After Abortion: Sinéad's Letter

At the time of writing this letter, Sinead was twenty seven years old and single. She became pregnant while under the influence of alcohol, at an office party. She had the abortion two years previously

Dear friend,  

I thought my situation was unique and therefore more excusable - not having a job, being depressed before, not knowing the father. Surely I didn't deserve this burden. I wanted it to unhappen, to go away and let me get on with my life. I promised not to do it again. It's horrific to suddenly face the reality, the morbid thoughts, the death, the misery, the pain, the selfishness. How could I have done this?

After I performed my first abortion, these are the words I dictated:

When I missed my period for the second time I began to worry and thought I might be pregnant. I did the test which proved positive. I couldn't believe it. I was shocked totally. I immediately made plans to go to London. I didn't want any other outcome. I didn't want people to know. I didn't want to suffer for one night's accident. I didn't want to let my family down.

I found out on the Monday and was in London on the Wednesday. I went to the clinic and got a test done. I was disappointed that it was positive. An Indian woman asked why I wanted to have an abortion. I gave her my reasons and they seemed to satisfy her. I was then sent for a scan. They wouldn't believe me when I told them that I knew the exact date of conception, they thought I was further on. The scan showed why - there were twins.

I couldn't believe it. It made it twice as bad, twice the reason to get rid of it. I wanted it over and done with quickly, before I had time to think. They gave me a leaflet and a time for the operation the next day.

Be brave

I left the clinic and went to a friend who lived in London. She was shocked that I was pregnant. She told me I was doing the right thing, it was only tissue. She said she would go to the clinic with me. I was relieved that she was helping me. She gave me all the practical reasons - money, no support, unwanted, didn't really know the father.

I didn't sleep that night, thinking about it. I had no feeling for the babies. I just wanted to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I read the booklet from the clinic and it was comforting the way it said everything was easy, no side effects. It was everything I wanted to read. No mention of babies or pain.

My friend came with me. I just pushed all thoughts away and thought about looking for work afterwards. The clinic was a house in a suburban road. I stopped opposite and was trembling. I didn't want to go in. There were expensive cars outside and it looked intimidating. I wanted to run away, but my friend said I had made a decision and to be brave.

A friendly Australian nurse opened the door. I gave my name and she welcomed us in. The reception was full of couples and single women. I could see women leaving who had had an abortion. They looked okay. This gave me confidence as I was afraid for myself. I looked at the other faces, normal women, this was a normal thing to do. I was just one of them. When my friend left I felt like running out after her, but I didn't.

A secretary filled out details of payment and wrote a receipt for the amount. The girl next to me in the ward was Irish. I heard the nurse taking her off to the operation room. Only about ten minutes later she was brought back, unconscious. A nurse hit her to wake her up. I could hear her crying. I asked if she was okay. We started talking. She was a nurse from Dublin.

He didn't even look at me It was then my turn.

A nurse took me out. She was very aggressive and didn't speak. I was shaking with fear of the operation. We walked into the theatre. A nurse smiled as I got up on the table. "Please look after me" were my last words. I woke up with a pain in my bladder, as if I wanted to pass water. It was terrible. I pressed the bell for assistance. A nurse came and told me I had already been brought to the toilet. She then brought me pain-killers which relieved the pain. I was terrified of haemorrhaging. I was afraid to go to the toilet. I was afraid to look in case I was bleeding abnormally.

The next morning I was relieved that I hadn't bled much. I waited for the doctor to come to release me. More like an SS officer in a prison camp. He didn't speak or even look at me. He just looked at the chart and grunted, and then the nurse told me I could go.

Searching for peace

I phoned my friend to collect me, but she sounded reluctant, so I made my own way back to her flat. She had cooked scones and wanted to celebrate. She didn't know I felt terrible. I felt frightened and empty. Soon I felt she wanted me to leave. I went to stay with another friend who was very nice to me. This made me feel worse. The whole day long I could only see twins in prams all around, there seemed to be an unusually high number where we lived.

In a daze, very lonely and isolated I wanted the comfort and security of home. I was still frightened of complications and bleeding. Back home I fell into a routine of watching TV, getting up late, looking forward to going to bed. I didn't look after myself, my appearance, hygiene. I hate myself.

I thought my life-style was worth killing for. Now I see I have destroyed the chance I had of growing in love for my children. They would have enriched my life and changed it completely. I killed my maternal instinct and now I am alone, still searching for peace and stability. My sister tries to talk to me but I get emotional and feel guilty about her concern when she doesn't know about the abortion. I am terrorising my parents by my aloofness and isolation. It's the only way I can protect myself from feelings.