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This mistake was an extremely hard one

It is very hard to share my abortion experience with others. I live each day knowing the only child I ever conceived I killed. And I never spoke up to say I wanted my baby. No one at the abortion clinic ever explained anything to me or asked me if this was what I wanted.

I am rebuilding my life each day at a time. Accepting the fact my parents did what they felt they had to at a given time in my life. Everyone makes mistakes. This mistake was an extremely hard one.

I had an abortion when I was sixteen. When my parents found out I was pregnant, they decided an abortion was the solution. My boyfriend and father of the baby wouldn't talk to me after he knew I was pregnant. My parents saw how he was treating me but at the time didn't know I was pregnant.

At the time of the abortion I felt my parents made the decision. I felt I had to listen to them. My mother made all the arrangements. It was done in secret. No one was to know I was having an abortion. (How would it look to others?) I overheard my parents say if I was more than 12 weeks pregnant the abortion wouldn't be safe. So they had to arrange it right away. I never told them I wanted the baby.

I remember missing school after Christmas Vacation. We drove to Washington, D.C. My mother and sister took me. Once in the clinic, I signed the consent form because I was of legal age. My mother and sister had to leave. They were not allowed to stay with me. The room had pictures on the ceiling. The nurse and doctor explain[ed] what was happening to me - example "You'll feel pain or pressure." No one explain[ed] what an abortion was - or that there may be complications. I don't remember any faces of the personnel. I did look at the suction equipment and saw blood going into the bottle. At the time I didn't realize what I was watching.

After the procedure I had to wait in this large room. One other woman was there. The nurse was so worried about me because I was so flushed. They finally let me leave. I left the clinic with my mom. I cried for the two hour car ride home, curled up in the fetal position. A part of me died that day. I don't know how to explain it. I knew I had a baby inside me and then he wasn't there. I didn't have much physical pain or bleeding. Mom said to me in the car that day "If I only knew how much this would hurt you, I would not have brought you here."

I was told not to tell anyone and forget about it and go on with my life. The doctor told me there was no physical evidence the abortion occurred and no one never had to know. So I had a hard time telling anyone and was ashamed when I had to tell other doctors. I lied to my boyfriend (father of the baby), and told him I had a miscarriage. I never told him the truth. He was killed in a car accident several years ago so he or his family never knew about the abortion.

I had thoughts of suicide lasting about a year following the abortion. I wanted to die so the emotional pain would go away. I never had the courage to follow through with these thoughts. I felt guilty, ashamed and a disappointment to my family. I continued to go to church and had sought God's forgiveness, but didn't have the support of anyone to help me with these feelings. When I tried to talk about the abortion no one knew what to say to me. No one would punish me so I started to punish myself. I was involved in other sexual relationships, I smoked, I drank, I dated men who weren't the model dates to bring home. I felt betrayed by the people who were supposed to love me. I didn't trust anyone. I over-ate. I graduated from high school and nursing school. I was an average student. I didn't have much self-confidence. I met someone who had an abortion and she didn't feel like I did. She accepted what she had done. The abortion for her was OK. I felt guilty. But if other women could have abortions and they were OK - then I must be too. I felt this way for awhile. It didn't hurt as much.

I am married. It will be 13 years. We have two adopted children. I told my husband before we were married about the abortion. He still loved me. This I felt was step 1 in my healing. I am infertile. I had adhesions on my fallopian tubes. The doctor felt the adhesions were not related to the abortion. I had a vaginal infection and she felt the adhesions were related to that. During the infertility testing and surgery, I started to deal with the anger I felt at my parents - mostly my mother.

The turning point came three summers ago (12 years after the abortion). I had a panic attack on a camping trip in the middle of the night. It was the worst ever. I felt that I was suffocating and going to die. But I couldn't die until I made things right. I couldn't stand before God with my life such a mess. I felt so guilty and wanted to return to Church. But I didn't think God would forgive me.

Spiritual healing happened when I joined the Catholic Church through the sacraments. I was reconciled with God. This was my beginning.

I started volunteering at Birthright because I had to do something to make up for what I had done. I was becoming more informed on abortion. I could read articles and books on abortion. I voted pro-life in the election. I could not forgive myself. My family wasn't in good shape. My son was having temper tantrums at age 9, screaming, kicking, throwing things, which lasted for hours. I was at a breaking point. When he had a tantrum, I would feel anger, so much my heart pounded in my chest. I had a strong urge to run away and leave my family. But something inside wouldn't let me do that.

We started to see a therapist to deal with the tantrums. It helped, but then we hit on my anger. I had repressed anger toward my parents and especially the father of the baby because of the abortion.

I started going to a post abortion support group. I worked in a pace workbook, Women in Ramah: A Post Abortion Bible Study, by Linda Cochrane.

I had a close relationship with my parish priest. With the help of these people, the healing began. Before anything could happen, I had to take responsibility for killing my child. The pace workbook dealt with each aspect of the healing process. Each area came separately and it was a process that took almost two years to complete. I am still working on my relationships and trying not to fall back into old thought patterns.

I think because of the abortion I have difficulty with responsibility. I shy away from jobs which require leadership skills and left jobs because I was in the position for promotion. I don't like to be around people who aren't accountable for their actions. I became a super-mom demanding perfection from my family. I looked at a given situation and first saw the negative side, not the positive. I put my expectations of others and myself higher than they or myself could meet. Holidays bring more stress in my life. I had to rebuild self-esteem and to accept myself just as I am.

Post Abortion Syndrome:

I Experienced the following -

  1. Guilt
  2. Anxiety; Panic Attacks in public places, sometimes small crowded places
  3. Repression and Denial
  4. Depression and Thoughts of Suicide; Sad Moods; Sudden and Uncontrollable Crying Episodes; Deterioration of Self-Concept; Appetite and Sexual Disturbances - eating binges, no interest in sex; Thoughts of Suicide and Preoccupation with Death
  5. Anxiety About Fertility - felt God was punishing me and that's why I never got pregnant again
  6. Anniversary Syndrome - near the abortion date - Christmas becomes stressful - joyous day and season - the abortion was done after the holiday season - the beginning of a New Year

Above taken from the publication: Help for the Post Aborted Woman - 1988 - by Teri K. Reisser, MS and Paul C. Reisser, MD

I also marked the ones I experienced taken from WEBA pamphlet. I hope this helps:

Physical effects.

-Crying/sighing

-Weight loss - immediately following

Psychological effects.

-Guilt

-Suicidal impulses

-Sense of loss

-Unfulfillment

-Mourning

-Regret and remorse

-Loss of confidence in decision making capability

-Lower self esteem

-Preoccupation with death

-Self destructive behavior -smoking, overeating

-Anger/rage

-Desire to remember death date

-Loss of interest in sex

-Inability to forgive self

-Feelings of being exploited

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