IT'S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEONE GETS PREGNANT

Growing up in Ireland, abortion was always considered a bad word; something that would be spoken about in private or as hypothetical. “If I ever got pregnant, I’d be on the first boat to the UK” was an ongoing joke…

I don’t know how many girls ever did “get the boat” but all I can say is my heart truly pains for them that did. On top of an extremely stressful and scary situation most would have had to travel into the unknown, likely alone, to get this done.

On my 26th birthday last year I found out I was pregnant. After three years of living in London, being single and broke (the London dream), I don’t know how to begin to tell you all the thoughts, fears and stresses that came with seeing those dreaded blue lines. I’d just been home to Ireland for a week and while I was there I knew deep down that I was pregnant but I was avoiding the facts. A week later on Tuesday 22nd August, I decided to suck it up and take the test. That evening, unexpectedly, there was not one emotion going through my brain. I was dealing with a blank. I don’t remember anything about that night – what I said, or what I did. I felt numb and silent, something had switched.

Stress and worry are natural reactions to situations like this, but the emotions running through my body at that time are something I don’t recall experiencing before. Figuring out what to do next felt like another obstacle to overcome, so I cannot even begin to comprehend how I would have been able to organise traveling to another country to have an abortion. Currently, 10-12 financially-able women travel to the UK every single day to undergo safe abortion services because they’re unable to at home. These women travel across seas feeling shameful, without a choice and without a guarantee of future medical support.

Getting an abortion was an extremely personal decision and was affected by many things other than just becoming a mother. I was brought up in a society which would judge me for being a single parent, but they also didn’t want me to get an abortion – what the fuck was I supposed to do? At the time I couldn’t even tell my closest friends, simply because I couldn’t get the words out. I didn’t know how I felt about myself and I couldn’t deal with the added stress of worrying about how people viewed me and my decision.

Nine months on and my family still don’t know. I think that is the hardest part. My family aren’t backwards, we’re actually very open, but growing up in a catholic environment we’re told to believe that abortion is wrong and even for me the negative connotations are still attached. A lot of energy is put into reminding myself that I made the right decision and keeping this a secret from my main support system has been one of the biggest burdens. I’ve always been a strong individual who’s been able to handle everything life has thrown, so the thought of having people, especially my family, take pity on me would be the worst.

Living in the UK has helped me realise how common this scenario is, and, most importantly, that I’m not alone. Many of my friends have been in this situation and having someone to speak with about my feelings regularly has allowed me to get through this. It is a massive strain on your personal energy to make sure you’re ok everyday, and I have no doubt if I was in Ireland and this had happened I would be in a very different situation mentally.  Having the option to speak to people about this anytime I need to do so has been vital. If I was in Ireland I wouldn’t have had that and I don’t know that I would be ok now for that simple reason. I was met with nothing but compassion and empathy during this situation. The NHS services in the UK made this entire situation feel like less of an obstacle, I was met with solidarity and support from all of the nurses and doctors I encountered, something I will be eternally grateful for.

Regularly I think about my decision and although I have no regrets I can’t help but think, what if? I have no doubt that one day I will be an amazing mother but it was not the right time for many reasons and I am ok with that – even if it’s not something I can’t talk about openly right now. I want women to feel empowered to make their own decision when it comes to their body and not feel shame when making the choice that is right for them. I’ve done all this myself, my way and learned so much about myself in the process.

Repeal the 8th is how we lift the stigma surrounding abortion, removing ‘shame’ or embarrassment for women in Ireland doing what’s right for them.

The REPEAL THE 8th VOTE is on the 25th of May. Want to get involved and show your support? Follow these links…

https://www.repealeight.ie/memberssupporters-submissions/

http://www.abortionrights.org.uk/quid-pro-choice/

Keep an eye on our social media on the 25th to hear from women who have travelled home to Ireland for the repeal vote. Ladies, we salute you.