What it’s Like to Go Through an Abor­tion

What hap­pens if you find your­self preg­nant – be­fore you’re ready? How do you deal with it, emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally? Three women open up about how they han­dled an un­wanted preg­nancy.

CLEO (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Note: th­ese are per­sonal ac­counts of events and may not be med­i­cally or fac­tu­ally ac­cu­rate.

Jane*, now 29, had an abor­tion when she was 20 years old.

I was preg­nant at 20. The fa­ther was my then­boyfriend, and we had been dat­ing for about 6 months. He as­sured me we’d go through this to­gether, but the next thing I knew, he had left for an­other coun­try. He com­pletely dis­ap­peared on me.

I knew right from the start that I didn’t want to keep the baby. I had just started work­ing and I wasn’t ready to put my ca­reer on hold.

I couldn’t tell my mum about it, so I hid the preg­nancy from her. I was so scared of be­ing la­belled a slut that I didn’t even dare to tell my friends.

I went to a poly­clinic first for a con­sul­ta­tion, and then I had to go through man­dated coun­selling. I was told that I could keep the baby, and put it up for adop­tion later. But that’s not what I wanted. I was then re­ferred to a pub­lic hos­pi­tal, so I could use Medis­ave to cover the cost.

That’s where they did an ul­tra­sound and let me lis­ten to the heart­beat of the fe­tus. This was such a bad ex­pe­ri­ence for me, be­cause I felt guilt-tripped. I was told by the staff that I was lucky to be able to con­ceive, and that there are women out there [who want to have chil­dren but are] deal­ing with fer­til­ity is­sues. It made me feel like I was throw­ing a baby away. Again, I was told that adop­tion was an op­tion. I broke down so badly after.

I found out about my preg­nancy three weeks in, but by the time of the abor­tion ap­point­ment, I was more than two months preg­nant.

I was ad­mit­ted for two nights. To hide it from my fam­ily, I told them I was on a work trip. The doc­tor in­serted a pill into my vagina, and I started hav­ing cramps and di­ar­rhoea.

On the sec­ond night, I be­gan hav­ing pain­ful con­trac­tions. I called for the nurse, who drew the cur­tains around my bed and told me to push.

The baby came out and I saw its fin­gers. I didn’t know if it was nec­es­sary, but they told me it was a girl.

Hear­ing that fur­ther ag­gra­vated my trauma. The doc­tor even asked if

“I was so scared of be­ing la­belled a slut that I didn’t even dare to tell my friends.”

I wanted to keep the re­mains of the baby for burial or cre­ma­tion.

I went back to work three days later. I had to act ‘nor­mal’ around my fam­ily, which was dif­fi­cult be­cause I was deal­ing with preg­nancy symp­toms. My boobs were leak­ing, and I had to hide that from them.

I con­tin­ued on with my life, but I car­ried this guilt for the long­est time. I’m a mum now, but I some­times still think about the baby I’ve aborted. I can never get over it.

To­day, I tell my­self not to think about the what-ifs. My only re­gret is that I could have pre­vented it from hap­pen­ing in the first place.”

Ali­cia*, 26, had an abor­tion when she was 15.

“I know what pro­tec­tion is, and I should have used it. But I was young, I was dumb, and I made a mis­take.”

I had missed my pe­riod for two months, so I fig­ured some­thing was not right be­cause I had un­pro­tected sex with my then-boyfriend.

We were so scared. And we knew that we were not keep­ing it – how could we, we were still in school. We asked some of our friends for help, but be­cause we were all so young, no­body knew what to do. In the end, we had to tell our par­ents.

My par­ents are very con­ser­va­tive. I re­mem­ber my mum’s re­ac­tion when I broke the news to her. I saw her face fell, and I knew then that she had com­pletely lost all trust in me. She ac­com­pa­nied me for the pro­ce­dure at a pri­vate clinic and paid for it. We didn’t speak for the long­est time after­wards. Till to­day, we still have not talked about what had hap­pened.

Look­ing at the ul­tra­sound was very sur­real. I was two months along at that point. The baby was small, but I could see it wrig­gling.

Be­fore the abor­tion, I had to go through a coun­selling ses­sion at a pub­lic hos­pi­tal. I as­sume be­cause I was a mi­nor, I was asked if a con­dom was used, and if I was raped. The en­tire ses­sion was just a les­son on how ba­bies are con­ceived and what birth con­trol is. It would have been bet­ter if I had some form of emo­tional sup­port too.

The ac­tual pro­ce­dure it­self was over quite quickly. I did a 12-hour fast, and had to take a pill on the morn­ing of the abor­tion. I ac­tu­ally went to school as per usual, and then headed to the clinic in the af­ter­noon. I went into the op­er­at­ing theatre, which looked like a den­tist clinic, got put in stir­rups, and the next thing I know, I was knocked out by the anaes­thetic.

I don’t re­gret the abor­tion. Nor do I feel guilty about hav­ing to ter­mi­nate a life. I didn’t think about the baby at all through­out the en­tire thing. In­stead, I was an­gry at my­self for al­low­ing this to hap­pen.

It was such a dumb mis­take. It’s like… I knew bet­ter. I know what pro­tec­tion is, and I should have used it. But I was young, I was dumb, and I made a mis­take. I was an­gry at my­self for dis­ap­point­ing my par­ents, mak­ing my friends worry, and putting my­self through some­thing that could have been pre­vented. The guy I was dat­ing at that time was a mess, and he was in no po­si­tion to be a fa­ther then. We weren’t even in a re­la­tion­ship, so there was no way I was go­ing to keep the baby. He did help me with the cost, be­cause I couldn’t let my par­ents know. I think they would have dis­owned me if they knew.

It only hit me that I was ac­tu­ally ter­mi­nat­ing a life when we did the ul­tra­sound.

The baby was just a tiny dot on the screen. But I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mother, much less a sin­gle mother. Fi­nan­cially, emo­tion­ally, I just wasn’t ready.

Along the way, from the con­sul­ta­tion to the manda­tory coun­selling ses­sion right up to the day of the pro­ce­dure it­self, the peo­ple at the hos­pi­tal kept ask­ing if I was sure about this. It was frus­trat­ing, be­cause I had al­ready made up my mind.

I ac­tu­ally don’t re­mem­ber a thing from the abor­tion. I was put un­der anaes­the­sia, and the next thing I knew, I was wak­ing up in the re­cov­ery ward.

After the abor­tion, I stayed at my friend’s place be­cause I didn’t want my par­ents to find out.

I bled a lot after. I had to change my pad ev­ery hour. And it’s noth­ing like men­strual blood – it was a lot of fresh, red, blood.

Two months later, I ac­tu­ally went through early preg­nancy symp­toms, like nau­sea and fa­tigue. I was even lac­tat­ing. It was very scary. I started writ­ing let­ters to the baby I aborted, just to help me process what I had went through.

Eight months later, I got preg­nant again. It was with the same guy, whom I was then in a proper re­la­tion­ship with. This time round, we ac­tu­ally dis­cussed our op­tions. In the end, we de­cided to go for the abor­tion be­cause I was grad­u­at­ing from univer­sity and al­ready had job of­fers

Sab­rina, early 30s, had two abor­tions in her early 20s.

“I ac­tu­ally love kids, and I do want to have kids even­tu­ally.”

com­ing in. I was start­ing a new chap­ter in my life and wasn’t ready to set­tle down, es­pe­cially not with my then­boyfriend. And I didn’t want a kid to be the rea­son why we stayed to­gether. I didn’t want to deal with a di­vorce later, and hav­ing to fight for cus­tody.

My ex­pe­ri­ence with abor­tion was very lonely. There was no one to talk to, to help me process what was hap­pen­ing.

A few friends that I spoke to didn’t re­act to the news well. They were like “What? Again?” I felt judged, and slut-shamed. In hind­sight, it would have been more help­ful to talk to some­one who had gone through an abor­tion be­fore.

The first few years were hard to deal with, but I am OK now. I’m able to talk about my ex­pe­ri­ence now with­out any over­whelm­ing emo­tions. I ac­tu­ally love kids, and I do want to have kids even­tu­ally. But the cir­cum­stances weren’t right then – it was the wrong time, with the wrong guy.

Some­times, th­ese thoughts pop up in my head. Thoughts like, “Wow, if I had con­tin­ued the preg­nancy, I’d have a 10-year-old kid by now.” There’s a bit of re­gret, but I know it’s some­thing I can look for­ward to next time, with the right per­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.