I Sleep with a Photo of My Little One.
I stared at the pill — the Pill, and not the contraceptive — that would stop my little poppy-seed baby’s heart and would initiate the start of my abortion.
It was placed next to the glass of water, so kindly given to me by the receptionist of my gynecologist.
I wept and wept, as she listened and observed, firmly and with heart, telling me I could wait, there was no rush, no right or wrong.
And as I laid out my so-called list of pros and cons, I said, “I choose this.” I had made up my mind. And I swallowed the first of the three pills that I would take over the next 36 hours.
There were three people who were happy for me when those two stripes appeared on my pregnancy test. The father of this little beating-heart baby of cells was not one. He was in another country, as I was, and swiftly asked if I could do something about it while in South Africa.
While I was in the sixth week of my pregnancy, he was exploring the internet on the legality of abortion in South Africa. I was exploring the life of a single mother, with a baby who had the kind of father who would more than likely disappear, or resent me forever and cause untold pain to my little child.
It had been a long week since I sat down and urinated on the fortune-telling little stick — the two lines on it which confirmed I was pregnant — that I continued carrying in my handbag, because in my shock I had to keep looking and looking at it — it was proof I was carrying a little being.
And when I had my first scan — like this first pregnancy — the father was not there. Instead, I was sheltered and emboldened by the power of this wonderful new doctor whose doorstep I luckily arrived at. There was a heartbeat, thank God. The night before, I prayed there would be one so I did not have to abort. My tiny baby, just a beautiful ball of cells but with a heartbeat, called out life.
I smiled, and fell in love instantly.
I did not terminate that day. That came two days later, after calls with the father, whose desperation to send me money to get rid of this little being contradicted the scan photo I stared at, held, loved. My sister was happy for me, as were two friends. The rest of society frowned upon the future of my unborn — I was told to “make the right decision,” with all of its implied messaging.
Ultimately, it was my decision. As it was his, to ejaculate inside of me without my consent. While I take responsibility for the events leading to that moment, that invasion is where I am stuck. Stuck because it led to my little baby without a dad, without a future where anyone around me thought it was a good idea.
I sleep with the photo of my little one, an inconspicuous line on a beautiful photograph of my beautiful life-bearing reproductive system. On the other hand, I hold the Catholic rosary of my grandmother, long-deceased. The two together may seem ironic, but there is a relationship between the two for me.
They represent love, strength, and the mourning and darkness of a loss of faith in myself and the society which reflected only dismal single-mother prognoses for my life.
The unlimited support shown to me by the women in my life will strengthen and has strengthened me forever. The lack of How are you? from the father is less relevant, shrinking in its apathetic undertone, than the female power that held me while I looked at my baby’s first heartbeats, so fast and brave.
It is a new life for me now. The old is gone. I am a mother now — I always will be — and while I cling to a photo of this little creature, whom I have named Poppyseed, she has already shaped me and is a part of me. I am the lucky mother, not the indifferent father or careless comments of a society which does not know and speaks blindly.
My little one, this little baby, how I love you! I will feel my empty womb forever without you inside it.
Alex O’Donoghue is a South African Irish 30-something. She has just broken through her fear of writing and being judged. In the courage light, she is starting to submit her voice. She loves cats, coffee, learning to be embodied, and community of high-quality people. She has a weird laugh, laughs a lot and can’t click.