I would have liked to use my real name and include a photograph with this story. I am not allowed to due to legal and ethical considerations. This consideration is important, and I appreciate it, but not being allowed to say my name highlights again the silence and stigma that exists around abortion.
My name is Luna*. I connected with Diamond Women when I sought out a specialist to process my experience of grief and loss post-termination.
I am one woman out of an estimated 40 to 50 million that have an abortion globally each year. This is approximately 125,000 abortions per day according to the World Health Organisation.
My pregnancy was unplanned, however, not unwanted for both the father and myself. We were first time parents. This experience was new for both of us.
I have a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)—a condition that makes fertility difficult. The gynaecologist had said I would need to plan for at least six months if I wished to begin a family. However, no assurance was given that I would ever be able to fall pregnant.
With this pregnancy, I had taken the morning after pill, and having PCOS meant that the potential of being pregnant had not crossed my mind. Coincidentally, I had recently seen a documentary on the process of conception and the biologically precarious nature of falling pregnant.
When I found out I was pregnant, all this played on my mind and heart. Our baby is a little fighter, I thought. Despite the odds, he/she fought to exist. Our little miracle!
Our choice to terminate the pregnancy was based on what we thought would be in the best interest of our child. What I experienced afterwards was numbness, initially. I think we shut down when pain and loss is too great to bear. I did not feel I had the right to grieve, because I had chosen to terminate, after all.
I felt alone. Some friends pushed me away. I couldn’t turn to my partner—I didn’t want to let him know how regretful I was. I didn’t want him to blame himself, because he was grieving too.
I needed people that understood, people who had gone through this too. There was SILENCE. Why couldn’t I find support groups? Why was there no information about real lived-in experiences of the process of terminating? Why is there not a structured, supported system in place during the process of termination and afterwards? Why are we not taught about this at school?
Once the numbness receded, stripped of someone so very dear, someone you know to be true, I no longer had enthusiasm for life. I had given up the single most important thing in my life. I missed my darling child so much—I just wanted to be with her or him. What was my purpose now? I had failed. Life felt empty and meaningless. I could only go to the bare essentials—what are my values, my morals? Being a good person. How can I be the best mother to my baby? What do I wish to put out into the world? How could I do this for my child and I?
My journey ebbs and flows with the passing of weeks, months and seasons. At first, I could not see other parents and their babies without crying. I experienced deep pain at seeing fathers holding and playing with their child.
My sister said that I must let go, so my child could go where needed. I live with the hope that our child is with our ancestors. Cared for and loved. I look forward to meeting our baby again one day.
I recently heard a quote that said “Everything is life and what we do with it.” This resonated. Early on, I pledged that our baby could give light to others. Her/his legacy was to share our humble story and connect people. So we could all heal together and appreciate the gifts our children have given us.
Today, I just keep on. Driven by the love shown by our child and compassion born out from this journey. I am moved by the acts of kindness, where humanity was shown. My Diamond Women counsellor was the first and only person to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. I won’t ever forget this. Supported and encouraged by her, I am learning continually. Re-paving how to be in this world.
Our society has a long way to go. To listen to the voices of people in this situation. To talk about this seemingly ambiguous loss. To not dismiss—to give people the time to grieve this genuine and great loss. To have compassion. Including to welcome those who made the choice to terminate. In letting fathers feel included in the discussion and the healing. To acknowledge that we are mothers, too, and always will be.
Yes, a way to go. However for me: our baby has sown the seeds and I know beautiful flowers shall bloom.
Diamond Women was the only relevant, willing service I found in Sydney. My heart goes out to all the parents who have lost, including people that needed to place their children up for adoption.
Wishing you peace,
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality