Lyn… ‘too young, too incompetent’

The first time I fell pregnant I was 14 years old. I had a stable boyfriend at the time, my first love. After reading some bad advice in a girly magazine, I took a risk with unprotected sex. Abortion didn’t cross my mind at first, I didn’t even know what it was at the time. My mother had once entered a bathroom with a coat hanger when heavily pregnant, and I knew somehow that she was trying to kill her baby, but I had never grasped the concept of “abortion”.

My main concern with the pregnancy was telling my mother, and hoping to get to a point where I was large enough that she wouldn’t hit me. So I hid my pregnancy for several weeks before the rumour got out at highschool and eventually reached my mother’s ears.
She immediately demanded I get an abortion. When I asked what that was, she told me, and I broke down in tears and screamed, “How could I kill my baby!?”
“Its not a baby! Its just a clump of cells” My mother had spat back angrily.
It was a line I would hear frequently over the coming days, months and years.

My mother told me I was too young and incompetent to have a child, even though I had been helping her take care of her own children, my siblings, since I was 8 years old. She told me she wouldn’t help me. I couldn’t live with her, she had her own children to worry about, which must not have included me.

She dragged me to a Dr to get a referral for abortion. I hoped the Dr would help me out, but even after seeing me in tears and hearing me say I wanted to keep the baby, the Dr told me that abortion was the best option. She gave the referral to my mother, and my mother called up the clinic to make an appointment, all the while I cried and pleaded with her not to make me.

Back at school I sought out the counsel of my favourite teacher, hoping she could help me, maybe talk to my mother. She too told me I was too young and incompetent to care for a baby. She told me it would ruin my life, my education, and that abortion was the only solution for someone in my situation.

I clung to my boyfriend who was supportive at the time. He was raised Catholic and I told him I couldn’t kill my baby, and he agreed with me. He said he would do everything he could to make sure I could keep my baby, and his mother, also a devout Catholic, said she would assist any way she could.

I went back to my mother with this new information, which she immediately refuted. “You want to be like his mother, stuck at home with 6 children!?” She had yelled. “You know he’ll leave you once you have a baby and get fat and have a stretched vagina. He’ll want someone fresh and unburdened.”

I tried to ignore her. I believed my boyfriend would stick by me. I believed his mother would help me, and I clung to that hope, until that too was taken away. After a few weeks of arguing, of being told I was incompetent, of being told I was ruining my life, of being weakened, my boyfriend came to me.

He had been talking to one of the teachers at school. She had told him how risky pregnancy was, how I could die because I was so young. He told me his dad was pressuring him to leave school so he could support me and the baby, but that he wasn’t ready to leave school. He told me “We can always have another baby, later, when we are ready”. Now he too wanted me to have an abortion.

Feeling as though I had lost my last support, I gave in and allowed my mother to book the appointment.

At 13 weeks pregnant (it was illegal to terminate past 12 weeks in 1998 in WA), I took a day off school to attend the clinic, and went with my mother and my boyfriend. We went into a mostly empty waiting room, and my mother filled in some paper work before I was pulled into a room alone for “counselling”.

The counselling consisted of telling me about the anaesthesia they would use, “twilight sleep”, and how to use the contraceptive pills they were giving me. They discussed nothing of the procedure, and nothing of what would happen to my “clump of cells”.  Maybe they thought too much discussion would scare me.  It would have.  Then they asked me if the abortion was what I wanted.  I told them no, it was what my mother wanted.

“We can’t do the procedure if it’s not what you want.”  The counsellor had told me.  She leaned in close, and said to me in a very practiced way, something along the lines of,  “You will have to go back out there and tell your mother it’s not happening, and it was a waste of time and money coming all the way out here.”
I was terrified of what my mother would say or do if I was sent back to her, still pregnant. “It’s what I want too.” I lied.

They dressed me in a gown and took me into the surgery. They told me they had to do an ultrasound, but I didn’t have to look if I didn’t want to.  They helped me on to the table, and then gave me an injection to sedate me.  A nurse held my hand and I counted backwards from 10, until I blacked out.  They never did an ultrasound.
When I woke up I felt giddy and happy.  I commented on how I liked the colour of the walls. They sent me away with antibiotics and birth control pills, and an empty uterus.

At first I felt fine, relieved that it was all over and I could go on with my life, without my teachers and mother hounding me.  Then I started noticing the babies. Everywhere I looked there were babies. Even at school, girls were having babies. I didn’t understand why they were capable of having children but I wasn’t. I started to break down and fell into a deep depression. I cried constantly, and when I wasn’t crying I was sleeping. I stopped seeing my friends, I stopped doing my school work. All I wanted was my baby back.

My mother told me I was making a big deal over nothing, and that I should “get over it”.  My teachers told me to “get over it” and get back to my schoolwork.  Even my friends couldn’t understand why I was so upset.  My boyfriend, who was supportive at the start, began to get frustrated with me. He was sick of looking after his miserable girlfriend while his friends were off and having fun. He wanted me to “get over it”.  Then the worst thing happened. My boyfriend, and only support, broke up with me. We would never have that replacement baby he promised.

Now I was completely alone. I started drinking and sleeping around. I fought with my friends, my ex, and all his friends. I became the crazy girl who had an abortion, and eventually I was driven out of the school and the area.

In my new school I tried to settle down. I tried to forget my past. I tried to “get over it”, after all it was just a clump of cells, and I couldn’t let a clump of cells ruin my life. I had to be a normal person, and normal people didn’t grieve abortion. I buried my pain, moved on and made new friends, but I was constantly on the search for something to fill a void. A huge hole in my heart. I ended up with the first guy who came along and showed an interest in me past just having sex. He was a drug addict and an alcoholic. But I didn’t care, because he loved me, and the hole filled in just enough to continue on.

I moved in with him when I was 17 years old, and after a year of living together I became careless with my pills, knowing I could get pregnant, but not really caring. I cried when the test came back positive, more because I was scared of telling my mum than anything else. Scared that she might be able to talk me into an abortion again. She was angry of course, but she could do little now. I didn’t live in her house of under her rules anymore.

At the 12 weeks scan I saw my baby up on the screen. He was rolling around and doing somersaults, and looked just like a human being. A little miniature person. He was a week younger than the baby I had killed, but he was still just a clump of cells, right? But this was a wanted clump of cells, and therefore he was worthy of life.

I loved my son with all my heart, enough for me to realise that my boyfriend was bad news. I tried to make things work at first, begging him to seek drug and alcohol counselling, but he refused. I moved out on my own when my son was a few months old, but he tried to follow me. He would come to my house unannounced and then wouldn’t leave. He would demand sex from me, and get angry and aggressive towards me and my son when I refused.

Around 6 months after we broke up he was at my house again, drunk and disorderly. He demanded sex, and not wanting to upset him I gave in. He didn’t want to use a condom, and I didn’t argue. The chances of me getting pregnant from one time was slim anyway…right?

Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. I came to my decision rather quickly. I couldn’t have another baby with him and be trapped with him for any longer, and in this country you never have a baby if it’s going to cause you inconvenience. I knew it was the right thing to do, because every authority figure in my life had told me so, and I knew grieving a clump of cells was wrong, because every authority figure in my life had told me so.

I booked in for a termination without any more thought. I went in for the quick procedure, hurrying the doctor through the “counselling”, because I had been there before, and new what I was doing. I was completely emotionless. It was like having a tooth pulled.
Afterwards I felt relief. So much so that I went out nightclubbing that very night. I finally left my boyfriend a few months later and my life got back on track. I attended university, I met my husband. I got married and had a baby. And I new this had to be because I had an abortion. Abortion helps women. It helps them to leave their parents and get and education, because women are too incompetent to do those things AND take care of a baby. That’s what we are told anyway.

In 2007 I fell pregnant with my 5th child, 3rd I had planned on keeping. We were so excited. We were going to have a family of 3. We were going to be complete. Then at approximately 8 weeks pregnant I miscarried.
I was devastated when it happened. I locked myself in my room for nearly 2 weeks and ate and spoke little. I couldn’t help but think the universe was punishing me for my abortions. I killed two babies because they were inconvenient, and now I was losing a wanted and planned baby to make up for it.

I feel pregnant again almost immediately after, but this didn’t help my pain. I still felt guilt, and it affected my ability to care for myself and my children. My depression, which had always been lingering in the background, grew worse and worse. I began to be unable to cope with parenthood. I was put on medication after medication, and tried to medicate myself with drinking and partying, but nothing really helped. Finally in 2009, after years of feeling worthless and useless, I gave in and tried to end my life.

I was at home with my youngest son at the time, and scared he would be left alone when I died, I called the police thinking they would take at least 15-20 minutes to arrive. They arrived only a few minutes later, and luckily this saved my life.

They took me to the hospital, and they fed me charcoal to try to counteract the effect of the sleeping pills. I was in and out of consciousness, but I remember a nurse asking me my name, and the date and then how many children I had. I said 6, and he asked my husband if that was right. My husband gently reminded me we only had 3, and I broke down in hysterics, thrashing and calling out for my lost babies.

I was put into a mental hospital, for the fear I would try to kill myself again. I remember begging one of the orderlies to bring my babies back to life. She acted like I was crazy. I’m not sure if it was because I wanted my babies back, or because I wanted clumps of cells back.
After two days of being away from my family and my children, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I begged to be let out. They agreed and put me into my husband’s care. I attended intensive therapy for a few weeks, with a focus on self-care. I got help with caring for my children, and eventually I regained a sense of normalcy, yet the pain of my abortion was still there.

I wanted to support other women who had had abortions as a way of dealing with my pain. I wanted other women to be aware of the psychological effects so they could make the right choices. I volunteered for a pro-choice post abortion support group, thinking a pro-life group would only judge me for my abortions. However after a few weeks working in pro-choice groups, I discovered this talking about abortion grief was not welcome, and the main aim was to put all the focus on the woman, no focus on the child, and help her to “get over it”. Pro-choice did not want anyone to know about the negatives of abortion. They didn’t want people grieving over “clumps of cells”.

I was in limbo for a while. Caught between abortion being necessary, and abortion being awful. It was soon after that that I came in contact with the pro-life movement, I had never really been exposed to a rational argument, and was under the impression that all pro-lifers were crazy religious nuts who hated women.

I started to see that there were many in the pro-life movement that really cared about women, and they also cared about the “clump of cells” which they called a human, a person and a baby. They told me it was okay to grieve for my lost child. They understood the societal pressures that drove me to that choice. They didn’t judge me for my grief. They helped me to heal. And now I hope that I can help other women do the same..

4 Responses to Lyn… ‘too young, too incompetent’

  • John Moriarty says:

    I am so moved by your story, so sad, and I sincerely hope you are well.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I know it can’t be easy. I’ve read many stories like this where young girls are pressured into aborting the children when they don’t want to. Sadly, very few know what’s actually going on. People try to discredit me as a pro-lifer for being a man, but it’s based on what the women themselves are going through that shows me it’s actually a bigger political, religious, and economic system that motivates this type of action. Changing the system is the ideal solution, but I’m not sure if it’s possible. In any case, women who have been through this need healing.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thanks so much for this. I can relate to your pain. People who haven’t been through this personally could never understand. I’m so sorry you went through those times. I still remember all the sounds from that day. I asked God to forgive me, told my baby I loved them and I was so sorry. I tried to move on with the empty feeling, the constant wonders of what if. So months go by and I’m pregnant again..babies exact due date of the last baby.. may 9… I feel incredible guilt and sadness when i see the ultrasounds. I did my abortion at 16 weeks… its hard to look at this baby I’m carrying at 12 weeks 4 days, seeing how lively and so developed. I will forever be haunted by the sounds and the voices of the doctors.

  • Lynette says:

    Thank you so much for sharing…… Only if people know what they are getting into can they make informed choices

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