The abortion

They warn you when you book with an abortion clinic that you may encounter protesters at the clinic. They don’t warn you that there will be a teenager in the waiting room waiting to terminate her third pregnancy. They don’t warn you that there will be a woman with a child in that same waiting room.

I look back on this experience and I feel anger surrounding the process. There are laws in certain areas that outlaw abortion but these achieve nothing. What angers me is that there are no laws enforcing the research process that I put myself through and no laws to enforce a single counselling session. The only moment that a professional speaks to you about how you became pregnant and why you want a termination is the gynaecologist almost immediately prior to being prepared for abortion surgery. It made me wonder about the teenage girl, had she ever actually had any proper counselling around her pregnancies. It made me wonder if the mother waiting for her own procedure had been offered all of the advice she may have needed. As a teen and before my own experience I always said that abortion was only for rape victims but having been through the experience myself, I am now pro-choice but I am pro-educated-choice. The gynaecologist who women speak to is not a counsellor, not a psychologist, cannot give qualified financial advice and is essentially only qualified to perform surgery on and treat the reproductive system. I am not attempting to disrespect the doctors working in abortion clinics, I am simply saying that they should not be burdened with a responsibility for which they are not trained.

I was in a ‘nice’ private clinic, the front of house staff were kind and empathetic. The gynaecologist herself was kind and respectful whilst performing an ultrasound prior to the procedure. However, it was not a pleasant experience, I was made to get myself on to the table prior to being given anaesthetic, I’ve had several surgeries in my life and never before had this happened. I then woke up in recovery hearing the crying of the teenage girl, she had nobody there with her, it had seemed she was on her own, that upset me more than anything at that time.

Mum was there once I came out of recovery, she had been incredibly supportive throughout the entire process from the moment I was standing in her kitchen after receiving the positive pregnancy test.

Driving home from the clinic I felt empty, no emotions just emptiness. I also felt really gassy and uncomfortable. They give you a suppository…my butthole was stinging so much. This is graphic, but this experience was my reality. We were on a highway and I literally sharted, luckily I was wearing a fairly large sanitary pad, we pulled in to a roadhouse a few minutes later and I rushed inside. It felt like I was pooping for half an hour. Mum came in to check I was ok, I washed my hands, we grabbed some food and hot drinks and continued the journey home.

I was occasionally teary, but I was numb. This month marks five years since this experience. I feel much the same today. Numb.

The situation surrounding it

The situation surrounding it. It wasn’t as though I was a sixteen year old who accidentally got pregnant to their high school sweetheart. It wasn’t as though I’d found out I was pregnant after leaving someone I had a happy but boring relationship with, whom I had simply fallen out of love. I was pregnant to a man who, at the time, I was still in love with. A man who had spent more of our relationship berating and bruising me than he did showing he ‘loved’ me.

Two counselling sessions over the next few days and I went over as much of the complicated situation that was my life as was possible in a couple of hours. How I had felt like I was having an outer body experience since the day I walked out of my home with Brent. The physical pain and the thought of the financial support my parents would need to provide. The risk the unborn child was at of having birth defects or developmental issues as I had been prescribed vitamin A cream and an SSRI. Whilst it all played on my mind, none of those things was the deciding factor on the decision I made.

The counsellor wasn’t the only outside person that I spoke to in order to help me decide on the next chapter of my life. There was a girl I went to school with who fell pregnant at 17, although weren’t friends at school, we were in some of the same classes and she was a good person. I spoke to her about the challenges and rewards of raising two beautiful little girls, initially on her own but still as a team with their dad. I went to the state child protection agency to find out about temporary foster care, until I had a job that could support me to raise a child alone. The agency could not guarantee that the child would go to a registered foster carer that I knew, so that option was quashed quickly from my mind. The option of adoption only briefly crossed my mind, a lifetime of not knowing where my child was and if they were happy, if I could have made their life better.

Someone very close to me had a child young, whilst the child is happy, the mother spent so much time protecting the child from the spiteful things the father would say or do…just to try emotionally hurt the mother of his child.  However, children are smarter than they are given credit for and this child is now old enough to see both parents true personalities. Watching that situation led me to wonder if I wanted to put a child through the same experience.

Raising a child with someone means you are a team. That you are in each others in lives until your dying day. How could I possibly be part of a team with a man who had used the words “come back to me or get rid of it”. I couldn’t be with a man who thought he could use an innocent child to scare me in to staying with him. I had never had him charged for his abuse so I had no legal standing to stop him from being a part of the life of our child.

Whilst I was putting myself through counselling and researching every possibility on my doorstep, my doctor sent me for the usual routine pregnancy blood tests. It appeared that I had lost immunity to rubella so I had this immunisation in preparation for the pregnancy to proceed. Through the whole journey I was conflicted so I needed to prepare for whichever path I chose.

I kept going back to the woman who had her child young, and how little team interaction there was in raising her child. I felt that it would be unfair for me to bring a child  into the world already having the knowledge that the parents would never be a team. After a call with a counsellor from a local abortion clinic and an additional appointment with my doctor, to which my mother accompanied me; I made a decision to terminate the pregnancy.

It was and it didn’t

Pregnancy isn’t supposed to be painful, it’s also supposed to show up on a home pregnancy test by six weeks gestation but it was and it didn’t.

There are two reasons all of this is so fresh in my mind at the moment. The first is that one of my siblings is expecting their first child and the second is that this week I have another operation scheduled to treat my endometriosis.

I went to work the day I had gotten the results from the doctor, at a job I’d only begun two weeks earlier, a few days after leaving Brent. It only seemed fair that he knew what was going on, I had no idea of what I wanted to do with the pregnancy and it wasn’t just my baby. I text him that I needed to see him to talk about something. He was so convinced that I had done so wrong by him and refused to see me, nor would he answer my call. So, in true twenty-first century style I text him three words ‘I am pregnant’. Which, as I suspected, got an a response. It may have seemed immature, or unfair to tell him that way but I’d tried to do the right thing which is more than can be said for the way he treated me. His reaction was essentially go back to him or ‘get rid of it’.

My mother is a trained counsellor, growing up, usually unbeknownst to me, she was always counselling me. Whether it was always intentional or not, this time she knew that she could only be my support, and not a counsellor. I still needed to speak to someone who could be objective the pregnancy and the situation surrounding it.

 

 

…but it isn’t supposed to be painful

At twenty one years old, after being with the same gynaecologist for eight years they decided it was time to go in for a laparoscopy. As suspected, thanks to my mothers history; endometriosis was the cause of agonising menstruation and all the lovely symptoms that go with it. From the time of that diagnosis every medical professional who learned that I have the disease would tell me that I should ‘have children yesterday.’

I have always had in my mind that I won’t have children until I’m married. I was raised in a relatively normal family structure, so my children deserve the same. Armed with the knowledge that the longer I leave having children, the more I risk being unable to do it naturally, Brent took advantage of the vulnerable state I was in and I no longer had the contraceptive pill.

At the time, my life in general was fairly stressful and they say menstruation can stop due to stress. They also say that you can feel when an embryo embeds itself in to your uterus. After an unusual sudden feeling in my uterus one day and missing a period, I took a home pregnancy test. It was negative. I had agonising pelvic pain for almost six weeks, it would drop me to the floor. However, after a third negative pregnancy test, all different brands, with the instructions followed meticulously, no morning sickness, and my medical history I had to put it down to stress from my tumultuous relationship or endometriosis.

I had been back in the safety of my parental home for two weeks when I just couldn’t handle the pain any longer so I went to see my doctor. He seemed to agree with me that perhaps I’d contracted an STD as “pregnancy isn’t painful” but for good measure he added an hCG ‘pregnancy hormone’ blood test in to the mix. I had the bloods taken that afternoon and was given a container for a urine sample to bring back the next morning.

I have been going to the same doctor since the day I was born so I know his medical secretaries fairly well. When I walked in the next morning with the sample and she told me the doctor wanted to see me and asked me to wait a moment, I knew exactly why he wanted to see me. I was sitting there with every imaginable swear word going through my mind because I knew that results for syphilis, hepatitis and HIV would take more than 12 hours to process. The only thing that could have returned results so quickly was hCG.

My doctor called me in to his office, I sat there as he calmly told me I was pregnant and we went over the next steps. He gave me a referral for routine pregnancy blood tests and I went home. My mother and I have always been fairly close, but I think even someone who’d never met me would have seen how white I was when I walked back in to that house.  She was in the kitchen, I stood at the bench and without words she asked what was wrong and all I could say was ‘I’m pregnant.’ Just like my doctor and I, she was shocked because ‘pregnancy isn’t painful’.

Pregnancy isn’t supposed to be painful but my memories, memories that I’ll share another time, they are painful, more now than they have been in a long time.

Past is past, so I thought…

Generally, from my experiences; past partners are not something you talk about with your significant other. I’ve always thought that the past was irrelevant; the present and the future are all that should matter. Unfortunately, he did not agree with this and went snooping.

I’d been in hospital for an emergency day surgery on a cyst, nothing major. He’d waited at the hospital for me most of the day and when I was allowed out of recovery I knew that something wasn’t right, he was distant and short spoken. I was still fairly under anaesthetic affects and in a fair bit of pain. We got to the car, and he began yelling ‘Why did you have to be such a slut!’. Of course, I had no idea where this had come from for him to then go on that he’d been through old messages on my phone between myself and an entire two ex boyfriends. He apparently had major issues with the sexting nature of these messages, it’s pretty normal to be facetious with your significant other right?

He yelled the same words at me over and over for the entire forty minute drive home. I wasn’t really in a state of comprehension so all I could do was cry and apologise. I look back and wonder why I let things continue after this, I really had no reason to be apologetic. He had gone looking for trouble, the messages were all from before we’d met and they were so far down the inbox I didn’t even know they were there. Who goes scrolling down an iPhone message inbox just to go find what you can delete from your own phone? It’s the past so it shouldn’t matter.

This day was when his abuse began. It started with control, he made me agree to cut off all of my male friends. He had it in his head that every male friend I had just wanted to get with me. The next day, he took me to change my phone number, to be sure that I cut off all the people he didn’t want me to contact. In hindsight, I question why I obliged to this but I loved this man, I saw a future with him so thought it was an easy sacrifice to make so he was happy and trusting.

If only I’d realised this was just the tip of the iceberg.

The perfect beginning, it starts small

You’ll always hear professionals say that domestic violence (DV) starts small. Everyone I knew thought that I the most confident person who would never tolerate a violent partner. They were wrong.

In the beginning it all seemed perfect and I didn’t see it coming. Many people wonder how could someone so confident be so naive? Because it does, in fact, start small.

We met when I was taking leave from a degree that I was apparently good at, I’d always had excellent grades. It’s been seven years now so I don’t even recall why I was taking that break. After we’d been together for a while, he learned I wanted to return to university. He seemed very supportive and wanted me to focus on full time study.

I was working a job I didn’t love and had met this man who had swept me off my feet. He encouraged me to leave my job, and ‘we’ decided that we could afford to live very comfortably solely on his income. At the time, I thought that gesture made him the most wonderful man in the world. I just wish I’d seen his ulterior motive.

It turned out, that wonderful gesture was only the beginning of his controlling behavior and eventual physical violence. I had to leave that degree, and will unlikely ever go back due to the PTSD effects my life with him caused. Whilst this brief return to study was the beginning of the hardest time of my life, it was also the perfect beginning of some friendships, two ladies who have become life long friends.

It can start small, so small that nobody will see it coming.