If only…

I cried from the moment I arrived at the clinic until long after I left the clinic.  The details of that day are mostly forgotten but what I remember most is how I cried.  Every time I allow myself to think about it again I cry.

It has taken me 20 years to realise that I need to voice the pain that emanates from this experience in order to grieve and heal properly.  It occurred to me a few days ago that it is 20 years since the baby I terminated was conceived.  I was 29 years old and already had three children, the youngest of whom was 3.  I had been separated from their father for a little over 12 months and had been in a new relationship for about 3 months.

I realised I was pregnant straight away and went to the GP who had supervised my other pregnancies to confirm the pregnancy.  By the time I saw him I had already made the decision to terminate because I just could not see how I could possibly go through with the pregnancy.  He arranged the procedure for me and I wasted no time thinking about it, just wanted to get it over and done with.  It was about 2-3 weeks before Christmas 1993.

I told no one other than the doctor, my boyfriend and a trusted girlfriend because I needed someone to mind my 3 year old while I had the procedure.  My boyfriend had already been through this once before with a previous girlfriend and assured me that he felt it was the right decision.  He drove me to the appointment and paid for the procedure and picked me up when it was finished.

If only I hadn’t been so concerned about the disapproval of my family and what people would think of me.  I had grown up in a Christian family but had turned my back on God as a young adult, married a non-Christian and went about living my life the best I could, making up my own morals and standards along the way.  This led to my unfaithfulness to my husband, a sexually transmitted disease and eventually the demise of my marriage because I felt that I could not have behaved that way if I truly loved my husband, therefore we would all be better off and happier if I left.  I could not bear to think what my family would think of me now if they knew how irresponsible I had been and that I was now unmarried and pregnant.

If only my boyfriend had actually cared enough to stand by me and been willing to support his child.  I had established that in those first months he hadn’t actually realised we were “in a relationship” and at that time was still not entirely sure he was prepared to make any sort of commitment to me.  Because I could not count on him being there for his child in the long term it didn’t seem like a good idea to bring this child into such an uncertain future.  He did make a commitment to me (of sorts) and we bought a house together but our relationship was never stable and eventually 3 years later we broke up.

If only the situation with my ex-husband was more amicable and I wasn’t under the constant stress of trying to get along with him.  Despite my unfaithfulness he had still wanted to make our marriage work but once we separated he made it his life’s work to make my life a living hell and continued along in his bitter and twisted way until he died of cancer 7 years later.

If only one of these scenarios had been present instead of all three I might not have made the choice I did although my concern for what other people thought of me was certainly a huge factor.

I never believed I was doing the right thing but the “only” thing.  The alternative – to keep the baby – and bear the shame of that was such an unbearable thought I could not even begin to entertain it as a possibility.  At no time did I ever think I was not “killing my baby”.  It was never a clump of cells, it was always my baby.

My boyfriend delivered me to the clinic but had to go back to work and planned to pick me up later on that day.  I had no one else with me.  The only thing I remember is speaking with someone briefly who I’m guessing must have been a counsellor.  I remember her asking me if I was sure I wanted to go through with the procedure and just continuing to cry but feeling so strongly that there was nothing else I could do.  If only I had said I wasn’t sure…I was so determined to go through with it no matter how bad I felt.  I remember taking off my clothes and putting on the hospital gown.  Then I remember waking up afterwards and more crying.  Then sitting in the waiting the room until I was picked up and just crying, crying, crying, crying…………….

Because it was a secret for so long I didn’t talk about it to anyone and just got on with the business of life.  I was dealing with continuous conflict with my ex, behaviour problems in my eldest child and relationship issues.  The year that I remarried was also the year my ex-husband died suddenly and unexpectedly from cancer.  From there things went from bad to worse with my son and in subsequent years all three of my sons were affected by addictions to which they are all still affected by.

In 2005 I walked into my local church and surrendered my life back to Jesus.  I am confident that I am totally forgiven for everything I have ever done, or will ever do wrong, in my life.  Over time I have learnt to forgive myself for the choices I have made.  I have shared my story in church and know the power of bringing things that have been hidden out of the darkness and into the light.  A beautiful friend has shared a vision of my child growing up in heaven and that brings me comfort.  However I am still coming to terms with the grief of that loss that was unacknowledged at the time.  My baby would be 19 now..

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