Through a series of interviews and portraits WOMANHOOD explores different aspects and complex issues related to womanhood with a more intimate view. More about the project here.
Being pregnant when you know it will be terminated makes the suffering intolerable.
NOM: Melanie May
My significant other at the time had moved to England three weeks prior to me staring at a positive pregnancy test. It must have happened the last time we had been intimate.
Since he had just started this big deal job, he couldn’t ask for vacation time to come back. We wanted to see each other before carrying out any decisions on the matter.
I flew to England.
He was working from 8am-9pm almost every day. I had no money, no friends, and no distractions. I spent entire days in bed thinking about how much bigger this thing was getting inside of me, and wondering if it would make the procedure more difficult. I was repulsed by myself.
I couldn’t eat anything without being sick, smells made me nauseous, and I was always tired. I remember once feeling so hungry and weak that I actually crawled to the kitchen, laid on the floor in front of the fridge and looked inside to see what I could find. As I was staring up in the empty fridge, I said “What the fuck am I doing here?” out loud, and that made everything more real. Being pregnant when you know it will be terminated makes the suffering intolerable. There was no point in going there and living through the symptoms for an extra two weeks.
That night we got into a fight because I told him I wanted to go home and that I shouldn’t have gone there in the first place. He cried because he felt that he was helpless and slept on the couch as a result. I laid awake in anger and resentment because I felt that I was the helpless one.
After I got home I went to my appointment at the clinic. At this point I was 10 weeks along. When the nurse was setting up the needle for intravenous I started panicking. She asked me to count back from 100, 99, 98, 97, and then I heard the suction start. Time is really unreliable when you are on these drugs, but it felt like she was there for maybe five seconds. I remember thinking that I was in pain, and that I wanted her to get out of inside me. I started having a full on anxiety attack, crying, hyperventilating, trying to close my legs. The nurse kept saying it was almost done, almost done, a little longer.
Then it was over.
The doctor walked out, the drugs wore off, and I laid there next to the nurse who was apologizing for not giving me a gas mask. I said it wasn’t her fault, and that it was mine. I started crying uncontrollably. She guided me to the recovery area.
I got some grape juice, some crackers, and some time to come back to reality. Someone came in to see if I was ready to leave and asked who was in the waiting room for me.
She said I wasn’t allowed to leave alone. I repeated.
I have no one.
She gave me ten extra minutes. I got dressed and told them I would take a taxi. Once outside, I just decided to save my money and walk home.
The (would be) father ended up ghosting on me a few months later. He blocked me on everything, and completely disappeared from my life. Not because he wanted to keep it and was angry or anything. But because I was “no longer the person he fell in love with” afterwards.
He rid himself of me just as I had with our pregnancy.
What I’ve learned to understand from my experience is how powerful the female body is. Power sometimes leaves you in awe, just as it can scare you to death. I was amazed that I went from one day being a university student, worrying about which paper to print on and the next day, a carrier of a human life. I was also amazed at how violent your own body can be against itself. Aching everywhere, sick after every bite, tired after a full night of sleep, feeling like my brain was a cotton ball unable to process anything, all as a result of my body changing itself for something new. A self-automated physical reaction from inward out; uncontrollable and fierce AF. I had no idea my body was capable of any of this. It was a dormant power that revealed itself to me in an “unfortunate” sequence of events.
I have never regretted my decision.
In fact, I discovered myself when I lost my pregnancy. I felt as though this little embryo was sucking the life out of me. The life I once knew and loved, was slowly draining itself into my fetus, and when that too was removed, I was completely empty. Being empty sounds like a bad thing, but it wasn’t. Recovering from this took months, of course. I was emotionally numb for a while. It was terribly depressing to be unable to find the self I once knew and found comfort in. She was gone, and the only way to get better was to become someone that I wanted to be and that I had ultimately already become; someone confident, understanding and conscious. My life before this experience was filled with a lack of consequences, ultimately leaving me coasting through days with a sense of oblivion, lack of feeling or significance. Not many of my decisions had any direct repercussions at all, except this. I was forced to make a decision, to trust myself in making a decision that was true to me and no one else. I needed to re-evaluate how I had got myself in this situation in the first place and accept where I had made mistakes. I had to look forward, and make the absolute best of the new life I had just given myself through the act of taking life away from whoever my child would have been.
Photography: Cassandra Cacheiro
Creative Direction: Sara Hini