MODEL Daisy Lowe recently spoke out about her decision to have an abortion.
So Fabulous spoke to three women who bravely shared their own experiences of ending a pregnancy.
‘I was happily married – but wasn’t ready to have a baby’
ELLA Grimwade, 28, is an editor and lives in London with her husband Quintin, 30, a chef.
“Sitting on the toilet in July 2017, I tried to control the fluttering in my chest. I’d taken tests in the past, convinced I was pregnant and then relieved to discover that I wasn’t. But something about this one felt different.
“‘The test will be negative, I’ll stop feeling worried and then my period will come,’ I tried to tell myself. But then I saw the positive line appear, and my hands started to shake. I met my husband Quintin in his home country of South Africa when I was working there in 2013, aged 21, and we fell for each other straight away. As soon as it got serious we talked about the future, and while having a family was something he was open to, I wasn’t sure.
"I was honest with him and told him that becoming a mum wasn’t in my plans. He accepted that and when I had to return to the UK the following year, we were committed to making our relationship work long-distance, with video calls and visits whenever we could.
“But after two and a half years of living on different continents, we couldn’t be apart any longer, and went to Sri Lanka to get married in the summer of 2016. But we still had to wait until January 2017 for Quintin’s visa to come through, which would allow him to come and live with me in London.
“We shared a three-bedroom flat with five other people, and while Quintin had worked in IT back home, in the UK he could only find low-paid work in a supermarket to begin with. But we were just thrilled to finally be together.
“Even after we moved in together, my feelings about having children didn’t change and I knew that I may never want a baby. Quintin assured me that the two of us would be enough for him. Besides, even if we changed our minds, how could we possibly do it in a tiny flat with so little money? It would be madness and completely unfair to a child.
“Then, that July, I realised my period was late. They were a bit irregular anyway, and as we were using condoms and hadn’t had any accidents I tried not to worry. But when it still hadn’t come almost a week later, I decided to take a test to put my mind at ease. Quintin was working that morning so I went to the shops to pick one up. Seeing it turn positive was just awful.
“I texted Quintin to tell him I had taken a pregnancy test and that it was positive. He replied right away: ‘You are joking, right?’ He came home as fast as he could, his face full of concern. I immediately knew I wanted an abortion and told him so. Thankfully, he was in total agreement.
“I felt a mixture of things – that I’d somehow made a mess and needed to fix it, and that there was a big countdown clock hanging over me. But there was no question in my mind about continuing with the pregnancy – I couldn’t bring a baby into the world that wasn’t truly wanted. So we started calling clinics right away.
“A blood test at the doctor’s revealed I was four weeks pregnant and I had an immune disorder called ITP, which means my blood had a very low platelet count. Because my blood might not clot properly, I couldn’t take abortion pills at home, so would have to wait longer and have a surgical procedure in hospital.
“While all that was being arranged, I started to have morning sickness. I’d told my parents and close friends, who were supportive, and Quintin was great. But I was struggling to get through the weeks until my operation.
Delays caused by my ITP diagnosis and doctors deciding on the best way to proceed, plus hospital appointments being pushed back meant that I was almost 21 weeks pregnant before I had the procedure under general anaesthetic, by which time I was desperate for it to all be over.
“I had been given details of who to call if I needed counselling afterwards and warned that I might see children in the street and get a pang of remorse, but from the minute I woke up after the procedure, all I felt was a wave of relief. That made me worry there might be something wrong with me, which is silly, as I know I’m an empathetic person, with lots of loving relationships in my life.
“Recently, I’ve seen TV shows and films that have scenes featuring abortions and it’s shown as a horrible, remorseful thing. But I just can’t relate to that. If there are other women out there thinking maybe there’s something wrong with them for feeling this way, I want to let you know you’re not alone.
“Of course I don’t take abortion lightly, or think people should fall back on it after being irresponsible and not using contraception, but in the two and half years since the termination I haven’t dwelled on it.
“Recently, I was looking at Facebook photos of the last few years capturing me spending three months teaching English in Cambodia, progressing in my career and travelling back to South Africa, Turkey and other countries with Quintin, who I’m still very happily married to. These are all things I couldn’t have done if I’d carried on with the pregnancy. And, for me, that reinforced that having a termination was absolutely the right thing for me.
“I am still in the position where I don’t want a child. Quintin thinks he probably would at some point, but we’re both thinking that we’ll see what happens and will continue to talk to each other about it.”
‘I didn’t want my baby to have a life of surgeries and misery’
PETRA Jahchan, 39, lives in High Wycombe, with husband Marwan, 41, an engineer, and daughter Yara, six, and son Daniel, 10 months.
“As I lay in bed, I couldn’t stop crying. Tomorrow I’d be in hospital ending a much wanted pregnancy. Tonight, all I could do was stroke my stomach in the dark.
“Seeing the pregnancy test turn blue in November 2017 was amazing. My husband Marwan and I already had our daughter Yara, then four. But we both wanted another child.
“At a celebratory pub lunch later that day we watched Yara playing in the garden, thrilled she’d soon be a big sister. We were so confident everything would be fine we told her and all of our friends and family straight away.
“But on January 15, 2018, the 12-week scan we’d been so looking forward to quickly became our worst nightmare. As the sonographer rolled the transducer over my tummy, a strange, bulging image appeared on the screen. ‘That’s not right,’ she said, before leaving to call a senior colleague. I burst into tears as Marwan froze beside me.
“The senior sonographer confirmed our fears and told us that the baby had a condition called exomphalos. This means the abdomen doesn’t close up properly during foetal development, so parts of the stomach, intestines and liver are outside the body. They said we’d need to see a consultant three days later to talk through our options.
“Back home we put on a brave face for Yara, hoping that perhaps they had got it wrong. But when we returned to the hospital for another scan with the consultant, we saw the same bulge on the screen again. We knew then there had been no mistake.
“We were taken to the hospital’s private Willow family room, where the doctor explained about the baby’s condition. It would mean major surgeries and potential heart problems, and if the baby was a girl, she wouldn’t be able to have children of her own. What kind of life would this baby have?
“The doctor left us to talk alone. We held hands and cried before saying what we both knew we had to do: end the pregnancy.
“Telling Yara was one of the hardest things. ‘The baby in Mummy’s tummy is very poorly,’ we explained to her the next day. ‘They can’t be with us because they are very sick.’
“The termination was booked for a week later, but each of those days was agonising. Although my friends and family were supportive, I was inconsolable.
“On the day of the termination, January 25, 2018, when I was 13 weeks pregnant, I was shaking like a leaf as I left Marwan. As the general anaesthetic took hold, I took a deep breath and said goodbye to the baby.
“Afterwards, I was an emotional wreck, but a few things got me through the following weeks. Marwan was amazing, always there to listen and hold me, while the charity Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) was a great support, plus I connected with a mum online who also had a young daughter and faced a termination.
“Two months later, in March, we had a burial for the baby, who we called Willow after the room in the hospital. We didn’t find out she was a girl until another two months later, when we returned to the consultant for our follow-up appointment. But knowing she wouldn’t have been able to have children, as well as having to endure a life of surgeries, helped us realise that we’d made the right decision.
'THE RIGHT DECISION'
“In the months afterward, Marwan and I became closer than ever and eventually we decided to try for another child. In October 2018 I fell pregnant, but this time we were cautious and only told our immediate family. Even though we knew that Willow’s condition wasn’t hereditary and was rare, with only one in every 5,000 children born with it each year, every scan was horrendous. I was always on the brink of tears, frightened that something would be wrong. The doctors kept reassuring me that the baby seemed fine, but I wasn’t able to relax and fully enjoy my pregnancy.
“Daniel was born healthy and weighing 7lb 3oz on June 18, 2019 – and he’s made us so happy with his funny and feisty nature. Yara adores being a big sister and playing peek-a-boo with him.
“And although our family now feels complete, we will never forget Willow or regret the difficult decision we made. To this day, I know it was the right one for our family and, most of all, for her.”
‘I was raped and too terrified to tell anyone the truth’
HYACINTH Myers, 48, is a business owner and lives in London with her sons Okera, 21, and Kwame, 14.
“Facing my mother in her bedroom, I couldn’t get the words out. I’d spent weeks in denial, hoping the problem would go away. But aged just 17 and with aching breasts and nausea, I knew I finally had to tell her that I thought I was pregnant.
“I was a scared and nervous teenager after spending my adolescence living in a house where my mother was abused by my stepfather.
“It wasn’t until October 1988, when I was 17, that she was finally able to leave with me and my three younger siblings. At first we had to stay in a women’s refuge for survivors of domestic abuse, but after a few days we moved to a new area where I began art college and made new friends.
“But early the following year, after a night out at a mate’s house, his older friend attacked me when he went to bed. My attacker held me overnight at knife point, repeatedly raping me, and threatening to kill me if I told anyone what had happened. The next morning he finally let me go. My friend had been in another bedroom and had no idea what had happened, but I was too terrified to tell him or even consider going to the police. So I tried to forget the attack, along with my sense of shame.
“A couple of weeks later I got what I thought was my period, but my stomach had started to feel odd and my breasts were hurting. Over the next eight weeks my symptoms continued and eventually I told my two closest friends that I thought I was pregnant. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them about the rape, however.
“They insisted that I did a test and when it turned positive I went into shock. I knew immediately that I couldn’t continue with the pregnancy. I wasn’t ready to be a mum, let alone a single mum. And while I loved children, I knew deep down I wouldn’t be able to love this child, because of how they were conceived.
“I also knew I had to confess to my mum about the pregnancy, but decided I couldn’t tell her about the rape. She’d been through so much in her life and I wanted to protect her.
When I finally built up the courage to tell her I was pregnant two weeks later, she was upset and disappointed. I told her that the father was a boy I had previously been dating. Mum said she would stand by me whether I decided to have the child or not, and respected my decision.
“We made the appointments for the termination, but because I was so skinny I quickly began to show.
“When neighbours asked my mum if I was pregnant she’d deny it, telling me with a hug that it was nobody’s business but ours.
“But at college it was much harder. One friend suspected and said: ‘I hope you’re not pregnant. Because if you are and have a termination, you’re a murderer.’ Those words stuck in my head for years.
“Going into hospital for the procedure at around 18 weeks, I was terrified. I was scared something might go wrong and I’d never be able to have children. I’d also heard women talking about how, after a termination, they still thought of the child’s due date every year. But after I came around from the general anaesthetic and realised it was all over, I felt so relieved.
“Afterwards, I threw myself into college and later university, where I studied social policy with criminal justice. Despite my fears about not being able to have children, I went on to have two sons. Okera was born when I was 26 and Kwame arrived when I was 34. I didn’t marry either of their fathers. The truth is that the impact of the attack has made it difficult for me to trust men.
“Three years ago, I started a business that supports women through adversity, and I began sharing my story with other survivors. Last year, after a lot of therapy, I knew it was finally time to tell my mum about the attack that happened 30 years ago. Although it was hard for her to hear, it was also a relief for her to know the truth after all this time. And she was as supportive as ever.
“To family members or friends of a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy, my advice would be to try to be supportive and don’t judge. Making a decision like this is hard enough without anyone else’s judgement. And besides, every woman will know what the right decision is for her.”
Celebrities speak out about their abortions
Daisy Lowe, 31
“I wasn’t ready to be a mum. But I’m so grateful I didn’t have that baby. I would have sacrificed a lot and I wouldn’t have been the best mum at the time.”
Jameela Jamil, 34
“I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want and wasn’t ready for.”
Lauren Goodger, 33
“I’ve been pregnant before… but I chose not to have it. I was only 20. No one knew except my family. Our relationship was volatile and we weren’t ready.”
Nicki Minaj, 37
“It was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. [It’s] haunted me all my life. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have anything to offer a child.”
Jemima Kirke, 35
“In 2007, I became pregnant with my boyfriend at the time. My life was just not conducive to raising a healthy, happy child. I just didn’t feel it was fair.”
- Hair & make-up: Sara Bowden
- Styling: Salome Munuo
- Ella wears: Top, Prettylittlething.com; jeans, River Island; shoes, New Look
- Hyacinth wears: Jumpsuit, Boohoo.com; earrings, Hyacinth’s own; shoes, Primark
- Visit Arc-uk.org, Hyacinthmyers.com
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