We’d been arguing, as was standard practice in our marriage. I had said ‘no’ to sex once too often. He was angry and then sated. His sudden calm left me with a knot of fear in my stomach. He turned the tables, turned on the charm. It was my birthday, after all.
I said ‘no’ again, my heart crushed under the weight of his temper. I said ‘no’ over and over again, but his hands kept massaging me, caressing me. He started pushing inside of me. We were using condoms at the time – my pill had run out and he was meant to be having a vasectomy (he kept putting it off, putting it off) but he was pushing into me regardless. This, I might add, was after two split condoms and two rounds of emergency contraception. I told him ‘no’ again. He’s thrusting into me now, not listening. I just let him. How could I fight him off? It would just be yet another argument, more shouting and screaming.
Afterwards I sat on the toilet with tears streaming down my face, trying to silence the voice that said, ‘your husband just raped you’.
Three weeks later I sat on the toilet again, yet more tears streaming down my face as I watched the word ‘pregnant’ flash up on the little white stick. January 03rd 2014. 6 days later, in a non-descript office in central Birmingham, I terminated the pregnancy.
My husband put on a beautiful show of surprise and couldn’t for the life of him work out how it had happened.
I knew I was pregnant that Christmas, only 9 days after. I just knew. I could feel my body changing, that all-consuming exhaustion sleeping silently on top of me. I had to wait to test. I tested on New Years Day but it came back negative. I knew. I had no doubt.
That Christmas we argued – I gave him my presents and afterwards he asked me if I’d got him a special present, I said no, that I’d given him everything. He flew off the handle screaming at me for how I make him feel like he’s just the kids’ dad and not a husband. He was furious because I hadn’t bought him a card. He stormed upstairs and came back down flinging a Christmas card in my face. It hadn’t even been written in. ‘Here’s your fucking Christmas card, though I don’t know why I bothered!’ I said, ‘what?! You waited to see if I would give you a card or not before giving me mine? You’ve not taken the wrapper off, or written in it’. ‘Well what’s the fucking point? I knew you wouldn’t bother so why should I have done?’
Christmas dinner he sat there laughing and joking and telling me I was being too sensitive, that I was ruining Christmas for everyone. I didn’t have to be so miserable.
Maybe I’d got it wrong – maybe he didn’t realise I hadn’t wanted to, but then no – how many times do you have to say no for it to mean something?
I named him Pegasus. My unborn child, I mean. On the way home from the clinic we took a wrong turn and passed Pegasus Industrial Park. A work van parked on a local street to us – Pegasus plumbing.
That night I lay in bed bleeding, losing a child I would have adored and cherished under different circumstances and my eyes sought out a constellation in the sky. I googled it, so bright and obnoxious it was. It was the constellation of Pegasus.
He sat downstairs playing father to the kids, making me origami flowers and bringing me up chips and gravy with endless cups of tea.
I questioned for the longest time whether it was rape. I didn’t exactly fight him off. He was my husband. But no matter how I try and justify it to make it less painful in my head, the definition of rape remains the same.
Two weeks after the termination we argued because I didn’t want sex. He told me I had serious sexual problems, with no hint of disbelief. Two weeks after an abortion, I’ve barely stopped bleeding and he throws that at me?
I read these words back and the tears fall freely. Every so often I look at him and wonder how he could have been so cruel. But then he turns on the charm and I convince myself – it wasn’t that bad, was it?
My child would have been turning three this September.