“It was an interesting experience and not one I’m ashamed of”

by Louise

April 24, 2017

I have identified as pro-choice since I was around 13 years old. My friends and I would often talk about what would happen if we were to get pregnant when too young, and the answer was always ‘I’d get an abortion’. We weren’t being blithe about it, we just knew that this was an option and it was a good option when you feel incapable of raising an entire other human being. There were lots of pregnancy scares around the ages of 16-18 and after that, I just sort of forgot about it.

Getting accidentally pregnant at 25 with a supportive boyfriend and a steady job was a different experience. I wasn’t quite prepared for how being pro-choice doesn’t mean that your choice will naturally be to end a pregnancy. I also wasn’t prepared for how thinking about a baby whilst being pregnant isn’t just an intellectual process, but shaped by the biological experience that you feel in your body. I pretty much knew I was pregnant before I took a test because my boobs had gotten huge and tender, and I was nauseous on a daily basis. Making a decision when you feel something already changing in your body is an entirely different process to what I imagined as a teenager. It felt as though the baby was already a reality inside of me, not an abstract concept for discussion.

As you get older, the women around you start to talk about getting pregnant as a difficult thing to achieve, rather than an unwanted thing to avoid. I felt guilty thinking about women who were trying but couldn’t have a baby. I told my male friend who I was living with first, and cried, and then I skyped my boyfriend who was living overseas and told him, and we cried together. I asked how he felt about adoption and it wasn’t something he felt comfortable with and so an abortion was the only really option; we both knew we didn’t feel ready for a child. Despite not being in terrible life circumstances, I also certainly wasn’t where I wanted to be to raise a child: 6 months into a long distance relationship; living in rented accommodation; starting a gruelling career path that would demand a lot from me; living away from my family. Having an abortion was really a foregone conclusion but it doesn’t mean that I felt good about it. He said that it was good news for us, but that it wasn’t our time, and I felt so hopeful and close to him in that moment.

Back home alone (in the UK) I went to a sexual health clinic, had a pregnancy test, and they helped me to set up an appointment to have a scan and discuss the options. The man who did the test was not judgmental, but neither was he particularly warm. My friend offered to attend appointments with me but they were scheduled during the day so I went alone. Having the scan was slightly strange because the waiting room had pregnant women in it, but the doctor who saw me was very kind and patient. My pregnancy was dated at 8 weeks, which meant that I had an option between taking a pill that would effectively induce a miscarriage and allow me to do this in the comfort of my home, or have a minor surgical procedure under general anesthetic. Although the pill is often preferred, I felt that bleeding at home by myself would be a distressing and unsettling experience. I decided to have the surgical procedure so that I could have a contraceptive implant inserted at the same time, and so that my boyfriend could be there to take me home afterwards and it be over with.

All of it from here on was really low drama. I told the HR manager at work that I needed time off because I was pregnant (she congratulated me and then I said no…) and needed to have a medical procedure. She was fine about it and I didn’t tell anyone else at work, except a friend. The procedure was scheduled quickly but it was strange being pregnant for another week or so, and having a birthday party with friends where not everyone knew and I felt strangely as though I shouldn’t be drinking alcohol (I didn’t)! On the day, I went with my boyfriend and then had to go in alone and wait in a waiting room in a gown etc for a couple of hours. I had had surgery before so wasn’t worried. The nurses were all so kind and explained things to me, and then I had the IV for the anesthetic put in my wrist and then they count you down from 10 and within a couple of seconds you are out. Afterwards, I had a little booth with a curtain and chair and things to get dressed in and they gave me a pad in case I bled or anything, which I didn’t. I had to wait a little while before I could be signed out but I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible and see my boyfriend who was waiting.

I can’t really remember much after that other than it was fine, no problems, and my boyfriend was so sweet to me. We became incredibly close after it and he ended up moving to this country and we lived together. I told a few friends but not everyone but it’s not a great secret, I usually mention it if the subject comes up. I still to this day haven’t told my parents but I told my sister and my boyfriend told his parents, who gave me a huge hug when I saw them and said ‘welcome to the family’.

I have been thinking about it recently because my implant needs to be changed, and because many women around me are now pregnant and talking about their pregnancies, and my best friend just had a baby. It feels strange sometimes not to join in these conversations because I too had a full first trimester experience, which would seem inappropriate to talk about with less close friends and acquaintances and make people feel uncomfortable. Yet it was an interesting experience and not one I’m ashamed of. I wish that I could talk about it more openly; that it was more of a recognised, normal part of women’s experiences, along with miscarriages and other common experiences of pregnancy that do not end in a live birth. Sometimes my boyfriend and I reflect on how old our child could be, and how strange that is, but we have no regrets and it doesn’t upset me to think about. It’s strange but it just is what it is; I was pregnant and then I wasn’t. It’s somehow an experience so huge and yet also like nothing important at all.