All September, we are publishing abortion stories. If you are an Irish person who had an abortion, or a person who found themselves pregnant in Ireland and in search of one, and would like to share your experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no editorial guideline – a line or a paragraph or a chapter. Your voice counts. Correspondence will be entered into in strictest confidence.
It’s only been two months since I’m home from one of the worst, anxious, painful and most relief filled days of my life.
I was arguably one of the lucky ones. I had just enough money, a loving support system with my boyfriend, who came with me every single step of the way, from the initial consultation/counselling in Dublin, to the day itself in Manchester. I had a day off from my summer internship that I could use to make the trip on a Thursday morning, and come back that night. ‘Lucky’, however, was a word I never thought the day I found out I was pregnant. Heading into my final year of college in a few months, thinking about what career I would pursue, thinking about saving up to move out, just back from a lovely trip around a few places in Europe, I realised what was at stake for my life, and indeed any child’s life I would bring into the world.
We thought about our options, continuing the pregnancy and having a baby, taking the trip and impossible decision of terminating, which would end the possibility and potential of that baby together. We never thought about having a baby together, knew our future was with each other, but hadn’t yet pictured any addition to this pretty picture. To then think about this, was agonisingly difficult. I wanted it so bad at times, as did my boyfriend. I allowed myself to think about it, try to make sense of it, try to make it a possibility, but it just wasn’t one. We knew our decision, as hard as it was, and we knew it was the best one for both of us, both together and individually.
The night before the 6am flight was the worst. I cried for a solid eleven hours. I cried and cried and cried, willing my eyes to give up with the tears, begging my body to stop the trembling and deep sobs, but I couldn’t hold it back, so I let the sadness take me. I realise now that this was my mourning, these were my tears for my little bean sized potential inside me, one that would never grow into anything. I cried for that lost potential and cried for myself for having to end it.
The next morning, I felt numb. All my emotions had left me, and I was strangely calm. Anxious, yet calm. My boyfriend was the only thing that kept me from drowning in the sadness, kept me up and ready to handle whatever came my way. Together, after the most difficult two weeks of my life, we went to Manchester in a taxi at 5am in the morning.
At the clinic, you’ve to wait upstairs without your partner for the whole time, which was a shock to me. It was very hard to let go of his hand but I didn’t want to cause a scene, being acutely aware of my surroundings and unnecessarily concerned with who was able to see me or my emotions. There were thirteen women there that morning, seven of whom were Irish. This shocked me, but didn’t seem to faze the staff. Speaking of whom, the staff were the most incredibly kind, caring and warm people I have ever met. All they wanted to do was make the experience as pain-free and least horrible as possible. This is a stark contrast to the individuals back home in Ireland, who made my journey overseas necessary and as difficult as possible.
I was at the clinic from 8.34am to 12:23pm that Thursday, and after I left, I felt no emotion other that anger. I took this anger out on my boyfriend, on myself and on anything remotely inconvenient that happened that day like when our taxi back to Manchester was six minutes late, or when the waiter at the place we went to waste time and get dinner before our flight asked if I would like something to drink from the bar, or when my cramps got so bad my hands began to shake and I could barely stand. But again, I realise that I wasn’t angry at those things, I was angry at the whole situation I had to go through, angry at the shame I felt, angry at the effort I had to go through, angry at being abandoned by my own people, my own country. Angry that middle-aged grey-haired men and women in government think they have more of a right or say on what medical procedures I can or cannot have. If I climbed up a tree, fell and broke my arm, I would get treatment. If I drank myself into liver failure, I would get treatment. If I smoked my whole life and got lung cancer, I would get treatment. If I had sex, and even with using precautions of contraception, and got pregnant, I am on my own and denied the medical care I wish to receive.
I had been on the pill for five years, since I was 16. Strangely my next sentence was going to be an explanation as to why I was on the pill since a young age, which was because of extreme anaemia, not contraception initially. I live in a country that still shames sex, sexual health, contraception: making it more difficult than most places to access information and services about all things related. It’s made me want to defend everything, explain how I got in a situation where I needed an abortion. This mindset is what I hate most about the lack of correct services for women in Ireland. The fact is once made me feel shame, is shameful in itself. This isn’t Saudi Arabia, this isn’t Nigeria, this isn’t Nicaragua. We are a developed, educated and increasingly secular country. Why doesn’t our treatment of women at the most basic level display this?
Nobody has an abortion out of choice, nobody ever wants an abortion, but sometimes, we need one. For ourselves, for our families, for the future potential child. It’s a difficult enough thing to go through, arguable the most difficult thing you would ever have to go through. Stop making it more difficult.
F, aged 21.