Monday, 16 January 2012

Abortion: my story.

I am against abortion (Or if you want to use the term designed to make it more palatable: termination of pregnancy. Or better still: ToP).

I always have been.
Sure there are some exceptions. Like rape or a child conceived out of incest. I still don't think that I would personally go ahead with it, but I can understand that some women may choose to.


That had always been my stance on abortion. Until............. life happened, and changed my mind...

My second baby was planned, wanted and loved (as was my first). We were so excited! Our family was finally going to be complete. The first few months were very similar to my first pregnancy: pretty easy. A bit of morning sickness and a good dose of tiredness but nothing out of the ordinary.

And then our world crashed.
Tests revealed that bub had been exposed to a condition that was very likely to cause severe fetal abnormalities. We were faced with potentially having a baby who could not feed himself, who would never talk, who would never run around giggling his little heart out, who would not hear the lullabies I'd sing to him.

Our doctor did not know much about the condition. He said that we needed to consider our options and that a termination of pregnancy was one of those options.

We went home devastated. We cried and cried and cried.
In me, was this precious little being, whose heart was beating, and we had to decide whether to let him live and potentially have a severely disabled child or take away his life. Stop that little heart beat.
I'd seen him on the scans. I saw his little nose, his hand held high above his head. How could I let them take him away?

Part of me was screaming that we could not have a termination just because he was not going to be perfect. That to me, was not a good enough reason to terminate. If that was what life had in store for us, then so be it. I'd judged women who'd terminated for that reason before.

But when faced with the reality of having a child who could never care for himself, who would be like a baby for all of his life, who would have no quality of life, who would sit there, drooling, watching his brother run around kicking a ball, I did consider having an abortion.

It broke my heart to even imagine killing my child. Because that was what it was to me: I was going to kill my child because I didn't want to have to deal with him. He was relying on me for his life, and I was going to take that away from him. The doctors were going to put me to sleep, go in there and suction him out. Would he feel the pain? Would he scream? I didn't know how I was actually going to go ahead with the procedure. The guilt was going to destroy me. I didn't know how I'd ever live with myself after that.

But it wasn't just me I had to consider. It was the impact it would have on our couple, and more importantly, on our son. Would he be neglected because of all the attention that a special needs kid requires? I know plenty of kids have special needs siblings and cope quite fine but at that moment, all I could see was my son playing on his own because mummy was busy with his little brother's many needs.

And what about my baby? Would he want a life of sitting in a wheelchair, in nappies forever, being fed through a tube? And what would happen to him when we were too old to look after him? Would he end up in a home? Would his brother visit him?

I imagined meeting my child one day, and having to explain to him why we had chosen to do away with him. I was broken.

The worst was that we had to make a decision, not knowing whether or not our baby would have any problems. Would we be terminating a perfectly healthy pregnancy? There was no way of knowing until after he was born. And if we terminated, we would never know.

The guilt of having an abortion, I knew, would stay with me forever. How would I feel about sex after that? How would I feel about falling pregnant again? How would I get up the next morning? How do you go to hospital and lie on that bed for them to take your baby away?

The toll on me would be immense if I killed my baby. But perhaps it was what had to be done for the better of my family, including my unborn child. Perhaps it was the sacrifice I had to make.

We gave ourselves a week to decide. We spoke about it and cried for a week. On our own. Because this was not something we could share with friends and family. We couldn't face having to tell them that we'd decided to terminate. When someone close dies, friends and family are there to support you, but when you grieve after an abortion, you grieve on your own.

At the end of that week, after many tears and sleepless nights, we chose to keep the baby. We couldn't go ahead with the termination. We would take our chances. The doctors said that he may be ok, and we held on to that.

I have always been against abortion.
And I still am.
In principle.
Especially when abortion is used as a means of contraception.
But when faced with reality, I considered it. And I can now understand why some would choose to have a termination in those circumstances. I personally couldn't go ahead with it, but I know the heartache. I understand the pain of having to make that choice. And I will not judge again.

Part 2 of this post coming soon: the stress of the pregnancy, the endless tests, and our baby.