An Honest Mistake

Hello old friend, it’s been a while. I’m currently in the shade of my garden with a cup of tea, my laptop and a really bad mood.

It’s just like the old days when this blog began (which must be almost 15 years ago, right?) I feel a strange mix of comfort and defeat.

Why is it that I only turn to this digital space when life takes a nosedive?

When I’ve found myself in true despair, I also turn back to my trusted albums. They’re consistently heavy and emotional.

People wonder why I like heavy metal music, and unlike your choices, there’s a reliable reason. They take me to a place in my head where it’s acceptable to repeatedly kick you in the gonads.

On that note, like a new pair of boxing gloves, I’ve got another album to add to the list.

A Day To Remember released You’re Welcome last year in 2021. I completely missed it and upon discovering it a few months ago, I’ve not stopped listening.

What Separates Me From You is one of my all time favourites – plug it in and you won’t need to skip a beat. Every song will smoothly sail through your anger and rage, from becoming borderline psychotic to crying your miserable heart out.

Well, Jeremy and the boys have created a few more tracks to add to that playlist. I’ve almost officially burst my eardrums at this point. My iPhone keeps reminding me that I’ve exceeded this week’s noise exposure limit.

It’s good to know you’re slowly making me deaf, amongst everything else you’ve broken.

Mixing metal with melody isn’t a simple equation. ADTR alongside some metalcore bands from the old emo days always make a decent bid. There’s a fine line between discord and, well, sounding like a boring pop song. If you’re here for a dance, try out Mindreader, F.Y.M and Viva La Mexico. Before you feel like you might be melting into Netflix’ latest indie romcom, Jeremy’s booming roar makes a hard comeback to remind you that their favourite chord is still dark and deep. I’m not denying the album has a few tracks you can bin but it’s made up for with Re-Entry, a tasty collaboration with Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus.

So I have some big news… I’m pregnant with a baby girl. We’re expecting her arrival in November this year.

I have a son, so to have a little girl is like winning the jackpot, right? It’s a dream come true, right?

From the outside looking in, it would appear all of our ducks are in a row. The social post announcing our pregnancy, the confetti cannon that has covered our garden in bright pink dust and paper, the constant flow of excessive ‘excitement’ shared by acquaintances and random relatives I’ve never met… But the truth behind the curtain is that we’ve been through hell and back.

It’s Maternal Mental Health Month and ironically as I write this, my own mental health is at stake and abortion is trending highly in conversation as women in the US may soon lose their legal rights.

I feel if there was ever a time to speak up, this is it.

As part of our recent journey back from the darkness, I now carry a heavy weight of experience and exposure around this topic. It’s something that I haven’t shared or expressed externally a great deal, but internally it tortures me every single day.

On top of this, I am an advocate for breaking the stigma associated with mental health, so I feel compelled to speak out as honestly as I can bear.

I can’t, unfortunately, write anything that will change the lunatics in America, but I can recount my first hand journey with abortion.

Despite suffering with a broken heart because of it, I still believe no one should have the right to abortion removed.

My story isn’t unique. It’s not a cry for help or attention, and it’s not a sadistic movement to bring people down. It is, however, a story that people misunderstand.

Pregnancy is lonely. I bet you never knew that amongst the hysteria and dramatics, it’s an isolating experience. Not only are you dealing with a changing body, you also get hurled onto a treacherous rollercoaster of changing relationships, in laws, politics, judgements and opinions.

None of it is ever actually relevant to you or your growing baby, but people have a cunning knack to make someone else’s personal situation about themselves. I’ve witnessed this on multiple occasions throughout the four pregnancies I’ve had in my life so far.

Yes reader, four pregnancies. I had two abortions last year, just six months apart.

Often I read other accounts of abortion, women admirably express their strength and determination. They empathetically write about the process and the entire experience in reflection with no bitterness, there is never an ounce of regret.

I really wanted my babies. The positive pregnancy tests were a surprise to the dad, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the butterflies in my stomach wanted him to want them too.

Over the following weeks his reaction and behaviour made it evident that it wasn’t his time. No matter what passive words of support came out his mouth, the way he proceeded to behave depicted the choice he had made for us.

Late nights drinking excessively, verbal abuse, smoking, and putting anyone else before me. It was incredibly obvious that this wasn’t a fitting parent for any child.

Other women have it much worse, don’t get me wrong, but this was my version of a living nightmare. I’d just moved to his place and I was struggling to settle in. Above the dodgy Essex horizon, I’d been rejected from his social circle and bullied for my well spoken accent. Alongside suicide, these were the darkest times of my life.

I have naturally delivered a baby without any drugs or epidural, yet I can confirm the pain of an abortion is 100x worse. Both of my abortions were medical terminations at home, using a few tablets and some shoddy pain killers. I have never felt pain like it, physically or emotionally.

My current pregnancy symptoms have been fast and strong. I’m overwhelmed with emotion, I am constantly nauseous and I’ve gained a lot of weight. The hormones have come down on me like a tonne of bricks. Although, I wouldn’t trade this pregnancy for anything. Even the moments where I’m on my knees with my face in the toilet bowl, retching, exhausted and bloodshot. I’d do it all ten times a day if I had to. This baby means everything, and so much more.

I felt driven to go through with the abortions for reasons outside of my control. I had a stable income, maternity leave rights and a safe home. Religious types might spit on my grave, but my friends and family would have supported me either way. My final decision to terminate both pregnancies was based on emotion and a broken relationship. They were decisions I made with my head, not my heart.

Since then we’ve moved house, reconnected with friends and he sobered up for a while. We were so much happier as parents and partners. Looking back, we wouldn’t have the life we have now if we had pursued the two pregnancies. Despite the hurtful journey here, it needed to happen this way.

Now, I can’t depict the last few weeks, it’s been confusing and sudden. I thought we had established an unbreakable connection, the type of love and trust that you see in real relationships, but just when I was almost convinced I could feel it, it faded and died like a rose.

You killed what was left of the good in me. I’m tired, so let me be broken. Look down at the mess that’s in front of me. No other words need be spoken. I’ve got nobody else to blame, though I tried. Keeping all of our past mistakes held inside, I’ll live with regret for my whole life.

There are much more critical and dangerous reasons why women require abortions and there are much harder decisions to make. If I’ve experienced a mere cusp of that, then I can’t imagine my mental health would survive the torment of having that decision taken away from me, and not being presented with any choice at all.

There is no grief like the loss of a child. It’s like a cloud floating above your head. It rains down on glimmers of hope and dampens sunny days with guilt.

I think about them everyday. Sometimes I cry and take comfort in my everlasting maternal love for them. Sometimes I get angry and wonder why I had to let them go.

I hate the word regret. We get one life on this earth and regretting indicates we have a chance to rectify it. I will have to live with what I did and cope with what has happened.

The terminations might not have been my choice, but they were my decision. With the little strength they left behind, I do feel empowered for that, at least.

I’ve been given a new chance with my baby girl. No one will take her away from me (not even you) The fact I had the options open to me, makes my pregnancy with her that much more special. Although I had to let two of them go, I will carry all four of my babies in my heart forever.

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