Mother says in interview: ‘I wish I’d aborted the son I’ve spent 47 years caring for’
And how do stories like this fit with the usual conservative Christian propaganda that motherhood makes a woman more mature, godly, loving, and self-less? It does not. Stories like this go to show that becoming a parent does not necessarily make a person better or more ethical or caring than a person who does not procreate.
However, you’d be wrong. Because, while I do love my son, and am fiercely protective of him, I know our lives would have been happier and far less complicated if he had never been born. I do wish I’d had an abortion. I wish it every day.
- If he had not been born, I’d have probably gone on to have another baby, we would have had a normal family life and Andrew would have the comfort, rather than the responsibility, of a sibling, after we’re gone.
- …Instead, Stephen – who struggles to speak and function in the modern world – has brought a great deal of stress and heartache into our lives.
That is why I want to speak in support of the 92 per cent of women who choose to abort their babies after discovering they have Down’s Syndrome. Mothers like Suzanne Treussard who bravely told her story in the Daily Mail two weeks ago.
Suzanne, who was offered a termination at 15 weeks, braved a backlash of criticism and vitriol from some readers.
- …I’d been a radar operator and intelligence clerk in the RAF before I was married. But now my life was taken up by trying to meet Stephen’s needs – let alone those of Andrew and Roy.
So, exhausted and racked with guilt, I was close to the end of my tether when, shortly after Stephen’s third birthday, he became unwell and cried incessantly for three days and nights.
Worse still, he could give me no indication of what was wrong with him.
My husband was working late shifts as a driver at the time, and by the third night I couldn’t stand the noise any longer.
In a rage, I picked Stephen up with every intention of throwing him down our flight of stairs. Thankfully, by the time I reached the top step, I thought, ‘What on earth am I doing?’ and put him back into his cot.
I’d never had psychological problems before, but I believe that parenting a mentally disabled child could push anyone to the edge.
Recognising that I could no longer cope, our GP arranged a respite place for Stephen at a specialist hospital in Ramsgate, Kent.
..Years later, I was told by a professor studying the parents of children with disabilities that it is very rare for marriages to survive.
Although Roy and I have always had a solid marriage, we were both deeply unhappy.
I was consumed with guilt – I’m his mother and the nurses told me he cried a lot in the beginning, presumably because he missed me – but I knew I wasn’t strong enough, physically or mentally, to care for him every day.
A couple of days later I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital suffering a nervous breakdown.
I was prescribed tranquillisers and then treated as a day patient for several months afterwards.
- …One day, Stephen’s doctor sat us down and told us that Stephen needed an operation to remove his spleen. Without it, he said, he would ‘go to sleep and never wake up’. Those were his exact words.
Looking back, I believe the doctor was guiding us towards allowing our son to pass away naturally, but we were not much more than children ourselves, in our mid-20s, and didn’t understand then what he was trying to do for us.
I wish we had – it would have spared us all a great deal of pain. Instead he had the operation and spent five weeks at Great Ormond Street Hospital recovering, with me at his bedside as often as possible.
- ….His weekend visits home became harder to bear as he grew older.
I didn’t drive, so would take him into Canterbury on the bus to do the shopping. However, more often than not, he would refuse to get off the bus and sit in the middle of the aisle where people would have to climb over him.
So we’d have to wait for the bus to turn around and go back past our house where I’d have to get Andrew to help me physically remove Stephen from the bus.
It made me very reluctant to leave the house, but even at home he would use sit-down protests as a way of refusing to go to bed, get dressed, get in the bath and even eat.
But then, when Stephen was 11, he came back to live with us full-time for 18 months.
They were the longest 18 months of our lives. I barely left the house because I couldn’t take Stephen with me, nor did I dare risk leaving him home alone.