I asked myself that very question as I arrived at the Stand Up For Choice benefit gig at Queen’s Students Union on Sunday night.
Abortion is a very divisive subject. It’s probably the only thing that unites us in either supporting a woman’s right to choose or believing that abortion is murder and should never be allowed in this country.
We know there is no grey area and it’s a good question to ask when you answer your door to an election canvasser. They are either in support of the 1967 Abortion Act extension or against it. No matter what the outcome, they could lose or gain seats. It’s a gamble.
Pregnancy and parenthood is also a gamble.
I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to go through the full nine months of an unplanned pregnancy. I know what it’s like to wake up every day and ask myself if I am good enough to be both mummy and daddy to a life growing inside me. A life that didn’t ask to be conceived.
I could only see that I was a twenty-year-old girl who was stuck between being a party animal and a mother. I felt I had nothing going for me. I was in a deep depression and nothing would ever pull me out of it. Especially not this baby I was due to have. If anything, pregnancy made my depression worse and I was terrified. The doctor’s and midwives were aware of my mental state and offered little help. They recommended going to a single parents ante natal class so I didn’t have to practice panting with happy couples. Yippee.
Every milestone was covered on my lonesome.
The booking in with the midwife and hearing the heartbeat – mine was beating louder and in my ears.
Seeing the small human shape on the first scan, I had a panic attack and vomited on the bus outside the maternity hospital. A kind lady gave me a carrier bag to deposit my yellow bile.
The first time I felt movement, it felt alien and I vomited again.
The first time I noticed my bump in the mirror – I had no clothes that fitted and I cried because I had no money to buy more.
The incessant belly itching as my skin stretched to accommodate the temporary lodger, the insanely painful heartburn and the morning sickness that just wouldn’t go away.
Overhearing people talking about me because I was pregnant and there was no visibly supportive daddy at my side culminated in a very miserable experience.
I could have got the money from my credit union account and went to England if I really wanted. But I didn’t, I made that choice to stay in Belfast and stick it out. It was my business and nobody else’s.
But that was then and this is twelve years later.
That baby I was afraid of, gave me the boot up the ass I needed. She’s my best friend and reason to get up in the morning.
She was my choice and I support other women in their right to choose.