Lucy’s Story

I was 19 when I found out I was 8 weeks pregnant by my boyfriend.

We had been going out for six months. Both of us had our problems -he was diagnosed schizophrenic, I was agoraphobic and prone to panic attacks and depression. And both of us, at the time, were out of work and were regular marijuana users. I knew, from the moment I got the test results, that if any situation was completely the wrong one to bring a baby into, this was it.

This being England, I was eligible for an abortion on the National Health Service. I visited my doctor (with my mother at my side) and she did most of the talking for me, explaining my situation concisely but clearly. The doctor was kind and sympathetic, and signed the permission that same day.

Two weeks later, I attended the hospital for a talk with the psychologist and a physical examination to determine first that I really was pregnant, and second how far along I was. The psychologist merely asked me questions about my own situation, about my boyfriend and my own immediate family. The physical was slightly uncomfortable, but not distressing, and there was a wonderful young nurse holding my hand all the while. After this, I obtained the second doctor’s signature required under British law and came back in three days for the procedure.

I was to be given a general anaesthetic. They pre-medicated me with Valium, and I was given an analgesic suppository and a pessary to help dilate my cervix. The nurse explained they would be back in about half an hour, during which my mother sat with me.

When I was taken in, I felt a brief moment of apprehension but the hospital staff was very understanding and soothed me. I was given gas, and told to count backwards from 10. I reached 7, then recall no more.

I woke up in a ward, but screened off from other beds by curtains. There was some slight pain, but it was nothing worse than I would expect of a menstrual cramp. I was released to go home around two hours later.

After my mother took me home, I spent a while eating the jam doughnuts she had bought me. That evening, though, I did cry a little. Understanding that it was a combination of shock, relief and hormone fluctuations, I wiped my tears away, hugged my mother and felt a whole world better from that point on. I placed one last call to my boyfriend to tell him, civilly but firmly, that it was over between us, and then started on the way to my own emotional recovery.

It’s 2003, ten years later now, and my life is fantastic. I have a good job with the local government. I am engaged to a sweet, loving young American man, and we are planning our wedding-and my emigration-for the end of next summer. My emotional issues and depression are just ghosts. Knowing with absolute conviction that none of these things would have happened to me if I had given birth to a child in my ‘teens, how can I look back on what I did with anything but profound gladness?