Written by Emmaline Matagi
Fiji Born of Fijian descent
Test Result - Positive 3+ Weeks.
3 children, 3 emergency cesarean sections, 2 resuscitations and a 9 week premature baby.
My heart dropped. I hadn't even realised I was 7 weeks late. I’ve been so busy with life; 3 kids, teaching full-time, studying for a Masters part-time, being a wife, volunteer, woman. When was my last period? Last month? The month before? OMG I don't even know.
The following conversation with my husband hurt the most. “We cant lose you, theres no way we can do this, we just cant lose you! Look at how sick you are! Look at you, this is happening all over again we just cant lose you!”. His words stuck in my mind for days. And so I finally got the nerve to see a Doctor.
Doc greeted me with his usual smiley self. I told him I was pregnant. “Congratulations I am so happy for you!”. (STAB HEART BROKEN)! I cringed inside.
We talked about my past experiences and he talked about my options. Birthing and adoption or abortion. Just the word is enough to send all those nervous thoughts through your head. What am I doing, should I do this, I could totally have another baby, I wouldn't die, I’ll be fine, we can do this!
The doctor wanted to get a smear, swabs, bloods and a dating scan as soon as possible. And when I say as soon as possible, I mean he wanted them there and then. I wasn't quite ready but I complied, still mulling over my thoughts and what-ifs while I was poked and prodded and scraped from the inside out. When he finished with the smear and swabs he casually mentioned that 50% of women change their minds and so I had plenty of time to change my mind. Yeah, thanks mate I really needed to hear that. Like it wasn't already going through my head and making me feel sick already. I left his office to get my bloods done.
The Phlebotomist was a lovely woman. She was so excited for my pregnancy and started chatting away. Which would be fine under normal circumstances, but this wasn't your everyday happy pregnancy situation. So I put on my fake ‘thanks’ face and forced a smile, but on the inside I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. She continued to gush at how wonderful it would be and how she hoped I stayed healthy through my pregnancy.
When I was done, I hopped in the car and cried.
I cried because I knew this pregnancy wasn't going to happen. I had made up my mind. I made my decision because I am selfish and did not want to take another chance with my life. I didn't want to feel this sick all over again for another 40 weeks. I didn't want to not be there for my children should something happen. I just knew it wasn't the right time.
GUILT! I felt and still feel so guilty. SO SO SO GUILTY! I know it was the right decision but THE GUILT...
I got home and went straight to bed. I cried for hours and apologised to the baby inside me. Then I cried some more.
My next appointment was a dating scan to see how far along I was. It’s advised that terminations are not done too early - usually before 7 weeks just in case it doesn't work properly. So off I went.
“Hi my name is *$&%$*&# and I am a trainee is it ok if I do your scan?” Sure thing go ahead girlfriend. Away she goes pushing down low rubbing the jelly in. Low and behold up on the screen pops the baby. HOLY SHIT the baby is huge ... How far along am I? Panic set in and I began freaking out inside. I know ultrasounds. I know what babies look like in ultrasounds at different stages.
After some measurements she tells me I am around 9.5 weeks. WHAT THE F$&%! No way! I have definitely had a period in the last 9 weeks – there is no way I am that far! But I am. She congratulates me once again, saying how excited she is for me. For a moment I get lost in the fake happy conversation. I was never going to tell her this wasn't happening. Her tutor came in and re scanned me and he congratulated me too. IF I HEAR ONE MORE OMG CONGRATS ARE YOU EXCITED? I AM GOING TO SCREAM!
I walked out, got in my car and cried. Guilt.
I headed back to the doctors that same afternoon. He filled out an online form and asked me “medical, surgical or you don't care?”. I had no idea what he was talking about at this point. So he explains as bluntly as he possibly could – because why would a doctor sugar coat this right?
“Medical - you take a pill it causes you to cramp and you expel the foetus, surgical they knock you out and suction it out of you.” FULLSTOP THE END. This in itself made me sick. I couldn't even answer him so he left it blank.
For people who don't know the process behind the public service, you have to have an up-to-date smear, swabs, bloods and a dating scan. After which the health professional referring you fills in an online form and a clinic calls you to make an appointment. You go through two appointments; the first is a consultation, the second is the procedure.
The date for my first appointment arrived and I didn't know what to expect. I had been so disgustingly sick for weeks. I thought it was one appointment and we are done but no. No one had informed me of what was to happen. I went in and was met with a locked door. This was for security reasons, as the idea of abortion/termination isn't accepted by everyone. The security is for patients and workers alike. I Buzzed the receptionist and went in. Accompanied by my sister. The receptionist asked for my passport and got me to fill out a form and wait. We got moved to another waiting room. From this point we saw a nurse who spoke to us about what would happen, the procedure, contraception and of course, she asked if I was 100% sure. We were referred to a doctor who saw me and talked me through everything again. She then filled in the legal paperwork. After seeing the doctor who was AMAZING by the way, we saw another nurse who booked the second appointment.
I left the clinic feeling ok about the situation, the decision and where I was mentally. The doctor was so helpful she talked me through my questions and she was compassionate and open about the situation. Where the hell was she when I needed her two weeks before!
Appointment number 2.
I walked into the clinic feeling nervous. This was the day. There were 10 of us having the procedure at this time. We lined up and got called into a separate waiting room to talk to the doctor doing the procedure and sign off the final paperwork. We sat in a room, a radio playing in the background breaking the silence. Then we all saw the Doctor.
In a big room theres 10 beds, I was number 6. I got undressed and waited for the nurse. She gave me 5 pills. 2 Panadol, 1 relaxant and 2 to soften the cervix which starts the process. I took the pills. This is the point of no return. Once you’ve taken the two pills thats it.
So then my sister came to join me. Its an hour wait after you take the pills. I fell asleep, my sister did some work. I tried not to listen in to the people next to me but the lady in the next bed was crying and sobbing while the nurse tried to console her to no avail. It made me sad for her. She was only an arms length away and I wanted to tell her, its ok sister girl we are here together. But she probably would've jabbed me.
So my time came. The theatre nurse came to get me. She walked me into a room with a bed with stirrups. I sat up on the bed and laid down. She put some drugs in my arm (I had a cannula in) and gave me some gas (Entonox). “Take this and breathe the whole time, deep breaths and don't stop until we tell you”. So I did. I was high as a kite. She started talking to me about my tattoos and about my C-Sections, I was trying to reply through my teeth breathing the gas in. It was a weird experience. The doctor comes in and put a speculum in, he put some local anaesthetic around the cervix, and the procedure began. I was fine no pain just weird feelings. Then came the last part. “You might feel a bit uncomfortable now”. Yeah Nah! I was in legit pain. It was so weird I knew it hurt but I was so high on gas and whatever drugs were in my arm I couldn't explain it. I cried at this point. It really hurt in my abdomen. Once that was over it was much better. The procedure was done in 10 mins or so.
And just like that I wasn't pregnant. Along came a familiar feeling, GUILT. Mixed with relief. Then some more GUILT because of the relief. Post termination I was walked to my bed where my sister was waiting. Another nurse came and hooked me up to a machine for BP and O2 sats. 3 observations over an hour. Cramps of doom. Like contractions geez. I was given a heat pack and some Nurofen. Then, just like that it was time to go home.
My sister drove me home and I went to sleep.
I cant even explain the feeling I have inside me. I still feel guilty and sad. I feel relieved that I am still alive and here for my 3 children. I feel selfish for the exact same reasons. A few days after my termination I read some comments online about women who make this choice. I felt the guilt creep up on me, but then I remembered I did this for a reason. As selfish and irresponsible and wrong as people may say it is. I had a reason for going through with my termination. If I didn't there is every chance I would die with this pregnancy. I am so thankful that this service exists for women. I am so thankful that I live in the here and now and not the 30’s where doing this would have killed me in a back alleyway basement somewhere.
It may not be the most talked about issue. I feel its something we need to start talking about openly and supporting others through. I never want anyone to be the woman next door within arms length with no one to talk to about the situation she was in.
So thats my story, my experience, my words. I hope it makes people think, support the women around them and share. It doesn't matter what your reason is for choosing Termination. Whatever it is, know that you are loved and supported by women just like me.