Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a bright young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She was a student soon to complete her studies and embark on a glittering career, and her life was full of promise.

But despite all this, the young girl was sad. Worse than sad, if the truth be told, because the break up of what she thought was a match made in heaven had knocked her sideways and she was struggling just to get through each day. She would make it into classes as and when, and in between she survived on TV and ready meals. Exams loomed, and they worried her, but she didn’t really seem able to get excited about them. It was not a pretty picture.

She wasn’t stupid. She did know that her body felt different. She did notice that her periods seemed not to come. She blanked it out, and put it down – wishful thinking, this – to the stresses of her life. Exams. The split. Friendlessness. The sadness.

But then, the exams were over and, back at the family home for the summer, reality had to be faced. She did the test. The Test. It was positive. A parting shot from that match made in heaven.

Now what the hell do I do?

The NHS doctor said – you’ve left it too late. A friend said – go private. The private hospital said – this is the price, when do you want your appointment?

The operation. Waking up groggy, relieved. A scan – the alien is still there. A few days later, a trip to the hospital, some drug or other. The next day, admitted into hospital. The same drug, I think, or maybe a different one. Twice. The alien is tenacious.

Contractions, although I didn’t know it at the time, because what they had done was to induce an early labour, I think. I didn’t really understand. At the time, just pain, cramps. They offered me pain relief, eventually they gave me something that worked a bit, for a while. Then, at long last, the weird slippery rush of a flushed alien. Later, I would know that it was the same slippery rush of a normal, full term birth. But this one, of course, was different.

The rest – the placenta and all, I suppose – stayed put. Another operation. I remember being woken for the trip to theatre. I remember the anaesthetist, cheerfully competent in the middle of the night, coming to me after an emergency somewhere else. I remember the relief of waking up to find that it was finished. Really finished this time.

Was it bad? Pretty bad, I think. Regrets? None.

I’m sorry, Mum, if you’re reading this, that I never told you before.

Once upon a time there was a Beautiful Princess and her delightful Prince, who was Charming. One day, the Beautiful Princess and her Charming Prince had a bit of a slip-up of the contraceptive variety, for which they were equally responsible, and – lo! – about three weeks later there came that inevitable, spine-chilling dots-on-a-wee-stick moment.

OK, so the princess was me, and the prince turned out not to be so charming after all, but if I’m going to tell a story I feel I should do it right…

I knew I was pregnant before I even took the pregnancy test. My period wasn’t late, no more than a day or so which wasn’t unusual. But I could feel it in my breasts, a tenderness and a tingling pain, a sense of growth and change. Something different in my body. I knew.

The night before I took the test, I tossed and turned in bed and failed to sleep, wishing I could come to terms with the idea of pregnancy. It was the May bank holiday weekend. A few days before my birthday. I took the test in the morning very early, and confirmed my suspicion. I was horrified. I rang the father. He said “Well, good news!” but he didn’t mean it.

Later, he suggested – no, he urged – abortion. I didn’t want one. I didn’t want a baby, but I didn’t want an abortion either. He resented that it wasn’t his decision, and he pushed me to do it. It tore me up a little. Well, a lot.

But.

It sounds daft but I felt the hand of fate upon me. We’d spun the wheel, taken our chance, diced with destiny, made our bed… and we were stuck with what we’d got. Not our place to change the course of destiny. As though it was somehow meant to be. How many bites at the cherry did I want? And also… again, it sounds daft… I felt already an emotional connection (perhaps it was love, perhaps “only hormones”) to this thing implanted and growing inside me. Just a clump of cells, but a necessary clump. An essential clump. Something irrefutable and un-do-away-with-able. Magical. Mine.

He’d said he would “stand by me”. Now he said he wouldn’t… couldn’t. Ha! I decided I didn’t care. I knew that nobody could bully me one way or the other. Not even my silver-tongued prince, playing the little-boy-lost. If he upped and left, so be it. I’d manage, somehow.

I chose my clump of cells. I chose the little person that it became.

My daughter, chosen.

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