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Decision making around termination / abortion in a stable relationship
I am ten weeks pregnant with a completely unplanned fourth baby and we are struggling immensely to make a decision whether to proceed or terminate. We thought our family was complete, especially from my husband’s perspective (# 3 was already my desperately wanted “extra” baby).
Our marriage is solid, but we have little to no support in Australia and we both feel stretched thinly as it is (financially, emotionally, physically and in terms of time and energy). Our youngest is 2, and we were just beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel and as though we might have actually survived the choppy seas of early parenting.
This news has thrown us completely off course and we’re still at a loss as to what decision is best for our family after knowing for 5 weeks. We fear another baby could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It would obliterate any chance of getting my career back on track after so much time off / part time, I don’t cope that well with the stress, chaos and frantic pace of our life as it is, and although he is a doting father now he found it increasingly hard with each baby to be present and engaged in the newborn period. We each have gone through periods of depression and anxiety to varying degrees over the past seven years.
BUT we love our kids to the ends of the earth and know we would love another. The stress of the decision is crushing me. I go back and forth on an almost hourly cycle, it’s impacting my work and ability to function as a Mum. Hubby says he will support whichever decision I make, but we’re both concerned that both choices have the potential to make or break our little family. Having the baby would set us back in our life plans, and feels like we’d be starting this crazy overwhelming phase of life again, but I’m not sure if I would cope long term with the guilt and doubt of terminating.
How do we make this impossible choice? We are running out of time and I can’t continue functioning this way. I guess I’m hoping for some personal experiences of how people worked through an impossible emotional decision and came out the other side with some clarity and confidence in their choice, if that’s even possible?!
Welcome to the forums, we're so grateful to have you reach out to our community tonight and take such a brave step in opening up about what you're going through. We can only imagine how difficult this decision must be for you, and we are so sorry that you're feeling incredibly stressed by this situation. Please know that these forums are a safe and supportive space to talk through your thoughts and feelings, and our community is here for you.
We think it might also really help to talk these feelings through with the kind counsellors at our Beyond Blue Support Service, who are available to you anytime, night or day on 1300 22 4636, or also through webchat (1pm-12am AEST) at: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport
We hope that you can find some clarity in the kind words and support from our community and we hope that you keep us updated on how you're going whenever you feel ready.
Hello FiveSeasons, and a warm welcome to the forums.
I'm sorry you're in with a difficult decision you need to make, and firstly what I say has no religious connotations and I mean no harm what's so ever to any religious belief, I'm only replying to your thread.
Having young kids is always rewarding but at times exhausting with more than your hands can handle, they change so quickly and can be at times demanding for our attention, all parents will know exactly what I'm saying and it certainly changes our financial circumstances, I've encountered this with two sons who are now grown up to be adults.
You have a supporting husband which is a great asset, and if you are beginning to see the light after having three children, which is a terrific effort and deserve all the accolades you have earned, however, if you have a fourth child this will put all your efforts once again on hold, so in terms of stability, I would be staying a family of five.
If you are religious then this may affect your decision, but you haven't said so and that's why I've said or suggested what you may decide on doing.
As I've said I mean no harm to anybody who is religious and whose belief is totally different, you are entitled to what you believe should happen, so it's not a point of arguing at all, it's just my opinion.
Hope to hear back from you.
Thank you for your reply, Geoff. You are correct that I don’t hold any religious beliefs that would impact this decision, nor does my husband. Sometimes I wish I did as it might make things easier! I do have a strong spiritual connection to birth and motherhood that has evolved since experiencing these things myself, and I also have aspirations of working in this field. I suppose this is complicating things further as on the one hand having another child would probably put a career change out of the picture altogether, but on the other hand a termination might haunt me too much to allow me to work in the pregnancy and birth world surrounded by reminders of what could have been.
I suppose I wish I could know how I would feel afterwards and which would have a lesser impact on the collective health and well-being of myself and my husband. I know a termination wouldn’t impact him or our children in the same way it might impact me, whereas becoming a family of 6 would strain us all. The mother in me says I should sacrifice my own mental health if that’s what it takes to protect everyone else, but I also know if I’m struggling (as I have been these past few weeks) then the whole family is affected. As I said, it’s an impossible choice 😞
When I read your posts I come away with the impression that you have thought this through rationally. For what it's worth, I don't believe it's a selfish decision to prioritise the needs of your family as it is now. I recognise that you want to know how you're going to feel afterwards....but that's not going to happen. I will share my story as you asked for experiences of the aftermath of emotional decisions and I can centre this on terminations.
My first termination happened when I was 17 and was a no-brainer, as I was not equipped in any way to have a child. Nevertheless, I felt a range of emotions over the ensuing years. Did it add to my depression and anxiety or was I already on that path? I don't know. I made peace with it a long time ago and can think now about how old my child would be, what he or she would have been doing, etc without too much pain, although I don't like to linger on it. My second termination happened when I was 25 and I still feel ashamed of it, because it happened due to carelessness with contraception. I felt like one mistake was maybe ok, but two was not forgivable. So I don't think about that one very much, and again, perhaps those buried feelings are manifesting in my ongoing mental health struggles. Five years ago I had a child and she is healthy and loving, and I am able to love her. I wasn't haunted too much by memories of terminations during my pregnancy. I am able to empathise with and support friends and colleagues who seek terminations because of my experience, and that is something I value.
I would summarise my experience like this: it's a pain that is always there if I seek it, but it doesn't impact me every day. I don't think about it when I am with my child or around other people's babies, or talking about childbirth, pregnancy, or contraception. I wish it hadn't happened, but I don't regret the decision I made both times.
Finally, I would say please don't discount your need for mental stability for your own sake and your family's sake. You can't sacrifice your mental health for others, because then you simply won't be there for others anyway.
I hope that someone with more similar circumstances to yours is able to give you some insights, and wish you all the best.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience, jollydolly. I truly appreciate it. It is reassuring to hear that the pain isn’t always something that is ever-present and that it doesn’t have to impact how i experience or support the pregnancy and parenting journeys of those I am close to if I do choose to end my pregnancy.
I wanted to share, for anyone else reading this in the future, that I finally spoke to a professional counsellor today and found it unexpectedly very helpful. She was able to give me the language and tools to identify, work through and describe the complex feelings and thoughts I have been battling. If anyone else is hesitating to speak to a professional because you can’t see how it would help, I urge you to give it a go. I have felt a lot more clarity and peace after that one hour chat than after five weeks of talking it through with just my partner and I 🙂
Hello again FiveSeasons,
It is wondeful to hear that you have had a good conversation with a counsellor! What a wonderful reminder to us all that seeking professional help and support is an effective way for us to work through our concerns.
Thank you again for sharing your story with the community and for engaging in such a thoughtful way. We hope that you and your family are feeling in a better position about your difficult choices.
my heart is with you as I know the proposition of considering an abortion, is one that weighs heavy.
I probably should take my own advice but I think you have your answer within this post, with considerable reasons.
what’s holding you back from the potential abortion? What’s keeping you from considering to keep? And maybe weight those two up ?