Saying Yes To Sara
Catherine MacMillan with her daughter: “I have been told by countless people that Sara was the happiest child they have ever met.” (photo courtesy of Catherine MacMillan)
I found out I was pregnant in the summer of 2009 when I was 18 years old. I had recently returned from a gap year in Africa and had a place at Glasgow University to study music. The course was due to start that September.
Of course I did not feel ready to be a mother: I felt I was too young, I worried that I might not be able to cope with being a young mum. I had so many plans and I didn’t have a great relationship with the father. I booked an abortion, and this fact has filled me with such guilt that I’ve only started openly admitting it this year.
It is becoming more and more rare for young people to hear the case against abortion and it can be disheartening when the only advice available from people around you is to take take the opposite action. It is a counsel of despair. Pressure on young women in these situations is now huge. Abortion can seem the only way out of a frightening new situation.
Miraculously, my wonderful family found out about my pregnancy. Only then did I realise that they were going to be supportive of this new chapter in my life, and that abortion was no longer something that needed to be considered.
When I speak about the person I was then, it doesn’t seem as if I’m talking about myself. Although I was naive, self-centred, self-destructive and stupid in so many ways, I am proud of, and so very grateful to that old version of me for eventually saying yes to new life. As it turned out that wonderful new life was on its way to teach a lot of lessons, and ultimately to save me.
In my 26th week of pregnancy I decided I would like to know the sex of my unborn child, so my mother and I went along to a private gender scan. At this scan it was revealed to us that I was carrying a little girl, but also that this little girl had quite a few brain abnormalities. We were passed over to the hospital for further assessment.
I used to think of that week as my “mourning period”— mourning the loss of the child I thought I would have. I tried to forget some of the hopes and plans I had already made for her, like teaching her how to play the cello and how to sing, and I mentally cancelled all the nice nurseries and schools I had made a list of in my head.
I’m now glad that week was so tough, as it matured me emotionally by about 10 years. Something else happened that week. It might have been happening before then, but that point in my pregnancy signified when I became my daughter’s advocate and began to stand up for her life, her right to life, and all that comes with that.
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