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"Hey, I’m at Scout's right now. Er, we’ll talk about this later."
"I’ve really gotta go."
Hanging up my phone, I slowly slid down the wall and slumped onto the floor. As I stared blankly across my bedroom I pondered some of the questionable life decisions which had lead me to this point. Maybe it was the shock, but I felt an absence of any sort of other emotion.
I sat for fifteen more minutes before I tried to force tears, but nothing. Test still in hand, I checked to see if I’d made some error. Nope, those two fucking blue lines. This was one doodle which couldn’t be undid.
Maybe his apathy toward the situation should have been a red flag, maybe his overt dedication to scouts should have been. I mean, who the fuck still goes to Scouts?
To give this some context, rewind three months. I was 17. A large proportion of my school career had taken place at an all girl's school, which had suddenly been closed due to poor exam results. Luckily, I came out unscathed with straight A’s; I had my hopes set on Oxford.
Growing up in an area of extreme poverty, my options were limited when looking for a new high school. I found out I’d been accepted into one of the best state schools in the country and I was ecstatic. (‘I am not a product of my environment!’)
However, going t would require a two-and-a-half hour commute every morning. And so, I decided at 17 to move away from home in order to attend the kind of school I’d always wanted.
In the new town, I rented an old, basic room; after paying all my expenses I was left with £7 a week for food and amenities. By day I was stimulated and excited by my classes, by night I would sit alone in my room and cry. I missed my family, my home, food. I mean I was still a kid, what was I doing living in the middle of nowhere on my own?
However, being the new girl had it’s perks, everyone accepted me with open arms. Oh, and there were boys.
This brings me to the boy who half of this would not have been possible without. Let's call him Matthew. Matthew made it clear from my first day that he was interested. He was overtly forward and relentlessly asked to meet up with me.
This in itself wasn’t a problem. I had never had a boyfriend before, and I kind of enjoyed the attention. However, Matthew had a girlfriend, which wasn’t so cool. After weeks of trying, I gave into his charm and confidence. He left his girlfriend, and we were a fully fledged couple.
At first, it was a dream. We fell for each other pretty quickly. He was popular, and through him I made friends with much more success than I had been previously. His family liked me, and I was invited around most evenings to join them.
For the first time since moving, I was happy, surrounded by family, friends, a loving boyfriend, (home cooked meals!). Overnight I had gone from alone and scared, to creating some of the best memories of my teenage years. Matthew was romantic, kind and he embraced my not-so-conventional lifestyle.
He was my first boyfriend, and we were each others first sexual partners. This meant we were a bit careless when it came to contraception. I couldn’t remember receiving much sex education at my old school, except for the awkward hour session we spent repeatedly being instructed to put a condom on a wooden phallus.
I was young, naive, I had seen "Juno" a thousand times, and still honestly never thought I would get pregnant. That was reserved for people in the movies.
Cut back to me, staring vacantly into the abyss. Two months into dating, and I was staring at a pregnancy test. It was positive for sure (though, I was so rife with denial I would try and buy a stash of tests the next day just to make sure. How accurate could "99.9% accurate" be anyway?).
I would be applying for university next year, and though many people manage to make it work, a kid at 17 was not for me. I could barely manage to pay the bus fare to school some days, how could I ever look after a child? I was just about to start my exams, there was almost no question that I would have to terminate the pregnancy.
Matthew stayed out of the ordeal, choosing not to be involved for most of it. I would intermittently attend medical examinations and consultations alone, between school days, keeping the whole thing a secret from my friends.
Sometimes I would run out of class to throw up, or call in sick with "the flu." My grades at school took a dive. With my termination date set for late January, a month after initially finding out, I would have to sit my first exams like this. Matthew’s behavior changed; he became controlling.
He ordered me to use back entrances to clinics, on the off chance any of his friends spotted me. He became emotionally abusive, constantly annoyed, and would yell at me for my lack of energy. Things got smashed, I would get scared, but he would only do it to an extent where he could reel it back in again.
It was like Stockholm Syndrome, a vicious cycle. He would bring me down so low that, when he made it all better, I would mistake that for genuine comfort and happiness. How could I ever leave someone who I believed to be the beacon of light during the darkest part of my life?
A week before my termination, I went in for an ultrasound. I lay on the bed, as the nurse waded through the gel on my pelvis with the machine. With the monitor turned away from me she said, “It looks about thirteen weeks.” Thirteen? I wonder what the sex is. Do they have a gender at that age? I go home and immediately google "thirteen week old fetus" to make matters worse.
They tell me the gritty details of the procedure. I am too far gone now to do this at home with a pill, instead I’ll spend the day in hospital and have a medically induced termination.
The day finally came around. Matthew had told his mother by this point, and she had packed me a hamper of towels, magazines and a chocolate tray to get me through the day.
I did not feel as if I deserved a chocolate tray.
I suffer from a relatively serious blood condition, and so a catheter was inserted in my arm, ready for a blood transfusion if it was needed. I was kept under strict medical supervision.
A medically induced abortion basically involves taking a set of pills every 1-2 hours. These pills induce contractions, with the process continuing until you "give birth." I took the first set and I was in good spirits. Ignorance is bliss, I guess. What followed was potentially the worst pain I have ever been in.
I screamed at Matthew in agony “I’m going to kill you for this!”
The contractions would die down, and they would bring another set of pills. I would cry and say that I didn’t want to do this anymore, and beg to go home. They told me that was not an option, and I reluctantly swallowed. It would start again.
After a few hours, the nurse suggested that I go and wander around the hospital to get some air. In my slippers and hospital gown, and walked around the foyer, people watching.
As I stood I wondered what these people were doing here today, what their stories were. Most probably going through worse ordeals than myself, and most probably not preventable. Having got myself into this mess, I felt an overwhelming sense of selfishness. However, the pain had become too much, and the room went black. I woke up to Matthew carrying me back to my bed.
For the rest of the day, Matthew would hold my hand, bring me food, or occasionally leave me on my own when things got too much. Nine hours later, it finally ended and I was the last person out of the ward. My eyes welled up when I saw the result.
For this entire process, I had been so caught up in my own life, kind of annoyed at what the pregnancy was doing to me, that I forgot about what I was doing to a life. For the first time, the implications of my decision had come crashing down on me.
In the coming weeks, I found out Matthew had been texting his ex-girlfriend whilst we were at the hospital, asking to meet up. Which they did eventually do, a few times. I don’t want to know what happened. The fear of being alone again, after what I’d been through, was too much. I didn’t want to start all over again. I didn’t want to go back my dark room.
We stayed together for a few months longer, before I finally plucked up the courage to leave.
I only blame myself for what happened, I managed to fuck up spectacularly in most areas of my life. My first year exam results came back and they were not great, I said goodbye to my dream university.
When my Head of Year asked me what had gone wrong, I broke down in tears and told her. Even worse, she told me support would have been there if I had just said something, and she could have tried to arrange for my exams to be taken at a later date.
Abortion is not contraception, but I feel so lucky to live in a country where I have control of my reproductive health. I know in my heart this was the right decision. There was a support network available for me, but I was too ashamed to tell anyone because of the stigma still attached to the word.
Five years on, and I still have told almost none of my friends, or my parents. I read that one in three women will have an abortion in their life, but I very rarely hear it discussed.
I have been with my current boyfriend for two years. He treats me like a princess and I have never felt so loved in my life. I’ve finished university, and I’m happy with who I am.
I think that when you hate yourself, it is reflected in the people you date. When you dislike yourself, you think you deserve to be treated like shit. I now know I didn’t deserve to be treated that way, and there is nothing less appealing to me than a "bad boy" attitude.
To anyone going through the same situation, never be ashamed, seek help if you need it. I wish I had. You are in control of your life and your body, never let anyone tell you otherwise.