I had only turned 16 when I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend at the time, Peter, who is now my husband, was only 20 years of age and in the Navy. He was based in Victoria for 12 months and was only able to come up to Sydney every so often.
I suspected that I might have been pregnant, but I knew that I was too young to get married, so quite a few other ideas were going through my head, like putting the baby up for adoption, another thought was that mum would help me bring my baby up, but it wasn’t to be. Mum also suspected I might have been pregnant because she always kept a track of my period. I couldn’t hide the fact that I was late.
Mum eventually took me to a GP that I had never seen before for a pregnancy test and my first internal examination which she witnessed. I didn’t have any privacy or dignity, she made me feel like a piece of oily rag that could be just put to one side and not taken any notice of.
The trip to the GP was not pleasant at all. Not knowing what to expect when I got there, I made a big mistake by asking mum ‘what would he be doing?’ If I hadn’t already been made to feel cheap and dirty, she continued to tell me that he would be poking around where Peter had already done such a great job. I went really quiet after that. I remember being sick to the stomach and just shook in fear. I just wanted to curl up and disappear. The doctor only spoke to mum; it’s as if I didn’t even exist. I do remember that the doctor had confirmed my pregnancy, I don’t even remember anything else that was said, it was like I was in this drum and all the sounds around me were muffled. Mum got the referral to a Gynecologist that she knew through work. Mum was a nurse by the way! When we got home from the GP’s office, I was made to feel like nothing but a crumb on the floor… even that was worth saving! Dad and my brother were both home when mum went storming into the house yelling every name at me she could put her tongue to. I just stood there in the kitchen doorway and took the abuse. For someone that was ashamed of me, she was doing a good job of letting the neighborhood know everything about me. My brother who was 21years old, just sat there and said nothing, my father made a very flippant comment about letting us get married… after all the times I came to his rescue, he wasn’t there for me. Dad’s comment just had mum go on further with her name calling and abuse. There was no way I was going to have this baby as far as mum was concerned, it was bad enough that my older sister had to get married because she was pregnant! I wasn’t going to be bringing any more shame onto her family! My younger sister came in from school through all the yelling and name calling and wondered what was going on. Mum was kind enough to tell her. My sister’s question was “whose is it?” How could I have felt any smaller…I had never been with any other guy then and to this day it has always been Peter. When mum decided to stop yelling I went to my room and just stayed there curled up in a ball trying to figure a way I could kill myself. The thought of suicide entered my mind a lot in the days to come and after the abortion.
I phoned Peter down in Melbourne that night to tell him the news. Mum was listening in to our conversation. Neither of us remembers the phone conversation much. I know we were both scared about the future and of course my mother. Peter came up to visit me that weekend before I went for the abortion. We met at my older sister’s place so mum wouldn’t know he was in Sydney. I know he was concerned for me but was he concerned about the baby, I don’t know. He didn’t try and stop me from having the abortion. It was as if it was all up to me…. But it wasn’t! To this day I don’t even know if his parents were told. I do know his sister knew and she became another threat later on.
It was about a week later when I got to see the Gynecologist. Again I was put through another examination and again not spoken to. It was decided that I was having the abortion as well as having a Loop IUD put in place as a form of contraception. I wasn’t asked whether I wanted the abortion or the IUD. Mum made all the decisions. At this stage I was about 10 weeks into my pregnancy. The Dr wanted to have it “done” before I reached my 12th week. So it was arranged to be done in the following week.
Once the decision was made between mum and the doctors, she felt that she had won. Peter and I didn’t get a say as to what was going to happen. Her word was final. I was so alone; Peter was in Melbourne and I was in Sydney having to deal with my mother on my own. I was so scared! At the time I don’t even remember asking God for help. I was in this different place that not even God could rescue me from, so why ask!
I couldn’t believe that mum wanted to kill my baby, another human life. She was such a devout Catholic. Her religion was everything to her, how could she go against that!
I just wanted to die! I would spend most of my days before I had to go to the hospital just curled up on my bed. I would think of ways of killing myself but I didn’t have the courage. This makes me even angrier with myself……. How could I let someone kill my baby when I didn’t even have the courage to kill myself?
The day came and mum took me to the hospital that morning. Again it was somewhere that they didn’t know her so she wouldn’t be put to shame. I was told that I was having a D&C; they couldn’t even bring themselves to say abortion. I felt so tiny in the scheme of things. I remember asking my mother to leave.
Eventually I was prepped for theatre. I was wheeled in and the place was just so cold. I was really groggy but I do remember now through the help of hypnosis that I didn’t want to be there. I wanted my baby but I was unable to speak and if I did I would still have had to answer to my mother.
I eventually got back from the theatre only just remembering what had happened. It was then confirmed for me how much mum was a hypocrite. For someone that didn’t want to bring shame onto the family she did a good job by telling her sister (whom she was always competing with). They were both standing over my bed pitying me when I woke up! What a joke!!! Eventually they both went away. I was left to myself. I was the obedient little girl that just killed her baby.
I was able to go home that afternoon. I remember being in pain and sick. I just wanted to throw up every time I moved (that actually continued for months later). I wanted everyone to leave me alone, I didn’t want to exist. Mum was so full of pity, saying things like “you poor thing” all the time.
How I wish I could turn the clock back. My son would now be 29 years of age. I feel I am as much to blame as mum is. Why didn’t I stand up to her? Why didn’t I say no?
As I mentioned earlier my older sister was allowed to keep her baby. That child is now 31years of age. My brother and his girlfriend got pregnant after I had my abortion, they also kept their baby. That child is now 28years of age. I have two questions and they are why wasn’t I able to keep mine? What did I do so wrong that made my mother despise me so much that she didn’t want my baby?
Peter and I got married two years later, two days after my 18th birthday. The flat we lived in was so empty, I felt that there was something missing and that was children. I fell pregnant with our oldest daughter eight months after we were married. I had a very difficult pregnancy but loved being pregnant. In the mean time we had moved to Canberra and I was admitted into hospital for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy. I had Kylie our daughter on the 15th of November 1978, it was a Thursday night. Mum came to visit me on the Saturday from Sydney. Peter and I were walking down the passage way of the hospital as she was walking our way. Not one word of congratulations just poking me in the stomach (which was so tender) and saying “I hope you are not having anymore!” my response to her was that “I wanted twelve children”, she thought I was mad and the rest. I really didn’t want twelve children but I was so overjoyed about having this beautiful baby it didn’t matter.
My doctor told me that it wouldn’t be wise to have anymore children because of the trouble I had during and just after this pregnancy. The night I had our baby I hemorrhaged so badly that they couldn’t stop it for hours. I nearly died that night. It wasn’t going to happen this time I wanted to live more than anything. Then the following week while I was still in hospital my blood pressure shot up so high that if I didn’t die I would have had a stroke. Neither happened! I had a daughter to bring up and I wasn’t going to miss out on that. I wanted to be a mum so much! The hospital staff took very good care of me and so did my doctor.
Peter and I waited a couple of years before deciding to have another child. My health was much stronger and we didn’t want just one child. We had our second daughter on Nov 22nd 1981. This pregnancy went the way it should have and all was well. Again we were living away from my mother and in in another state at the time. When I spoke to my mother on the phone the next day she actually congratulated me for the first and only time in my whole life right through to the present. I had actually felt I had her approval at long last.
After our daughter was a couple of months old, Peter and I decided that he would have a vasectomy, two children were going to be it. Bringing up our two daughters was everything I wanted at the time. They were everything I could have asked for. But it was an operation I regretted agreeing to time and time again. I wanted more children right up to my late 30’s and even now being 45 I still would like to have one more.
As the girls got older memories of the baby I lost through abortion started flooding back. I would have three children to play with, take to school, to Saturday sporting activities. These thoughts would come and go. I would tell myself there was nothing I could do about it. I would remember the date of the abortion as well as his birthday. I wondered what he would be doing at that particular age, then I didn’t think that was helping my mental health much so I stopped counting and stopped thinking.
That was all well and good but it didn’t help. The guilt along with the experience of everything that happened back then still comes back to haunt me. I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the last 29 years.
Over the years Peter and I would talk about our son and how things could have been different. We spoke about when and if we should tell the girls. We really didn’t come up with any definite plans.
During the year 2001 Peter decided that he was getting out of the Navy. That was great except we were going to leave our adult daughters behind in Sydney because we had always planned to live in Tasmania. Leaving them was like someone had wrenched out my insides. I was going to lose my daughters; I couldn’t go through that again. The urgency to tell them about the abortion became greater. I was so afraid of my mother just accidentally dropping it into conversation like she had done with me in the past. Peter’s sister was no better. Quite a few times she would mention the ‘miscarriage’ in front of the girls. It got to the point where I had got her to one side and pleaded with her not to say anything until we had a chance to tell the girls ourselves. I spoke to my spiritual director at the time, about the abortion. We dealt with God’s forgiveness as well as my baby’s forgiveness of me. This helped me get the courage to tell our girls. They both took it quite well. Again I let others have that hold over me, even as an adult.
Over the last couple of years I have been seeing a psychologist. It didn’t start out to be about the abortion but I eventually told him. He has been the most understanding doctor in relation to this that I had ever come across. I suppose it’s because I never told any other doctor. I had only ever seen them as “medical” how could they help me! As I mentioned earlier, he helped me remember things through hypnosis that I had blanked out, not just about the abortion but about my childhood as well. He helped me find away to honor my baby. I did this by naming him Adrian Michael. This still didn’t take me off the emotional roller coaster liked I had hoped, I was still in search of something else!
I really needed to speak to a friend of ours in Sydney, Fr Peter, who is on the team for Rachel Vineyard Retreats. I made that call on a Sunday night, he had received visitors during our phone conversation and he still took time to listen to me. He listened with compassion and understanding, I don’t recall having that before. Through his suggestion I looked up the web site for Rachel’s Vineyard and contacted Julie who I also knew when we lived in Sydney. Between the two of them I felt very loved and understood. I cried for the first time in 29 years. They both invited me to go to the next retreat in Sydney. I wasn’t sure if this is what I really wanted to do. I still had my fears of sharing in front of a group. Were they going to judge me? What if I end up making a fool of myself?
Peter started to see how much this meant to me and really wanted me to go. We talked about it but never insisted that I do this retreat, he left the decision up to me but he was very glad when I decided to do it.
God became very tangible for me on that weekend through really reconciling with God and my baby. I was reassured of their forgiveness and their understanding. I was able to tell my story without any fear of being judged. My baby Adrian is now so much part of this family. I have a sense of freedom to talk about him. I have my life back. My mother doesn’t control my mind any longer. Doing this retreat made me feel accepted by my Church; I didn’t realize how much I needed that. I always lived in this fear that I wouldn’t be accepted if people found out.
Once I got home from the retreat I was able to share my experience with Peter. It was good to see him get in touch with his feelings as well as supporting me in mine. He has now started to realize what the abortion has done to me.
At sixteen my faith wasn’t the priority in my life but still important. There was always something “there” that I couldn’t explain long before my teens. I know what or who for that matter, was and still is and that is God. He watched over me that whole time. He cried with me and went through my pain with me but I didn’t understand that then. Looking back over my life I have come to realize how much my faith in God means to me. He is the only one I can really count on without any conditions applying from either one of us. He has answered my prayers over and over again. Sometimes I don’t think I am worth helping, I get things so wrong, but He is still there for me, waiting with open arms ready to take me back. I love my God so much. God is like my shadow, He goes everywhere I go and I wouldn’t have it any other way.