My story is one that eight years on at the age of 25, I still find hard to write – ashamed of the person I once was. However, within those eight years I have found hope and healing and have been able to move on, live an incredibly happy life - still not forget what I did and what I have been through, but live. For a long time, I didn’t think I’d make it.
My partner and I had spoken about what would happen if I fell pregnant, though we never ever thought that our discussions would become a reality. We dreamed of getting married and having children, so incredibly in love – well we thought so, at 16! He had been my best friend for two years before we finally got together and knowing each other so well, it didn’t take long before we took things to the next level.
One afternoon after school (we were in Year 11) we had realised that the condom had come off. Laughing at first, an eerie silence soon took hold as we realised what the situation could mean. Being very young and not knowing a whole lot about conception and knowing my period was due the next day, I got myself a pregnancy test thinking I would find out straight away whether I was pregnant. To cut a long story short, it was positive as were the three tests I did directly after that hoping to get a different result (I now realise I couldn’t have fallen pregnant that quickly and that I had obviously fallen pregnant on an earlier occasion within my cycle).
My partner came around that evening. We just laid on my bed in silence for what seemed like forever. Finally I asked him what he wanted me to do, not thinking about what I wanted but what did he want without considering me. The answer was of course an abortion. Very upset, I cried and explained that I couldn’t possibly do that, that I was going to run away. I couldn’t tell my parents as they would have been so terribly disappointed, so I was going to leave and raise the baby myself. He became very upset and tried to convince me to stay. He left my house that night, not knowing whether I would be there the next day. Through the night I cried and prayed to God ‘Please don’t make this true and I will do anything.’ I also realised that there was no way I could run away and take care of myself and a baby. I didn’t know what to do.
Over the next few weeks I was just numb, working on autopilot. I went to school, dancing, saw friends and socialised like I normally would, acting normal to everyone I saw but terrified, panicked and confused on the inside. It wasn’t long before the morning sickness kicked in and I was trying to hide continuous daily vomiting from my parents, teachers and other kids at school. My partner and I cut school early and headed to a medical centre to get a final confirmation of what we already knew.
Only to get the rudest, most condescending and judgmental doctor who refused to give me a blood test, instead offering a urine test. This came back negative and gave us false hope that we weren’t pregnant. A week later I returned and demanded a blood test which came back positive.
A decision was never made. We never really discussed what we should do. Instead, our lives just continued till we had to do something. Christmas was five days away and I was terrified. I was eight weeks pregnant with literally no concept of my future beyond each day. I just switched off. My partner made an appointment for the 22 December so it would be done before Christmas and timed with Carols in the Domain so we could explain to our parents that we were going into the city early to get a good spot for the carols, not to get an abortion. We told only two close friends that I was pregnant, no one else knew, not our parents, no one. We borrowed money from these friends and other people that we knew to be able to afford it. I look back now and think it’s crazy that we had to borrow money off our friends for an abortion which only cost us $170 as we were entitled to a student discount and Medicare paid for the rest.
Because I was terrified that my parents would find out, I couldn’t use my Medicare card as I was unsure whether it would come up on anything sent to my parents but my mum carried the card for the whole family so it was impossible to use. Instead, I took my friend’s card and assumed her identity. I practiced her signature, memorised date of birth and address and other details and had everything done under her name. So to this day, there are no records of myself ever being pregnant or having an abortion. Every record is under her name.
The day came around and I got up early and met my partner at the train station. We took the forty minute train trip to the city in complete silence. It took us a while to find the place but when we did, we smiled at the security officer as we non-verbally fought and tried to get each other to walk in first. Once we arrived I had to fill out some paper work (all using my friends name and information) and then write a few lines as to why I wanted to terminate the pregnancy. To this question I just left a dash.
When called into counseling which lasted no longer than ten minutes and in which my partner didn’t accompany me, I just started crying. She explained the procedure to me and asked me if I had any questions. I said no. She asked me to sign all the medical waivers and finally told me that if I wanted the procedure done then I had to answer the question to which I just answered with a dash, on the forms I filled out when I walked in - Why do you want to terminate this pregnancy? I just told the lady that I didn’t know. She said I had to come up with something and she spoke outloud as she wrote the words that she herself came up with and wrote on the form… “ Melinda is 17 and in Year 11 as is her partner. They are not in a position psychologically or financially for the continuation of this pregnancy. Melinda would like to finish school and go onto further study – she does not have the necessary resources for parenthood and to continue in this pregnancy would prove disastrous. She firmly believes termination to be her only option.”
I sat in the waiting room for another half hour before they called Melinda’s name. When I got up to go in, my partner kept his head down and didn’t say a word. He said nothing and didn’t even look at me. That will stay with me always, it hurt so much. My partner was a baseball player, a good one. He had baseball this day so once I went in he left. I told him he could go and it was silly him waiting around but it took me so long to forgive him for that. He left me there.
Once I went into the room they asked me to take off my pants and wrap sheet around me, they then put me on a metal operating table, it was so cold. The lady then grabbed my naked butt and yanked me down the table saying I needed my butt on the very edge, then I put my legs in the stirrups. I was so scared but just kept saying to myself it’ll be over soon, and repeating to myself ‘grow up you did this to yourself so deal with it, take responsibility, be mature’.
Then they put the needle in my arm and before I knew it I was out cold. Unfortunately not for long. I woke up halfway through it. I remember hearing the anesthetist and the doctor talking, the machine going and taking a while to realize where I was before I completely freaked out and felt quite uncomfortable down there. I never opened my eyes. I didn’t want to see, I didn’t want them to know I was awake, I thought I’d get in trouble...I just kept saying to myself go to sleep go back to sleep. I must’ve because the next thing I remember is them helping me to the recovery room to my recliner chair with the other recliner chairs. I passed out.
I must’ve been balling my eyes out as I was in that chair knocked out. I don’t remember crying, just when I woke up I was all wet, covered in tears and the girl beside me gave me a box of tissues. I wanted to reach out to all the other girls like the girl beside me had, but there was nothing to say.
Next thing I know the receptionist came in and over to me. She said there was a Lauren outside asking for me, did I know a Lauren? I freaked, I thought, my goodness they’ve found me out, that I was using someone else’s Medicare card. I was still all over the place from the drugs and had no idea, just scared I was in big trouble. So I told her no I didn’t know any Laurens (I am Lauren!! I didn’t say it). Then she said are you sure? And finally I realised that I was actually Melinda and that she must be outside saying she was Lauren. I agreed that I knew a Lauren and it was ok to tell her I was here.
I had a coffee, some pain killers and a biscuit and then the staff helped me outside. Outside was the real Melinda and her boyfriend waiting to pick me up. I thought I was going home alone but my partner had organised for her to come and get me.
Once outside and round the corner I balled my eyes out. I was so upset. I didn’t want Melinda and her boyfriend, I wanted my partner, he should’ve been there.
The next day, my grandfather passed away. I was there to see it. I was convinced his death was my fault, that because I took my child’s life, God took my grandfathers life. Two days later it was Christmas. December is always a hard time for me.
My partner was very supportive, as much as he could be. We stayed together for a year after this happened before my mental state broke him and he could deal with me no longer. He moved to America after that to play baseball.
I’d like to say that with time I got better. The pain and grief was unbearable, every fibre of your being, every part of your soul is broken and aches and you long for your child to be with you, to hold them, smell them, kiss them, hug them. Nothing brings relief, not even your sleep.
Unfortunately for six years following the abortion I tried to commit suicide on three occasions, became a self harmer – cutting my legs with sharp objects to help make the pain tangible, and sabotaged my relationships. A friend forced me into professional counseling which I attended weekly for five years trying to come to terms with what I did and the fallout from that day. Soon after the abortion I became a Christian when I asked for God’s forgiveness sincerely and received it with open arms. A weight was lifted but the pain, regret and reality of what had happened still remained. It is only through God’s grace and professional counseling that I did get better. I told my parents what happened and joined my local church. I met with our local cemetery and had a plaque put in one of the gardens as a memorial to my daughter - a tangible place to acknowledge and mourn her. I named her Bella-Jayne.
Seven years down the track I met the man of my dreams and was engaged and married within fourteen months. I have never ever been happier and never imagined I would ever be ok, be married or about to try and start a family. God delivered me from myself, it took a long time, hard work and I know its not all over. I still have nightmares, flashbacks and some days cry the day away. But I know I am forgiven, I know I can make it through anything and I know I will see my baby girl in heaven one day.