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I am now 27 years old. I grew up in London. Always being an independent and ambitious person I decided to travel overseas at the age of 21 to do a master’s degree in international law. It was my dream but unfortunately, my dream became my nightmare.

A few months after I had moved overseas to study I began speaking to a friend, who I will name Tom for these purposes, who I knew from school. I knew Tom since I was 11 years old, we had been on a few sporadic dates but where never in a relationship. When he learned that I was living abroad he showered me with attention – attention that I was not getting from my family who did not support my decision to move abroad to study. I was in a place where I was isolated getting used to a new country, managing money, adapting to a different language, my tough course and constant assessments. Speaking to Tom regularly gave me a welcome escape.

On one occasion that I returned to London to visit my friends and family I met up with this Tom for a long awaited date. The date resulted in a sexual encounter, the third that I had experiences until that incident. The next day I went to the airport and returned to the other city that I was living in. I had mixed feeling about how I felt about the sexual encounter. I didn’t even realise that we were having sex, naïvely, but he knew that ejaculation had occurred and just told me to ‘wash it out’.

Within a few days I knew that something was different. Instinctively I knew that I was pregnant. I felt a presence and a completely different feeling than before. I am very aware of my cycle and my spiritual balance and I could sense that I was different. A few weeks passed, no period. I knew. On the day of one of my many exams, I sat there staring at the ceiling the walls, the lecturers who were monitoring the exam. I wrote my student number and little else. I knew that I had failed the paper but what does that matter when I had failed at life. I never imagined that this would ever happen to me, to ME - Miss Perfect full of ambition and energy. Suddenly I did not recognise my own face. I was also faced with the difficulty of not having any funds to finance my masters; my loan had not come through due to a technical issue on my application. I could not pay my rent or university fees. I did not want my parents to know what a mess I was in. I was not brought up to ask for help so in my emotional void and conditioning of self-sufficiency I struggled along. I was a Christian and did not believe in abortion. I wanted my child but I also wanted to build my international career, I was confused but I am a determined person, I knew that I could and would finish my master's and have the baby. No one believed in me and I stopped believing in my abilities too. I did not want to be faced with the decision so I sunk into a hole and tried to bury my fears. I remember reading about the early signs of pregnancy online. I had every single one.

I remember the moment when the denial stopped and the reality set in that I was pregnant, I had not taken a test but I knew, I went to a secluded bathroom at university and sobbed in a way that I never had before, and for the longest time in my life until that point. I had never cried like that, my soul was sobbing and calling for help and intervention.

I returned to London for the Christmas holidays, I could not believe my predicament, no one knew I was pregnant, I went to my local GP and asked for a pregnancy test. A few days later I found that it was positive. Again, more day time pretence and nightly crying. Life became a dark scary punishment. I felt like an absolutely failure in every conceivable way. I knew that I had failed my recent exams because I simply could not write or function.

I arranged to see my GP again and asked for an abortion. I changed my return flight and decided to keep it a secret from everyone. I went to visit a friend as planned, she had just taken a pregnancy herself with her husband and have the wonderful news that she was pregnant. she learned of this just as I walked through the door following my appointment with the GP. She was jumping for joy, I felt like jumping to a river. I tried to feign excitement and happiness at her news but I was broken inside. I knew that my family would disown me and not support me if I had a baby, the father had no stable job, I could not support myself, I would have no home or money. I felt like I had no choice. even without words the dynamics of the relationship with my parents was such that they had a strong degree of negative psychological and emotional control over me, I knew that they would rip me apart if they knew I was pregnant.

My friend is fairly perceptive and asked me what was wrong, I told her. She offered to take my baby, a very unrealistic gesture given that she and her husband didn’t have money and were hiking on the mother-in-laws sofa. I was grateful for her support but I knew it could not be.

My friend insisted that I told the father and my sister and mother. I explained my reasons for not wanting to but in my weakness I caved, she is a wise spiritual person and I trust her views.

I told my sister who was angry that she was not the ‘first to know’ and took ownership of the situation like it was a bigger detriment to me that her. Then I told my mother, she fully support pregnancy termination despite claiming to be a born again Christian she is pro-termination and has had one herself and aided many others in the past and since. My mother decided that it would upset my already volatile father too much and we must keep him in a good mood by keeping him out of it.

The abortion was booked. I sat in that waiting room for nearly 5 hours. I was the only woman there on my own. I was the only one. I attempted to tell Tom in a decent way but he initially ignored my text messages, I called him, he ignored me, finally I got him on another number, apparently his grandfather was dying and he couldn’t deal with the pregnancy right now. I didn’t have time to loose so did not contact him after that – although he felt it appropriate to call me to sob and cry after his grandfather passed away.

I spent that morning in the waiting room, waiting for a grand rescue, and angel of God or Jesus himself to turn up and whisk me away. It didn’t happen obviously, I made the ‘choice’ after all.

The procedure was horrendous, my body fought the medication to sedate me so strongly, they had to give me 4 times the usual anaesthetic for my height and mass for it to work. I woke up, she was gone it was over. I knew I would never be the same again. I was 9 ½ weeks on the day it happened. It was the 16th January 2007. The clinic was in Richmond.

Pain. Physical but more so emotional and spiritual. In order to leave the clinic someone must collect you. My mother was that person, she turned up around 5 minutes before I came out, in her pride and inability to be seen at an abortion clinic she decided to go for a wonder down Richmond High Street and ended up buying shoes. I spoke to a receptionist who said my mother came and left when she realised I was not out yet, I had to return to the humiliation of the waiting room, that horrendous room that I had already spent far too much time in that day. Looking at women with their partners awaiting their ‘procedure’. I again, was sitting there alone, I was being punished. Some 45 minutes later my mother returned, new shoes in tow no less. I wanted to kill myself.

When I got home lay on my bed and sobbed. My mother had not seen me cry since I was about 11 years old. Emotions were banned from my home. She sat there and said ‘all I can say is, I’ve been there, I’ve been there too’ as if that was some form of comfort. She has a blatant way of making everything about herself. I thought if you’ve been there why did you allow me to go through this. I just had to act, pretend and behave like I was over it. I was supposed to just say, God loves me, Jesus forgives everyone and just get on with it. Religion without wisdom and the application and understanding of human psychology and emotions can be fiercely dangerous.

I felt no relief, I knew my pain had just begun. I felt like a murderer and a liar. I knew I would never be the same again.

I went back to the city where I was studying and resumed my studies. I retook my exams and passed them all. I managed to make the remaining 8 month pleasant and I sorted myself out financially.

I became depressed. Despondent. I resented my career because I felt like that is the reason why I had to abort. I lost my trust in my friendships and relationships. No one spoke to me for nearly 4 months, my sister ignored me as did my other friend who was pregnant. I contemplated suicide so many times.

Now it is nearly 6 years since that fateful day. She would have been 5 by now, I named her Louetta. I still suffer, I became anti-social, have never had a boyfriend, I suffer panic attacks and anxiety when doing things that never used to phase me. I am timid when making life choices and I am afraid that I will make another fateful mistake. I am trying now to face my grief and work through the confusion. I am on the mend in so many ways. Sharing this is so important because I have a voice too and Louette had a voice – sadly no one ever heard it.