From the moment that I became aware of what an abortion was, I declared myself against it.
I vividly remember being ignorant at 17, writing a Facebook status about how wrong they were.
That became my belief from then on: if we take part in sex, we take part in becoming a parent. I held on to this belief with a grip of steel. You could not change my mind.
Let’s just say, four years later, I was going to be eating my words—big time.
It was June 2015, and I was sitting in a local park with my friend when my Whatsapp pings. It’s him. The guy I asked to never speak to me again after going between me and an ex—he wanted to meet up.
I put it to the back of my mind (for about a week) and then decided to meet with him. A week later, I was standing in my mirror trying on some new clothes. I put on some trousers and was turning to the side to see how they looked from a different angle. “You’re pregnant,” suddenly came to me. It was a feeling that felt as if I was being spoken to directly from my gut.
My period had been a week late, and I was having strange dreams that I was smelling lilies. In the mornings, I would wake up starving. I was exhausted, completely wiped out. This didn’t feel too different for me considering I’ve had ulcerative colitis since I was 14. I’m used to feeling fatigued.
This was really intense. I couldn’t keep my eyes open once I sat or laid down. Other symptoms soon followed, such as feeling really hot and feeling like I needed the toilet all the time. I thought maybe I was going into a flare-up with my colitis.
It was July 11th, 2015 when I took the test.
I got home, went to the toilet, placed the test on the side of the bath, and walked away.
Not even two minutes later the result appeared: two lines as clear as day.
I was pacing around the house. I texted two of my friends and the guy. Eventually, I texted my mum. Once she got home, I broke down, and we hugged on the sofa. None of us were prepared for the two months that followed.
Around five days after finding out, I started feeling really unwell.
I was used to not feeling great living with ulcerative colitis, but this was a different sick feeling though. A different kind of tiredness.
Previous to this, I had been working at a local Children’s Centre. I loved it and felt I was really good at it. I was due to have that August off while the centre moved location and would start again in September.
The day I began feeling really unwell I was expected at work to help start packing up. I wasn’t able to. The vomiting had begun. It kept coming and coming. By the following week, I was throwing up nonstop, day and night.
I wasn’t able to keep food, water, or my medication down—my colitis was let loose. I vividly remember being in the bathroom at 3 a.m. sitting on the toilet with a bowl in front of me, everything coming out at the same time. I remember thinking there was no point walking back to bed because I’d be back here in 20 minutes.
My mum decided we needed to get doctors involved. They wanted to speak with me. I could not talk because I was so wiped out. I didn’t have the energy to speak. Once at the hospital, after talking and seeing a few doctors and nurses, it was confirmed I was six weeks pregnant and was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. To be clear, this is not morning sickness. This is a disease during pregnancy. My colitis was also flaring. They were struggling to get blood when they needed to do tests. I had ketones in my urine, which isn’t a good sign during pregnancy.
The guy I had been involved with would tell me sweet things when we were together. He had said he wanted me to be the mother of his children. He wanted us to have a family, yet there was no sign of him at the hospital. We would speak, but there was never a visit. The only people who saw how bad it was were my mum and dad. I was a vegetable. Hyperemesis completely disconnected me from myself.
I had an early pregnancy scan and felt nothing. Those who know me are aware that there is no way, in my right mind, that I would see a pregnancy scan and feel nothing. It had completely taken over me. I lost two stones within that first month. My mum had to shower me at the hospital because I couldn’t stand up long enough by myself.
At almost eight weeks I had an abortion. The first few days were actually filled with relief. I wasn’t a vegetable anymore. I felt like myself again for a few days. However, my colitis was still flaring. I was in the hospital again a few weeks after.
I can remember getting home when the steroids had started working, going to bed that evening, and laying in silence. The clock was ticking and it hit me. I walked into my mum’s room and cried. She had shed a lot of tears during the entire experience. She would go into the hospital toilets and cry, which I didn’t know until months after.
It’s been six years since my abortion, and there have been a lot of complex feelings around it.
I still remember the date I would have been due. March 8th, 2016, International Women’s Day. I get mixed feelings for other people when they’re expecting, feeling really happy for them, then sad.
I’m never sad in a jealous way, but I felt like hyperemesis robbed me of myself. I feel like there was me before 2015 and me after. I wasn’t in a relationship that was solid like many people now have at these ages, being almost 30. I didn’t have the support of someone else who wanted it.
There have been times I’ve looked back and cannot believe I didn’t walk out of that abortion clinic.
I came across a video diary of a woman suffering from hyperemesis and she mentions many women end up aborting, but it isn’t them making that decision—it’s the disease. Over the years, it has felt like I betrayed myself, which has been the hardest to deal with.
I don’t regret my abortion though. I wasn’t in a relationship with someone who really wanted a child, and I was generally not prepared for nine months of that. Then having to look after a baby.
However, it does sometimes make me really sad. It feels like a loss, like grief. Something that I had no control over. Hyperemesis, unlike morning sickness, doesn’t go away. Women are usually medicated and have trips to the hospital throughout the whole nine months. It is not a happy time. They cannot work. They are bedbound. When a woman has hyperemesis, she is likely to have it with every pregnancy.
Due to the fact of experiencing hyperemesis, paired with bad relationship experiences, I shut down the idea of ever getting married and having children. That has been changing as of recently. I’m now aware of what’s to come with pregnancy. I always said if I had one, I’d want another. Now though, I’d be eternally thankful for just one. A close friend who went through hyperemesis said it disappears as soon as the baby arrives, which is comforting to hear.
I had to do some forgiving of my 17-year-old self.
I am now pro-choice through and through. I’m still finding myself post 2015, and feel I have some joy to explore for myself before settling down.
I understand many people will never agree or understand why women have abortions. I feel they’re sometimes seen as being careless or going through it with too much ease. I believe the more they get spoken about and the more women talk about their decision behind aborting, the more compassionate and understanding other people will hopefully become.
Hyperemesis changed the core of who I was.
I had an abortion that I don’t regret, but I have had to grieve the loss of my pregnancy.
This has left me with many complex feelings even six years later, but I’m proud of who I’m becoming and what’s to come.