Please Note: This is Ep.17
Please click here for Ep.16
(As everything I write is true, names have been changed to protect identities.)
“Positive. Maanav, it’s positive.” I was in shock. My hands were trembling, holding the test out to show him. Maanav was freaking out, almost crying. It didn’t help either of us; I was a nervous wreck too. Neither of us knew how to react.
We called the nurse to the room and told her that it seemed I wasn’t ill after all and quite likely, by the look of the test, pregnant. She immediately struck all my medication off the chart and told us they’d do a blood test to be entirely sure. She said home pregnancy tests could throw up a false positive. Drawing the blood, she sent it off. Now all we had to do was wait and try to act like everything was normal. When the doctor came to see me on his rounds that evening, he confirmed that the blood test showed I was indeed pregnant.
It made sense now, I’d had no sickness on the flight to India, but I’d felt faint and nauseous on the way back. What I thought was just travel sickness was clearly something else, or someone else, should I say.
I felt dizzy all over again, and my heart was racing. I told the doctor how afraid I was because of our conservative culture. It would be a scandal. Pregnancy out of wedlock just didn’t happen. I hadn’t heard of anyone in the Indian community, especially not in our family, who’d had a baby like this, and now here I was, an unmarried, pregnant teen.
The doctor told me that I had the option of having a surgical abortion at the hospital, and no one else would need to know. It was legal and routine, and would be done at no cost under the National Health Service (the NHS). No record of it would show on my health insurance claim. I could tell the family that I needed to stay in for a day or so more until I finished my course of antibiotics, and then I could go home. I had the night to think it over. Or, he said, I could take my time and visit a family planning clinic and discuss my options with them within the next few weeks.
I decided I couldn’t make a decision like that straight away, and I wouldn’t do anything either way without talking to Maanav about it first. I telephoned him from the hospital and told him it was 100% confirmed, we were indeed pregnant. The following day we had an ultrasound scan to ascertain how far along we were in the pregnancy and to check that everything was okay. Before they discharged me, they gave me a photo of the scan. And there it was, my teeny tiny jelly bean (that’s exactly what it looked like) growing inside me, barely a couple of weeks in the making, but clear as day.
As I lay in bed at home that first night after being discharged from the hospital, I placed my hand on my tummy and felt the connection.
On the doctor’s advice, I started taking prenatal vitamins and natural remedies for the ‘morning’ sickness, which, for me, was more like ‘morning, noon and night sickness. I could barely eat anything more than completely bland instant noodles in soup. Because I’d been so underweight and lacked a nutritional diet living in Molly Way, my body took the physical impact of the pregnancy really badly. After some days, the vitamins started kicking in, and I felt a little better; although I was still vomiting regularly, I hid it from my parents. They assumed I’d recovered from the ‘mysterious illness’ I’d picked up in India.
For days, Maanav and I went round in circles, stressed, discussing what to do. He wasn’t keen on telling anyone, especially not his family. He didn’t step up and tell me not to worry, that he’d take care of the baby and me. Instead, he got me an appointment at the family planning clinic near his office in central London. Family planning clinics provide a safe and confidential service where anyone can get an abortion. They also provide free contraception, testing for STDs and pregnancy, and counselling. I spoke to a counsellor alone there and told them about my conservative Indian culture, the reputation of Maanav’s family, the history of violence with my father and how I was worried about his reaction. The counsellor concluded that my only apparent option was to have an abortion.
Please click here to continue to Ep.18