My name is Anna and this is my story: I found out I was pregnant in September 2020. I registered the pregnancy with my GP and had a phone appointment with my midwife. I wanted to keep the baby at first. The baby’s father was living abroad at that time and distanced himself, only replying to my messages occasionally. I asked him if he would register the baby as his but he said no. I asked for a few days hoping he would change his mind. Eventually I realised I wouldn’t get any help from him. I started desperately looking for someone else to help me. I phoned my mum who also lives abroad to ask if she would help me if I was pregnant (I didn’t tell her I ‘was’ pregnant but presented the situation hypothetically to her). My mum said she wouldn’t be able to help because of the distance and that she didn’t think I would manage on my own with a little child, so I heard ‘no’ for the second time. It wasn’t what I expected. All I needed at that time was someone to tell me I could manage and I would be ok. I sat and cried, thinking about what to do next.
The pregnancy, or rather the two lines on the pregnancy test, didn’t feel too much like a baby yet, more like a problem, because I was left to deal with it all on my own. Alone in the UK (which wasn’t my birth country) I started panicking how I would manage on my own with a little baby and whether I could bring him/her up on my own over the next 20 years. I was thinking if I could cope physically, emotionally and financially. The hormones played some part as well I think. Deep inside I still wanted to keep the baby but I was too scared.
It was Corona virus time and the tablets via post started to be available. I thought I had no other option. I was scared and lonely. I wasn’t sure what to do. I waited for another 2 weeks before I phoned the abortion clinic. They asked me if there would be someone at home with me when the tablets started to work. I said yes but I lied because there was nobody I could ask for help and I wanted it to be over as soon as possible. I didn’t want to go to the clinic because I knew I wouldn’t be able to go through with it if I saw the baby on the screen or heard the heartbeat.
I knew the clock was ticking and I felt under such pressure – all I wanted was to go back to the situation before I conceived. I had very little knowledge regarding abortion. I did read a bit on the internet but the information was confusing to me. I was told by the assessor ‘It will be like a heavy period and after a few hours it will be mostly over and you will come back to normal in less than 2 weeks’ but I didn’t. Nothing was the same from that day.
I took the tablets on my own in my house. I sat on the toilet and could feel something come out. I expected a little bit of tissue or even less and I was curious so I looked but I couldn’t believe what I saw. At 8 weeks and 3 days it was a formed tiny baby, 1 inch big with a head, 2 big dots like eyes, tiny arms with hands and legs with feet. The very heavy bleeding then started and I couldn’t stop it for more than 3 weeks.
There was an ocean of blood, definitely worse than the ‘heavy period’ I been told. I was walking, crying and wiping the blood from each room of the house. I developed an infection which I treated on my own by eating food like garlic, grapefruit and drinking chamomile tea which I read on the internet should cure the infection. Now I know I put my life in danger because I could have developed sepsis or bled to death. I knew I should go to the doctor but I was too scared and poorly because I’d lost so much blood and looked very pale. I didn’t want to call my GP because I was too ashamed to tell him what had happen and I just hoped I would be better soon and that the home remedies would work.
Day after day I was passing blood – I just about managed with the situation for around 7 months until suddenly my dad passed away. It was simply too much to deal with as all my emotions accumulated. My dad would have been very happy to see his grandchild but he never did – that upset me.
The NHS website which I read for advice before I took my decision said although there was a small risk, I should go back to how I was before. I trusted and believed the experts that I would be ok. I read ‘positive’ experiences about abortion on the internet but I don’t believe in it now because I’ve met so many women and men whose lives have also been affected like mine. The moment I saw my baby, realised what really had happened, and it sunk in that I couldn’t reverse it, I was drowned in shame, guilt, regret and sadness.
This developed into severe depression which I was diagnosed with and for which I have been prescribed antidepressants for nearly a year. I didn’t want to live anymore and even contemplated suicide, thinking it was the only way to end my suffering. I was sure I would never be better and that I didn’t deserve to receive any help or even live. I couldn’t sleep without taking sleeping pills. I developed an eating disorder; not eating or overeating for months, which made me put on stones in weight. From the happy, healthy, good looking and active girl I had once been, I quickly turned into a miserable, exhausted and overweight woman who I couldn’t recognise in the mirror.
My work was also affected as I struggled to ‘be myself’ any more – I nearly lost my job. The relationship with the father of the baby broke down and we split up because I couldn’t trust a man any more. I knew he was aware what had happened but he never asked directly about it and instead kept more of a distance. I sensed mixed messages from him: on the one hand I think he was afraid that if I could hurt my baby, I could hurt him too and yet he said for him it wasn’t a baby – for me it was because I saw it. If he had shown more care to me when I was pregnant we could be a family now. I could not take the risk of putting myself in the same situation again and so I have remained alone since then.
I finally told my mum. She went through her own grief because she had lost a grandchild. My daughter from a previous relation started to avoid and hide from me – I wondered if she felt some danger from me or if it was that I had changed so much and become very quiet and reserved. Her only brother, the child I had aborted, I named ‘Benjamin’, he would soon be 2 years old but she will never meet him. I imagine Ben as a happy toddler now with dark hair and big blue eyes. Maybe I will tell my daughter about him one day or maybe that would upset her too much.
I developed anxiety towards everything related to babies and children. I sold the house where it all had happened because I couldn’t live there anymore. The memories of that day have been coming back to me too often.
Recently I went to the doctor due to some health concerns, I was told I can’t have any more children naturally because there was an infection which had affected my fallopian tubes and that I would need surgery. Abortion has changed me on every level of my life from affecting me physically and mentally, as well as my relationships with other people – even my finances. I have been through many therapies and been to see many doctors for mental health issues including depression, anxiety, panic attacks and sleeping difficulties.
I have been told to forget, to move on, but it’s not that easy. My abortion will stay with me forever although I manage much things better now. I know what abortion really is and that I could have avoided all of my heartache. It would have been better to keep my baby or even consider adoption – abortion was the worst choice I have ever made in my life. The experience has traumatised me and changed the direction of my life.
I would like to protect my daughter from going through the same experience as I did. I’d always considered myself to be pro-life when I was young but the mass media changed my mind so I thought I was pro-choice – after my own experience I have moved back to the pro-life position.
I eventually found hope with ‘Rachel’s Vineyard’ who put me on the road to recovery. I met wonderful people there who loved, cared for and understood me. Rachel’s Vineyard helped me to grieve, to mourn my loss and supported me in moving forward. I learned to respect myself and value each day of my life. I can see the future again. I have forgiven myself and the people who played a role in what happened. I know God has forgiven me too and loves me unconditionally. He was always waiting for me. I am at peace.
I often think about other women or men who are not sure what decision to make and I would like to say please, PLEASE choose life.