My story began in April 2017, when I began to show symptoms of being pregnant. I was 19 at the time and in the middle of my college exams, so I put these symptoms down to stress. On the morning of my toughest exam I finally got up the courage to take a pregnancy test, and to my relief it showed me to be not pregnant. However, over the next three to four weeks I began to feel nauseous all the time and was not able to eat my food, although I continued to deny it to myself and to my boyfriend. He was very worried about my health and eventually convinced me to take another test. He was by my side when the second test revealed I was pregnant.

My whole world felt shattered. We couldn’t turn to our parents for support, so we had to figure this out alone. We were both young, scared and had heard all the stories our how our ‘lives would be ruined by a mistake like this’.  We were simply not in the right mental, financial or emotional state to continue the pregnancy. We were meant to be going on holiday to Amsterdam in a few weeks, so we looked into the possibility of getting an abortion while we were there. There was a very complicated process involved in booking an appointment, where the clinic required us to know and give certain pieces of information about the foetus. To get this, I had to have an ultrasound scan. Terrified and alone, I paid to see a local doctor who thankfully saw my utter distress and referred me to the hospital. She told me to pretend that I was having severe stomach pains as that was the only way I would be seen quickly.

Lying to the Hospital Staff

After finally being admitted to the hospital, I kept the details of my visit quiet and told them only what the GP had advised me to say. I was told that the earliest I would get a scan was the following day, so I returned to the hospital the next day, unbeknown to my parents or friends. This was probably the worst moment of my life – to see and feel the baby inside you, when you know the decision you are making, is indescribably heart-breaking. I cried for hours that day and for many other days after. Yet, I knew and trusted myself enough to know this was definitely the right choice for me.

The ultrasound gave us the pieces of information required by the clinic in Amsterdam, and I rang them to make an appointment – only to be told that the soonest appointment would be in three weeks’ time. I felt heartbroken all over again, as by that time I would be 14 weeks pregnant and the process would be much more complicated as well as financially straining. The woman on the other end of the phone was completely unhelpful and had no interest in my situation. Once again, I felt completely distraught.

Marie Stopes Clinic in England

I decided there and then to ring the Marie Stopes Clinic in England. The woman who spoke to me on the phone was so kind and understanding that I cried with relief. She gave me all the information I needed, and I had an over-the-phone consultation; within thirty minutes I had an appointment booked in Manchester, and I felt completely supported and informed.

Less than a week later, my boyfriend and I travelled to Manchester while our families thought we were going on our original holiday. One of the worst things about the whole situation was having to act like we were fine, while in reality we were dealing with the toughest situation we had ever experienced. The people in the Marie Stopes clinic were amazingly helpful and friendly, and the procedure was over within two hours. The feeling of relief we experienced that day was indescribable.

Coming Home

My boyfriend and I are still together and are stronger than ever. We have been incredibly lucky that we were able to support each other through the heartbreak and agony of this complicated process. We are a prime example of two people who discussed which option was right for them, and we still know we did the right thing  a year later, particularly where my mental health was concerned. Despite this, it is something I think about every day, and I know that if the option had been available to us in Ireland it would have relieved us of a huge amount of emotional and financial strain, as well as the mental difficulties that come with having no support system from our own country, family and friends.

Artist: Aoife Anna Mullan

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Narrated by Joanna Schaffalitzky

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