“I found out I was pregnant when it was four months away from our wedding day. The discovery was devastating. Abortion became the only option for me.
The wedding invitation cards had been printed and dispatched. The hall had been rented and paid for.
I and my fiancé had been planning our wedding and attending pre-marital counselling in church. Part of the requirement for the eligibility for a church wedding included a negative pregnancy test which would have been carried out at about a week from the wedding date.
I decided to abort the pregnancy. It was devastating but I had to do it, partly because I am the only daughter of my parents and they had always dreamt of organizing a massive white wedding for me. I couldn’t bear to disappoint her and a host of other aunties who had already invested in our ‘Aso-ebi’.
It was the hardest decision of my life and it tears me apart every day. I thought I would get pregnant again immediately after the wedding, but it is eight years after I walked down the aisle and I am still trying to conceive. I am now a shadow of former boisterous self. I have been living with deep regret and shame over my past action. I wish God could find a place in his heart to forgive me”.
The story of Stella (not real name) represents a percentage of women who are struggling with their emotions after an abortion. Many women and men alike experience complex emotions, whether the decision for abortion was for the right medical reasons or for other reasons.
Abortion and infertility
Having an abortion won’t usually affect your chances of becoming pregnant and having normal pregnancies in the future. There is however a risk to your fertility and future pregnancies if you develop a womb infection that isn’t treated promptly. In rare cases, multiple dilations and curettages (the cleaning out of the uterus, also known as D& C) can cause scarring at the top of the cervix or uterus.
Other causes leading to infertility after an abortion has been attributed to the perforation of the uterus, incompetent cervix, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, where an egg implants itself outside of the womb. A procedure called hysteroscopy can be used to investigate and correct this problems.
History of the white wedding gown
A church wedding is not compulsory! In a recent expose by renowned Family Life coach, Praise Fowowe he reveals that the white wedding gown doesn’t signify purity. “It was a concept that became popular in 1840, when Victoria wore a white gown to incorporate some lace she prized. The picture went viral and many opted for it afterwards”. The veiling of the bride originated from the idea that she must be hidden from evil spirits lest she becomes vulnerable to enchantments. “So the wedding veil was to scare of spirits”.
The wedding reception originally held at the bride’s home for the couple to receive their community and the family’s financial standing often dictated the style and magnitude of the reception.
While a previous abortion may affect your chances of getting pregnant or sustaining one, it is more important to rid yourself of guilt. Many of the complex emotions women are left to cope with after abortion and delayed conception, begins as soon as a woman learns or suspect she is pregnant. Confusion, fear, guilt, shame, isolation, anxiety usually sets in the case of an unplanned pregnancy.
Grieving is a natural human process and it is important that we allow ourselves and others to feel grief after a loss just like any experience of loss, the emotions after an abortion will differ from person to person. You can deal with the loss in a much more positive and useful way by representing it in a meaningful way. Grief and loss are emotions, just like anger and fear are emotions. We can feel grief and loss after losing a loved one, a relationship break-up, or a job.
Some women experience Post Abortion Stress syndrome (PASS). Those affected can find themselves experiencing a common set of physical or emotional issues after experiencing momentary relief. Abortion is also often accompanied by complex feelings of guilt if they feel it has compromised their spiritual, ethical or political beliefs. In this cases, guilt can be resolved by forgiving oneself and seeking forgiveness from God or a spiritual higher power. You may need to talk to someone about it to help you move through the process.
Many are afraid of sharing their physical and emotional experiences due to the fear and shame of political and religious backlash. Shame is a more prevalent emotion that can be felt depending on one’s religion. “Shame is something we feel based on our perception that others think we could or should have done differently”.
The fear of judgment and feeling alone can cause many women who are dealing with guilt, loss and even infertility after an abortion to remain quiet. It is a disenfranchised grief and loss that the society does not validate. People do not also feel the need to grief the loss because it was their choice or because of the stigma associated with the act.
Please know that it’s part of your story and you have every right to experience every emotion that comes with it. While this is not a way of validating your action, it is seeking a greater release that helps you move on to be all that you were destined to be in life. The emotions of guilt and shame is crippling. Consider opening up to a professional counselor or therapist, while also seeking a support system.
Ify is a life, emotions and behavioural change coach who is passionate about helping couples and families navigate their path to wellness, fertility and parenthood.
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