Caoimhe’s Story

My name is Caoimhe. I still have no idea how it happened; I was always the responsible one, the organised one, the one who would never have a crisis pregnancy. I had been on the pill since I was a teenager and my boyfriend & I always used condoms… just incase. When the condom broke, I wasn’t worried, because that’s why we always used two forms of contraception. Yet, there I was looking at 4 positive pregnancy tests.

My boyfriend & I took off to a friend’s house in the country where we stayed for two agonisingly long days and nights discussing every possible what if – what if, what if what if. Both of us knew that there was no way we could afford to bring a child into the world, not at this time. We knew what we had to do and we booked an appointment for a surgical abortion in Manchester.

Manchester

When I arrived at the clinic I recognised a woman I had seen crying in the bathroom in Dublin airport – her friend reassuring her that it would be OK, and there was another girl from my flight as well who couldn’t have been more than a teenager. We shared comforting smiles across the waiting room, knowing that each of us had made the same journey from Ireland that morning.

The surgery itself was horrible, but my nurse held my hand through it. As we were leaving, she told me to rest and take my antibiotics that evening. I should expect to bleed heavily over the next few days, but this was normal.

After arriving at the hotel, I tried to sleep, when a sign on the hotel dresser caught my eye: “Soilage Charge: £150.” That was it. I had been so brave until that moment but I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. The hotel, the last minute fights, the transport to and from the airport, the actual surgery … my credit card was maxed out. I couldn’t afford another £150. This would break us. My boyfriend was already asleep in the bed so I made my way into the bathroom, rolled my jacket into a pillow and slept in the bathtub, crying myself to sleep.

Coming Home

When I got home to Ireland the next day I thought it would all be over, but I continued to bleed so heavily that I needed to take the following 2 weeks off work. I was in so much pain that I honestly thought I was going to die on two separate occasions. I was too scared to go to my GP or to A&E, so I just lay and home, bleeding and crying in pain.

Ten Irish women made that trip to England every single day in 2016. I was one of them.

I am sharing my story because abortion happens and will continue to happen in Ireland. We need to ask ourselves are we a nation who has compassion for women who find themselves in incredibly difficult situations or are we a nation that abandons women and forces them to seek care from our UK neighbours?

Pink bathtub with blood running down the drain

Can you think of someone to share this story with?