Always had a deep desire to care for the people around me. When my sister was barely five and stopped eating when her food allergies had gotten the best of her, I was the one who managed to spoon some food in her anyway, aged eight. When a 5-year-old Vietnamese boy who didn’t speak our language joined us in the after-school care, I was the one who was able to comfort him and got him to settle in, aged nine.
People often think I must work with children. They think I’m a kindergarten teacher, or something close. I’m not. Never was. I’m just good with children. I started dreaming about having a big family of my own when I was a teenager. I was certain I’d be a mom by the time I’d be 25.
I wanted to be a mother too badly. And being an ‘accidental baby’ myself, I wouldn’t be alive if my mother had decided she didn’t want to live with the consequences of her choices. How could I ever justify having an abortion myself?
I wasn’t a mom at 25. And it would be another three years before I met my current boyfriend, online. We lived in different countries, but that didn’t stop us from meeting, and soon we were inseparable. On the phone from sunrise till deep into the night when we weren’t actually together. It didn’t take long before we realized we didn’t want to say goodbye in airports anymore.
So, half a year later, we moved to the UK. I’d been planning on moving to the UK for a long time, where I had dreamt of opening a bookstore one day. He wanted more opportunities for his future family. It wasn’t a hard decision to make.
We lived in an Airbnb for two months before we found a house. Two weeks after we moved into the house, I realized I was late, after crying over food. Two *weeks *late, but I hadn’t noticed, what with the move and all. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong, despite our diligence, our fact-checking, confirming with other people we had the right information, and following all the rules. Our first landlord and landlady started harassing and threatening us from the moment we signed the papers. It started with them demanding we’d be available for workmen to enter our home with 10-mintues notice, and just leave our key with a neighbor we hadn’t even met, let alone knew we could trust, if we couldn’t. If not, they’d evict us. It was all downhill from there. My boyfriend was fired from his job. I was demoted from mine. And suddenly all the bills fell on my shoulders. And I was pregnant.
I’m ashamed to admit I wished that it I was miscarrying. That weekend my boyfriend and I had a huge fight, one of many to come, and I yelled at him that I could feel it happen. Told him I knew something was wrong. Even though the bleeding wasn’t that bad, and stopped after a few hours. Only a few months before we’d talked about wanting children, both me and my boyfriend eager to start a family. And here I was, wishing that I was miscarrying. Praying I was miscarrying, actually. I was terrified because of our unstable and dangerous house situation, which was causing explosive fights between me and my boyfriend.
He still thought things could be amended with the owners of the home, just by being honest and reasonable. I recognized their behavior for it was. Criminals who thought they could threaten and abuse us just because we were foreigners. They had even told us flat out to return to wherever the fuck we’d come from if we didn’t like their attitude. He said he would handle it. He didn’t. He couldn’t. I blamed him for the situation spiraling.
I wished the bleeding hadn’t stopped.
But I wasn’t miscarrying. I had an emergency scan a few days later, and everything was perfectly fine. Turns out bleeding in early pregnancy is pretty normal.
What isn’t normal though, is twins.
There are no twins in my family, nor my boyfriend’s. I had gone in fully expecting, hoping, wishing for them to tell me I was no longer pregnant. I went home with a scan of two babies in my belly. I was six weeks along.
People kept telling me how blessed I was. From friends and family, to strangers I had to inform, to set up care and change our circumstances. Twins! It felt like being sucker punched every time someone congratulated me. Our landlord and landlady did in fact become more aggressive with every passing week, just like I predicted. They refused to fix the boiler and radiators, claiming there was nothing wrong. Nor the crack in the wall that let in cold air and leaked every time it rained. And it being England, it rained a lot.
My boyfriend had trouble finding a job, and I soon turned very sick. Unable to eat, exhausted beyond anything I’d ever known. My body revolted against mental and physical strain of being threatened by people who had the power to put us on the street and trying to grow two babies in my belly. It was too much, too much, too much. But I’d promised myself I’d never get an abortion, no matter what.
The fights with my boyfriend got worse as the weeks went by as well. The pressure on the both of us was so unreasonable, so heartbreakingly unfair, we lashed out at each other. We stopped talking. We stopped touching. I was in a strange country, away from friends and family. Alone. And I was pregnant with twins . . .
We made pictures of my rapidly growing belly every week, even more visible on my small frame. But I couldn’t make myself look at them. I couldn’t even look myself in the eye when confronted with a mirror. I didn’t look happy. I smiled, but my eyes were desperate and wild. At 10 weeks I started thinking I couldn’t do it anymore.
At 12 weeks, with a high-risk pregnancy, I still didn’t have a midwife, nor a specialized twins team. A team I obviously needed, especially because there had been bleeding. Not to mention a history of burnout, depression, and a present with C-PTSD.
The midwife team of the area made a mistake and put me in the wrong neighborhood first. And then three other names appeared in the online documents. I only found out because I checked my profile daily. But no one contacted me. Given how we were treated by our landlord and lady, I started to feel like the reason they were shuffling me around was because no one *wanted *to treat me.
I desperately needed to talk to someone, anyone. They’d told me in the hospital I needed to be put on some medication, but no midwife was on my case, and the doctor didn’t care that my twin pregnancy was confirmed. I called and called and called. The midwife team, the doctor, nothing happened. No one helped me.
I couldn’t. I would never forgive myself. I tore at the edges of my sanity. No matter what!
But there was nothing to hold on to. Our living situation was as unstable and as dangerous as it gets. We already knew we had to move at the end of the 6-month contract, these people were criminals, and at that point I would be 6 months pregnant, with twins. No one to help us. No safety net. At 12 weeks pregnant, I broke.
I cried when I called the abortion clinic. They had a spot for an assessment appointment right away. I cried on the way there. I cried as I spoke with a counselor. Told them that I didn’t want to do this, that it was killing me that I was even sitting there, making plans to kill my babies. But I was not in a position to be a mother. Not financially, not mentally. I cried on the way home. I cried. I cried. I cried.
I was 14 weeks pregnant when I found myself in the waiting room of the abortion clinic, in a strange country, alone. The pandemic rules were still firmly in place- no partners allowed. Only underaged girls were allowed to bring their mothers. I was 29. Not that I would’ve brought my mother if I was younger. I couldn’t stop shaking.
I didn’t want to be there. There were two young girls, no older than 17, laughing behind me. Friends. The woman to my right was watching TikToks and her sound was loud enough that everyone could hear. The same song kept playing over and over and over. Three hours in I couldn’t take it anymore and left the waiting room, crying openly, nearly hysterical. They took me to a room to talk it through again. And I explained all of the reasons why I *needed *the abortion. I didn’t *want *it.
I didn’t have a safe home, let alone stable. My mental state was in pieces. My boyfriend wasn’t able to deal with any of it either. Bringing a child into the situation I was in, let alone two, wasn’t going to end well for anyone. Least of all those children. They sent me home to think about it again, and postponed my appointment two weeks.
I was invited for a scan at 15 weeks. I still didn’t have a specialized team. No midwife. Normally, you get a scan between 11 and 14 weeks. With twins there should have been more caution, especially if the woman expresses concern, fear, anxiety. It was known that I was pregnant with twins when I was only 6 weeks pregnant, why did my scan fall outside of the recommended window, I asked. They shushed me, 15 weeks was fine. No response was given when I told them I didn’t have a specialized team yet, or that my doctor had been dismissing me completely.
I don’t know why I decided to go to that appointment. It wasn’t going to change anything. The home situation was unbearable. I was terrified of the owners of the house we lived in. But even if I didn’t have that to worry about, the way I had been treated by the healthcare people would have been enough to give me doubt about the whole pregnancy. Twin. Pregnancy.
But I didn’t want an abortion. I didn’t want an abortion. How could I live with myself if I got an abortion?
I watched them move. Two babies, in my belly. Alive. It should have been the most beautiful moment of my life. But my heart was thumping in panic. I never felt more desolate. I knew I wasn’t able to support them. I could barely keep back the tears as the nurse handed me a picture of the scan, congratulating us on our blessing. I felt numb all the way home.
Four days later I was at the clinic again. This time, they put me in a little waiting room that I had all to myself. I felt small. I couldn’t stop crying. They promised me I would be the first, to relieve me from my misery. But there were still hours before the procedure would happen.
Apparently, there was no private room to do that. I was told to go to the public bathroom. Stalls with wooden dividers. A gap of more than a foot all around. I stared at the paper cup, holding two octagonal pills. The moment I felt numb enough to do it, to murder the life inside my belly, another woman came in coughing loudly, nastily, and started rummaging in the cupboard to my right. I could see her feet from where I sat shivering, balancing in my hand a decision I didn’t want to make. She wore old and ragged slippers, toes unpolished. She coughed some more, and left. I pushed the pills in and returned to the doctor who gave them to me. Nauseous. Crying. Devastated.
I got sick after an hour, throwing up in one of those too small paper bowls, which apparently annoyed the nurse who came in when I’d pushed the bell. She looked disgusted, put me in the garden at the back of the building, where an incredibly loud machine was roaring. It was sunny, flowers blooming in the little courtyard. I felt frozen to the bone. I didn’t feel my feet by the time I went back inside. When they finally came to get me, seven hours in, I had dissociated completely. I wasn’t able to speak, couldn’t look anyone in the eye. They put me in a wheelchair and pushed me to the next room.
I shook so hard while I tried to climb onto the table, I kept wondering why no one asked me if I was okay. No one had told me that the ones doing the procedure would be men. Two men. Everyone else until then had been female.
Suddenly there were two male surgeons, staring me down. I already didn’t want to be there, and now two men I’d never seen before were pulling my legs apart, shoving a needle into my arm. I was promised a mask for the sedation, was told that they’d ask me to count back from 10 as I’d go under. I was clearly in shock, but the surgeon closest to my face decided it was a personal offense that I wasn’t able to speak. I still remember his face, full of disdain, telling me his name, why hadn’t I asked? Why would I want to remember the name of the man who would be complicit to the murder of my twins?
I had a soaked tissue in my clenched fist, and when I felt the ice-cold sedation crawling into my arm, I started to panic. My breath became wild and shallow. I tried to say what I’d been screaming in my head all morning, “I don’t want to be here! I don’t want this! Please, help me!”
But nothing came out of my mouth. The nurse who’d pushed my wheelchair grabbed my hand and held it. I cried so much I couldn’t see anymore. The surgeon who’s name I don’t remember, don’t want to remember, sighed. Annoyed. And then everything went black.
I woke up in a crime scene, and it was my body. Blood-soaked bandages pretending to be my underwear. I woke up sobbing, felt like howling, but no sound came out of my swollen throat. They gave me a cookie and hot coco. I spotted the other surgeon, who’s name I don’t remember either, don’t want to remember, walk up to my nurse in the hallway. Heard him ask if I was okay.
That night, the howl finally escaped my throat, when I was sleeping. I was thrashing. Screaming. My boyfriend instantly woke up and tried to calm me, but I kept pushing him away until I had fully come back to reality. There were no images in that nightmare, but I knew where I was. It took a while before I found a way out of the void of that darkness. I have a feeling that I fought the sedation. The surgeon had looked worn out. He didn’t come in to check on me himself.
Only a few days after the landlord and landlady came to the house to give us a invalid eviction notice, filled with lies, intimidating us into leaving within a month. I sat bleeding in the living room, listening to their threats. Luckily, we’d decided that we would move weeks before, but that didn’t make their personal visit less brutal. There was still police tape in my underwear, blood soaked pads proof of the violence they had already inflicted on us. On me. As if I wasn’t damaged enough already.
A few days before we moved out, there was a knock on our door, a man who’d come to check our electricity. Apparently an alarm had gone off, a few weeks before we moved in, signaling them that some security line had been cut. Within seconds he saw that the owners had messed with the electricity and left it so dangerous he had to turn off the electricity until it was fixed, without delay. He was amazed we hadn’t gone up in flames yet, and started an investigation immediately. I don’t know how that ended, we never heard from him again.
They lied to the company that decided on our deposit, a government approved company. They forged our signatures on fake documents and contracts, fabricated evidence and even whole companies, to proof our apparent crimes. And the company believed them, despite the fact that we had evidence against all their points, including that they had faked companies. They told us that, if they had the power, they would’ve made us pay for damage that never existed. And when we called the police to file a report against them, they told us we could be arrested for false accusation. We gave up on fighting back.
Logically, I know I made the right decision. We were in a precarious situation that destabilized our relationship. Had I gone on with the pregnancy it would definitely have been too much pressure on both of us, and I would’ve ended up a single mother in a country that I now know to be hostile. At least to me. I wouldn’t have been able to care for them. Still . . .
It’s almost a year ago and my body still feels like a crime scene.
I keep thinking about how easy it was to get an abortion, but how I struggled to even get a midwife, that I never got in the end. Not even at 16 weeks. Nor the specialized twin team. How I told every health provider I spoke to that it wasn’t just the house situation, but how I was losing myself in my CPTSD, depression, anxiety. Maybe, if someone had helped me with that, I would’ve been able to deal with the rest. But I was losing a battle with myself, most of all.
Sometimes I think back at the face of the surgeon next to me, and fear that he damaged my womb, just out of misplaced spite. I’m terrified something went ‘wrong’, and now I’ll never get pregnant again. What about those papers they made me sign, and in my distraught state, discouraged me to read? What was in there? Why, in my obvious state of distress,wasn’t I allowed to have the comfort and support of my boyfriend?
I’m 30 now. We’ve been trying to get pregnant for half a year, since we found another apartment and the landlord turned out to be an actual saint. Whenever we call in a problem, he sends his people to fix it, on a time and day that is doable for all of us. No questions asked. Let alone threats. Our income is stable. We’re safe.
But maybe my body knows now. That I’m not fit to be a mom. That I made that decision, no matter what the situation was. No matter what my boyfriend tells me. Maybe my body realized that I’ll become unstable myself, again, and is protecting me from having to go through that trauma, again. Because the truth is, I don’t trust myself either. I’m not sure if I even want to try again. Let alone succeed. I feel like I shouldn’t be a mother, not when I have the blood of two babies on my hands. I don’t think I deserve to me be a mom anymore.
I told everyone I had a miscarriage. Because I said I’d never get an abortion. No matter what.
But I did.
I’m ashamed. I feel defeated.
And now my body is a crime scene that I can’t leave.