(based on a true case history. All names and identifying details have been changed)
When I was 17 I was going with a girl called Cassie. We both worked at the local supermarket after school – that’s where we met. Cassie was really good looking and a bit shy, but funny once you got to know her. I hadn’t had a real girlfriend up until then. I felt lucky that she liked me, I guess. We used to talk a lot about stuff. My mum and dad split up around that time and things were not good at home. When I was with Cass I could forget about all the crazy stuff that was going on between them.
We had sex one night when her parents were away. It sort of just happened. I didn’t think about it much at the time but looking back I think I was pretty lonely. I didn’t have any brothers and sisters, not a lot of friends either. I really hung onto Cass and after that night she was even more important to me.
Anyway a couple of months later she told me she was pregnant. I was stunned, but it was weird because I felt almost proud too. It was like, hey, I’m a man! I can father a kid! Mostly I just felt scared though. My parents would freak out if they knew. I told myself I didn’t want to give them anything else to worry about but I reckon that was crap – I was just too scared to tell them.
Cass was crying and worried about her parents too and how she’d cope with school and everything. We had been using condoms but sometimes they didn’t work. We both felt like idiots. I don’t know which one of us suggested abortion, but that’s what ended up happening. I wanted to go with Cass but she said no, she’d go with a friend.
I rang her that night to see how she was but she said her parents were in the room and she couldn’t talk. I tried to ring her the next day but she was at her friend’s house. I left a message with her mum but she didn’t call back. It was a week before I saw her and it was so awkward. I just wanted everything to be like it was between us but nothing was. We broke up a couple of weeks later. I didn’t understand how everything could change so fast. I felt bad for a long time.
After a while I stopped thinking about Cass and everything that happened. You move on, I guess. That was 15 years ago. But I got married last year and my wife and I have just had a baby. When my son was born I kept getting the strangest feeling that I had forgotten something. I would be holding Ben and thinking all the time that there was something I’d forgotten to do, or something missing that I had to search for. I couldn’t shake it.
Eventually it came to me. I was thinking about my other child, the one Cass had terminated. It hadn’t really dawned on me until then - that I’d been a father for 15 years. Seeing my baby Ben made my first child real and brought up a lot of sadness and anger at myself. I’m sorry I didn’t try to stand up for Cass and the child we made, but I guess I wasn’t old enough to deal with those decisions. I’ve started seeing a counsellor because I need to tell someone about my first child and how I feel. That’s why I’ve written this down.
I think about Cass and wonder how she got through that time. It must have been worse for her. I don’t know if she really wanted to have an abortion or if she did it in a panic. I wonder if she still thinks about it.
"After crying buckets of tears and wondering how on earth I would manage, I decided I would find a way."
An eighteen-year-old girl, who had already been through an abortion at 16, describes what went into her decision to go through with a second crisis pregnancy. A true story.
When I found out I was pregnant I was really scared. I had an abortion when I was 16 and didn't want to go through that again. I was just so miserable and it took ages to stop feeling guilty.
I always wanted to be a mum so when I became pregnant again at 18 I knew I would have the baby even though it would be difficult. That doesn‘t mean I didn‘t think about having another abortion - I did … but I just couldn‘t do it this time. It felt a bit like I had been given a second chance - a chance to prove myself.
The baby’s father didn’t want to know about the pregnancy so I couldn’t expect anything from him. He took off the week after I told him about the baby. My mum wasn’t too impressed either. She told me I would have to leave as she didn’t have room for me and a baby and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just have an abortion again. I felt so alone.
After crying buckets of tears and wondering how on earth I would manage, I decided I would find a way. I didn’t quite know how at first but then I started to look at what I would need and ask for some help to get myself established. My mother said I had to move out well before the baby was born. She was busy with her own life. That was a bit shattering as deep down I was hoping she would understand.
I found a counselling centre where I could go to talk about my worries and, boy, I certainly seemed to have a lot. I had no money, nowhere to live and nothing for the baby!
With the help of my counsellor I was able to get accommodation - temporary at first whilst something more permanent was organised. I was given priority consideration and before the baby was born I had housing which helped a lot. Even though the whole thing was rather daunting I felt freer than I had in ages and my counsellor helped me contact support groups, set up pre-natal care and get things together for my baby. She was a great help - a real lifesaver! She met with me every week and sort of became a substitute mother, in one way putting me in touch with services that could help me.
She visited me when Jade was born and really shared in my excitement. It meant so much. My mum finally came around a bit and started visiting. It was a bit hit and miss at first but then Jade was so gorgeous that mum came more regularly.
I know having Jade isn‘t easy at times but this experience has shown me a part of myself I might never have known. I found that I was not helpless or unable to manage. I learned how to budget and plan a future for both of us. I hope one day to meet a nice guy who will want to be with Jade and me and that we will be become a family. I guess I have grown up a lot and I‘m proud of that.
(Names and other identifying details used in this story are fictitious to protect the author‘s confidentiality.)
Wow. Twenty years old already. And you’re leaving! And all this time I was sure you’d never grow up and leave me. So it’s about time I let you know how much you mean to me.
I remember the day I officially found out I was pregnant. I was so happy! I kinda knew before that, but I was so happy that it was really true. I went round all the shops and picked out nice baby clothes for you, and thought about all the fun times we’d have together. I even bought you some birthday cards in advance. I sang to you- I had a lovely singing voice back then. And I looked forward to your birthday - St. Patrick’s Day.
I was young - only fifteen. But I loved your father very much. I’m glad I was pregnant to someone I loved. I was very happy. He didn’t have a phone so I wrote him a loving letter telling him the wonderful news, but my family wouldn’t let me send it. They stood there and dictated another letter which wasn’t loving at all, and threatened me with things if I didn’t send it. But the truth was, I couldn’t wait to wheel you down his street in your pram. But they locked me in the house and wouldn’t let me see him.
Anyway, I don’t remember much about being pregnant - I know I felt sick all the time, and I gave up smoking. I don’t remember much about being in hospital. I just remember there was a plate of scones with jam and cream there that I wasn’t allowed to eat. And I remember Mum saying “you’re hormonal”, whatever that means. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I was pregnant so nobody sent me any flowers. It’s funny, but around that time I lost my singing voice. Oh, I could still sing - but somehow it wasn’t quite the same. But that’s okay.
I know I haven’t been a perfect mother. I guess we had a rough start. I left home at sixteen and left school at the same time, and moved from place to place. But we’ve always been together, you and I.
You were there when I lived at that terrible boarding house with lots of cats and dirty floors. And I lived in some nice places too. I somehow managed to go back to school and I finished my HSC. I know that didn’t mean much to you then but it meant a lot to me.
Then I moved overseas and we met our relatives for the first time. I finished my first degree and we travelled for a while, before coming back to Australia in the nineties.
I found most of my old friends but I couldn’t find a job for a while. It was pretty lonely sometimes so I’m glad you were there to talk with. You’ve been so patient with me. I’m sure there have been times when you wanted me to let you go and do your own thing, but I clung too tightly. But I did my best. I’ll never forget the dance competitions, the music lessons, learning to drive. Birthdays. Christmases. All those cards…
I bought a little car and got a job. I hated the job but I stuck with it till I really couldn’t stand it anymore - then I went back to University again. I’m glad you were there to see my get my second degree. I had a boyfriend by then and we stood by the lake at Uni for photos on my graduation day.
Time went by and I got married. On my wedding day it was the middle of winter but it didn’t rain at all that day. While I was saying my vows, the sun shone through the chapel’s stained glass window and lit up our faces - I looked up at the light and thought it was a good omen. We wore beautiful dresses on the day - a pity your face didn’t come out in the photos. I’m so sorry about that.
We moved to the country and my parents helped us buy a house. I got a good job and things slowly got better. We had a nice neighbourhood and I learnt to bottle fruit from trees on our big property. I looked after the house and gardens and we did gardening together. My husband was away a lot and I got lonely so we’d pick flowers and collect frogs together with the little girl from next door. We painted rooms, made curtains and baked bread. I bought a little dog and we went on walks together round the park. We took him to the beach and laughed as our dog discovered water. We wiggled our toes in the sand. We had so much fun together!
Then one day after work I just couldn’t drive home. I don’t know what came over me - I just couldn’t go home one more time to that lonely place. Our beautiful home had become a beautiful prison. So we left. We left the gardens, the fruit trees, the frogs. The little girl next door.
But at least we were still together. When you were seventeen I got divorced and I bought a little two bedroom house. We moved in with our little dog. To help me pay the mortgage I advertised for a flatmate. A nice girl answered the ad and moved in to the second bedroom. We have so much fun! Finally I have someone to teach me how to match my clothes and jewelry, and do my hair. Someone to sing with me till crazy hours of the morning. Someone to dance with. No room for sadness anymore.
No room for you.
And then I realized…There will never be room for you. Because the truth is, I never really knew you. Oh sure, I know that together we’ve done a lot. I’ve just started another Uni course and I recently won an award at work. My walls are lined with qualifications, prizes, awards, trophies, artwork, crafts and photos of friends and family. My shelves are full of musical instruments, memo boxes, toys… all done by…. me.
So here’s how it is:
I will never wheel you down the street in your pram.
I will never celebrate your birthday with you.
I will never celebrate Christmas with you.
I will never teach you to sing, dance or play a musical instrument.
I will never teach you to sew or cook.
We will never pick flowers or collect frogs.
We will never walk the dog in the park.
We will never go to the beach and wiggle our toes in the sand.
I will never see you go to school. Or Uni. Or work.
I will never see you fall in love…
Okay I’ll admit it. I did it all myself. Everything I ever wanted to do with you, I did by myself. I hope you’re proud of me.
My friends say I would have been a good Mum. But the fact is, I’m not a Mum, even though I wanted to be. I am nearly thirty-seven years old and I lost you over twenty years ago, thanks to some ignorant bullies who don’t dare complain that they don’t have grandchildren. Oh sure, I’ve forgiven them… sometimes. Jesus is helping me with the other times. After all, He knows what its like - he knows what it’s like to be bullied. And his mother was only a teenager too!
Unfortunately with my health the way it is and the medication I am on, I probably won’t be able to have another baby. So for years I have been working with other people’s kids. That makes me feel better.
Today I burnt all your cards. I can’t believe I kept them for so long. I watched the smoke go up to heaven.. And I realized…It’s time. It’s time to let you go. Jesus needs you more than I do, now.
Afterwards I went back into the house - and then a strange thing happened. My singing voice returned! Stronger than ever. I’ll be singing with my mates when we have a drink next St. Patrick’s Day.
I still have a box with all your baby clothes in it, and every so often if I feel sad I get them out and have a cry. And that’s okay. Anyhow, I know I’ll see you one day.
So bye for now. See you in heaven. It’ll be fun; I can’t wait to see you. We’ll have scones with jam and cream…
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