Anonymous 9

I’m trying to think which details might be worth noting. Which details might make you think I’m still a good person, that I did the right thing.
I work with our local Pro Choice group and there’s only so many times you can be called a Murderer without it getting it on your head.

I was 24. He was 40. The age difference never mattered because I loved him and I stupidly thought he loved me to. It turns out I love you can outlast anything except for an Unplanned Pregnancy. I was on the pill and shocked when I did the test but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was in shock and wanted to talk to him about our options.

I told him and everything about him changed. I didn’t know what to do with the pregnancy but I thought we could explore our options together. He can down to talk one day at 4pm by 6pm we were in our local pub because “he wanted a drink to settle his nevers” I sat in the smoking area of the dead of winter frezzing running to the bathroom to be sick and watching him talk to our friends as if nothing was wrong. Spending money we didn’t have and laughing as if I wasn’t sitting there pregnant and trying not to cry. I wanted to scream for someone to help me. He stayed until closing time and left for a session. That night in the middle of winter I walked around trying to find him. Eventually I walked home, crying, and awear I was very very alone.

I made my decision that night.

I was broke and I was in a relationship with a man who was verbally and emotional and just the once physically abusive. I made the decision I could not bring a child into a world that would be tied to him or would know the cruel tang of poverty. I grew up in the 2000s in Ireland and there was no Pro Lifers when St Vincents De Paul ran out of vouchers the day before Christmas Eve so we simply didn’t eat that Christmas. I knew I only wanted to bring a child into this world if I could support it in every way it needed and deserved. I knew that there wasn’t much help for mental illness or poverty or abuse in Ireland, I know there wasn’t because I grew up in a Ireland where there wasn’t any help or support.

He came with me but I would have been better going alone. He was silent or cruel the whole way. When we got on the bus, I started crying and he put his headphones in. He didn’t touch me once not to hold my hand or hug me or anything. I remember crying my heart out on the plane wondering why the whole country wasn’t screaming to make this stop. I was terrified. I thought I would die. I was suddenly praying to a God I wasn’t sure I believed to get me home safe. The clinic was packed with so many Irish accents it was easy to pretend I was at home. I puked when I gave myself the chlamydia test. I fainted when they took my blood. But I fell apart when they did a scan. I cried so much I got sick. I screamed. I knew I was making the right choice but it was the hardest thing I ever did. The nurses were so kind and even kinder when they heard my Irish accent. She calmed me down.

When I woke up I cried with relief. I was exhausted from traveling, from fasting, from the choice, from the procedure. A nurse held my hand and handed me a tissue and told me I was ok. It was the worst day of my life and I kept thinking how much easier it would be if I was at home and could go straight to bed instead of facing a journey home bleeding and in silence and in agony.

While waiting there were loads of women in the waiting room. We got chatting to each other because I guess the silence was too loud. One woman had the abortion because her last child was a stillborn and she couldn’t go through pregnancy again. Another because she was studying to be a doctor. Another because she had five children and couldn’t feed them. Another because she was a grandmother and made the mistake of trying to find love again. Another because her arm was in a cast from her husband and she didn’t feel there was a way out. Another because she was raped. A group of strangers shared our stories and never saw each other again. I waited hours because the flight was delayed. Waited for a bus home at the airport for hours. I limped the whole way home. I left the clinic at 2pm and didn’t get home until 5.30 in the morning.

He woke me the following afternoon and suggested we go for a walk because it would do me good to get out, he wanted a drink. The day after I had abortion I stood in a pub and begged him to go home with me. He told me he was staying to watch the match and turned his back on me back to his pint. So I went home alone.

Only it wasn’t my home. You can’t be proud of a country that doesn’t want you. The silence was agony. Pretending like nothing happened was agony. The journey was horrific beyond words but the aftermath was horrific too. I didn’t know who too talk to. I know I made the right choice but it was a hard one and I needed help and I didn’t know where to go. I was scared and alone and terrified. I had nightmares and felt so ashamed.    Three years later and I still don’t feel like this home. I feel like I’m not wanted here.

But I feel less alone because so many women are coming forward with their stories.

Please Ireland, Repeal The 8th and let me come home finally.

Artist: Carol Treacy.

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People standing on a bridge in solidarity

Men's Voices - April 3

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We were thrilled to find out we were pregnant in April last year, and went for an early scan at 7 weeks. Finding out it was triplets was like being hit over the head with a baseball bat; we felt concussed. The next few weeks were a blur; we didn’t know up from down. We went for another scan at 9 weeks, and all three foetuses were still progressing.

We talked to two consultants, both of whom recommended reducing to a twin pregnancy because of the health risks to my wife, and the relative safety of a twin pregnancy compared to triplets. Beyond the medical issues, we don’t have any family living near us that would be able to help us out with child care, and the financial implications were stark. Having twins would be a stretch anyway, but we felt we could handle that. It was an awful decision to have to make, but we knew it was the right one for our family. Some members of my family reacted very badly to the decision, which added to the stress.

We were put in touch with a clinic in Spain, as they have experience with reductions and were highly recommended. My wife’s family helped financially, and we arranged the reduction for a Friday. It meant flying to Spain on the Thursday for a consultation, and remaining there until Monday to allow my wife to recover. Friends of ours looked after our daughter while we were away. It was excruciating to leave her for 5 days, but our country gave us no choice.
It was surreal to be flying abroad for a medical procedure because it’s illegal at home, but at the time you don’t really think about the absurdity of it all.

The consultation and procedure went as expected. The staff at the clinic, and the surgeon in particular, were extremely compassionate, which made a big difference. I do remember saying goodbye my wife before the reduction, stepping outside and bursting into tears because the whole situation was so awful and we were in a place where we knew no one. The scan on Monday showed the two remaining foetuses were in good health.

After arriving home on Monday evening, my wife began to feel unwell. We went to the hospital for a scan, and one of the twins had no heartbeat. It was heart-breaking.

We were told to come back on Friday for another scan to check on the remaining foetus. On Thursday evening, my wife passed some water, and the scan on Friday morning showed that the heartbeat had slowed almost to a stop. We were going to lose the third. They kept my wife in hospital overnight, and did a scan Saturday morning which confirmed the worst. We were practically numb at this stage, and my wife had to have surgery on Saturday evening to remove the foetuses. I don’t know how she coped with it all. She had to endure two surgeries while trying to come to terms with the emotional trauma. It was almost unbearable.

It’s likely an infection set in at some point after we arrived home, which caused the two miscarriages. We can’t say for sure whether having to fly home played a part, but it probably didn’t help. It’s been 9 months since it happened; the pain is still there and always will be, but it’s not so close to the surface. We lean on each other as much as possible, and our daughter is the light in our lives.
I can’t believe my own country forces women to travel abroad at a time when they should be supported and cared for at home. The 8th Amendment is cruel, and we need to repeal it.

This story was submitted anonymously.

Artist: Jacob Stack.

http://jacobstack.net/


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A woman sits alone with an Irish passport

Anonymous 5

I had an abortion seven years ago. I had spent a week making the decision with my husband. We agonised over it, because we thought we were supposed to.
In the end, it was the easiest decision in the world.
We had a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old. Our full-time jobs barely paid the mortgage and creche fees, and I was struggling to find the €44 a month for my anti-depressants.

We couldn’t tell anyone, because we didn’t know who we could trust. Would the people who helped us through our miscarriage four years earlier judge us now? Abandon us?

So, with the cost of flights and the procedure taking my credit card up to its maximum, I travelled alone. To keep the weekend ‘normal’ for the kids, my husband would need the car. I took a bus from our small village to Dublin, then a plane, then a lovely man in a black taxi picked me up at the airport. He chatted to me, ensured I was at ease, told me my kids’ names were lovely and showed me a picture of his granddaughter. When we arrived, he opened my door, took my bag and acted as a human shield to hide the protestors from my sight.

There were three other Irish women in the clinic. I wasn’t the only one who travelled alone. I hope I was the only one who lied about staying in a hotel that night. Against medical advice, I flew home that night, I couldn’t afford a hotel as the last of my money was spent on having an IUD inserted at the same time as the abortion procedure took place. Our birth control had failed us and we needed extra reassurance. I arrived home, bleeding and in pain shortly after midnight.

I do not regret it. My kids needed their mother, my husband needed his wife. I needed time to come through my post-natal depression and enjoy the family we already had.

We have two more kids now. One was unplanned, but not a crisis. I think it’s important to recognise the distinction.

Those two amazing kids would not be here if I hadn’t had an abortion.  Frankly, I might not be here if I hadn’t had an abortion. Certainly, the strain it would have put on our marriage would have been immense and it’s entirely possible our children would have lost the security of family and home.

We made the right decision, the only decision, for us and for our family. And still we keep our mouths shut. Because this country doesn’t trust us or our judgement and we don’t know who to trust in return.

Artist: Aoife Anna Mullan

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A woman sinks into an abortion pill

Catherine

This story was submitted on January 11 2018

How was your weekend?

A fairly mundane question we all ask and are asked on a Monday morning in the office. “Oh fine, you know, had an illegal abortion on Saturday and did the normal Sunday afternoon visit to my parents the next day so as not to arouse suspicion.”

Not the answer you would expect to get is it? Especially from a mother of 3, with her own home, job security and a supportive and loving husband. But if I had answered the question honestly this Monday morning (I didn’t by the way) that’s the answer I’d have given.

There seems to be a misconception that women who have abortions are predominantly young, single and broke. But a crisis pregnancy can happen to anyone, and everyone’s perception of a crisis is different. To outsiders the news of my pregnancy would have been met with congratulations, warm wishes and perhaps the odd jibe about how our television mustn’t work, and how busy we would be with 4 young children. But my husband and I were absolutely devastated.

My Husband Became Ill

We were not irresponsible with contraception. I was on the pill. But life happens and 2 months ago my healthy, fit, 34 year old husband became seriously ill. It was a bolt from the blue, and as I was following the ambulance to Dublin, trying to arrange for our children to be taken care of, absolutely terrified at the prospect of losing the love of my life and the father of my children, my pill was not to the forefront of my mind. With the chaos of that week I missed a few pills. Hardly a crime. Except in this country as I was to cruelly discover, dealing with the consequences can be a crime.

My husband is fine, and the stress and emotion of that week is like a distant memory. But when I discovered 6 weeks later that I was pregnant I felt like I had been hit with a train. I didn’t even have to do a pregnancy test, I just knew. I had hyperemesis on my previous pregnancies, and as soon as I got that familiar feeling of nausea I knew. I also knew that there was no way we could have another child. It simply was out of the question. My reasons are many and complex and they are just that – MY reasons. They are none of anybody else’s concern, and every woman’s reasons are valid to them. Nobody has a right to decide what is and isn’t a valid reason except the woman herself. My husband agreed that ultimately it is my body.  I was the one who would have to go through with the pregnancy, the birth, and I would bear the lion’s share of the responsibility for a new baby, when I would be up round the clock feeding. He would be supportive of whatever decision I made. I was so grateful for his support, and I cried with relief as he held me and told me everything would be alright.

I was 5 weeks pregnant when I found out. Because of the total ban on abortion in this country I was trapped. The feeling of desperation was just horrendous. Each day I was getting sicker and sicker, vomiting more, eating less, all while having to keep the pregnancy a secret from my family and colleagues.

Traveling to the UK was out of the question. We simply didn’t have €2000 hanging around to spare on Christmas week. We also would have had to come up with an excuse for why we were going, and arrange childcare.

I am lucky that I am part of a Pro-Choice group on Facebook, where I had heard about several voluntary organisations who help women living in countries where abortion is illegal. They provide the abortion pill for a contribution of €70. I contacted Women Help, who after an online consultation with a doctor, despatched the abortion pill to me by post. I was petrified it would be seized by customs. It was posted on December 23rd. Christmas was hell as I waited. I avoided family as much as I could, although they couldn’t be dodged completely. It took all of my energy trying not to let people know I was sick, and acting like everything was fine. I managed to feign a stomach bug over New Years, which thankfully took the pressure off for a few days.

Plan B

I came up with a Plan B in case the pills didn’t arrive. I told my best friend who was home from London for Christmas. She was so supportive. She was incredulous that I had to break the law, and that I wasn’t allowed to make my own decision in this country about what was best for me. I decided that if they didn’t arrive I would have to miss January’s mortgage payment and travel alone on a Saturday in January to London, have the procedure, stay with my friend and her husband, and come home early the next morning so nobody but my husband would know where I was gone.

Thankfully on Wednesday January 3rd they arrived in a small inconspicuous padded envelope. The relief was overwhelming. I took the first pill on Friday morning and went to work as normal. By Friday night I was so sick that I couldn’t even keep water down, and every time I moved my head I vomited. On Saturday morning I went back to bed at 10am. I put the 4 pills of Misoprostol between my gum and my cheek and let them dissolve. I was so afraid to move in case I vomited, and when I swallowed them I managed to wait an hour before vomiting again. I was so terrified they wouldn’t work since I had been sick, but about 2 hours later I started to get some mild cramping.

Throughout the day I continued to have cramps and bleeding. I stayed in bed, and every time I felt a gush I went to the toilet where I passed some clots. By 5pm I knew the worst of it was over, and was relieved to find that I already felt better and was able to eat a small meal for the first time in weeks.

My decision is my own

I realise that some people will feel that I made a selfish decision. But it was my decision and affects nobody but me and my family. I had a “bad” abortion. You know, the type that people have when they aren’t raped, or aren’t faced with a devastating diagnosis. I became pregnant through consensual sex with my husband whom I adore. Some people will judge me because my abortion doesn’t match up to their moral guidelines on when a woman should and shouldn’t be allowed to end her pregnancy. They are more concerned with the type of sex she had to become pregnant than the effect being forced to continue with the pregnancy would have.  Other people feel that that abortion is morally wrong in all circumstances. That is absolutely their right and I respect their opinion.  People can have whatever moral position on abortion they wish and can use that to guide their own life decisions. But when they try to enforce that opinion on someone else by making it law, that’s where I have a problem.

Delaying the Abortion

I was 8 weeks pregnant. I could have ended the pregnancy at 5 weeks had abortion not been illegal. I have no regrets. I think this is very important to say, as lots of anti-choice advocates like to preach that they know what is best for women. I am sure some women do regret their abortions, just as some women regret continuing with their pregnancies. But women themselves are best placed to make their own decisions, and it makes me so angry when I hear the patronising drivel that abortion should continue to be illegal so that us poor silly women can be protected from ourselves. How dare somebody think that they know better than me what is best for me and my family. My main emotion now is anger. I am angry that I had to break the law in order to access Healthcare that is standard in most Western countries.  To think that I could go to prison for 14 years for making the best decision for me about my own body is like something from a dystopian novel.

I am still bleeding lightly 4 days later. My friend wants me to go to the doctor for a check up, but it’s not that simple. If I go to the doctor I will have to lie and say I had a miscarriage. I’m sure it would arouse suspicion to turn up at the doctor a week after a “miscarriage” I had at home, having sought no medical help at the time. So I will take the risk and assume that everything is fine unless I develop complications.  Women living in Ireland are being forced to take this risk every day of the week.

Look around you. Women who have had abortions are not “other”. They are everywhere. They behave no differently to you. They are your friends, daughters, sisters, cousins, colleagues, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, who have all made what they felt was the right choice for them at a particular point in their lives.

 The fact that in the year 2018 women need to ask to please be trusted to make decisions about our own healthcare is beyond belief. Yet here we are.

Artist: Loo Hicks


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3 Empty Hospital Beds, blue sheets

Anonymous 3

I am now in my late 40s and was 16 years old when I first became pregnant. I was afraid to tell my family as 1980’s Ireland was not a welcoming place for women who were pregnant out of wedlock. My boyfriend and I searched for information on family planning but there was huge secrecy around this information at the time.  Contraception had only recently become more widely available. I remember sneaking down the road to the phone box to look for the phone number of clinics in the UK, but I couldn’t find any.

We knew we needed to travel to London so we took the boat in the hope of finding some help, but we had no idea what was going to happen. After checking into a B&B we started looking for a clinic and, having eventually found one,  I was able to book in for an abortion. I was terrified, but the thought of telling my family that I was pregnant was worse.

When the day came I shared a room with three other girls. There was no conversation between us. One by one, each of us were called down for surgery. I remember watching blockbusters on TV waiting to be called, wondering what my mother would be doing now at home. Then it was my turn.

3 Empty Hospital Beds, blue sheets

Artist: Stephen Lau.

I woke up crying with tears streaming down my face. The girl in the bed across from me was crying in agony with the pain.   The next morning when I went down for breakfast, I was shocked to see how many more girls there were.  Each of us sitting silently, staring at our food.  When I was ready to go my boyfriend collected me. We travelled home that day, having pretended we were on holiday.  

I later found out that boyfriend couldn’t afford another night alone in the B&B, so he wandered the streets of London, the night I stayed at the clinic.

That was over thirty years ago and I still don’t talk about it. I am still afraid and ashamed and hurt. It was cruel on a young girl to go through that alone. The shame and stigma attached to abortion in this country is disgraceful.

This story was submitted anonymously.

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Passport and boarding pass

Siobhán

Read Siobhán’s story in the Irish Independent here.

I am almost 70 years old. I got married when I was 19 and thirty five years ago I had four children aged 13, 14, 15 and 16. They were all in secondary school and working hard to get good exam results when I awoke one morning with an excruciating pain in my back. I went straight to my GP who sent me for an X-ray immediately.

The X-ray showed that my contraceptive coil had slipped out of position and my doctor told me if it was not in the correct position then it was not doing its job. He did a pregnancy test and confirmed I was pregnant. I was devastated and could not stop crying. He gave me an appointment to come back in a few days.

I found myself walking around knowing I was pregnant with a coil inside my womb. Best medical practice would have been to remove this coil as soon as possible to prevent serious complications and risks of infection to me. However, to remove the coil could have caused a miscarriage so this left me stranded in need of medical care which I could not access within my own country.

I was terrified that if this pregnancy continued I was going to die and leave my four children growing up without a mother.

I went back and told him I had decided to go to England to have an abortion. He unlocked a cabinet and took out a brochure which he gave me and said “if you are going to have an abortion I need to know that you do it safely.” I will never forget his kindness and caring for me without any judgement.

I had to do this alone; I didn’t tell my husband as I knew he’d never agree. I told him I was going on a ‘shopping trip’ and to see a show in London with some friends.

The only theatre I was in was the operating theatre and the only thing I bought while I was there was a tubal ligation to ensure this would never happen to me again. Why should I have had to make that trip all alone and live through all the lies for the rest of my life?

I had my four children all very close in age and I had spent years caring for them. I loved them all dearly, and still do, but I had never had any time for myself having been married at 19 years old. Now I had a chance to go to college and I was using contraception which let me down. I am a grandmother now and I never want any of my children or grandchildren to have to face such a lonely, heart-breaking journey as I had to face all those years ago. But you know, I look back and can see how brave and courageous I was to face and sort this on my own. I try not to judge myself when I hear people label me as a criminal and a murderer, I am not these things and never will be.

I would say to every Irish woman who like me had to make that tough lonely journey, Mná na hÉireann, be proud and may we soon not have to run away from our homes and country to seek the care and support we need.

Passport and boarding pass

Artist: Aimee Gallagher.

gumcollective.com/Aimee-Gallagher

Audio: Nathalie Clément


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Tracey

Tracey and Grace’s Story

My name is Tracey. I was 22 weeks pregnant when we found out Grace was terminally ill. She had, after many examinations by professors of fetal medicine, Thanatophoric Dysplasia. This condition meant her long bones were measuring short – at 23 weeks Grace’s were measuring 12 weeks – and the fatal part of this condition causes the chest cavity to not grow enough for her heart and lungs. Ultimately upon birth when babies try and inhale for the first time, my baby girl would die immediately from respiratory failure as her chest cavity would crush her lungs. I’m sorry if this upsets anyone reading but unfortunately you cannot pretty up this condition.

I couldn’t bear this to happen to my baby. My dad died two years previous from lung cancer and I watched him take his last breath. How could I watch my tiny baby struggle to breathe and then pass away? I couldn’t.

I asked when I would be induced and my consultant sympathetically told me they can’t induce early if there is no risk to the mother as it’s against the law in Ireland. My baby was dying, her movements were weakening and she would inevitably die from respiratory failure, but this wasn’t enough to stop her hurting anymore. I had to be at risk. I was at risk everyday that I met people asking if “I had my bits bought for the baby”, “how long have you left?”, “the twins must be excited for a baby brother or sister…” I nodded and smiled knowing the baby in the bump they were admiring was not going to be in the pram I had my eye on, or sleeping in her brother’s Moses basket. Having spent 4 weeks nodding along to people’s excited questions I was slowly losing my mind.

Travel

Due to the fact I couldn’t be induced at home with my family around me, I had to go somewhere where they understand what me and my baby were going through. We travelled to Liverpool on Paddy’s weekend amongst hen parties and revellers. We arrived to Liverpool Women’s Hospital where the midwives took over my care – they were angels to me and my little girl.

I remember saying to my husband that morning, before the final scan to check Grace, that they may have made a mistake in the two hospitals we were in in Ireland; we might get good news, her chest may be growing, allowing her organs to grow.

The professor scanned me for over an hour and he confirmed the diagnosis along with the devastating news that Grace’s lungs were no longer in her chest cavity, he couldn’t find them so they were either crushed already or just didn’t develop. I knew having an early inducement was 100% the right thing to do for my tiny baby at that moment.

Labour

After 36 hours of an agonising labour – pain I would gratefully repeat over and over again – Grace arrived silently into the world at 4.45am. She was stunning – the most beautiful little angel with a button nose and chubby cheeks. She had dark hair and gorgeous plump lips. Her face was perfect and her body was tiny, she was so peaceful. I have never experienced feelings like that before, I was holding my child and felt content but she was never going to look into my face, or yawn or cry for food. She was still.

We held her all day long and talked about what life she would have had. A priest came and gave her a little blessing. We named her Grace Saoirse because she was free. We had a nap that day with her beside us and dressed her in a beautiful outfit the midwives gave us. The outfit that I had brought was far too big. She was wrapped in a teddy her sister gave her and a teddy Grace gave me.

Goodbyes

At 5pm we had to leave her, we were booked to fly out the next morning. The hospital had a little nursery made up for Grace. It had a cot and a dressing table, teddies and a beautiful mural of angels on the wall. After we said our goodbyes, gave our last cuddles and kisses to her, we placed her in her cot all wrapped up cosy with her teddy. My midwife came in and took over looking after her.

I sometimes can’t believe I actually had to do this, I had to leave my baby in another country. How cruel it is that we had to do this, it actually leaves me speechless.

We arranged Grace’s funeral from the prayers right to the music I wanted played. It took place in a church in Liverpool by the priest who blessed her and was attended by a midwife. We couldn’t go because we simply couldn’t afford to. I had to wait 3 weeks for Grace to come home. Her ashes arrived by courier. A man knocked at my front door with my daughter’s remains waiting to be signed for. Again I say I find it hard to believe this is something parents have to go through. Did I actually have to sign for my daughter’s ashes like an order from ASOS?

Next Few Months

The next few months were a blur; I can still feel the pain and darkness of those months. The feeling of drowning and anger. I can still feel them because I still go through these feelings, but I’ve learned how to control them and cope with them now.

Grace’s ashes sit on a shelf in our living room and we bring her to our bedroom at night. There are photos of Grace in every room of our house. I sleep with her teddy every night – I actually brought her teddy away to a hotel and it was taken to the laundry with the bed sheets. I was getting into bed at home when I noticed he was gone. Thankfully the hotel found him in the laundry and posted him home from Athy!

Grace is very much part of this house like any of the other kids. Unfortunately due to the cruelty of this country none of her family could meet her and say goodbye.  She blessed us with my son almost a year after she passed. She gave me love when I didn’t even realise I needed him. She’s my motivator, my gut, my soul, my heart, my courage, my bravery and my eyes. She’s changed the way I look at things. I’m not the same person I was before Grace, I miss that Tracey but I’m learning to love the one I am now.

This is Grace’s story – she was with me for just 28 weeks but she left me with a lifetime of love. Losing her could have been the reason I stopped living… But having her is the reason I get up every morning. If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever xxx

Pink Teddy Bear

Artist: Loo Hicks

Audio: Rita Evelyn Smyth

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3 abortion pills Mifepristone and Misoprostol

Anonymous 1

I had five children already when I found out I was pregnant. I was working a very low paid job and struggling to provide for my existing children. We would huddle under sleeping bags in winter, all sleeping around the range as I had no money for oil. It sounds desperate when I say that now, but I tried to make it seem like an adventure for my kids during those cold winters. We made the best of a bad situation. I would make excuses for why my kids couldn’t go to birthday parties, as I couldn’t afford a gift. Money was very tight. Poverty was one of the reasons I didn’t want another child. I have no family support as it is and I honestly didn’t think I had the mental strength to face having another child in the circumstances I was living in.

My boyfriend and I had never lived together, never planned to and he had always said he didn’t ever want kids so that was another reason. Neither of us wanted a child. (He had been on a waiting list for a vasectomy for over a year at the time).

We were using contraception when I got pregnant. I don’t know how it happened to be honest as I was very careful – I was so afraid of pregnancy.

Previous Pregnancies

My previous pregnancies had been difficult and had caused huge strain on my body. In the last two I had major problems with veins in my vulva, the veins were literally coming out of me, they looked and felt like a bunch of grapes, it was excruciatingly painful and made even walking difficult. My midwife said I really shouldn’t have any more children as it would be too great a strain on my body.

Because I was so broke and had no support there was no way I could travel to England. I ordered abortion pills online and spent a week freaking out about them being stopped at customs. It was terrifying to think that my entire life (and my 5 children’s) was hinging on one envelope making it into Ireland. Thankfully it arrived. I had to take time off work as I wanted to take the pills immediately. It was all pretty simple and easy as I was only a few weeks pregnant so it was just like a slightly heavy period.

I felt so relieved when it was over. Like I had gained control of my body again. I don’t trust Ireland with my body. If Irish politicians had their way I would’ve been forced to carry the pregnancy to term against my wishes. There’s something incredibly wrong about that.

This story was submitted anonymously.

3 abortion pills Mifepristone and Misoprostol

Artist: Gemma Cagney

Audio: Aimee Gallagher

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