Written by an anonymous contributor
I met him in August 2016, over tinder. He wasn’t my usual type – I tend to like beardy guys – but really cute nonetheless. We went for a few drinks and got on really well, bouncing off each other with our similar sense of humour.
It was only after sex, having recently been out of a relationship, that he said he didn’t want anything serious. So we began hooking up. He was so interesting – he had a cool job and cool hobbies, he was a bit dorky but he completely owned that. I started to fall for him and I thought he felt the same. We cuddled after sex. We chatted every day, and spoke on the phone regularly.
He invited me to a work party, and I knew I made a good impression on his colleagues. I really thought we were moving towards something, so shortly after Christmas I plucked up the courage to tell him how I felt.
Turns out I got it wrong. He told me that he did have feelings for me, but he wasn’t ready to take it any further.
Fair enough, I guess, but he admitted that he was aware I was more into it than he was. Apparently I wasn’t meant to be a ‘plus one’ as such at that party (I took some solace in the fact that he seemed to be the only person at the party that knew that). Then he told me that he wasn’t over someone he used to see a year ago.
I managed to keep my cool on the phone but inside I was furious and heartbroken. I don’t believe that he messed me around on purpose, he’s just a typical boy.
He said he didn’t fall for people easily, but that just made me feel not good enough for him, and it stung knowing that he couldn’t get over someone else when he had me. The next few days were rough, but something else was on my mind.
My period was late.
I’d just started taking the pill again, so I thought maybe it was that, but I thought I’d better take a pregnancy test just to be sure. The second red line began to appear faintly and I metaphorically shat myself.
“The second red line began to appear faintly and I metaphorically shat myself”
I went out and bought a more expensive one that tells you how far gone you are, wanting to believe that it was a false positive. But no, there it was in writing, ‘Pregnant 3+ weeks’. Fuck. I knew when it happened. A month earlier, we’d had unprotected sex. We did this a few times and he agreed to pull out, but on this occasion he didn’t, he got carried away and was ‘too into it‘ or some shit.
Obviously the next morning I took the morning after pill, 95% effective. I guess I was the unlucky 5%.
In the month that I’d been unknowingly pregnant, I’d been drinking heavily, smoking, dieting, playing sport and taking the pill. I couldn’t believe that this little thing survived all of that. I don’t believe in fate, but it made me wonder.
“I don’t believe in fate, but it made me wonder”
Despite that, I had this gut feeling that I couldn’t keep it. I needed an abortion.
The first person I told was my best friend and housemate. I just showed her the test and saw the shock on her face. We talked for a bit, about what I was going to do and how to tell him.
I really didn’t want to tell him, but I guess it was his too. I’d tell him that I wasn’t keeping it pretty early on, so I didn’t scare him too much. But I was scared too. I called him a few days later and I just said, ‘I need to tell you something. The morning after pill failed, and I’m pregnant’. Silence. Then came the panicked apologies and offer to pay (‘they’re free? Oh okay’. Idiot).
He wanted me to let him know how my appointments went. He tried, I guess, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t really want him involved in the process anyway. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, even though it was more his fault than mine. We weren’t really talking much at this point because I needed time to get over him, which is made infinitely more difficult by having a part of him growing inside me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“I felt embarrassed and ashamed”
Wherever I was, I was conscious of there being a little baby in my belly. I had a strong instinct that it would have been a girl. Her name just sort of came to me. Ashleigh Rosanna. I fantasised about what it might be like to keep her. I could move back home, my parents could help me take care of her when I had to work, or I could move in with a close friend who had recently had a baby and we could raise our daughters together.
I’ve always loved children, I’ve worked in childcare before. I knew it would have been hard being a single parent but I was adamant that it would have been okay. I even said to him that if I was gonna keep it I wouldn’t want anything from him (I would have lost all respect for him but it’s his life), and he told me that he would never abandon his child like that.
I didn’t really believe him though, he might have stuck around for a few months, but deep down he’s a coward. I thought about ways I could keep her and still achieve my dream career. But I knew in my heart that it wasn’t the right time. Perhaps things would have been different if I already had a job in the field, but as a recent graduate I didn’t at the time. I had to make that call.
Despite my gut feelings it was the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make, hands down. I had my initial doctors appointment, then my clinic session. They gave me an ultrasound but I couldn’t look at the screen, I didn’t want to see the baby girl I was going to get rid of.
“It was the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make”
I opted for a surgical abortion. I work two jobs, so I needed it done in one go – medical abortions can take a few days, and it seemed so unpleasant passing it, so real. I wasn’t able to have the procedure until the end of January, so I had to endure the constant nausea, mood swings and exhaustion for longer than I would have liked.
I wanted to shut off from the world and not see anyone, I was just existing at that point. I only told a few people, and I still haven’t told my parents. We’re not a close family so I probably never will. There were times while I was pregnant that I just wanted to call my mum and cry, but I knew she wouldn’t have been particularly helpful so I resisted.
I updated him on my appointments like he asked, but he wasn’t that responsive. I asked him what he thought about it at one point and he just said, ‘I’m scared you’re gonna keep it’.
Really? You’re fucking scared?
I’m the one with the symptoms, and the decisions, and having to get our baby girl scooped out of me because you couldn’t control your dick, tell me more about how scared you are.
I was so angry with him, but I wanted him to be there for me, to hold me and tell me it would be okay. I had support but I needed his because she was his baby too. I felt so alone. I had the abortion alone. The only local person that knew at the time (other than him) was my housemate, and I didn’t want her to have to take the day off work. Plus, she’d be waiting around and it would be boring. I was nervous but I was okay, I just wanted to get it over with. I had asked him if he would pick me up (you get put under general anaesthetic so you have to be collected by car, by someone you know, to make sure you’re okay) but on the day I changed my mind, I couldn’t deal with seeing him.
“I had the abortion alone”
I was in the day surgery unit in the local hospital, and I was struck by how reassuring the hospital staff were. I thought they might be cold and judgemental, but they were lovely to me and I am truly grateful for that. I remember being wheeled into theatre and I felt like crying. This is it, goodbye Ashleigh, I’m sorry. Mummy’s so sorry. The anaesthetist held my hand as they put me under and that was that.
Waking up with a nurse beside me, groggy, I asked if it went okay (twice, actually, I was not with it). The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t feel sick anymore, which was met with relief, followed by guilt. My baby’s gone.
A friend picked me up from the hospital under the pretence that I’d just had some routine appointment. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone else just yet. I felt a lot more like myself over the next few days. I had some bleeding afterwards which is totally normal, but I wasn’t bothered by that.
Blocking out the pain and guilt I was feeling, I went on a bit of a mad one (my complete lack of responsibility almost cost me my job, so I had to get it together after that).
I opted for post-termination counselling, which everyone is offered after an abortion, since I’ve had issues with mental health in the past and I knew this would haunt me. I thought I was doing okay but I completely broke down in the first session.
I don’t regret my choice at all, I know I did the right thing, and I’m lucky I live in England where I have the right to choose. But the fallout has been rough. It’s been 4 and a half months since I had my abortion. I’d be six months pregnant now if I’d kept her.
“I’m lucky I live in England where I have the right to choose”
I have good days and bad days, I already had depression and anxiety, so going through this hasn’t done me any favours. The counselling helped me, but since then I’m back seeing a previous therapist which is going well so far. I struggle with reminders – driving past the hospital, working around the corner from him and being terrified I’m gonna run into him (I haven’t, yet).
A group of friends who don’t know I had a termination, told me my name was on one of those ’20 girls who will have a baby in 2017′ things on Facebook and my stomach dropped. They were all sat there talking about how we’re gonna have babies and raise them together and I just barely made it out of that conversation without decking someone.
To be honest I’m not over it, maybe you never get over it. But I’ve made steps. I’ve told friends and they’ve all been amazing. I’m writing about this for cathartic purposes. I’m not ashamed now of what I went through. It can happen to anybody, and it would be great if there were less of a taboo. But I’ve chosen to write this anonymously because I’m only human and I don’t want to be judged, it’s a highly personal matter.
I still think about her sometimes – she would have been due in September, so I think that will be a difficult time.
As for him, I haven’t seen him since early January and we’ve barely spoken (I’ve tried, he’s busy, I’m not gonna push it because I don’t want him to know how much he’s hurt me). In truth, he destroyed me. He used me, he left me to deal with this pretty much by myself and now we’re strangers. I’ve been left to pick up the pieces of myself and he’s got away without a scratch. I wonder if he thinks about me. I wonder if he thinks about her. I’m working on it.
But I have a new boyfriend now and he’s so amazingly supportive, obviously he knows about what happened. I’m moving on with my life as best I can, and I’m more determined than ever to progress in my career so I don’t feel like I had the abortion in vain.
I’m going to make something of myself, for her.
Every year in the UK, around 200,000 abortions take place. If you have been directly affected or need advice, do not hesitate to visit your local GP or for more information visit the NHS or FPA websites.