I got home about an hour later, my notebook in hand, and went straight to my room without seeing mum or saying anything to her. If she saw me with my eyes red she’d make me sit down and talk to her. How could I tell her I was pregnant, let alone that despite booking the appointment and Chris telling me to get an abortion, I wanted to keep my baby? I stuck the scan picture into the new notebook, and wrote under it “6 weeks”. If I was keeping this baby I was going to be proud of it, in my own way. There were still no guarantees that I’d keep the baby, but I wanted something to make it real.
Over the next week I avoided Chris like the plague, dodged my friends’ questions and just kept my head down. The nausea and vomiting continued, but I learnt to either ignore it or keep it from the sight of my friends and family. I started wearing baggy hoodies and tracksuit trousers. That was probably the one good thing about being in college; no set uniform so no worrying about smart trousers or blouses. According to the scan I was due around the end of July, so when I was biggest with my pregnancy I’d be on summer holidays. By then I’d just better have told my parents.
My appointment on the Friday for the abortion was during school time, so in the morning before school, I told my mum I had been up in the night again being sick, which was the total truth, just not as she knew it. She tried insisting on taking the day off to look after me and keep an eye on me, but I wouldn’t let her. I’d never be able to get out for my appointment if she was at home. So when I finally had her convinced that I’d be alright, I headed upstairs to change into a comfortable tracksuit.
I arrived at the clinic about 20 minutes early, so I sat in reception, surrounded by posters about adoption, abortion and the joys of parenthood, while half a dozen pregnant women and parents with young babies came in. They all looked so happy. I pulled out my scan and took another look at my little smudge. Finally, after yet another happy person walked through to their appointment, I was called for mine.
The nurse who came to get me asked whether I wanted to see a counsellor before the appointment. I didn’t really want to, but I did anyway because I wasn’t sure still whether or not to have the abortion.
The method that would be used was the “vacuum aspiration” or “suction method”, which basically just meant that the baby would be sucked out of me, no, sorry, the foetus. It would take about an hour in all.
The counsellor was a woman in her late forties to early fifties. She was just one of those women who looked like they’ve either had lots of children, or lots of cats. “What did you want to talk about?”
Stupid question really. I wanted to talk about the abortion, there was just so much about the abortion that I wanted to talk about; whether it was about the fact that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep my baby, or if I should talk to my mum first, or how I could possibly support a baby, or anything like that. There were so many questions floating around in my head. “Why are my nipples so sore?” Why would I ask that? It was so pointless and stupid. “Sorry, that was stupid. I’m not sure I want to keep the baby, and I haven’t told anyone that I’m even pregnant apart from my ex and he just wants me to have an abortion so that he can get on with university and dating this new girl and I want to tell my mum that I’m pregnant, but she’ll be so ashamed of me and… and… I just don’t know what to do.”
“It’s not a stupid question; you’d be surprised how often that comes up in these sessions. It’s caused by the pregnancy hormones as they increase the blood supply to your breasts, particularly around the nipples. That will ease as your pregnancy progresses, should you choose to continue it. As for raising a child without a father, it is possible, and there are lots of support programs available for single parents. I would definitely advise you to tell your parents, but that is of course up to you. Only you can choose what to do about your pregnancy. What makes you feel that you need an abortion?”
“I can’t support a child; I don’t know what to do or how to do anything and…” I had no idea how to continue.
“Okay, so what is stopping you from having the abortion?”
The question had me stumped. I didn’t know why I didn’t want the abortion, other than having that dream that my baby was taken from me. I wouldn’t dream of trying this under normal circumstances, but what was a normal situation for a pregnant teenager? “I… I just don’t think I can have an abortion. I can’t give my baby up.” It was as close to the truth as I could vocalise.
“Well, what do you want to do? Only you can choose.” That simple question was what everything hinged on. If I had the abortion, life could go on as normal. I could finish school and just get on with life but I might have guilt or regret to carry around. If I didn’t have the abortion it would affect my school work and exams. It would put more stress on me and my parents. It would disrupt everything and cause so many problems.
But… “I want to keep my baby.”