Thursday, 17 March 2005

pregnant pause

Many years ago, when I was in my very early twenties, in (yet) an(other) abusive relationship and was just about to go back to college as part of my escape-plan, I fell pregnant.

I was blissfully, fiercely happy. I desperately wanted the baby and revelled in being pregnant, with a secret, exultant joy. I walked round for a couple of weeks in a dreamy, warm, semi-solomnent state, talking to my belly in the bath, imagining our future together, picturing holding the child, feeding it, playing together, all those wonderful things.

But I didn't have a stable relationship, any money, or a job. My partner was angry and rejecting. I knew that however much I loved them and they loved me, going home and living with my parents would literally drive us all mad. And I knew that with a baby due in September, I wouldn't be able to start college and get out of the relationship trap I'd got myself in to. Having a child at that point was impossible. I was having trouble looking after myself, never mind a baby.

So at eight weeks, I went to the Brook Advisory Clinic and I got two signatures and prepared myself for a termination. I cried and cried and cried. I twisted and turned and explored hundreds of blind alleys to try to think of a way forward that was different, and I couldn't think of a single one that would be good for both me and for the child.

And then I miscarried.

Despite having decided to go for a termination, I was devastated.

In a way however, it was a good thing - it took the whole thing out of my hands and I didn't have to deal with the guilt that I am sure that I would have felt, if I had had to make that final, final decision myself. I grieved for the baby, who I decided would have been a girl. Now she was gone, I bought bootees for her and hid them at the bottom of my drawer so my partner wouldn't find them. While he was at work, I would get them out and sit and hold them and experience a profound sense of grief and loss. I dreamt about her, as both a child and as an adult. She spoke to me in my dreams.

Every year, come September, I remember the day that I decided would have been her birthday. This year would have been the tenth. I don't grieve any more, but I think about how she might have grown up; of the child and the woman she might have become. And I reflect on how different my life might have been - if I hadn't miscarried and had had the termination; or if I hadn't miscarried and had decided I couldn't go through with what is at that stage, really quite a simple operation.

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