Pro Choice

I have wondered about sharing this on my blog and making public what is one of my deepest secrets for a long time..
I worried about it as it is opening myself up to potentially receive criticism and hurtful comments and with sharing anything on the internet you should always be sure you are really strong enough to receive them. Today SPUC (the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) a frankly ridiculous name as my mum says ''if you are going to describe and promote to treat a fetus as an 'unborn child' then you could describe and aim to treat us all as 'undead corpses' - in fact more so as it is 100% certain that we will all be dead, whereas only a percentage of fetuses would ever become babies/children naturally ...'' 
Anyway today the SPUC held a vigil in the centre of Bristol. I was hoping to make it down to pledge my support as a pro choicer but circumstances meant that I was unable to make it. I kept up with the pictures from my friends through twitter of the demonstration and the brilliant Bristol turn out (I hear it was 80 pro choice demonstrators to 20 SPUC's). The placards 'keep your rosaries off my ovaries' and one pregnant twitter friend of mine with a placard 'This was my CHOICE' filled me with great happiness and the confidence I felt I needed to write this post..

At 17 I had finished my GCSE's and was attending 6th form collage I was also involved in my first serious relationship. A man 7 years my senior and who my 17 year old self believed the love of my life. I remember the day I found out I was pregnant, it was a weekday afternoon I have skipped my english class and sat in the Dr's office on my own whilst she explained my options. I then spent the next 30 minutes desperately ringing my boyfriend's phone from the nearest phone box as I had no credit. It was 2pm and he answered on the millionth repeated call rather grumpily as he had just woken him up, he met me a couple of hours later in which time I had just spend sat on a bench in a stunned stupor. My thoughts as I waited for him to join me went from excitement to terror. I had always for as long as I remembered wanted children in my life..I also wanted to go to university to be an artist and to see other countries.. 

When my boyfriend finally arrived and I told him my news and he told me in no uncertain circumstances at 24 he was not prepared to be a father. I knew if I was going to go ahead with this I would have to do it myself. At 17 years old I received £5.50 a week pocket money and earned at further £25 at my Saturday job, £12.25 of which I saved for my university fund. I didn't want to do this on my own, I think single mothers do a brilliant job, my own mother was one for a good few years until she met my dad but I didn't want that for my teenage self. And did I really want to be a mum before I had even had become an adult properly? Before I had even taken my A Levels? It would be unfair to ask for my parents help as my youngest brother was only 3 at the time. I was not financially or emotionally ready to continue with the pregnancy, it wasn't an easy a choice to make but I know for me it was the right decision. 

The process from what I remember was varied in that parts such as the appointment with the Dr to tell her my decision was fairly painless but in others I felt like I was being judged. The Dr was respectful and said she would a write a recommendation that I was not emotionally ready for a child, and that due to my age it was a unwanted pregnancy. She would need to write to another Dr for a second signature, this process I think took at further two weeks or so..although as it was 9 years ago these details do become quite blurry. I was then sent a letter advising me of my appointment at the hospital, by this time I think I was roughly 8 weeks pregnant. I attended the first hospital appointment with my then boyfriend who waited outside as he thought people would 'judge him'. I was given a scan and a picture was printed out, a student was also attending and she left the image on the desk in front of me. I don't think this was in an attempt to make me look at the evidence of the foetus, certainly no one actually presented me with it which makes me think this may have been an error on their part? Its certainly an image which is etched in my memory.

I was given a pill that would induce a miscarriage and sent home, my mum had worked out (due to the amount I was being sick I guess) the circumstance I was in and confronted me in the kitchen. I told her my decision and she was very supportive of it, I was embarrassed I think that I had 'gotten myself into this position' but I would like to point out that it was a circumstance I was in not due to any lack of precaution. I was due back in the hospital at 8am where my then boyfriend was supposed to meet me a few hours later..I was shown to a private room and given another pill which would complete the miscarriage and left alone with the instruction to press the button for a someone to come once it was over. The main thing I remember about this period was the TV being set on Diagnosis Murder on repeat...I'll spare you the details but when I had finally 'pressed the button' it was a good while before anyone turned up and when they did it was made clear to me the nurse/midwife did not approve of what I was doing. In fact at one point before I was discharged I was told 'not to get myself into the position again'.. 
By the evening I was still in the hospital and worried that my boyfriend would have been waiting in the waiting room for a long time by now. I pressed the button a few times to ask for them to find him to be told they couldn't. I thought it was due to them not looking very hard. I was allowed to be discharged by that evening but told they couldn't let me go until they saw I had someone to pick me up. I kept telling them my boyfriend was here somewhere but in the end they got my parents number off me and called my dad to collect me.

My dad arrived at the hospital shortly after and I asked him if he had passed my boyfriend in the corridor somewhere as he promised he would be here. I still remember his face when he told me he wasn't. He was right when he said he wasn't ready to be a father as he wasn't ready to support me in my termination. 

Having a termination is something that will stay with me my whole life, of course it will. It wasn't an easy decision to make but it was the right decision for me and I am grateful I was able to make that decision. Every September 1st I think about my then due date and what my life could have been like. At 18 I passed my A Levels and went to art collage something I had wanted to do my whole life and which I passed with a 2:1. At 22 I met Thomas and at 26 we had our first child. A very wanted child. Whilst we are no means 'rich' I know we able to support our child financially and at 26 far more emotionally equipped that at 17 I ever would be. I am so grateful I was able to make the choice...and as a wise woman said (OK my mum again) "Terminating a pregnancy you are not able to continue with adequately (emotionally and practically) is as important a sign of 'good motherhood' as continuing with a wanted pregnancy, and caring for the child as best you can ..."

(Me at 17)


Unknown said...

Wow I admire you so much... brave, Fritha. It has a taboo, an unmentioned subject. But I hear you.. big love xx

The undomesticated scientist said...

Brave indeed, I have alway been glad I have never had to make that decision. X

Fi Peacock said...

Thanks so much for this honest and inspiring post. It's great that you felt comfortable to talk about it publicly, I hope that you receive lots of support for doing so. It's really sad that your then boyfriend wasn't able to support you, but it's great you are close to your parents and they supported you. A really great post, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I've huge admiration for you posting about something so private. I wasn't much older than you when i had a termination. i remember being pregnant at my 21st birthday party. The father was a nurse who was a fair bit older than me. He didn't want to know either. i drove to and from the procedure myself. At the time my choice was to terminate-no money, no partner and not the best homelife. I don't know whether i made the right choice all those years ago. But at least i HAD a choice. That's the point. I'm 46 now and just about to celebrate my daughters 18th birthday.She was planned and is much loved.
Thankyou for sharing your story. xxx

Grace said...

Thank you for such an honest and wise post, and for standing up to the anti-choicers. I can't imagine how hard it must be for those going to a clinic to have to encounter those protests.

Charis said...

What a wise head on young shoulders... then and now. Such a frank & honest post. Thank you Fritha.

Anonymous said...

Your Mum says it all in her last quote x

The Dress Tree said...

Your mum is my hero. And you are inspirational.


Mylittleacorns said...

Couldn't possibly read and run. It must have taken some guts to write this. I'm glad you had the support from your parents. I have counselled so many women who have gone to a very dark place through fear of sharing or having no support network after a termination. Well done on a very thought provoking and inspirational post. xx

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you wrote this. It took balls and dammit, you're pretty awesome.
I'm pro-choice because mine is the only vagina I'll ever have and it is ALL mine. No one can do a damn thing about MY vag and the same goes for everyone else's!

The thing is that people will still have terminations - legally or not. And in keeping it legal, people are provided with much safer ways to terminate, than, you know, a hanger or something ridiculous.

I hope you don't get any slack for posting this. And if you do, make sure to reach out to those of us that support you - don't take it alone. :)

Unknown said...

i have much admiration for you being brave enough to share this on your blog. i think it's an incredibly important topic, and so glad to see the pro choice protesters yesterday.

i fell pregnant for the second time at 19 {in the same abusive relationship, pregnancy number one ended after a 'fall' down the stairs} and knew that then was not the time to bring a baby into the world.

i did it alone with no support, but it gave me the guts to get out of the relationship i was in. two years later I met and married G and at 22 we had our first baby - while money was tight, i knew that the timing was right.

thanks for the post Fritha - love you xxx

Jess said...

hear so much of the " I'm pro-choice but would never have an abortion myself" line, even though i understand it its so refreshing to read such honesty.

same thing happened to me at same age, I had to go for a general anaesthetic on my own to have it done. the father didn't even know or want to.

i have never regretted it, felt any guilt or shame and when i finally had kids and knew how hard it is i realised how right i had been.

the more of us that are honest and upfront the less power these people will have

much love to you hun xxxxx

Sharmila said...

A post of great emotion and honesty. We often take it for granted that we live in a society that allows freedom of choice which makes it all the more important to stand up to people who undermine that freedom.

Love x S

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

Thank you SO SO SO much for all your comments. I feel very honoured to receive them xxx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@Lil I feel the same way, I did wonder if when I had W I would feel differently but it just enforced my feelings that at 17 there was NO way I was emotionally ready for child

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@Polly thank you so much for sharing this you are truly an inspiration!! xx

Anonymous said...

I find it so chilling that the "pro-life" people refuse to contemplate this sort of situation or that it's not necessarily someone's fault (e.g. split condom, pill failure, rape, etc). It's wonderful that you've been so strong and known what's right for you, and that you now have a family.
I was down there in the centre because I know that, although I try very hard not to, it is possible that I might fall pregnant and that if I was forced to continue to full term that baby would have a terrible life, and most likely a depressed mother. It strikes me as selfish that people can campaign *for* that.

Mum2BabyInsomniac said...

I was in such a terrible relationship when I was 17 and I am just so thankful I never fell pregnant, there were actually occasions when I could have done. I was so young then and it would have definitely been for the best for me to have not carried on. I can imagine how hard it must be to make the decision though but it is just such a different experience to do it when you are ready and in the right relationship. Someone very close to me ended up in a similar situation at a very young age, I know how hard she found it but she is on her way to become a doctor now so for her it was completely the right decision too. This is such an honest post and you get your point across so well xx

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