospital as soon as we had the blood test.

In Portugal, abortions are public health, but the laws are restrictive. You can only have an abortion by choice until the 10th week of pregnancy. The next monday, we took the signed papers and the blood test, 9am, but the hospital told us all their doctors were “conscientious objectors” (which in Portugal applies to any jobs which require tasks that are morally opposed by the workers, not just to the military). We were told a private clinic with government affiliation would contact us the next day.

We heard nothing for days and kept calling both the clinic (who told us they had received nothing from the hospital) and the hospital, that wouldn’t give us a straightforward answer. As their legal time to resolve the issue was ending, we insisted and we finally, after an emotionally very long week, got our appointment for the ultrasound – Portuguese law requires 3 days between the ultrasound and the abortion itself to “allow for thought” (which is medieval). The clinic, as I research, didn’t do medication abortions nor did it allow for me to bring my the “father” with me.

By this time, I had grown some attachment to the fetus I was holding in my belly. I enjoyed being pregnant, if only with the looming threat of the upcoming abortion, I enjoyed having fuller breasts, even if heavy, I enjoyed the feeling of the fetus growing in my belly, even if I had morning sickness, I liked the thought  that this person I loved and I created a sort-of-life, even if I never thought of it as a human being (to me, personally, you become a human being at birth, or at least at later stages in the pregnancy). But I enjoyed knowing I could be a mother, even if I avoided imagining or creating an image of the possible baby. It just wasn’t the right time. My very ambitious, very special partner had a lot of plans that were just at the very start of coming to fruition, and he was dealing with a lot of grief, and he honestly didn’t want the baby, even if he could come to love it. I want a child desperately, but I want a child that is wanted. That is the very least. Then, before wanting a child, I want a child I can be a good mother to.  I had struggled with mental illness since I was fourteen, had been unable to keep a job or even a hobby. My relationship with my parents is one of manipulation and sometimes abuse, and couldn’t bring a baby into this world while being wrapped around their fingers financially. I couldn’t even start working for long being pregnant. No, it just couldn’t be.

After practically two weeks had started since I found out I was pregnant and started the process to get an abortion through the public health system, my ultrasound said I was 12 weeks and 5 days by then. “You are VERY pregnant.” The doctor said, disdainful. “You can’t have an abortion anymore.” Almost three weeks too late to have an abortion in Portugal, even if I paid for one. I immediately broke down in tears.  I went to meet the father, talked to our best friend. We lent some money from his grandfather, some from our best friend, and asked his godmother to drive us to Sevilla, Spain, to have the abortion. My own family couldn’t really hear of this. It was a very emotional day. That was truly the first time I questioned whether or not to do it. Our best friend pushed us to think emotionally rather than just logically to make sure we could be okay with the decision. We were very raw with each other, and at the end, I was sure. I was safe and secure. I knew what I had to do.

We went to Spain the next day. I met his godmother, who was an amazing person. Both my partner and his godmother were very supportive. The road trip was calming. The clinic was amazing, compared to the previous one I had been sent to. They were a lot more prepared, professionally, and were very sensitive in the way they treated us. I came in, read the files I would have to sign. I was taken into a separate room to sign them and ask questions in privacy, and pay. After waiting a little more, an ultrasound was made. I didn’t see it. I was sent into a room, to which my partner was allowed to come and be with me. He was everything I needed at the moment. I felt cared for.

The procedure itself took around 10 minutes. I came out of it dizzy from the anaesthesia, but still very sure about what I did. I slept throughout the road trip home, waking up only to have dinner on the way, and then I was filled with love and care by my partner as we went to sleep at his house.

It was only the next morning I started to feel like I lost something very precious. I felt like something was missing from my belly. I started crying uncontrollably, which lasted for days. I kept reassuring the father and myself I did not regret it.I don’t, it was my decision. He was very calming and told me I was reacting very well to it all, considering, and that he was proud. But, the truth is, that in a lot of moments I did regret it. It was traumatic. As soon as couldn’t sleep next to my partner anymore, I started having nightmares and sleeping poorly. As I felt my body change back to it’s non-pregnant state, I became increasingly sadder.

A week has passed and I feel functional – but the truth is that I barely am. I just keep myself distracted or loved, constantly. Even so, sadness breaks through me like a wave taking over my whole body at once – it feels unbearable, suddenly I can’t breathe. All that is in my head is despair, regret, grief, self-hate, hate for my life, fear that I’ll never have this chance again. Still, as it passes, just like a cramp passes if you stretch your leg the right way too, in a wave, I am sad, but sure I did the right thing. I am sad and angry but decided to make my life the right place for the next chance that comes along.

I await for it anxiously.

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