When I found out I was pregnant at 16, it wasn’t exactly how I expected my final year of high school to pan out. I’d only been with my boyfriend for four months. The condom broke one night, Valentine’s day actually. But no problem. We went to the emergency room of our local hospital and I took the morning after pill. “Phew,” I thought, “I’m so glad there are options like this available.”
But then a few weeks passed, and I had a suspicion that I might be pregnant. I just felt different. Not wanting to entertain the thought or believe my worst fear I pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on as normal. But I couldn’t let it go. I did a pregnancy test, which came up negative. What a relief! Little did I know that condoms, morning after pills and pregnancy tests aren’t 100% accurate.
Weeks later there was no longer denying it; at 18 weeks pregnant I began to feel my daughter moving inside of me. Shock, fear, panic and shame gripped me. This couldn’t be happening!
I was always a good girl. At least, down in the depths of my heart, I knew what was right. I’d been raised in a Christian home. I went to church with my parents. I was only having a bit of fun, nothing unlike what all my friends and peers around me were doing.
Worst fears confirmed
My worst fears were confirmed with a second pregnancy test. What now?!
Overwhelming embarrassment, fear and shame enveloped me. Oh the shame. I wanted as few people as possible to know about this. The few people I did tell encouraged me that abortion was the best option.
When each of them asked me what I wanted to do, or whether I wanted to keep the baby, I said I wanted an abortion. I didn’t actually want an abortion, I just felt like I had no other option. I wanted this problem to be fixed and fast. And after I’d made my plans known, there was not another word of pursuing an alternative.
How easy is it to book an abortion when you’re 16?
The internet was relatively new at the time, and there was this thing called Google. So I Googled unplanned pregnancy trying to find out some more information and links for abortion clinics. From my memory, the resources I found all pointed towards abortion. I found a few clinics online, made some enquiries and booked in the one that could fit me in soonest. I was already 18 weeks pregnant and I knew abortions weren’t performed after 20 weeks.
There was no suggestion of needing to see my doctor, or have an appointment with a counsellor. This clinic allowed me, a 16-year-old girl, to book myself in for an abortion without any need for support or consent from my parents, or anyone else.
When I booked in for the abortion, I could already feel her moving inside of me. How I disconnected myself from this fact, I still don’t know; the shock, the fear, the panic, the shame I guess.
Then I had to tell my parents. That was the worst. But with matters already settled in my mind and heart, I told them I was going to have an abortion and was already booked in for a few days’ time. I could see their hearts breaking. They are strongly against abortion and made their position known to me, but also made it clear that they loved me and nothing I do could ever change that.
We drove down from my small country town to the big city of Brisbane in the middle of the night ready for my appointment the next day. I was in utter torment; I couldn’t sleep at all that night.
The abortion clinic
Walking into the abortion clinic was one of the worst moments of my life. Pro-life campaigners met me in the carpark as I walked to towards the doors of the clinic. I can remember their faces, pleading with me, willing me to make a different choice to the one I’d already made. I felt so overwhelmed and ashamed. I just wanted to be invisible. I wanted this all to be over, quickly.
I sat in the waiting room and the contrast of how it was decorated and how I was feeling struck me. The waiting room was a bright yellow with so many happy paintings and fresh flowers scattered around. I wanted to scream.
I looked around at the other women in the waiting room, wondering how they were feeling inside. They all looked so calm and normal, like they were about to go in for some sort of routine check up. Those moments of waiting and wondering were horrible. Then it was my turn. As I sat in with the doctor for the pre-screening she asked me some brief questions, and did an initial scan. She turned to me and said, “Ok, everything looks fine, are you ready?”
Everything looks fine?
Everything looks fine?
What does that mean?
I asked her if everything with the baby was healthy and ok.
She said yes.
I asked the doctor if she could tell if it was a boy or a girl.
She said yes.
The moment that changed everything
Something inside me in that moment changed.
What was I doing?
I told her I wanted to see the scan. She turned the screen to me and there she was, Katie, 19 weeks, perfect and healthy, sucking her thumb. And I was about to terminate her. I drew on every bit of courage I had (which in that moment didn’t feel like much) and told her I didn’t want to go through with it.
To say things were easy from that moment onwards would be telling a lie, BUT the huge wave of peace in the depths of my being far outweighed the challenges.
Life after unplanned pregnancy
Despite my pregnancy, I completed year 12, and went on to complete not just one, but two uni degrees in education. I also have numerous other vocational qualifications in health and fitness, and as of this moment right now I run my own holistic health and wellness business. I’m also happily married and the three of us feel like the perfect fit. Truly, life is so very sweet. I love my life. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I found myself in a crisis pregnancy, it may have seemed like my life was over. But I now know that my life, and the life of another, had only really just begun. I can’t imagine my life without Katie – and when I do, when I think back to how close I was to not having her, it brings me to tears.
This all comes down to the value of life. And I believe that a life is a life of value with a purpose from the moment of conception.
All the goodness that makes Katie was put inside her from the moment she was conceived. No matter how she was conceived, from that moment, she had purpose, a personality, and so many gifts and talents and abilities. I am so grateful that the world doesn’t miss out on the beauty and flavour of what my Katie girl adds to it.
Entertaining the what-ifs
But what if I had gone along with the suggestion of those strong influences in my world at the time? What if I’d partnered with the stereotype of a teenage pregnancy that society offers? The only portrayal of the situation I found myself in are overwhelmingly negative. The opinions and expectations of someone in my position are anything but positive.
I am so very grateful my story has a happy ending. But how many other young women find themselves in a crisis pregnancy and don’t have anyone offering a positive narrative of what their life could look like, if they continue with their pregnancy? How many others succumb to the pressure and lack of hope offered in such a situation? How many Katies does the world miss out on? My heart breaks to think of how many lives have been lost in this way.
– by Stacey McBride Wilson