I suffered enormously with morning sickness. I lost a lot of weight and was severely dehydrated. So much so that the clinic had to give me a bag of fluid through an IV drip before they could examine me.

My ex wasn’t any help. He lay watching TV one night while I clogged up the toilet with vomit, then the sink, then the bath. Our flatmate cleaned it up. I was fortunate that I had support from my parents, they paid for everything. My GP was angry because he couldn’t help. The flight was delayed, the taxi man cursed at the protesters outside. The staff were so so kind. I remember the anaesthesiologist eyes, they were reassuring. When I woke up the nurse sitting with me was stroking my hair & wiping my tears.  She told me in a comforting tone that I’m so pretty, much like a mum would when you are ill or upset. I wish my mum had been there instead of my ex.

When we left the clinic in a taxi I asked could we pull over to get a pack of smokes. My ex said no. All I wanted was a cigarette. The taxi man took pity on me & gave me one of his and let me smoke it in the car. There was 3 other women on that flight going to the same clinic. One of them was 17, her parents thought she was out shopping for the day. We all avoided looked at each other in the airport coming back. I went to stay in my parents house while my ex went to the pub. I never went back to live in our shared flat.

I don’t regret having an abortion, it was the right choice for me. What I do regret is having to leave my country & support network to do it. I’m bitter about that. I’m bitter that in Ireland there is cloak of shame over the whole subject. We (Irish women) “can’t” talk about it. Most of the people who know me, don’t know me.  I left Ireland. I don’t think I’ll ever move back. It’s liberating to be in a country that openly talks about abortion. I’ve long since gotten over my ex & my hard thought out decision, but 10 years later I’m still not sure if I can ever forgive Ireland for the way it’s treated its women.

Illustration: Caoimhe Anglin

Audio: Sarah Ní Riain

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