The lady doctor casually snacked on a package of nuts
It was in the Fall of 1972. My boyfriend climbed out of his little blue Datsun.
I followed. He threw his car keys at my house in a rage of temper, as if that
would undo the fact that I was pregnant. Before I had even suspected my
condition, he had adamantly announced to me one day that he did not want any
We went inside. I half-heartedly asked him, "How about a temporary marriage?"
which I thought to myself would have saved face for me and still saved the baby.
To my question, he replied, "What about child support?" Without protest I gave
up the argument; I sensed this was out of the question for him. He was usually
short of cash which appeared to be the result of his hobby of gambling. I knew
then that neither I nor the child was wanted. That left one option, going it
alone. How well I knew that route. My first marriage had been extremely
difficult; my husband had mostly withdrawn from me and our adorable baby
daughter. Seven years of marriage had turned into seven years of drudgery with
me keeping the house up almost entirely by myself.
Now I found myself face to face with more years of feeling tied to the house,
this time entirely alone. I felt a prison sentence of loneliness and more
drudgery about to slam down on me. Instinctively and selfishly, I realized my
hopes for a new husband would lessen. Who would want a woman with two small
children? The loss of my new-found freedom from my recent divorce was too
much for me. I felt stifled and trapped. My mind raced to every
conceivable solution. I considered renting my house out and moving
temporarily out of the state to stay with my mother and sister. I knew
though that emotionally and physically I could not cope with the
responsibilities of entrusting my home and furniture to strangers, looking for a
temporary job in another state, and learning new duties on the job while
experiencing morning sickness. Also, I doubted if anyone would hire me if they
knew I was pregnant.
In another selfish state of mind, I could not bear to give up a child of mine
for adoption and live with the fact that I would never know where the child was
or if it was all right.
My strict puritanical religious upbringing in my grandparent's home brought its
own set of fears. I could never face anyone unmarried and pregnant. I had put on
too good a mask of decency. It hid the emotional scars I carried from the years
of sexual abuse my sister and I had suffered from our father right in our
grandparent's home. My grandmother, who knew the situation but lived in denial,
had managed to maintain her reputation as a respected member of the community
and I was now doing the same thing. I had worked hard to become a "normal" good
person. I couldn't face more shame.
In the early 1970's, babies born out of wedlock were not as commonplace, and I
was 32 years old. Old enough to know better. My fear sealed any hope of turning
to anyone in my family. We had never known how to ask each other for help, and I
knew if I told one person, I would never be able to carry out the decision I had
made. I had had to survive too long on my own and I just did not know how to let
anyone help me.
In a last ditch effort, I appealed to my boyfriend with tears, explaining that,
"all I had ever wanted was someone to love."
Unmoved, he stoically kept his ground. When I finally realized he absolutely
would not change his mind, I felt my heart harden towards him. I told him,
"You do not have to worry; I will not force you to do anything for me." And
I meant it. But anger and hatred for him seethed within me and I knew it was
over for us. Inwardly, I vowed I would never have anything to do with him
One day at work, I left during my coffee break and drove to a phone booth.
My heart was pounding, I was so afraid. Trembling, I made the appointment
with the hospital. All I could think was if I got it over quickly, surely it
wouldn't be a real person, that I carried inside of me.
A lady doctor gave me no encouragement or alternatives when I searched her
out with the words, "I don't really want to end this pregnancy." As if she
had more to say about it than I did, she matter-of-factly replied, "You
aren't married, you know." "What a strange paradox," I thought,
unconsciously she is placing a moral judgment on me for not being married,
but not on herself for ending a life. It didn't matter. Her comment was my
Achilles heel. My futile appeals to my boyfriend and to my doctor had led
nowhere. The decision was made. I did not know about pro-life groups or if
any existed at the time. The process proceeded with an appointment with a
second doctor as a matter of procedure.
Then one night, I had a dream. The face of a beautiful young girl child with
long, wavy, dark hair hovered above me. Her features were distinctly like
my boyfriend's as was her black hair. She never said anything, but I sensed
the girl could be representing the face of my unborn child. It was as if
God was showing me the seed within me was a real person after all. But even
He couldn't penetrate my fear and hard heart.
The night before I was to keep the appointment at the hospital, I lay in bed
and cried out to God. I begged Him, "If there is any way at all, please
don't let this happen!" I thrashed my head back and forth desperately as
tears of frustration and helplessness flooded my pillow.
The next morning my boyfriend picked me up and drove me to the hospital.
Inside we went through the preliminary paperwork. The only form I remember
was the one releasing the "fetus" to them for whatever they wished to do to
it. The admitting clerk said not to leave any valuables there. So my
boyfriend took my purse and left.
Then came a turn of events. When I was asked for the forms which I had to
fill out, I suddenly realized I had left them in my purse. I was advised the
abortion could not take place without the forms. I waited in a back room
with some other women who must have been there for the same reason, I
thought, as there was an ominous silence about us. As the hours passed, the
lady doctor finally came to me and said she could not wait any longer. Her
children were sick and she had to go home. I pondered how any woman with
children of her own could perform abortions. I dressed and waited for my
The next day was a weekend, so we would have to wait until Monday for a new
appointment. I hoped against hope that he would change his mind. Instead,
he seemed to know what I was thinking as he had when somehow he had sensed I
was pregnant. He said, "I know you are hoping I will change my mind." His
anger boiled again and my hopes dissolved. By then, I was so nauseated, even
with a prescription, that I didn't care if I lived or died. The jostling of
the car was unbearable. I was in no condition to make a rational decision
the way I felt and could only think if I had the abortion at least I would
escape this unbearable sickness. As it was, the only relief I had from it
was when I was asleep.
Even then my subconscious was aware that maybe God had answered my prayer
although I could not admit it to myself for several years. I had asked Him
to prevent this abortion and it appeared He had, not in just one way, but in
three ways: He removed the necessary forms, sent the doctor home early to
her sick children, and provided a weekend for additional time. Even in my
own denial, I felt God was telling me I had choices; I was not a victim and
that He did care enough to answer my prayer sensed also that it might have
been more than just coincidence that a kindly, fatherly pastor from a
neighborhood church I had visited, dropped by my home when he had. I was
impressed by his sensitive, sincere, almost sad countenance. He seemed to be
a man who had carried his own share of woes. I was touched by his effort to
befriend me, although I numbed myself inside and refused to reach out for
help even when it came right to my front door.
I remember being wheeled down a hall by silent people. Silent nurses stood
by to assist the doctor. The lady doctor casually snacked on a package of
nuts. I thought to myself, "How can she eat when she's getting ready to do
this awful thing?" We were of two different minds. She was the one person
I would have listened to for a way out.
I awoke in the recovery area. The nurses' voices were deafening. I felt an
unbearable restlessness and could hardly restrain myself in the bed. Perhaps it
was the anesthesia. When I finally dressed, a nurse wheeled me to the front
door. My hatred must have shown, because later my boyfriend knowingly told me,
"That look on your face... "
I tolerated him for a short time, then cold-shouldered him out of my life. I
don't know how he dealt with this incident in his life, but for my part, I
finally forgave him when I realized my responsibility in making choices for
However, if it were not for God's forgiveness, I could never have forgiven
myself for allowing a defenseless life to be ended. I receive reassurance
from David's story in the Old Testament. If God could pardon David for killing
Bathsheba's husband, then surely He would pardon me. (II Samuel 12:13).
Many years have passed since 1972. 1 could dwell on the un-birthday that falls
on September 25th but choose to remember how God was there for me and my unborn
child when I was too weak to help myself, and how He showed me I can make
choices in life that are right for me.
"God's ways are as mysterious as the pathway of the wind, and as the manner in
which a human spirit is infused into the little body of a baby while it is yet
in its mother's womb." -Ecclesiastes 11:5