I was in my early thirties, working in the UK on a two year visa and completing my exams on a marketing course. I had a good job and things were going well. Then I got pregnant.
My name is Danielle and I lived with my partner who had a student visa. He was working really hard to reach his goal of a career in PR, so when I told him I was pregnant he was extremely unhappy. Our relationship was serious and I’d hoped we would have children together one day but he made it absolutely clear that a baby did not fit into his current plans and that I had to get rid of it. This was incredibly difficult for me. I had been brought up a Catholic, in a convent school and abortion really went against my beliefs. My partner was actually Catholic too but we obviously didn’t share the same values. When I went for a check-up at the local hospital I felt under so much pressure from him, that I told them I couldn’t carry on with the pregnancy and they referred me to the Marie Stopes abortion clinic.
I hadn’t told my family at this stage that I was pregnant. My father had died and I knew my mother, though Catholic herself, coming from a strict Asian background, would see my pregnancy outside of marriage as shameful. So I knew there was nobody who would support me or who I could talk to and I just felt I couldn’t possibly continue with the pregnancy completely alone. In despair, I went to a Catholic church and begged God for help. As I walked to the back of the church I saw a leaflet for the ‘Good Counsel Network’ which helped pregnant women so I decided to ring the number that was printed.
It was Friday and my abortion was booked for the following Tuesday but when I rang the number on the leaflet a lady told me I could come for an appointment with the Good Counsel Network the next day, so knowing the only way I could continue with my pregnancy was by getting away from my partner, and not knowing how anyone could possibly help, I went. To my surprise, the counsellor I met was incredibly supportive and promised me they could help me in any way I needed. This changed something inside me, I suddenly had hope that I really had a choice, that there was someone I could reach out to, who would back me up and reassure me that things would be ok.
I told my mother about the pregnancy and as expected, she was terribly upset and insisted I terminate it. I found this incredibly difficult as we had been very close and just as with my partner, I ended up telling her I would keep the appointment for my abortion, even though that was not my intention. I decided I’d say nothing more to either of them until I had moved out of my house and that I just wouldn’t go to the appointment, but to my horror, on the Tuesday morning, my partner informed me he had booked the day off work and was going to accompany me to the clinic. I was absolutely shocked and not daring to disagree, I went along with him.
It was dreadful. When we arrived in the waiting room at the clinic, there was a kind of documentary being played on a screen about the actual woman, Marie Stopes, and as my partner calmly sat there listening to how Marie Stopes had helped women, how she had empowered them and given them the chance of freedom and to make their own choices, I sat next to him feeling helpless, powerless, pressurised and trapped into doing something I desperately didn’t want to do. My mind was in turmoil and I silently begged God to help me; ‘I’ve prayed so hard and now I’ve left this in Your hands’ I said, ‘If anything happens it’ll be Your fault – You have to do something!’
Just then I was called into a room for a scan and told my partner could not join me. I didn’t dare tell anyone I didn’t want the abortion, I simply didn’t have the strength with so many people against me. After the scan I was told there was a slightly unusual problem with my womb which made it a little hard to see the fetus clearly but it shouldn’t cause any problems or affect anything. I was sent back to the waiting room for a short period before being called to another room to receive the abortion pill that would end my pregnancy. Again my partner was not allowed to join me and I went in, desperately upset. Instead of giving me the pills right away, a nurse spoke to me and said because of the anomaly in my womb and as my pregnancy was at a very early stage and the fetus still very small, she thought it would be better if I returned in a couple of weeks to take the pills as at that stage the scan was hard to see and they wanted to be sure they’d ended my pregnancy.
So God was listening! I thought, here was my chance! I went back to the waiting room and told my partner that everything was done and I’d had the pill. I know it was a lie, but because of the terrible pressure he was putting on me to have the abortion, I felt it was the only choice I had. We went home and I decided that before I put my plan into action, as the pregnancy was still so early, I would finish all my exams. My partner asked me if everything had gone as it should after taking the pill and I said everything was okay and I didn’t want to talk about it any more. The counsellors were supporting me and as soon as I finished my exams they found me accommodation where I felt safe and secure and would be looked after, and I moved out. I stayed there until I gave birth to my son and sadly never spoke to my partner again.
When my mother realised I had not aborted the baby she was beside herself and begged me to give up the child for adoption. I was heartbroken as I loved my mother dearly and initially I agreed but my tiny baby was sickly and needed me and I just couldn’t do it. After I told her I was keeping him, our relationship never really recovered. My mother died a few years later, yet her family still don’t know I have a son.
The Good Counsel Network was my rock and the people became like family to me. They told me they’d be there for me and they were. It wasn’t easy, before or after my son was born, he had health problems and is autistic but we are happy and we manage. I don’t regret my decision for a minute but I could not have done it alone. Someone standing by me made all the difference, I beg other women in my situation to reach out for help. It is there. Don’t be bullied into making decisions you might regret for the rest of your life. Talk it through with someone who will support you.
When I was ready to move out of the accommodation, I felt I really wanted to help other women in my situation and the people at the Good Counsel offered me the chance to manage one of their homes for women in crisis pregnancies. I jumped at the chance, after all I understood what they were going through and I wanted to offer the same help that had been so very important to me. It had changed my life and it changed me as a person. I had stepped back and looked at the world differently. I no longer looked at and judged people in the same critical way and I was a better person because of that.
I loved the work and throughout my time helping these women, I never came across a single one who regretted their decision to keep their baby. Not one. And as I would accompany many of them to the hospital to give birth, I would often cry tears of joy with them at the beauty of every new life that comes into this world.