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I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in the toilet as I stood and turned around. I suddenly had a tsunami [of] feelings...

Abortion Story: United Kingdom

Submitted to Abort73 on July 4, 2024

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On July 16th, it will be two years. It was hideous then, and it’s still as horrid now. It’s an experience I never thought I’d go through, a decision I never thought I’d make, and something that will always and forever follow me. When I found out I was pregnant, it was completely unexpected as I didn’t think I was able to conceive due to my hormone replacement therapy. It took me a while to figure out that my symptoms could be pregnancy, and longer to figure out how far into it I potentially was. It turned out that I was more than halfway through the first trimester. After I had dipped that test, and sat there waiting for the result to show up, and saw that it was positive, I placed it on the radiator, and that’s where it stayed the entire weekend. I couldn’t go back and look again. 

The next day I went to a convention with friends. I suddenly felt pregnant. All the symptoms made sense, and it was like they had intensified over night. I’d been nauseous for a couple weeks. Headaches and lethargy were frequent annoyances. That weekend I struggled to get through the day, absolutely panicked inside feeling like my body had been taken over by this pregnancy. I hadn’t processed it all yet but had to continue to smile and pretend all was well with 98% of the people there. My best friend and sponsor both knew but weren’t around as much as I needed them to be. Ironically, I had a human inside of me yet had never felt so alone.

I returned home and told my partner who was very supportive but was quite difficult to have a deep and meaningful conversation with about it all. We disagreed on the reality of the pregnancy. His view was that at 7 weeks, “it was just a bunch of cells.” I was in fact mode, believing that it was a growing fetus with a heartbeat and a soul. If left alone, it would come out of me as a full human being in seven months time. It was not cells to me; it was a baby.

It could be someone, and that someone would be mine. It was wild and confusing. Hormones, feelings, and fears were coming at me like a relentless storm. I didn’t know how to truly handle it all, make sense of it all, and somehow figure out what my plan was. I had no idea what to do for the best. I was stuck between what is best for the baby, what is best for me, what is best for the future, and then I’d come back to the reality that this was less about me and more about the baby that needed me to do the right thing. Whatever that was.

I made lots of lists of different scenarios with pros and cons of abortion or pregnancy. Big factors were on the pros of abortion list:

I knew I had several health conditions that the baby would have the genetic make up for, or be at risk of having these conditions: mental illness, chronic diseases, and I was a recovering drug addict only a few months clean. I also had cervical damage and HIV that were a result of rape during my substance misuse. AND. Just to add fuel to the fire, both myself and my partner had Type 1 Diabetes. 

The pregnancy would be high risk. What would be passed down to the baby was a concern, and as a transgender man, carrying my own baby to full term would have been a journey of exhausting advocating, emotional distress, social humiliation, and what seemed like inevitable trauma for me. I also couldn’t know for certain that having a parent in recovery wouldn’t at some point end in the child having a very traumatic story themselves, and I did not want that for them. I chose abortion and it hurt my heart before the abortion had even begun.

I attended an appointment at a specialist clinic which had experience with assigned-female-at-birth transgender patients and pregnancy. There they drew blood and asked me questions and spoke through the abortion procedures and my options—and asked if I was sure that I didn’t want to continue the pregnancy. What else are you supposed to say? Yes is what I said. I went back a week later. The wait seemed like forever! It was almost impossible by this point to ignore the fact that there was a baby growing inside of me, zapping my resources and depleting my energy. Not only physically was the baby’s presence palpable, mentally it was all I could think about. When I finally attended the appointment, I was terrified. 

They proceeded to do a second dating scan, which they did with no audible sound. The picture on the screen couldn’t easily be seen if I turned my head away or closed my eyes. It took what felt like an eternity—like time had slowed down or stopped completely. I suddenly had the realization—a panic of sorts—and thought to myself, “I’m never going to see this baby that’s inside of me,” so I opened my eyes and looked tentatively at the screen. It took me a couple of seconds to adjust my eyes and figure out what was what, and then I saw it. The baby’s heart beat flickering. I quickly relaxed my head back again and closed my eyes as if that didn’t happen and decided to just ‘leave the room’ in my head and pretend I was somewhere else. Looking back, I’m so grateful that I looked at the screen and saw my baby inside of me.

I was given the first dose of medication and sent home with the rest: six Misoprostol for my at home abortion. I was also prescribed two strong pain medications and was supplied with the biggest pads I’ve ever seen in my life. I was told everything I needed to know, expect, and do. I went home as prepared as I’d ever be. We watched Doctor Strange and ate pizza. Then, at precisely 48 hours after my first dose, my partner placed the dose of four Misoprostal deep into my vagina as we had been instructed to do. The baby had already ceased living at this point. Now we just had to get it out with a contracting, labor/miscarriage-like passing of the baby. A beautifully formed baby that was the size of a cashew nut, or a raspberry, or an olive. I knew that at 9 weeks and 4 days gestation, I would definitely be feeling something coming out of me. This wouldn’t be “just” a heavy period with bad cramps. 

I had mild cramps and back pain for the first couple of hours. Then, after the third dose of two Misoprostal it suddenly stepped up to a whole new level. It was agony. It was a radiating deep pain I’d never experienced before. It got worse and worse, and I began bleeding like a period would look like. I carried on contracting and cramping. I had decided in advance that when I felt close, that I would pass the baby into the toilet, and when the pain began to feel unbearable, on the toilet was where I sat. My partner sat cross legged on the floor by the bathtub and he distracted me as we waited until it was over. I never expected to feel the sensation I did as the fetus passed. It was nothing like I’d ever experienced before, and it wasn’t over yet. 

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in the toilet as I stood and turned around. I suddenly had a tsunami of all the feelings I’d been suppressing to hold myself together. I couldn't bring myself to flush the toilet. My partner had to do it after I’d left the room. It’s been almost two years now and I still remember it vividly. There’s a quote, “Grief is like the ocean: it's deep and dark and bigger than all of us. And pain is like a thief in the night. Quiet. Persistent. Unfair. Diminished by time and faith and love.” The grief comes in waves. Some days I just want to go back and linger in the magic of being pregnant again. Others I’m overwhelmed by the what ifs and the if only. Then there are days where I’m plagued by the emotional baggage and haunted by the loss. 

I made my decision. It was the right decision at the time. I made it with all the knowledge and experience I had in my arsenal. If I’d known then what I know now, things may have been different. The truth is though, that abortion isn’t the easy option; it isn’t the get out of jail free card. It’s heavy, oh so heavy, and you have to carry it for the rest of your life; at least that’s been my experience. I chose to end my pregnancy, yet the loss I feel is just the same. People often don’t understand the trauma. They don’t have the same grace or empathy for your loss like they would someone who had miscarried. It’s the same, but different.

I had to work really hard learning to frame what happened in a healthy way. I’ve had to acknowledge the existence of the baby I carried inside of me for over two months. I had to make sure they knew they mattered even though they never made it “earthside” out of the womb. They were loved, and I miss them even though we never really met. I had to really focus on my mental health in order to prevent this from breaking me. I eventually decided to get a tattoo that would mark their existence and connect them with my body forever. The tattoo reads, “Nine weeks inside. Jeremiah One Five.” In the Torah, Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” It has been comforting to know and believe that God says such beautiful things about a child he created inside of me. That’s how special they were to Him. I wholeheartedly believe that God knows the turmoil I had in my heart. I know that as I let go of my baby, God was there to catch them. Their soul reunited with Him as it left its body here on earth. 

Abortion is hard. It does not matter who you are. What support you have or don’t have. It is going to undoubtedly be one of the hardest things you will ever do, and there’s never a happy ending with it. It’s always fundamentally full of grief, pain, and loss. A void sticks around like an unwelcome guest. The hope I offer you though is that with therapy, time, faith, and love it does get easier. That grief and pain is diminished. It’s less persistent, more predictable, and more manageable, but it never ever goes away completely.

Age: 30
Location: United Kingdom
Date: July 4, 2024

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