1969 – Pregnant and on staff

I was not living at home at this time, I had moved into a share house with other scientologists and this obviously gave my young self a greater freedom. I suspected I was pregnant yet was woefully ignorant on the subject so I ignored the symptoms for a month or so. When I realised it was a fact, I hugged this information tightly to myself as I knew that I was going to face opposition to having a child and decided to wait until I was at least three months pregnant. Not only was this England in 1969 where illegitimate children were still frowned upon,  I was also a staff member and this could create a “PR” nightmare. Scientology does not allow anything controversial or that could cast a bad image to become ‘public’ or attract attention.

One morning a fellow housemate saw me throwing up and reported this back to my parents. All hell broke loose, and looking back on it now, I can understand my parent’s viewpoint much more than I could at the time! It was decided that I had to have an abortion and I honestly felt I had no choice. I was taken to see a doctor who refused an abortion, in disgust, as I was already past the 3 month mark. Thankyou to that doctor….

The next alternative was adoption and I saw a social worker to arrange that. This all felt beyond my control or choice and I went along with what was decided for me. With the naiveté of youth I somehow thought things would fall into place and I imagined a future where my darling baby, her father and I would live happily ever after, no matter what had been decreed otherwise. Needless to say it didn’t happen that way.

I was still working and remember going to the loo to fall asleep for an hour here and there. I was incredibly tired and there was no leeway on the demands of staff for pregnancy. At some point I left, I suppose because a pregnant single 16 year old was not good PR for scientology. I also remember going on a bus a couple of times to the hospital where I would be admitted and those two visits were the total of my pre natal care. I had no idea what birth would be like and the only real advice was from Ivis Bolder who told me “Imagine you are trying to shit a grapefruit!” Well, that’s one way to put it.

My baby’s father seemed ok with what was happening and I didn’t know differently until I found out that he had moved on to another girl. His mother also made it abundantly clear that there was no way in hell he would ever marry me, even if he wanted to. I was on my own.

My dad was due to go to Edinburgh, to the new Advanced Organisation, and somehow it was decided that the only option for me was to joining the new Sea Organisation there. This is so bizarre and the only explanation I can see is that it was a way to have me housed and working and ‘taken care of’. My younger brother had already been sent to one of the Sea Org ships, at the age of 15. So I signed my Billion Year Contract (Members of the Sea Org sign an employment contract with the organization for one billion years) and headed north. Luckily the Commanding Officer at the time, Phyl Stevens, knew this was not going to work and she allowed me to be part of the group there until my dad was complete on his services and headed back to Saint Hill. I still worked as a normal Sea Org member for that time although ‘special exercises’ were designed for me for the morning workouts all staff attended. My memory is of a room stuffed with bunk beds and no personal space and it was such a relief when I left there.

The question remained of what to do with me. The next option was that I join World Wide staff, this was then the senior administration centre of international scientology, based at Saint Hill. I will always remember that day,  sitting in a car with my mother, crying because I didn’t want to go, but not knowing I had any other choice. I wanted to save the world but I felt so young and scared, as though I was riding some tidal wave and hanging on for dear life.

I started working as the telex operator, and then Director of  Communications. This meant keeping the “communication lines” smooth and delivering telexes and post immediately. Jane Kember was the Guardian and always scared me; I remember being relieved when I had to deliver a telex and she wasn’t there. (This was the Guardians Office where all legal, PR and Intelligence matters of scientology were taken care of. Doors of “GO” staff were always locked and secrecy was paramount.)

I was located in the Monkey Room, a large room in the old Manor containing a fabulous mural painted by John Spencer Churchill , nephew of Sir Winston Churchill. Many staff worked in this large room and it was a hive of activity. One day I came back from lunch and my desk had disappeared. I had been moved upstairs without warning as it had been decided telexes needed to be more secure or something. I was always on call for the senior executives to send urgent and mysterious telexes at any time, often dictated straight to me for typing, and to be sent immediately. Life in the GO was terribly serious.

One incident I recall is that we were all staff being sent to London to give out free copies of Freedom magazine. I asked to be excused and was  refused, it was an “all hands” event that everyone had to attend.  I was 8 months pregnant, it was freezing bloody cold and it was a nightmare standing on the streets trying to give away the broadsheets and picking them up again as they were dropped to avoid being fined for littering. The journey home is seared in my memory as being pregnant I needed a loo, but the coach couldn’t stop and I was in agony by the time we arrived back at Saint Hill.

My baby was overdue so the doctors decided to induce the birth and I worked on staff until the day before. I am grateful my mother came with me to the hospital, if she hadn’t I am sure I would have died. I had no idea of what was to happen and given drugs to alleviate the pain (which I later found out I am allergic to). The result was that I told Mum that I “was going” and I really meant it. She held my hand and told me, no demanded, that I “not leave my body” and I eventually delivered a healthy baby girl. As the baby was due to be adopted, I was not allowed to breastfeed, and yet she was brought to me at the same times as other mothers and  then taken away for bottle feeding. The idea was that adoption was a last resort, and mothers were encouraged by any means possible to keep the baby and the most obvious way was to encourage bonding. This was incredibly distressing; how could I continue to be on staff with a newborn? How could I do all that was asked of me? How could I give her up?

Three days after the birth my parents visited and looked at this baby in the cot at the end of my bed. They told me they would help me raise her, as “she wanted to be part of our (scientology) family”. I cried for days, not knowing how this was going to work, whether I could do it and what was the best decision was to make for all concerned. Again, I went along with what had been decided as it seemed to mean I could keep my baby and continue working on staff, so surely that was the best solution? The hospital staff suddenly started to be nice to me, and began to teach me how to bottle feed and care for a newborn.

The day after I left hospital I was back at work.

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