I had an abortion in 1992.
Though distressed, I initially wanted to keep my baby but became concerned about ongoing contact with the father who was alcoholic and prone to violence. He was pressuring me to have an abortion and accompanied me to the counselling provided by the clinic.
I only received pro-choice information and support from friends, family and those from whom I sought (non-professional) counsel. The only professional counselling I received was from the abortion clinic. Here, the fact that I felt conflicted (and was being pressured) was overlooked. They were detached and clinical (rather than empathetic) and seemed to be fishing for evidence to tick the boxes required to allow the abortion to proceed.
I was not listened to effectively, nor were the options around keeping my baby explored. I was not offered support or directed to agencies who could support me to keep the baby or to adopt.
I was not given honest or factual information about the development of my baby.
I was not given honest or factual information about the procedure of abortion and or told what would happen to my baby during the abortion.
I recall being told that my baby was‘like a small bean’. I was 12-13 weeks pregnant.
I did not know that my baby had recognisable and formed arms, legs, fingers, toes, a face and a beating heart.
I did not know that my baby would be torn alive into pieces during the procedure.
Informed choice should include this information. It matters.
I began to use morphine to numb my feelings as I knew I couldn’t go through with the abortion otherwise. I told the Doctor this on the day of the abortion. I believe at this point I should have been taken aside and asked if I was sure about going through with it. No one said to me, “are you sure?” or “you can change your mind”.
I have suffered for the last 27 years from what is becoming known as Post-Abortion Syndrome; deep depression, grief, anxiety, suicidal ideation, flash backs, guilt and horror at what I have done and an extreme sense of loss.
Despite going on to have two healthy and wonderful children I have always felt like ‘someone is missing’.
Until my 40s I was well indoctrinated into abortion culture and did not regret the abortion. I reasoned that this would imply regretting my subsequent children who I adore. For this reason I remained “pro-choice”.I sought counselling for the abortion trauma repeatedly but was always counselled to justify and placate my sense of regret, guilt and increasing distress.
My Post Abortion Trauma manifested into an obsession for what I referred to as the “missing baby”. I became convinced that I was meant to have a third child and this explained why I felt a baby was missing. I cried, often inconsolably, as the years moved on with no further pregnancy and no new baby. Birthdays were especially traumatic and emotional as another year passed and the missing baby was still absent. I would often cry, “where is my baby? where is my baby?”.
I was aware that the abortion had been a trauma and went to countless psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors and healers trying to heal. As mentioned they only sought to justify and placate any feelings of guilt or regret.
Aside from the general experience of depression and grief, there were times when the trauma rose to possibly psychotic levels.
My first living child was born in 1994. I was an adoring and doting mother. I read books to her in the womb and once born, she showed clear signs she recognised these books, as opposed to books I had not read to her in utero. I had a home birth (terrified of hospitals), breast fed on demand and carried her everywhere. She was securely attached. Yet early after the birth I became tormented with terrifying uncontrollable ideations (never acted on) of harming my baby. It felt like internal voices were telling me to kill her. It was so in opposition to how I knew I felt and was acting. I told my husband and he was understandably horrified. I was too ashamed to share it with others and so I just soldiered on.
During my second pregnancy, which was planned and wanted, I became very depressed and almost suicidal. I for a time resorted to taking morphine as I had when I had the abortion. Again, it made no sense to how much I loved being pregnant and a mother and how much I had wanted this baby, so again I soldiered on.
At 44 I had an emotional break down during a molar pregnancy (where instead of a baby a literal mass of cells proliferates and grows). During hospitalisation for a D & C I became extremely traumatised and convinced there was in fact a baby and they were going to kill it with the D & C. I would say I was verging on psychosis. I was so distraught when I awoke from the operation that I self-discharged by insistence despite being in the process of being assessed for a blood transfusion.
I experienced severed PMT throughout my fertile years and at times became very unstable when pre-menstrual.
I can see now how the abortion trauma was triggered each pregnancy and even each menstrual cycle. I believe I held that trauma in my body and especially in my womb.
It wasn’t until my 40s that I began to acknowledge the full horror of what I had done. The molar pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage resulted in a dramatic resurfacing of the trauma and grief of the abortion. I finally realised that the missing baby was the one I had killed in 1992.
Combined with my declining fertility the reality that my missing baby may never be born became an intense and traumatic reality. I realised that no amount of subsequent children could have healed that trauma and loss.
I only began to heal when I acknowledged the baby I had aborted was a human being, my own child, whose life I had ended by my own decision.
I am finally finding peace and healing as I retrace that decision and do what I can to make amends.
I contacted the father of the child to finally express my remorse. He regretted the abortion soon after it occurred and for years would call me in pain over the decision, always knowing how old our child would have been. At the time I brushed him off. He has not had subsequent children.
The trauma goes on and on and every few years seems to hit another realisation of loss and grief.
Despite the understanding I have gained I had until recently (2 years post menopausal) been taking herbal remedies in an effort to regain my fertility and achieve a pregnancy. I have only in the last month been able to let this go. I still miss my baby and I still feel there is someone missing in my life. It is like living with a ghost.
Recently a woman shared with me her story of wanting to abort her baby but being supported to keep her child. She now has grandchildren and a great grandchild from that child saved from abortion. It was yet another blow to my heart as I realised it was not just my child I had killed but potentially a whole family line. As I have no grandchildren and would very much love to, this has hit especially hard.
Abortion was sold to me as freedom, freedom from a difficult situation, instead I have been shackled to a life of grief, pain, depression and emptiness.
I would like to warn other women about the long term detrimental mental health effects and trauma of having an abortion.
I wish someone had told me my baby was an unrepeatable human being and that I would miss him/her every day of my life.