Carolyn’s Story

In 2003, when I was 16, I met and fell in love with a man 11 years my senior. He lived in the same village as me, and through discussion, we found we had met when I was a small child and he was a teenager through a mutual older friend. Although we found this a little odd, it was something to chat about, and very quickly we formed a relationship on the quiet from friends and family.

In 1995, my partner had been in a horrendous car accident, and had spent the next eight years in recovery and brain injury rehabilitation. As a result of the accident, he was left with titanium skull plates and severe brain damage, which included short and long term memory loss, impaired spatial awareness, no 3D vision, no sense of taste or smell, physical limitations and facial disfigurement. And a MASSIVELY high sex drive. Brain damage commonly causes the sex drive to go into overdrive.

My relationship with my parents was swiftly deteriorating, and so I decided it would be better if I moved in with my then fiancé after 8 months of being together (we moved pretty quickly!). Living together was ok to start with, although coping with his care staff and mother was a little daunting at 16. But it soon started to dissolve, and the effects of his brain injury and my immaturity started to create large scale fighting, screaming at each other, broken crockery, and complaining neighbours. Despite all this, his sex drive (and my teenage one) meant we were still having very regular, often urgent and unprotected sex. I pushed the though of pregnancy to the back of my mind, promised myself I wouldn’t be so unlucky. I started throwing up in the morning and late evenings a month before my GCSE’s started, and the vomiting was duly ignored, as was the lack of period, and swollen breasts… In the middle of my exams, I took a HPG, and of course it came back positive. Who was I to think that intercourse, either willingly or ‘allowed’, up to 9 times day wasn’t going to cause pregnancy?!

I didn’t know what to think. I always wanted babies, from a very early age, but the life I was leading, was not one I wanted to bring a child into. My partner was in no fit state to be a stable and caring parent, and I was just 17… But at the same time, I was confused by the change in my body, and mental state. No-one apart from my partner knew for a week or so, then I was caught on the phone to my GP making an appointment to talk about my pregnancy, by one of the carers. By the afternoon, everyone knew. All his staff, his parents, his friends, half the village. Everyone except my own parents at this stage. At this point I was 12 weeks pregnant from what I’d worked out.

Well, to say the muck hit the fan would be an understatement. His mother was constantly on the phone screaming blue murder at me, saying I had taken advantage of him in his vulnerable state, i.e. saying I had maliciously planned the pregnancy for some, ulterior motive or other. The staff were confused and didn’t know what to say or do. I couldn’t confide in my parents, and had no friends.

I kept that appointment with the GP, and accompanied by my partner, I asked to be referred for a termination. Over that week, I had no sleep, was screeching like a banshee over what was the best thing to be done, had lost pounds in weight, and had barely eaten. I couldn’t face another 5 months of that, let alone a lifetime of bringing up a child in that environment. My parents were aghast, and I had very mixed opinions coming from them, and it only made it harder to cope with

By the time I got to the clinic two weeks later, I was 14 weeks pregnant, and the situation had only escalated further. The termination was scheduled to be done under local anaesthetic. I arrived at the clinic with my partner, and there were at least 7 other women ranging from my age to mid forties waiting. Although none of them looked relaxed, most were at ease in their chairs, the atmosphere from the staff was reassuring and professional. There was no judgment or wandering thoughts that I could sense.

I provided a urine sample, and had an ultrasound while I was waiting. The ultrasound was confusing, I asked if I could see the image, and the sonographer didn’t refuse, although she advised me to consider whether I truly wanted to see it. I saw the image, and saw nothing in particular. Just a grainy image of shapes.

I was finally called through, and left my partner, who was due to return in 3 hours to collect me. My doctor was a softly spoken man who quietly explained the whole procedure to me, and the nurse was standing in the corner, and passed me a small smile. After going through everything, I asked if I could leave. I wouldn’t say I had changed my mind, but something made me a little unsure about my decision, and I didn’t want to carry on for the moment. The nurse gave me a small hug as she walked back with me, and told me if I needed any advice, to check out the website for the company, and to speak with the lady at the desk. I did so, and rescheduled my termination for a full general anaesthetic 10 days later.

I returned home, and felt the wrath of those that had encouraged me to go ahead with the termination. Three days passed, and I started to miscarry, as a result, I believe of the situation at the time.

I’m grateful that I didn’t have to return to the termination clinic for the rescheduled procedure, but at the same time, from start to finish, I couldn’t fault my GP, the staff at the clinic, and the volunteers at the clinic that helped to diffuse the initial screaming match when my partner collected me. No-one judged me for what I had chosen to do, and no-one judged me for what happened on the day.

I’m not sorry I considered a termination, and I’m not ashamed to now be able to tell my story to others and provide support for my younger relatives who have gotten into trouble. I hope my daughter will have the same options that I had, and will receive the same standard of safe, legal and caring treatment.