It was a Tuesday after a bank holiday weekend. I was due to have an IUD coil fitted. The mundane events of my days happened as usual. Woke up after a 3 hour stretch, nursed the baby, hopped into the shower with her, washed us both while the toddler ate breakfast with her Dad. Nursed the baby again while trying to eat breakfast, dropped them both to their Grannies and headed off to the GP while my husband headed to work.
We’re a pretty average family. Mum, Dad, 2 kids, dog and a goldfish.
At the GP, I pee’d in a cup. My cycle hadn’t returned as I was nursing the baby. She looked at me with wide eyes and a solid jaw. “We can’t do this today, the test is positive.” It couldn’t have been! We were so careful. We used condoms 100% of the time. There wasn’t even once that we slipped up (or off!). I cried. I collapsed into a ball of snot and tears and felt my insides curl up as I tried to process it all.
How? I already had a toddler and a baby, I had life threatening post natal depression and had just weaned off the medication. The medication that was the reason for not getting the IUD fitted sooner as depression can be a side effect. Having my family on suicide watch once was enough. How was I going to go through it all again? Pregnancy and birth is the easy part, living in a shadow of yourself wanting your life to end is the darkest, most dangerous place I’ve ever lived.
I went to a private clinic for a dating scan at the next available appointment. It was 2 days later. With my children in tow as our family support is very limited. Everything looked well, I was 6 weeks along.
There were two. Two sacs, two poles, two embryos.
Double the work, double the feeding, double the needs, as well as the 2 children I had.
Again. In a ball on the floor. The sonographer mumbled “Congratulations” and headed over to her desk to take notes.
“I can’t, please no! Don’t make me do this. I cannot do this.” As I caught my breath with each sob
But I was pro-life.
I went home. Didn’t sleep. Lay beside my children who were intertwined in each other in the bed, sleeping so contently. I’d transformed in the last 2 months from a shouting, crying, short tempered beast that I knew they feared into their gentle parenting mother again. They were safe. They were secure in me. I was secure in knowing I was no longer trying to take my own life. We had just come out of this storm. I couldn’t go back there. I wouldn’t.
I went back down stairs as my family slept and looked into clinics in Manchester. I learned the term “Medical Abortion” at 2.43 that morning. My lifeline.
I contacted a woman I know who’d used medical abortion pills at home. She put me in touch with Women on Web. I filled in the information sheet and got confirmation from the doctor within 24 hours.
My husband was relieved when I told him I wasn’t carrying on with the pregnancy. He knew my life was at risk if I did.
6pm on Friday evening we packed our children into the car and set out for Belfast. There were a set of pills that a woman decided not to use. I needed them. I printed the doctors confirmation and brought it with me. We stopped in Applegreen and the most bizarre experience of my life to date was buying chocolates and a Thank You card for a woman who was giving me pills to remove all risk of a depression rebound caused by pregnancy.
Maybe I wasn’t so Pro- Life after all.
I bought myself a Galaxy Caramel, hubby a Kit Kat Chunky and 2 Kinder Eggs for the children. It was just a normal road trip to them after all.
We arrived at the address in Belfast. My knees were like Jelly. I felt like a criminal. Checking all the mirrors for Gardai or Police I got out and scouted around one more time before going to the door. We exchanged. She hugged me. Goodness. That was the most needed hug that ever held me. With a smile the package went into my hands and I gripped it. My lifeline. The door closed, I checked again to see if we had been followed and caught the baby’s eyes as I opened the car door again. Smiling, laughing and waving. “This is right” I thought.
Saturday morning I popped the blister pack. Shaking, I filled a glass of water to the sound of Mr Tumble’s Spotty Bag and paced. Taking the scan picture in my hand, tracing the circle of each sac I said my goodbyes, I wanted so much for things to be different but they weren’t. This was the least worse of two horrendous situations. One hand on my abdomen and one on the pill I swallowed. Nothing much happened that day. Thankfully. I was home alone with the children. I cried most of that day.
Sunday morning, exactly 24 hours later with my husband by my side I popped the first 4 pills and placed them under my tongue. They tasted vile! I went to bed and was woken 40 mins later by cramping worse than labour. This was labour. I was about to birth my babies to bury them. The bleeding came fast, flowed fast and there was much more than I expected. I panicked. What if I needed to transfer to hospital, this bleeding was a lot! How could I tell them, could I refuse to give blood incase they found out what I’d done? The fear of a prison sentence was over whelming! It soon settled down, I took some codeine, put on another maternity pad and tried to sleep.
I bled, cried and drank tea for the whole 3 days after. On the fourth day, I passed the foetuses in my mother in law’s bathroom. I wasn’t prepared for that. I knew clearly it was them. The jelly that would be their placenta was there and each foetus coming from it. Tiny little things, no bigger than my thumb nail each but i wrapped them gently in tissue and put them in my bag. Oh how I wished I didn’t have to be this way. The calming relief that came over me when I folded over that tissue affirmed how necessary this was. I laid my babies to rest at home that evening, with tears flowing. Tears of sadness for what they would never be, of relief for the road I no longer had to take, of joy for my children who got to keep me as I am, of hope for our future, of compassion for all I had just been through.
I sprinkled that last shovel of soil and laid a single red rose.
No regret, just love.
They’ll always be a part of me, of my story, and my DNA.
I’m grateful for my abortion. My family is grateful.
Hope comes in many colours.
Ours was a red rose.