Although my boyfriend and I have a great relationship, we weren’t planning a pregnancy. We were safe, or so we thought. I had been on the contraceptive injection, and then I went onto the pill. My monthly cycle had stopped on the injection, but after five months or so on the pill, I finally started to wonder why my cycles hadn’t started up again. I took a pregnancy test, not expecting it to be positive… but it was. We were shocked, but abortion never crossed our minds. I wasn’t exactly against them; I was just against the idea for ME. We were going to have this baby.
By the time our first scan was arranged I was already 17 weeks! The technician didn’t mention any issues, but just said that baby was in an awkward position. So three weeks later, heading into our anomaly scan, we were simply excited to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. The alarm bells started ringing when the technician said “Have you lost any fluid?” I hadn’t, and said so, after a long silence, she told us she could only find one kidney, and it appeared cystic. But she was going to get a colleague to take a look and see. When she left the room, I lay there holding my boyfriend’s hand. Neither of us spoke; we were looking into each other’s eyes with worry written all over our faces. Her colleague came in and confirmed what was originally found, and then they took us to a quiet room and asked us to wait. Everything about that room said bad news.
This was Monday, 20th May 2013. We were given an appointment on Thursday for a more detailed scan with a consultant, where the bad news was confirmed. Our baby had only developed one kidney which had multiple cysts and wasn’t functioning. There was no amniotic fluid, and there was a high chance he would die before I made it to full term. If not, he would die shortly after birth.
I knew then that we didn’t have much choice. Either way we looked at it, my baby was going to die. I decided to terminate to end any potential suffering that my baby might have, and my boyfriend agreed. At 20 weeks in the UK, the only option is to go through labour and deliver the baby. I took the tablet to start the process that day. I had to return to the hospital on Saturday, go to the labour ward, and then I would be taken to the “Rainbow room.”
Friday night, just before I went to bed, I felt one last movement from my baby–the strongest yet. I knew that was the last time I would feel the baby move. Saturday came around too quickly, and after a few hours in a normal labour room we were moved to the Rainbow room. The first pessarie was inserted at 10:20am, Saturday, May 25th. The pain became stronger around midnight, and I was given a diarmorphine injection which literally knocked me out for about an hour. Other than that, it wasn’t easy. I spent much of my time vomiting and was dizzy from pain and lack of sleep. My baby finally came out at 6:26am, Sunday morning, and I had my boyfriend and mum by my side. That’s when we learned that we had a little boy, born sleeping at 20 weeks and six days.
I held him for a little while, and he was put in a blanket that we had brought. Family came in to say goodbye to him. He was the first grandchild for my boyfriend’s parents. His mum, stepdad, my mum, my grandma, and my dad all came to say goodbye to the little life that never had the chance to be lived. After they left, my boyfriend and I spent a few hours with our son, and I finally got some sleep. When I woke, his skin looked different, and I called the midwife in to take him, I wanted to remember my boy as he was.
Leaving that hospital was incredibly hard, but we took with us a memory box with the blanket, small teddy bear, an ink print of his footprints and handprints, and a card with details about our baby. We also had photos taken of him by the hospital and put on to disk. That, too, has gone in the memory box.
Not a day goes by where I don’t think about my baby. We had a funeral for him, and his ashes are at home with us. Family and friends kindly collected the money together for me to be able to order a necklace with his name and footprints engraved on it. Some days I can barely believe that it’s really happened. We are young and healthy, and never in a million years did we think we would have to terminate for medical reasons. That was something that happened to other people, but surely not me. But it DID happen. I learned the hard way that this can happen to anyone.
I am glad I live in a country where we are able to end pregnancies in these situations, and we are treated with kindness and respect when we do so.
Now I feel so much anger when I see the stigma attached to abortions, and when I hear of laws being brought that do nothing but hurt women who are in the same situation as me. It hurts when I hear people say that late term abortions are cruel, when the vast majority of late term abortions are done through compassion. It makes me sad when I hear people say “I’ll never have an abortion,” because I was one of those women. I truly believed I wouldn’t have an abortion, but I have, and I made that choice out of love for my son.
Unlike some, I have never felt regret or guilt for my choice. I know that I made the best and kindest decision for my baby. It simply hurts that my baby was never going to be able to live either way.