couples

'I had a husband and three gorgeous kids. Then I had an abortion.'

I’d always wanted to be a mother. I’d coo at babies when I was a toddler. I’d line my dolls and teddy bears up and play teacher. I knew from a young age I’d have two kids – a girl and a boy.

I fell in love at 30, I got married at 32. My eggs felt good and my husband’s sperm looked good (or as good as it can).

For many couples this is where the hard part starts. But getting pregnant came easily for me. Perhaps too easily.

I was pregnant before we’d been married for six months. We had wanted more time alone together before we became parents, but I’d gone off the pill because I’d heard it could take a year for a woman to get up the duff after being on it for a long time. It took less than a month.

Anyway, that’s life. That’s great. We felt blessed, lucky, thrilled and delighted. Our son was born, big and fat and healthy. I adored him immediately and I felt complete.

Actress, Jemima Kirke has openly spoken about having an abortion.

I was so obsessed and adoring I forgot to have sex with my husband. Except once or twice. But that’s all it took to get pregnant with baby number two. She was scrawny, underweight and silent at birth. I worshipped her as well. But she didn't want to breast feed, she didn't want to sleep much, she didn't want to cuddle.

Her speciality was screaming.  People promised me "tough baby, easy adolescent". She's destined to be a dream teenager because she was a terrible, terrible, terrible baby. Anyway, I loved her too. And we were happy.

So happy we went for a third a few years later. My second little girl was gorgeous, sweet, happy; easier than her sister, but a lot harder than her brother. By then I was 36 and truly devoted to my little tribe.

But after working full time after baby one and part time after baby two, baby three meant childcare cost more than I earned.

I was so sick of rushing, being flustered, of babysitters quitting because their boyfriend dumped them or they wanted to travel, I just succumbed to being a full-time parent. And it went well.

Until I got pregnant again. I still don't know how. We hardly ever had sex and used condoms. But I think one night we forgot, and I'd just had my period, and we were probably a bit drunk from the excitement of actually having some rare time out together.

ADVERTISEMENT

Watch the clip from Juno below, where she attends Planned Parenthood. Post continues after video.

Anyway, I found myself pregnant at 40, a full-time mother with three kids under seven. My daughter was still giving me hell and the kids were constantly fighting with each other and I was bone tired and ready for new adventures - not a back-to-the-future life.  My husband said "we'll make it work" but he knew we couldn't afford it and I knew who'd be doing the work. I just couldn't cope.

So I had an abortion. I didn't even cry. Well, not that much.

In the waiting room at the clinic I sat with my head down and my breath in. But when I looked up, I noticed something. Every single woman in there was no spring chicken. I wasn't even the oldest. They all looked like they were in their mid to late thirties.  I was shocked. Abortion was for 17 year olds or young women - not old ladies like us.

Wasn't it?

Well no, actually. In fact, there has been a slow, but profound, shift in the demographics of both pregnancy and abortion. In Canada the abortion rate among teen girls fell nearly 30 per cent in this decade. It fell less dramatically among women in their 20s, who still represent the majority of abortions. But the abortion rate of women aged in their 30s and 40s is rising. The same result is found in Britain. In Australia, the abortion rate among women over 35 nearly as high as the 20 to 24 year olds - and higher than the under 20s.

This is what the anti-abortion brigade don't get. We are often mothers pushed to our very limits. We are not selfish and slutty. We are married women who just can't cope with any more kids. We are sitting next to you on the bus, on the train and we are sad and we know kids are great - but we also know they are too much to cope with sometimes, and we don't want to destroy our mental health and the family we already have.

We haven't got the time or the money or the sanity.

Probably once a year I think of that child who never was. How old she or he would be now. Of how she'd be starting school or how he'd be learning soccer. Wondering what he or she would have looked like. I guess I miss the fantasy of her or him.

But I don't regret my decision, and I don't feel guilty about it. In fact, when my husband got sacked from his job I was glad he or she was never born, because I could go back to work.

And every time life is really hard with my kids acting up, getting sick, breaking limbs and being hard work, I thank the country I live in for giving me access to a safe abortion and a better future.

00:00 / ???