Here It Comes

The day I had been dreading was finally here. Well, the first of two days. On Saturday the 26th of January, I headed to hospital. This was just a preliminary appointment, but it was also the point of no return. They would give me a pill today that would begin the whole process. There was no going back from it.

I sat in the waiting room, with Henry dutifully by my side, my legs shaking constantly, unable to sit still. Another girl around my age sat across the room from me, the only other person in the room besides us. Despite myself, I wondered if she was here for the same reason as me, and what decisions, or even mistakes, had led her here. I guess my brain was distracting me from what was really going on, and what I was about to do.

Eventually my name was called. I turned to Henry and just stared at him, wide-eyed and terrified. He looked straight at me, grabbed both my hands, and gently pulled me to my feet. I breathed out. Thank God he was here. The nurse took me through the process, and explained that the pill I was about to swallow would kick start the initial stages of a miscarriage. I felt like vomiting. And it wasn’t the morning sickness. I still couldn’t believe I was here, that this was happening, and this was the decision I had made.

I took the pill, barely speaking a word the whole time, and confirmed that I would return to the hospital that Monday to complete the…process. I wanted to get out of that place as quickly as possible, every inch of it made my skin crawl.

And so I went home. Henry offered to stay with me, but in truth I just wanted to be alone. I sat in bed feeling sorry for myself, and wondering if I would hear from Jack, if he would suddenly swoop in and tell me he would be there for me on Monday.

Surprisingly, after forcing a response out of him, he informed me that he had gotten the morning off of work. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. I had become so cynical when it came to Jack that I knew, if I hadn’t begged him to try to get the morning off, he never would have got off his ass and done it himself.

Not only this, but his actions over the past couple of weeks had made me feel completely betrayed and abandoned, and I realised, there was no way in hell I wanted to share this experience with him. So I told him just as much.

I told him that I was thankful he had gone to the trouble of getting it off, but frankly, I would rather have someone there who I truly trusted and who had been there for me from the beginning, and that person just wasn’t him. Unsurprisingly, Jack’s retort was that he didn’t understand why I felt this way, and that he just didn’t know how to handle the situation.

“Well Jack,” I told him, “now you won’t have to.”

Where Does The Good Go

After the scan, and a second, slightly less panicked blood-taking, Henry and I were shuffled back to the office while the nurse went off to secure an appointment for my procedure. Henry continued to hold my hand, though I could see he too was becoming quite shaken by the whole experience. The nurse returned with my appointment dates. An initial one on the 26th, and the real thing on the 28th of January. It was two weeks from now.

Two weeks. That was it. I would be knowingly pregnant for a total of three weeks. Was that all it amounted to? Those three weeks felt like the longest of my life, and it seems mad to think that so much happened in such a short space of time. But that was it. Henry and I went back to my apartment and talked about how far along I was, and we both agreed it probably wasn’t his. I begged him to forgive me, and told him how sorry I was, that he didn’t need to do all this for me, that I would understand if he needed to walk away. His response is true testament to the kind of man he really is, and I was unbelievably lucky to have him.

All he said was, “I am not going to abandon you in this.”

Later that day I got in touch with Jack. I told him about the appointment and the dates I had booked for the procedure. The appointment on the 28th happened to coincide with the annual staff Christmas party, which I knew he had already requested off. I told him that the nurse advised it might be best for someone to drive me to and from the appointment, and that I needed to have someone with me at all times for the rest of the day and night. Henry didn’t drive, but Jack did. I was hoping he might get the hint and step up to the plate. The problem was Jack had a second job, and it was this one he used in his response: “I’ll need to see if I get it off both jobs, so I won’t know if I can come with you for a week or two.”

I wasn’t surprised by his response, but it didn’t make me any less angry about it. This was one of many occasions over the month that I just lost it. It was completely true that he would have to talk to his manager about getting it off, that was totally reasonable, but while he told me this, he did not once ask how the appointment at the clinic itself actually went. He didn’t apologise for the fact that he couldn’t make it, he didn’t ask if I needed anything, or if I was ok, he just asked me to wait.

I was fed up of waiting for him to get up off his arse and at least pretend to care about what was happening, and so, inevitably, I lost it. I screamed at him for being so incompetent, and asked him how in the hell could he sit there and do nothing, while my ex-boyfriend ran around after me, taking care of me, knowing full well it wasn’t his kid? How could he not even bother to ask if I’m ok, to offer to take me to the clinic or the hospital without me having to ask? It just made no sense to me and I let him know. All he had to say was that he just didn’t know what he was supposed to do, that he had never been in this situation and didn’t know what to do with himself, or how to act.

I countered this by screaming about how Henry had not been in this position before, yet somehow he knew what to do. I laughed at how a man three years younger than him was doing a better job, and told him I was disgusted by his behaviour, that he was so wrapped up in making Tessa his new girlfriend, he had forgotten to care about me. Apparently, my bringing Tessa into the conversation meant, obviously, that this was not about the pregnancy, but it was about me being jealous, and that I clearly still wanted him.

I swear to God I almost punched him right in the face. Twat.

The Shame of it All

The day of my appointment at the clinic finally arrived, and unlike Jack, Henry was skipping his classes and cancelling all other plans that day to accompany me. Looking back, I can’t say how glad I am it was Henry who was sat with me in that waiting room. I was terrified, looking around the room at posters on adoption, STI’s, and being a new mum. I couldn’t keep my legs still and I kept turning round to Henry to ask, “What if something goes wrong? How long do you think I’ll have to wait?” Each of my questions were met with a knowing smile and a firm squeeze of my hand, which he never let go of as we waited.

“Everything will be fine, don’t worry,” Henry told me. I tried to believe him but I was so full of paranoia and fear.

After an agonising wait, my name was finally called and we were directed into a small office. The nurse who met us there asked me a bunch of medical questions that I answered quickly and robotically. She talked me through the two different types of abortion available to me, which I had already obsessed about and spent days trying to get Henry to tell me which one was better, because both sounded pretty unpleasant to me.

I won’t go into too much detail, because, frankly, it just reminds me of the days agonising over it. It was a case of medical versus surgical, the only perk of the surgical option being that you were knocked out for the whole thing. I ended up choosing medical, which meant, being so early on in the pregnancy, I could go through it in the comfort of my own home, rather than spending all day, maybe two, in a hospital, and I wanted to spend as little time there as possible. I was already sick of nurse’s offices and waiting rooms.

Henry and I were taken to an examination room for my scan, and to have some more blood taken. The nurse asked if I wanted Henry to leave the room for this part, as it was quite personal. At this, I quickly said no and grabbed Henry’s arm, to dash any notions he now had of leaving. I didn’t want to be left alone.

The scan was unpleasant. I think now about how that event is such a big deal for women and couples who planned for this, how seeing that first image on the scan is a miracle and an incredibly happy moment. For me, it was the moment when Henry and I would find out exactly how far along I was, confirming who the most likely father would be. I lay there as the nurse completed her scan, focusing on Henry’s face, which held an unwavering, but deeply unhappy smile. I knew this was killing him, and I think it made me fall in love with him all over again to see what he was willing to do for me. It made me hurt too. Hurt for all the pain I had caused him over Jack. Jack, who was out there going about his normal day, looking forward to a date that night with Tessa. Yes, he told me he was going on a date the day of my appointment, and no, he didn’t get in touch to give any well wishes or words of comfort. It was total radio silence.

I was so ashamed. Here I was, getting an ultra-sound because of my relationship with Jack, because I cheated on Henry, because I left him for a guy who wouldn’t be there for the girl he got pregnant, and there was Henry, by my side supporting me the whole time. How the hell did I get here?

Breaking at the Cracks

For the next week I was a mixture of enraged and inconsolable. I wouldn’t listen when Henry told me it would all be over soon, I snapped at my flatmates when they tried to make me feel better, and I was still struggling to keep pretty much anything down. The morning sickness was not relenting, and neither was my raging cold.

Every day leading up to my appointment at the TOPAR clinic I sunk a little deeper into, what I think now was probably mild depression. I stayed in my room most days, I pretty much stopped going to my University classes, telling my tutors I was ill and was going to hospital. I lay in my bed crying at how cruel life had been to me, wondering if this was happening because I was a bad person, if I was being punished for the way I had toyed with Henry and Jack. I knew the answer was yes. I was stuck in a pit of shame, guilt, and heartbreak. I felt totally alone despite Henry and my friend’s constant attempts to comfort me and keep me company.

Jack remained on the sidelines. He would reply if I messaged him, but they lacked the same attentiveness that they were filled with a month ago. Each time I reminded him of our situation and how ill I was, once again, he would simply say, “I hope you feel better soon.” I asked him if he would accompany me to my appointment at the TOPAR clinic, telling him how nervous I was about it and how he ought to be there. His answer was a quick no, his excuse being that he would probably be at work and it was too late to try and get it off. It was only a few days notice, but I had expected him to be a little more sorry, or to have taken initiative to get it off work so he could be there for me. I thought Jack would be more caring, would ask if I was ok, or if I needed anything, was there anything he could do? The only time I ever got this from him was when I specifically pointed out that he wasn’t already doing it.

I was growing weary of his nonchalance about the whole pregnancy. How could a man in his mid-twenties not understand his responsibility in this situation? And how could he simply ignore them because we had called it quits and he’d found someone new who was willing to date him? I wasn’t asking for a boyfriend, I was asking for the friend he had promised to remain, I was asking him to act like the father of this child and take his share of the responsibility of our actions. I may have asked, but I did not receive.

Henry on the other hand, couldn’t stop giving. He was constantly asking what I needed, trying to perk me up with jokes, funny stories, anything he could to help the situation. He brought me every remedy for morning sickness and nausea he could think of, and when they didn’t work, he’d rack his brain to find something else.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

After Jack left, the next few days were filled with me trying to act like everything was fine. At work, at University, at home. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted, and tired of putting on a happy face. Then I started to feel nauseous.

One morning, during a two-hour lecture, I began to feel horrendously ill. During the break between the first and second hour, I told my lecturer I wasn’t feeling well and headed home. But I couldn’t make it home. I had to stop off at a University building and run to the toilet, where, the second I locked the door behind me, I spun round and vomited into the glaringly white toilet bowl. I let myself sink down onto the bathroom floor as I wiped my face, blew my now running nose and dried my tearing eyes.

I walked home fast. Desperate to get into a hot bath, close my eyes, and forget the incident. I was quickly catching the cold that was infecting most of my classmates and I didn’t need to be throwing up on top of that. By the time I made it home my head was spinning. I went to the bathroom and began running a roasting hot bath. As I waited for the tub to fill, I started looking up morning sickness. Everywhere I looked, I was told: “Morning sickness usually begins during the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.” I was six weeks pregnant. Perfect.

I eased my way into the hot water, hoping it would ease my stomach and my nausea. It didn’t. I had barely even started washing my hair when I began to feel the stomach acid rising in my throat. I leapt out of the bath in time to once again stick my head into the toilet bowl.

I messaged Jack, hoping this physical reaction to the pregnancy would trigger some sympathy and responsibility within him. After waiting almost an hour for a response, he told me a long winded story about his day and ended the message with “and I hope you feel better.” Not exactly what I had been expecting.

The rest of the week that Jack was gone I spent most of between bed and the bathroom. I was struggling to keep most food and liquids down, including Lemsips to ease my aching throat and the raging cold that was now fully developed. I had never felt more dreadful. When he could, Henry visited and took care of me, bringing me whatever food I could actually stomach, and different teas that he had read were meant to help ease morning sickness. None of it worked, but I was grateful to have him there looking after me. I desperately wanted to tell my mum, but I was also terrified of what she would think of me once she knew. I spoke to her a couple of times that week, and each time she asked me if something was wrong, as though she could sense the unhappiness and worry in my voice, something I was striving desperately to conceal. I managed to keep the secret till my parents went away on holiday, and I wasn’t likely to hear from them for the next two weeks. It was ideal.

The night before Jack was due back from his parents’, I asked if he wanted to come over the following evening and catch up. He turned up looking calm, and acting more or less as if nothing had happened. We put a film on and I tried to cuddle up next to him on the sofa, but he was reluctant. Rude. I was still in my PJ’s and I apologised to him for my appearance, which might have been putting him off, but I had spent most of the day feeling ill and occasionally being sick. After two films, a minimal amount of hugging and a lot of small talk, Jack left. I was confused and hurt. He hadn’t asked me how I was doing, if I had needed anything, or if he should come with me to the TOPAR clinic appointment, which was looming closer. I was also hurt by the fact that he had barely touched me all night. He had stiffly put his arm around me when I leaned into him and didn’t even give me a hug when he left. What was going on? I sent him a text telling him I was confused, and asking where exactly we were, were we friends, or something more? His reply explained that he thought we were better off friends, that he thought I was amazing but us being more than that never seemed to work out. I figured this was pretty true, and tried to be OK with it on top of everything else. That was fine until the next day.

Jack and I were chatting away online, back to our usual, relaxed and easy conversation I had always loved. He wasn’t bringing up the pregnancy or his responsibility for it, but he was back to normal. I casually asked if he had any plans that evening, to which he responded, “I do actually, I’m meeting Tessa.”

WHAT?! I was fuming. The day after he just told me we should be friends, he was meeting her?! Had he completely forgotten that I was pregnant? And despite the part of me that wished it was Henry’s, I knew deep down, this was Jack’s, and I was filled with rage at Jack’s denial and incompetence. I was furious, and pointed out his perfect timing deciding to call things off with me. He told me, “I’ve been talking to Tessa ever since I decided to stop wasting my time on you.” Now that stung. I was at this point, an emotional, hormonal, increasingly sick woman, and getting sick of pretending none of this was getting to me. I felt betrayed. I asked him if he felt this way, why on earth he slept with me just over a week ago, and how he could do that while making dates with another woman. His response, and at this point possibly the worst thing Jack had ever said to me was, “I was drunk and you were there.”

I had thought that, despite our problems, when Jack and I fell into bed together again, it was because it meant something to both of us and because we both wanted to try and make something more out of it. Apparently, I hadn’t communicated this to dear Jack, and he saw our last sexual encounter as a drunken mistake, not a sign that things were looking up. I asked him how he could do this to me with all that I was going through, that I thought we were both going through. I can’t remember his exact words but they hurt. To be honest, all I remember is that everything he said to me that day, and for the following days was cruel, hurtful and unnecessary, but the individual words escape me. I had been completely dumped for another girl by the father of a child that was beginning to grow inside of me. To say I was pissed off does not even begin to cover how I felt.

Definitely Unexpected

The next day, I asked Jack to come over, and that I had something important to tell him. He arrived looking cheery but wary of what it was I had to tell him, though he clearly had no idea what it was. He sat down on the end of my bed and said “Well…shoot!”

I started down at my feet, worried I wouldn’t get what I needed to say out. I looked up at Jack’s face. His lovely face that somehow always managed to make me smile. “I’m pregnant.” The words just fell out of my mouth, as though I had no control over them. I saw his innocent, jovial face change into a look of horror and dismay. “What?! How?!” he exclaimed. I laughed a little, to myself, wondering the same thing. I simply shrugged nonchalantly in response and said, “They think I’m about 5 weeks…”

Jack put one of his hands up to his forehead and ran his long fingers through his hair. He looked as though I had just told him someone had died. I waited for him to act. To ask questions, to hug me, to say anything, but he just sat there in stunned silence, unable to form words. I curled up on the bed, surprised by his reaction, taken aback by his solemn silence. Eventually he lay down next to me and put his arm around me, kissing the top of my head. It wasn’t an act of love, or comfort, it was an empty gesture, like a pat on the back or a shake of the hand. It was his way of saying ‘I don’t know what else to do.’

I couldn’t help but think about how this moment is normally such a happy one. A woman sharing the wonderful news with her overjoyed boyfriend. How lucky I was to be pregnant when there were so many women out there who couldn’t conceive. I felt so guilty for feeling so miserable about it, but I had never been a baby person and I have no intention of having children any time soon, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.  I was in my final year of University, with a 3,000 word essay and a 12,000 word dissertation to complete, and a love triangle I was in dire need of escaping.

After another ten minutes or so of complete silence, I tried to get some sort of reaction out of him. “So…do you have any questions?” I asked. He looked down at me, trying to formulate a thought. Finally he asked what I planned to do. I told him that I had scheduled a meeting at the TOPAR clinic, that I would get a scan and so on, then book a date for the procedure. I waited for him to ask more, to act interested, to take responsibility, anything. Nothing. More silence.

“Are you…ok with what I’m going to do?” I probed. Inside I was screaming at him, begging him to give me words of comfort, to share his fear and his guilt with me, to tell me what he was thinking, anything. He simply nodded. I’m not sure if you can really have expectations for a situation like this, but I was thoroughly disappointed. We lay in each other’s arms for about an hour, not speaking, not sharing thoughts. It wasn’t comforting or reassuring and I could sense how uncomfortable he was, every muscle in his body was tensed.

Eventually I had to start getting ready for work, which meant Jack had his escape. I walked him to the front door, looked up at him, and tried to smile. “I’m heading up to my mum’s in the Highlands tomorrow morning. I don’t get very good signal up there but um, I’ll try to keep in touch.” he said. I felt like I’d just been slapped in the face. He’ll try to keep in touch? He’ll TRY?! He kissed me briefly and then left, without a word of comfort. I knew he was going away but frankly, part of me expected him to change his plans and stay because of this news. Didn’t he feel like he should be here to support me? Did he expect to just disappear for a week, come back and it all be fixed? I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t move. I was stuck, staring at the front door through which Jack had just abandoned me.

Here Comes That Sinking Feeling

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.