I can’t have a baby. Not right now. I want to get Eric to walk me down the aisle and Mr N and Frank are just collateral damage. I have to get rid of this kid. I toss and turn all night, my restless movements punctuated by a dream of me walking into a restaurant butt naked. Everyone is staring at me.
“What are you looking at?” I ask with derision as I join my friends at a table. They look at me in shock and say nothing. We eat and go home. Later, when I look in the mirror, I feel bad about walking into the restaurant naked because I don’t like my body anymore. And then I wake up. What kind of a stupid random dream is that?
It’s bright and early. I shake off the remnants of the strange dream and send a text to Mr N.
Me: I want to get rid of it. I need Sh30,000.
In Nairobi one can procure an abortion safely for as little as Sh5,000 but one can also pay top dollar in one of our leading hospitals. Yes, it’s illegal but they still do these procedures.
Him: Sh30? Not 5?
Me: Yes, 30. What do you know about it?
Him: Nothing. 30 it is.
Me: Will you take me?
It’s the least he can do.
Him: OK. But better for me not be seen there with you.
Me: You can wait in the car.
This is not my first abortion. I have had three. Yes, three. I can feel you judging me. At least I’m honest. How many have you had? Would you even admit it to yourself? My first was done with huge regret. I was 20. I was in love and the happiest I have ever been in my life. Change of weather threw my cycle for a loop and I got pregnant. The natural method is not so reliable but taking hormones in form of pills has nasty side effects especially weight gain. It’s not uncommon to find girls ditching pills in favour of the unreliable natural method. I would give myself an allowance of three days on either side to stay in the safe zone and it worked for a long time. And then we travelled to a particularly hot area for a month and my cycle got messed up. I never even suspected I was pregnant. I only remember having drinks and feeling nauseous. It became apparent that all was not well because my body had rejected alcohol.
When my doctor told me I was expecting I went to share the news with my boyfriend who was not distressed by the news. What do we do? He asked. I felt the question was a test. I wanted more than anything in the world to have his baby. But I was afraid what people would say about me. I was afraid that they would say that I trapped him into marrying me. I was afraid I was too young. I was afraid of my dad’s wrath. I was afraid of it all. I wanted to be his wife but not because of a kid. I wanted him to choose me, for me. “I’ll have an abortion,” I told him. He didn’t ask me to keep it. But I always felt that I had failed the test.
We eventually broke up. But I’ve never forgotten our baby. A piece of him and me that I killed. The whole thing was over quickly. It’s a straightforward procedure but the effects last a lifetime. I know how old she or he would be today. I know their star sign. I know their approximate birthday. And I know that even though he never said it, even though he never expressed a personal opinion of what we should do, he never forgave me for that decision.