So here I am, twenty-two, pregnant, and two men to share the news with. At 8am the next morning, Sarah and I drove to the local clinic where I waited, terrified, for my name to be called. From here on out, I warn anyone with strong feelings against abortion to stop reading now, because I’m going to be completely frank about it. There is such a taboo around even the topic, and I’m hoping that my story will help others not to feel ashamed of the decisions they have made. I am not saying that I am some sort of advocate for abortion, but I know that I made the right decision for me at the time, and I apologise to anyone who is offended by what I have to share.
“So, what are you here for today, how can I help?” the nurse asked me after directing me into a small examining room. I was taken by surprise. I had written on my appointment sheet when I arrived that I thought I was pregnant. Was I actually going to have to say the words out loud?
“Well…I think I’m pregnant.” I finally muttered. She asked me for a urine sample and tested it. Like the two I had taken yesterday, this too, was positive. The nurse sat back down beside me and asked a few routine health questions before she got to the more difficult ones.
“Have you thought about your options? Would you like me to talk to you about adoption and other such plans?” she asked, although from the terrified and embarrassed look on my face, I suspect she knew that the answer was no. I told her I already knew what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be out of there, to go home, crawl into my bed and weep. To hide from the world and hope it would all somehow go away.
I feel rude continuously calling this gracious and understanding nurse ‘she’ but little details like her name completely escape me. The memory of that morning is foggy, as though my mind tried to block it out, but my conscience won’t let me forget it entirely. She talked me through the different abortion options as I faded in and out. Half listening, trying to comprehend the information she was placing upon me. She handed me leaflets about medical and surgical abortions, about long-term contraception.
“I’ll need to take some blood. I’m going to give you a full STI screening.” This woke me from my daze. I’d never had my blood taken, and the thought had always terrified me. I was lucky I’d manage to escape it for so many years and now, as terrified and disgusted with myself as I already was, I had to have blood taken.
“Can I lie down while you do it?” I begged. The nurse smiled knowingly and directed me to the examination bed. I stared unmoving at the grey ceiling of the room as she began searching for a good vein from which to drain me. I could feel my heart rate increasing and my head start to fizz, like the feeling you get just before you’re about to faint. I winced at the pain coming from my arm but refused to look down at it. What probably only lasted a few seconds felt like long, endless minutes. When it was over, I released the air from my lungs, suddenly realising I’d been holding my breath the whole time.
“I think it’s probably best if you don’t try to sit up for a few minutes, you’ve gone white as a sheet.” I remembered then that we had gotten up so early I hadn’t thought to eat any breakfast, and I was feeling the effects. I felt nauseous, and weak. The nurse left the room while I tried to regulate my breathing, desperate to leave this place and forget it. Forget the pasty green walls of the examination room, the white tissue paper that protected the bed, the petri dish on the counter that reminded me once more why I was here. I wanted to forget it all, but I knew this was just the beginning.
The nurse re-entered the room with a cup of water and a chocolate biscuit. I was grateful. I eased myself slowly off the bed and moved straight to the chair I had been sitting in before. As I refuelled, the nurse explained the next steps in the procedure. I would need to make an appointment at the TOPAR clinic (Termination Of Pregnancy Assessment and Referral), where they would take a scan, probably some more blood, and make an appointment for the procedure itself.
When I went home I told Henry. I was so over-whelmed by all the information that had just been dumped on me. Henry was a medical student and I knew he would help me better understand what was happening, but mainly I just couldn’t keep it from him anymore, I was desperate to tell him, to hear his voice tell me everything would be ok. He was comforting and stable and calm. He held me close to him as I cried, reassuring me that in a few weeks it would all be over and that he would be with me every step of the way.
Henry was amazing, he talked me through everything the nurse had done today, and helped me research the two types of abortion available, to help me make the right decision. He stayed with me all night, all the while knowing deep down, that this wasn’t his baby. This wasn’t his responsibility, and I had no right to ask him for help after all I had done to him. He knew all of it, and he didn’t care. I was in awe of him. He showed complete selflessness that day, and I can’t express enough how lucky I was to have someone be exactly what I needed, and without hesitation or judgement.