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Looking back

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Louise (not her real name), fell pregnant at a crucial stage in her life. After having passed her A Levels with flying colours, she decided that when she grew up, she wanted to be a doctor, and had just been awarded a scholarship at a university in South Africa, to study medicine. She was on an all-time high and felt nothing could get her down, until her period just would not come. After a month of avoiding the issue, Louise realized the issue would not resolve itself, and that she had to tell Frank, (the then, love-of-her-life). And how would she even tell her family and friends? How could she face the shame? She also worried about her well-earned scholarship. Having this baby would ruin her life. Plus, being a mum was hard work. She had seen her older cousin struggle with her 2year old son. ‘No!’ she decided. ‘I will not have this baby!’

She bled for days after the procedure and grew frightened that it would never stop, and that she would die. Since she told no one that she had been pregnant to begin with, she attributed the heavy bleeding to her periods (which, luckily, were quite bad themselves), and stayed in bed for days, only getting up to freshen up when she got too messy. The subsequent weight-loss she blamed on anxiety about starting her medical degree, and they all believed her, which strangely enough, made her secret that much harder to bear. As she bled and weakened, Frank secretly moved on with someone else, who wasn’t sick all the time. He would later tell her that they needed a break from each other. How could he? She had done it all, in part, for him!

She eventually went to university, and although she thrived academically, emotionally and socially, Louise was a tortured soul, steering clear of any intimacy in fear that people might find out her shameful secret. Her secret always weighed heavy on her heart and mind. When time came for her to specialize, Louise decided that she would dedicate her life to helping women give life. A qualified, successful gynecologist, the now married Louise has attained all she thought the unwanted pregnancy would have prevented her from achieving. She has 2 beautiful children and one could say she is living her former self’s dream, except that something is amiss. With every child she successfully delivers, Louise feels as though she has paid a small amount towards a never-ending debt to humanity. In a twisted way, her job makes her feel better about what she did. But when a patient loses her baby, she seems the most hard-hit.

Louise now shares her secret with many young girls who have not yet made the decision she made all those years ago. She speaks with them about the psychological effects of her experience. “There is a gaping hole in my heart that cannot be filled. No matter what I do, or who I become, I just can’t move on. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder what that child might have been. I can’t honestly say that I regret having all the things I have today, that I might have had to sacrifice if I had had my baby, but when I look at my sons and feel that they are not enough. My family will never be complete.”

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