I was 16 when I had my first abortion. I was a fresher in the university and dating a 30-year-old man I met in a WhatsApp group. He lived in another city, so I would travel to spend days with him and we would have sex. We always had protected sex, except the one time we were having sex and he took the condom off without my consent. I realized this after the sex and when I queried him, he said he realized he’d enjoy it more without the condom. He also assured me that he withdrew before ejaculating.
I went back to school. A month passed and my period didn’t show up. I had none of the signs to alert me to pregnancy as the reason I was yet to see my period. I wasn’t throwing up or feeling fatigued or showing any of the generic symptoms of pregnancy. I was used to the way Nollywood movies depicted the discovery of pregnancy, and I didn’t know what it meant to be pregnant. So I dismissed any concerns over my late period.
However, in the second month, I decided to take a test. I took the test in my hostel. It came out positive. I was immediately scared as thoughts ran through my head regarding the consequences of this shocking new reality. The man I was dating might leave me if I told him… My parents would kill me… I was tormented by my frantic thoughts.
It took me a week to work up the nerve to tell the man who impregnated me. He told me to come see him, and we took another test that confirmed to him that I was pregnant. He got some drugs from a pharmacy which I was instructed to take in three different doses.
I went home and took the first dose. For days, nothing happened. I told him about it. He told me to take the second dose the next week, which I did. I only got a terrible stomach ache that went on for days; other than that, nothing happened. When I took the test, it was still positive. By this time, it was the third month and I was starting to panic. I took the third dose to a small pharmacy away from school and begged the lady there to help. I told her everything about my situation and she took the medicine from me. After examining it, she told me it was merely a strong antibiotic and that it had nothing to do with pregnancy. She gave me a pill to use for the night and advised I wear a pad. I did as instructed, and by the next morning, my pad was filled and I had stained my bed. I also had terrible cramps and I couldn’t walk properly.
I kept bleeding for days with terrible cramps that kept me in the hostel for two weeks, up until the day I passed out in my room. My roommate took me to the school clinic; by the time we got there, the pad I put on just a few minutes earlier was filled and there was blood on my thighs and dripping to the floor. I couldn’t sit; I had to squat on the bed because of the pain I was feeling. The clinic demanded 20,000 naira to take care of me off the books. The next morning, I was better with no pain and the bleeding had reduced to regular period type.
However, I bled like that for a week and had to go to another pharmacy to explain what had happened. At this point, I’d been bleeding for almost a month. The staff of this pharmacy refused to attend to me, and so, for days, I kept looking for a pharmacy that would take care of me. I’d tried going to some clinics and hospitals but they wouldn’t take care of an abortion; not even the clinic I was taken to by my roommate would touch me, because their initial treatment of me hadn’t been recorded.
I finally got a roadside nurse who was willing to attend to me, and she charged me 5,000 naira. She gave me a mixture of antibiotics and something else – she never told me what it was – and after a week, I stopped bleeding.
The struggle to get an abortion had me feeling very frustrated and depressed. I spent a month bleeding, in pains and crying my eyes out. I lost weight and I couldn’t share what was wrong with me with anybody because I was scared of the stigma.
Written by Tina