Keeping up Appearances (guest post)

17 Jun

Today’s post is a guest post from a supporter who wanted to share her story. Thank you Genevieve!

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I have always felt I was one of those people who started something then gave it up.

And I suppose I really was.

Over the years I studied various things, from hairdressing to fine arts, and even computer sciences.

But it wasn’t until I started studying creative writing in 2010, followed by journalism the following year, that I finally realised I had “stickability” when it came to things that made me feel good about myself.

At the end of 2011 and after I had finished my studies, I moved to Christchurch. It was a far cry from the creature comforts of my hometown of Dunedin.

But, my life was starting out well. I had met a wonderful man, I moved in with him, I was now a trained journalist and was seeking what I wanted: to be a professional journalist in print media.

It was a lovely summer and I was in love. My partner and I were happy and we would head out to summer music events, wander around the city on a warm night being happy we found each other.

We were foolish too. You see, I am an older woman. Currently 40-years-old, I stupidly believed that, as I had not fallen pregnant since being off the pill for more than three years, that it would take me an age to fall pregnant with my new partner.

So, there we have it. Summer festivals, lovely walks at night – and no protection.

Less than six weeks after moving in with my partner, I found myself pregnant.

What started off as a feeling of elation and excitement, quickly led to a feeling of utter impending doom. My world as I knew it was falling apart. Caving in.

Crying and wailing were a major part of my life. Having suffered from depression throughout my life and still taking daily medication to keep it at bay, I was afraid for my own mental state of mind and feared the worst.

What made it all harder was that I suffered from severe morning sickness. Why did they even call it morning sickness? Mine lasted all day, and all night, often having to sleep propped up in a sitting position to keep the waves of nausea at bay.

I would crawl out of bed a little after 1 in the afternoon only to drag myself onto the living room couch. There I would sip quietly on water and cry the afternoon away.

It was during those dark moments that I started thinking of nothing else but seeking a termination.

A Google search later, I came to a page offering me just that;  by the way of termination services at Lyndhurst Clinic in Christchurch, I could have that relief I was desperately looking for.

It was a Friday. My friend was sitting with me at my house and she was shocked at just how much I was crying.

I decided to call Lyndhurst. A social worker rang me back and for the first time I felt that someone understood the measure of the dark space I felt I was in.

After meeting with the social worker the following week, I was booked in to meet the first certifying doctor.

As the weeks progressed, my body was changing and I felt trapped; trapped in a foreign body, in a foreign mind and I desperately wanted to get out.

The final appointment was made, and I had to wait a further two weeks. These weeks were to be some of the longest weeks I have ever lived through. I felt I had run a massive race and I only had enough energy to drag myself through to the finish line.

The day came. Monday, March 18, 2012.

For the first time in weeks, I was relieved. The procedure was very scary and painful, but I felt relief: relief that I was no longer carrying with me, a burden that I felt I didn’t want, and relief that I instantaneously resolved any feeling of nausea whatsoever.

But, I also left behind something else. It took me months of trying to work out exactly what I had left behind. But whatever it was, it left me with a massive void; a chasm that I simply knew I needed to fill.

Mid-2012, I felt awful. My weight had increased, my energy levels had waned and whatever I started, I failed to finish.

I started a great job at an established newspaper, but lasted only two weeks on the payroll. I started walking for exercise, but only got as far as the local shops.

My head was in a bad and foreboding place.

It was only by chance that I stumbled across a website offering support after termination. At this stage, I really had no idea that the termination was the root to my current head space, but I delved further into finding out more as I felt such utter grief and sadness. I needed answers.

PATHS: Post Abortion Trauma Healing.

I found out more, and decided to go along to their monthly support group meeting. There were only a few of us in a room, but everyone there had been through something either the same, or similar – including the facilitators. We each had our own stories, and behind each story, was that same sadness and senses of loss. But most importantly, there was that little glimpse of “all will be okay”.

I had been going to PATHS for a little over seven months when I found out I was pregnant again.

And, I am angry even writing this – because I, out of everyone I know, should have known better.

Once again, my partner and I had practiced unprotected sex.

Within days, I knew – and once again, I didn’t know if I was happy or sad.

To be sure, I took a pregnancy test after a morning swim at Jellie Park.

I promised myself I wouldn’t take a peek until I had finished my shower, but I couldn’t help myself.

TWO – FAINT – LINES.

Does that mean I am pregnant though, if it’s two faint lines? My last test showed two very dark and clear lines.

But thinking back I knew it was early one; I was only eight days late. So, my hormone levels would only be low.

I came home and told my partner. He was shocked, but also happy. I couldn’t stop crying. I was reliving the previous year all over again.

I knew that to make this real and to try and accept it as a good thing, we had to start telling people so I was less likely to change my mind.

That afternoon, we headed out to his mother and stepfather’s place. She was absolutely head-over-heels about the prospect of being a grandmother.

Telling her had made me feel all sick and angry and I wasn’t sure what to do.

I was floating; floating in some weird place above myself. I wasn’t here. It was a dream. I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out of there. I felt faint and so god dam scared.

If one word could describe this for me, it would be foreboding. That sense of impending doom. Overwhelming doom.

A trip to the doctor the following day confirmed that I was indeed pregnant: Very early on, but pregnant all the same.

I spoke with her about my earlier pregnancy, and her support was reassuring.

My weight was also an issue by now, and she warned that being overweight was not an optimum position to be in.

This was to be my arsenal; my catalyst, my excuse for getting what I wanted. A termination.

The day came: Monday, March 11, 2013.

And here I am – only three months later feeling exactly what I felt last year. Empty, detached, longing for something that I left behind and run at lightning speed away from.

The promises I made to myself: losing weight, getting a good job, getting on with life – they are all partially happening, but not to the extent that I had of wished for, or by which a termination was justifiable.

I am pro-choice. I believe each and every woman out there should have the opportunity to decide whether to have a baby at that moment, or to not have that baby at that moment.

In order to receive a termination, you need to be counselled and carefully monitored to make sure that having a termination is the right thing.

But what about after the termination? Who is there at the other end of the hospital corridor waiting to counsel that woman after one of the biggest days of her life?

For those who feel that a termination does not invoke some sort of trauma: Confusion, longing, grief, sadness, anxiety and anger – as well as that immediate sense of relief after a termination – then you need to live in her shoes.

Support is essential – it should be part of the staple diet of after termination care.

Support of family and friends, as well as support by people equipped to deal with trauma and grief.

I still go to every single monthly support meeting with PATHS.  It’s as essential to me as water, food and shelter.

Genevieve R.

One Response to “Keeping up Appearances (guest post)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The 62nd Down Under Feminists Carnival - July 11, 2013

    […] writes about healing after post-abortion trauma (pro-choice […]

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