I went outside and tentatively lit up a cigarette. Should I be smoking? If I was pregnant would it at least be respectful to the foetus to not smoke whilst I still was, even if I was planning on termination?
Unfortunately the stress of that day and the addiction to nicotine meant I lit another one, I hadn’t processed a thing and I wasn’t yet ready to consider quitting.
Listening to the ringing sound a feeling of dread came over me and I found myself transported to my childhood body, having stolen some chocolate from the cupboard and watching my mum go through the bin about to find a wrapper that I’d buried it’s depths. I’m not sure if it was because I desperately needed her guidance or if I just felt so vulnerable but I was extremely frightened of what she would say. Me, a twenty-four year old adult, thinking her mother would ground her or take her pocket money away for doing something silly. My Dad picked up.
“Hi Mousie, How are you?”
“Fine, thanks Daddy. Would you mind if I spoke to Mum quickly?”
“Hello Darling, what’s up” Oh god, my heart was pounding. Quick puff of the fag.
“So you know when we went to the hospital and I did a blood test, a lady called me from there today whilst I was at work and she told me there was a hormone in my blood that meant I had to take a pregnancy test.”
“And well I just took one and it says I’m three weeks pregnant.”
“Okay, do you want me to come over?” Yes, yes, yes.
“No it’s okay.” Desperately wanting to seem mature I rejected her offer. “Matthew and I are going to get another test just to 100% make sure that the results are what they are and then I need to call this lady back tomorrow and tell her what it says and then go from there. I don’t think there’s anything you can do right now but thank you.”
The conversation moved a little further before we rang off, she wasn’t mad at me. Why would she be mad at me? I was her child certainly but now I was her adult child. My actions were my responsibility. Matt and I got in the car and made our way towards the supermarket when I got a text. ‘We are coming over, see you in 20 minutes’ – Thank god. I really needed to see my parents. I needed someone to talk this through with and someone to tell me what to do if possible, Matt had still only managed a few words at this point and I was doing my best to keep my mouth shut so as not to overwhelm him.
Trotting around the supermarket Matt and I held hands, we held hands as tightly as we could. He was letting me know he was here for me and I was asking him to help me keep moving as I was starting to lose any sensation in my legs. We picked up another test. Matt clearly being ashamed of our predicament insisted that we take it to the self checkout so as to avoid the cashier trying to work out if we were happily buying this pregnancy test or not. I scanned the test and was quickly screwed over by some age authorisation bullshit. The self checkout machine started yelling at us over and over again and finally a spotty youth strolled over. He was too young to authorise the test and leaning his head back he opened his rather large mouth and called “Sue! Sue! Can you come and authorise this pregnancy test for this lady please.” Needless to say, we had drawn an incredible amount of attention to ourselves and everyone queueing behind us was trying to ascertain if we were happy with our purchase. Heads down and poker faced we scuttled out.
My parents shot into the car park soon after we got home. A sharp intake of breath let me know that Matt was super nervous. Quickly reminding him that the likelihood of my father, a bloke who is often mistaken for a pretty camp gay man, deciding to beating him up was very slim. His method of torture would be piss-taking and mockery, which is possibly even more painful. My parents marched up to the back door, hugged us both tightly and we got talking. We spoke about all the different possibilities of how this could have happened, was it even true or was it cyst hormones showing up in my pee. The plan of action was to call the GP the next morning and get an emergency appointment and go from there. My Dad’s suggestion was to call The Sun and sell my story of an immaculate conception as I was clearly still a virgin. One of the less original Dad jokes.
The next morning came and I called the GP’s surgery, I explained my predicament to a rather snotty receptionist who openly let me know that she thought I was a complete moron and whom, after some serious haggling, reluctantly gave me an emergency appointment. She also revealed that rather fittingly my original GP had now retired and therefore I was assigned to a temporary one. Dodged a bullet that one.
I was petrified, Matt still in bed I took a very long time getting ready. I ensured my make-up looked good and that I was wearing a half decent outfit so the doctor didn’t think I was a complete eejit. Next thing I knew I had somehow driven myself there and I was sitting in the waiting room, willing the clock never to reach 11.20am. The doctor came out at 11.24am and called my name, I followed her into her office and took a seat. Wrapping my coat around my tummy I opened my mouth to speak but no words came out. Instead of words from my mouth tears from eyes started pouring down so silently and so quickly that I was soon tasting them. The GP handed me a tissue and told me in very certain terms that I needed to calm down and try again otherwise she would be unable to help me. As quickly and coherently as I could I explained what was going on and that essentially I had not has a period for six months (PCOS) and had just produced three positive pregnancy tests. Her eyes widened, she deduced in seconds that this wasn’t good news for me and that we were in a very serious situation. She turned to her computer and typed frantically for a minute or so, hitting the print button and ripping the paper out of the machine and on to her desk she picked up the phone.
“I’m calling the hospital” she quickly explained “we need to get you in for a scan as soon as possible.”
On the phone to the hospital she may as well have been shouting ‘mayday! mayday!’ she approached it with such emergency. Realising that she was picturing the worst case scenario and that in fact I could be as many months pregnant as the amount of periods I had missed my throat closed up and salty water drops appeared again, shoving themselves unceremoniously out of my tear ducts. Her phone call was over, grabbing a huge marker pen she wrote ‘URGENT’ on the top of the sheet of paper and faxed it over to the hospital. I was to await a call from them. Then her question came.
“So if you are pregnant, what is it you would like to do?” I stared at her, was the answer not obvious? Look at me, I’m far too young, far too poor and far too much of a fan of gin and tonics to be a mother. I told her that Matt and I had already discussed this and we wanted a termination, although this was untrue, Matt wanted a termination and I was entirely unsure. I knew that I would only know how I felt if and when we found out there was a baby growing inside of me. My heart was already breaking at the thought that I’d make a decision to dispose of a new and innocent life. She wrote down a phone number on a slip of paper and told me that I were to ring it as soon as I got out of there. It was an abortion clinic and they would be able to give me both a diagnostic scan and a termination afterwards but that I should make an appointment asap as they were an extremely busy place. Sympathy then flickered over her face and she looked me right in the eye.
“I just want to let you know, that in my many years of experience as a doctor I have rarely seen ladies who have been fully happy with the decision to abort their babies, 80-90% of women regret it. Now good luck, I really do hope this all turns out well for you.”
Stunned by this comment I shuffled out of the surgery and into the winter sun. Looking at my phone I saw a text from my mum, she was going to meet me at the usual coffee place in 20 minutes, thank god. Rolling up a fag (still clearly in denial) I marched over and dialled the number of the abortion clinic. They were experiencing a high volume of calls and I would need to hold for an indefinite amount of time. I hung up and walked into the coffee shop, ordered a large Americano to go and went and sat outside, pretty much chain smoking at this point I called them back and sat on hold. Seven minutes passed and finally a lady picked up, I explained to her what I wanted and she told me that she would be asking me a series of questions and that I had to answer them honestly and to the best of my ability. The quiz began and a stream of personal and uncomfortable questions came my way. A few minutes passed and my Mum walked up, I finished the call soon after with a dating scan and abortion booked for next Thursday, a whole week away. I had booked an abortion as easily as one books a table at a restaurant, the autopilot mode I had found myself in was making some pretty huge decisions.
Realising swiftly that I could not wait a week to find out what was going on, I phoned the hospital. I spoke to a lady who had literally just pulled my fax out of the machine and after listening to me wail at her vowed she would do all she could do to help me. She booked me a dating scan for 1.20 pm the coming Tuesday, that was slightly better.
I looked up at my mum who had that look on her face that all mums do, so full of love and security that I instantly burst into tears. I wanted her to take control like she used to and grab my upper arm and steer me in the right direction, but she wasn’t going to. She was letting me fly on my own and make my own choices and decisions regarding the most serious issue that had ever come my way. She knew that for anyone else but myself and Matthew to hold responsibility for any actions taken from then on would be wrong, it had to be us.
I was still not entirely convinced that I was pregnant at this point and looking back I was clinging onto the words on the pregnancy test leaflet that said that there was every chance that conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome could result in false positives. I had spent so long dealing with the condition that like my GP I was refusing to look any further. I had been told that ‘when you know, you know’ and these words kept going round my head, I wasn’t a stupid girl, I was perfectly well educated. There was absolutely no way in hell that I could have missed this huge thing. I decided to go into work the next day and told my colleagues that the chances were that this was a false positive. I attended the New Year ‘do’ for work, ignoring the fact that I had had to buy a dress two sizes up because my stomach had been rather ‘bloated’ recently and got fairly hammered in a desperate attempt to forget all I was facing. The next morning Matt went to football and I went downstairs and lay down on the sofa under my duvet, my flatmate had had her boyfriend over the night before and as we’d come home I’d heard them laughing with a couple of friends in the living room. I’d burst into tears instantly feeling so embarrassed and too fearful to look at or speak to anyone that I’d run upstairs to hide. Half praying that her boyfriend had gone home at this point so that I wouldn’t have to look at him and answer the silent questions that beamed from his eyes I waited for her to appear. Luckily she appeared before he did, and as soon as I saw her all of my hungover emotion poured out. We had lived together for so long, what if this was the end of it all. What if I was about to have a baby and change everything forever. What if I was about to lose her. Tears came again and she climbed onto the sofa with me and hugged me so very tightly I didn’t want her to ever let go – she couldn’t see that there was any possibility that I could be pregnant either. We would have noticed something! This was all some horrible nightmare and it would be over very soon.
And after a few days that felt like years, Tuesday 17th January arrived and it was time for me to go and be handed my sentence. I’d either get away scot-free, or be handed a minimum of 18 years to life.