Being married and being pregnant with a baby you cannot see yourself being in any position to bring into this world is frightening, especially if you have two others, which I had at that time, and I was struggling. I was in my early thirties and had two young children.

Struggling is subjective, it can mean different levels of discomfort to different people but I know looking back now I would have rated my personal ability to survive at the lower end of such a scale if there was one when I discovered I was pregnant again. I was married to a person I thought I loved, the only thing was, he didn’t love me. He told me he did, but he didn’t in the true sense of the word. He was totally self-absorbed and lived his life largely without me or our two children. He conducted his life as a singleton, doing as he wanted without any concern for our wellbeing. He was in a much better paid job than I, with good prospects for promotion which I facilitated by caring for our children whilst he progressed. We had not planned on adding to our family, so why then, was I careless enough to allow myself to get pregnant in this situation? It wasn’t as if contraception wasn’t available through my GP, it was, but I didn’t always ensure I took it.

I’m in my fifties now and having undergone many years of counseling since then, I realise I was always very bad at taking care of myself by putting everyone else’s needs before mine. This is very likely due to the fact that I didn’t think much of myself, because as a child, no one did, most importantly, my parents. Growing up, I had to be independent and not cause any problems as the family tilted from one crisis to another. My parents didn’t get along. They came together and married in the 1950s out of necessity because of an unplanned pregnancy. There was no choice in those days, it was either a Mother and Baby Home or marriage.

For me, growing up in that home and seeking to have my emotional needs met as a child, or appear to be demanding, drew the wrath of not only my parents, but my siblings too. Everyone was trying to survive in very difficult circumstances. This coping mechanism learnt from an early age, played out throughout the course of my marriage.

A pill packet with missed pills

When I realised I was pregnant, I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband, whom I subsequently separated from.  Although I couldn’t articulate it at that time, he was unable to care for us.  He was child-like and constantly sought validation, which included engaging in extra-marital relationships.  I was surprised when he said to me, “I think you are pregnant”, I couldn’t believe he had noticed the tell-tale signs of early pregnancy because he seemed to miss noticing so many other things in relation to our family.  When we discussed it, his approach was that adding another child to our family was fine, it wouldn’t affect him.  He told me, his life would continue as is, with or without an additional child.  I, on the other hand, felt crushed and alone.

Isolation

It is very hard to express the isolation I felt, I am maternal by nature but I felt truly scared about my ability to survive and parent my existing children in these circumstances. I really didn’t know if my husband was even going to stick around for long because he was so taken up with his career and making a name for himself in his profession.  As I said earlier, he acted as a singleton, in every sense of the word, without care or responsibility as a husband and father. 


I arranged for the termination of my pregnancy through an agency in the UK.  I felt sure of my decision at that time and some twenty-six years later, I have never regretted it.  I believe my course of action protected my existing children and me from further suffering and damage.  I should know, I grew up as a child feeling unwanted and unloved and I’ve had to constantly struggle to live healthily with depression.  My children, young adults now, also experience personal difficulties that challenge them daily.

In terms of the arrangements in seeking a termination, it was a very lonely experience and one I felt a great deal of shame about.  I cried from the time I got on the boat to the UK and back again.  I cried all the way through the experience, alone.  My husband, did not accompany me, and was happy to leave the care of our children to my sister whilst I travelled.  He got on with his life and didn’t ask any questions when I returned.  He didn’t care.

 I know I did what was right for me. Being wanted, loved and having a family who can care for you as a child is a protective factor.  It is so difficult to survive without it and can lead to all sorts of suffering including anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and many other psychological disorders.

My parents suffered a lot, my siblings and I too, and I live with the consequences daily. How could I willfully and knowingly inflict what I’ve been through on another human-being, it’s cruel.

A pill packet with missed pills

Artist: Aimee Gallagher.

gumcollective.com/Aimee-Gallagher

Audio: Hazel


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