I could be stuck in the box room of my stepdad’s house struggling with depression or I could be holding my newborn baby girl listening to her gentle gurgling noises. The decision which was going to have a huge effect on the rest of my life was being made in a split moment.
My name is Anita, I was 26 and had been brought up in a non-religious household where abortion was completely normalised – if you fell pregnant, you got an abortion. I had become a Christian a few years previously at 23 so my faith was still quite new. This newfound faith affected how I saw abortion not just because it was viewed as a sin but because my eyes had been opened to the impact it had on women. Whereas before I had been aware of many of my friends who’d had abortions and said they were glad, I now began to hear more stories of people who had abortions years ago and yet still remembered their baby’s due date anniversary with what seemed a very deep sadness.
I had had a brief relationship with a man I met, we were more friends really and neither of us considered that we were in love. When I found out I was pregnant a feeling of fear immediately gripped me. I told the father of the child and although he wanted me to continue the pregnancy we both knew it was unlikely that we would be staying together so I felt the responsibility was mine.
I was living in a tiny room in my stepdad’s house and was struggling with work. It certainly didn’t seem the right time to become a mum and was in no way part of my plan – I didn’t want a child until I was at least in my 30s and happily married. The idea of being labelled as a single mum was itself enough to put me off pregnancy. I told my family and the reaction I received was not positive. Naturally I wanted my parent’s approval and continuing my pregnancy was not the way to get it.
My friends weren’t much better. Abortion seemed more acceptable to them than keeping a child and they came across as being only concerned with how this would affect them, whether we could still go out drinking together etc, being a people pleaser this put me under additional pressure. I could see no light at the end of the tunnel, yet every reason I had for wanting an abortion when I really thought it through, was in actual fact quite selfish; I wanted a perfect life and this child was going to prevent that.
After much deliberation I phoned up BPAS (the abortion provider) and had to wait a week for the telephone appointment. It was the longest week of my life. The father of my child and I wrote down a list of questions to ask and when the day finally came I launched into the questions with the woman on the phone. Not one question did she answer, not even explaining to me what the abortion pills would do or how they worked, she simply referred me to a website. I felt they were encouraging me to have an abortion as they told me it would ‘just be a little bit of pain’.
I went along with it and received the pills in the post. I held on to them for days, still so uncertain as to what I should do. I argued with myself that if I really wanted an abortion why hadn’t I taken the pills? Then one day the stress got too much, a moment of panic came over me and I took the pills. I instantly regretted it and broke down in tears.
I snatched up my phone and called back BPAS. I was shocked at how relaxed they sounded when I told them what had happened. They told me ‘loads of women change their minds like this’ but didn’t offer any help. I started searching the internet and came across something called ‘Abortion Pill Reversal’. I found some contact details for a doctor and he prescribed me the reversal, which was essentially progesterone.
From that moment on I never doubted for one second that I wanted my child. Those around me were surprised as I had never seemed the ‘mothering kind’. The responsibility I faced of looking after a child which had so terrified me initially, now became the motivation I needed to better my life. I found a job and moved out of the box room. I grew more adaptable rather than needing everything just so.
Looking back, I am aware of how my hormones affected my thinking at the time of my pregnancy – it wasn’t until after I gave birth that my head finally cleared. I know if I had continued with the abortion I would have ended up very depressed. I am also aware that during the nights out drinking with my friends we were searching for happiness. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to do that with a baby and that I would feel left out. My baby has finally arrived, a beautiful 7lb little girl, and I realise that now she’s here I’ve no need to go out partying in pursuit of happiness . . . I’m holding it in my arms.