In recent years, Michaela and her husband have separated. Michaela cites a key reason being that she is from a Christian background while he was brought up in a Muslim home. ‘Sahid’ has not practised as a Muslim since leaving Iraq, and Michaela has never really practised her Christian faith – she said that they just used to write the word on forms. Michaela is from a post-communist country. She and her husband had a civil wedding when she was heavily pregnant with their first child.
Michaela was very upfront that her husband had put her under strenuous pressure to abort her first child. ‘If you were a Muslim wife, you would do what I say and abort it. How can I stay in a marriage with you if you won’t even act like a Muslim wife?!’ was the line that her husband used with her.
Michaela suspects that her husband ‘Sahid’ saw his own father put his mother under pressure to have abortions when Sahid was a child. But Sahid gets cross and defensive if she asks him whether this really happened and says something like, ‘Why should I tell anyone whether my mother had an abortion?’ This is rather contradictory in that Sahid put his wife under pressure for months to have an abortion, but is very hush-hush as to whether or not his mother had an abortion.
Michaela found life very lonely and friendless when her husband moved out and went to another part of London. She knew it wasn’t advisable to get involved with anyone else but she became friendly with a man nearby and the relationship became sporadically sexual. ‘But we weren’t together a lot, so I thought that I wouldn’t get pregnant. And each time I was with him, I said that it wouldn’t happen again.’
We met Michaela when she was very set on aborting the child that she had conceived with this "friend". Her appointments for abortions have come and gone, and she has not made any new appointments for an abortion. When I met her she felt very compelled to tell Sahid, who she calls ‘my ex-husband’, about the baby, but has now decided that for the time being, she won’t tell him that she’s pregnant with a fourth child; ‘He would still think it his right to tell me to abort this baby, and there’s no way that I can spend whole months being told to abort. Maybe I will wait till I’m 24 weeks before telling him.’
I’ve known Michaela for nearly three months now, and while she knows very little Christian doctrine, she still sometimes thinks and speaks as someone of Christian heritage. She wasn’t going to dabble in Islam; ‘I can’t just pretend to be a Muslim wife, and have an abortion because his faith might want that of me.’ And lately her conversation has been peppered with Christian symbols, ‘Every newborn is like a piece of heaven. There’s a time when you feel the angels surround you and mind the baby.’