I’ve recently started volunteering at a small charity shop alongside my studies. I’m really enjoying it so far, as the small tasks I’m required to do are a welcome distraction from the pressures of uni, and unlike sitting on facebook for five hours, I actually feel like I’m doing something significant. I’m giving back to the national community, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never really found the appropriate motivation to.
Another wonderful part of working in a charity shop is the people you meet. Your colleagues and customers tend to be off the beaten track in some ways. I’ve found that being at uni is a very insular experience, especially a campus uni. You live, eat, work, shop, socialise and generally inhabit the same space as students: people of all different ages doing different things, but students nonetheless. No matter how different our backgrounds, we all live in a fairly insulated bubble, exempt from tax and forty (or sixty) hour working weeks. Add delivery shopping and food orders into the mix, and you never have to leave StudentLand. What volunteering does is thrusts me into the outside world and demands that I don’t ignore it. I cannot get wrapped up in a very insular culture of University with it’s own set of values and ideals, when I’m face to face with the rest of the country every day.
Today, as always, a fascinating story was recounted to all of us about a relation of one of the volunteers (let’s call her Sarah). A girl Sarah knew had been admitted into hospital quite suddenly, and no one knew why. Her boyfriend emerged from her room, white-faced, saying there was nothing to worry about, but he hardly looked it. What awaited inside was something no one was prepared for: there she lay, on the bed, with a newborn baby in her arms. She had no idea she was pregnant.
…Which is a great thing for an 18 year old to hear whilst sipping tea on a Thursday morning.
Welp, it’s news to me, but apparently around 350 women every year in the UK alone give birth without having any knowledge that they’d even conceived. No ceasing of periods, no morning sickness, no movement, not even significant weight gain.
What was also fairly anxiety-inducing was the fact that this particular woman had been on the pill consistently. So they weren’t lying when they said only 99% effective.
This is terrifying not only as a human that owns a uterus but also for the potential ramifications for a child in this situation. What if you’ve been consistently drinking throughout pregnancy? Or smoking? Hell, even popping a few paracetamol could be deadly.
I guess something I’ve learnt today is that sometimes, no matter how wary or careful you are, life can throw you some pretty serious curveballs, and when they come along, you just need to embrace them in whatever way you can.
On that horrifying note, I’ll leave you all to ponder over the mysteries of the universe whilst you try to ignore that little voice in the back of your head saying “what if…?”