When 20-year-old Amanda Chew (not her real name) found out she was pregnant, her whole world turned upside down.
Her 22-year-old boyfriend pestered her to take a pregnancy test when he found out her period was 10 days late.
"I didn't believe it when I saw it. We bought the cheapest test and the second line was pretty faint. I was hoping that it was inaccurate," shared Amanda, who is living and studying in Melbourne.
The bubbly undergraduate added: "We were doing it without protection for so long and nothing happened. That's probably why we took it lightly.
"I don't regret getting pregnant, I just regret being complacent."
AMANDA'S BOYFRIEND PICKED UP ON HER PREGNANCY BEFORE SHE DID.
Amanda said: "I was slightly ill, and I thought it was a common cold. But my boyfriend [noticed] my weight gain and my boobs getting bigger. When my period was late, he became paranoid. I just brushed it off. I only decided to take a pregnancy test to shut him up."
"Even though a part of me knew I was pregnant; I was living in denial. I even went drinking and smoking that night," added Amanda.
Nonetheless, Amanda and her boyfriend decided to go to the doctor the next day to quell their fears.
Amanda recalled emotionally: "I was looking at my boyfriend, but at the corner of my eye, I could see two purple lines appear on the paper [during the urine test]. At that point, my mind went blank. It felt like time stood still."
"The doctor then said, 'Yes, you are pregnant.', and I burst into tears. I wasn't sad, I was just overwhelmed."
Amanda, who was then six weeks into her pregnancy, felt that getting an abortion was the only option. Since they were still studying and relying on their parents financially, they would get into trouble if their parents found out.
"We spoke about [pregnancy] a while ago and decided that we'd only go through with having a child if we could afford it financially," explained Amanda, who has been with her boyfriend for two years.
After visiting the doctor, the couple promptly made an appointment at an abortion clinic, which was scheduled the week after.
FOR THE YOUNG COUPLE, AN ABORTION SEEMED LIKE THE ONLY OPTION.
In the week leading to her abortion, she spent a lot of time researching about abortions and learning about other women's experience with abortion through online forums.
Amanda said: "My boyfriend, his brother, and my close friend in Singapore were the only people who knew I was pregnant. I felt like I couldn't tell many people, but I found a lot of comfort and strength from other women online."
Surprisingly, Amanda felt calm on the day of her abortion.
"The clinic was filled with several other couples and I felt like I wasn't alone," shared Amanda, during our Skype call in the evening.
"The hardest thing was looking down at my belly and knowing that there is life there, and having to end it…but it was the only logical and practical thing to do," added the philosophy student.
Amanda opted for a surgical abortion, where the foetus was vacuumed out of her uterus while she was under general anaesthesia. The painless procedure lasted for 15 minutes.
However, the charismatic part-time English tutor started breaking down a few days after the procedure.
Amanda shared tearfully: "Honestly, I couldn't wait to get the abortion over and done with, but after it was over, I felt this huge sense of grief, sadness, and loss. Every time I looked into the mirror, I saw a murderer."
Amanda also suffered from several side effects, including a 15-day period and mood swings. She decided to seek help from her school counsellor a week after the procedure.
"I wrote a very long letter [to my unborn child] and told him that we loved him and were just not ready for a child. I hope he finds a more capable family, or that he can come back to us later in life. No matter what, we will never forget him," said Amanda, who was diagnosed with depression three years ago.
AMANDA'S BIGGEST SUPPORT DURING HER PREGNANCY WAS HER BOYFRIEND.
POSED PHOTOS: YOUTH.SG/AZRA RAUFF
Despite her traumatic experience, Amanda was thankful for the emotional support she received from her boyfriend, who accompanied her for all her appointments.
She said: “He was so supportive and understanding. I felt like he minimised part of the pain that came along with this whole experience.”
Amanda also hopes that other teenagers in her situation open up about their pregnancy with someone they trust and to get help when necessary.
"I know you feel like you are alone, but you are not. You don't have to live in the shadows, because there are always going to be people who are willing to hear you out. The Internet is a great place for support."
"Don't be too hard on yourself, and remember to forgive yourself," said Amanda.
This is part one of a series on teen moms. Also in this series:
- Ostracised and disowned for being pregnant at 18
- Pregnant at 19 with no regrets