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Now I Seek To Help Others
It was 1987, and I thought of myself as a career business woman. I was going to make it, become an executive, earn a large paycheck, having lots of beautiful clothes – living the “good life.” I had bought into the whole image being pushed on women in that time period – life was about good times, dancing, sophisticated relationships, singles trips, and groups! There was plenty of time later for serious relationships, houses in the suburbs and children.
Up to this point I had never had a serious, long-term relationship and I figured it was time to have a “boyfriend.” Oh, not to get married yet, but to have someone steady for the “love” and fun relationship stuff that could be had. We would work hard to get ahead and have all the “stuff” necessary for the good life. I met Arthur – at first I wasn’t that interested in him long-term. Oh, he was a nice guy, but I wasn’t sure he was what I wanted. But as we got to know each other, I thought he was great fun, and he was looking for the good life too! He owned a small business with his father and brother, and I saw great potential for meeting my goals with him – in other words he was useful in my long-range plan.
So we began to see each other more regularly and took our relationship to a very intimate level way too soon. Within 8 months, I found myself pregnant! I didn’t take the pill – I didn’t like all the side effects listed on the packaging (thank God I was at least bright enough to read that), so I used a diaphragm. It broke! I was horrified – I had only known Arthur for 8 months, this was hardly a serious long-term committed type of relationship yet. Funny how I thought I didn’t know him well enough, but I was sleeping with him. I also hadn’t achieved the success in my career yet, didn’t have a house yet, didn’t have a lot of money in the bank – this was just not the right time, this was not convenient. I still had plenty of time to get settled and having a baby now would mess up my master plan!
After talking to Arthur, it was agreed – I would have an abortion. It was all very business-like, I went to my doctor and had an official test and, yes, they confirmed my pregnancy. I lost no time in asking for a referral to the “clinic.” After all, this was not a baby yet, right – there was plenty of time later for this and it was my “right!”
As I think back on that day, the reality of this “clinic” and the entire experience certainly did not fit my image of the sterile little clinic with all the well dressed and sophisticated women, “taking care of their problem.” No, this was an old house converted into what I now would call an abortion mill. There were lots of small narrow stairways and hallways that were not very well lit; lots of women, very young and not so young, sitting around not making eye contact and just waiting for it to be over.
I went into a room to talk to a “counselor.” Her counseling involved asking me why I was seeking an abortion and what I used for birth control. She told me I could ask for anesthesia-which meant I would be there several hours or simply receive valium, which would allow me to leave within an hour of the procedure. She additionally told me that the doctor would dilate my cervix, but it wouldn’t feel any worse than cramps. That was it – no information on the actual procedure, possible complications, or short or long-term consequences. I opted for the valium—I didn’t want to be there any longer than necessary! That was the extent of counseling!
Next, I was taken upstairs to change and told to lie on table and put my feet in the stirrups. A man came in, I assume he was the doctor, but no words were spoken by him or anyone else by way of introduction. He began to dilate the cervix, and it was very painful – I remember moaning and being told to be quiet. The next thing I knew the machine was turned on, there was a lot of noise for several minutes, then all went quiet and this doctor got up and left the room. At this point I went to recovery – this meant I was wheeled in a chair to a hallway with recliners lined up and several other girls. No one spoke, no one looked up, but I remember hearing sniffles and low crying. I never look up or looked around; I just waited to be told I could go home. I was told to get dressed and handed a paper with things to watch out for in the next few days – if I had a problem, I should contact my primary.
I left there that day and I remember thinking my problem was solved and I should be happy, but I was not happy! As the days weeks and months went by, I still wasn’t happy. Looking back, I realize that I was never happy after that – something hung over me, now I know that this was the unspoken grief and guilt I was experiencing. You see, no one tells you that even if you don’t have any physical complications, the emotional toll is overwhelming. Deep inside, I knew that I had destroyed my child and was trying so hard to not think about that – but it was always there.
I became a very driven, angry, and hyper-sensitive person. I was more determined than ever to achieve that good life I had sought – I NEEDED it now more than ever. But no matter how hard I tried I could not achieve what I thought I deserved. This fueled my anger. I had no time for mistakes, or things that did not happen on my schedule and the way I wanted them to. And don’t even offer any criticism – I would have taken your head off!
After a few years, Arthur and I married and I wanted to now start that family – now I was ready! To my great sorrow, I was unable to ever conceive another child. This was my punishment – I believed that God was punishing me. My anger and now mild depression took over. Nothing was making me happy; no amount of success was enough! Every time I looked at a child or saw a newborn, my heart would break. Every March (the month of my abortion), I would sink into such despair; every October (when I would have given birth), life was unbearable. But for a long time, I never connected these feelings with that child I lost.
At the age of 44, I found myself going from the first signs of menopause to being post-menopausal in the space of only one month! That was it; I had to face the reality that no matter what I might hope and pray for, I would never again become pregnant. The thought that I had killed the only child I would ever have had – my world collapsed around me. I was sad, angry, hurt, and frightened!
I knew that I needed to re-unite God – I had pushed him out of my life almost 20 years earlier, but now I knew that I would never come back from this pain and sadness without Him. I searched every Christian church I could find, going back to Catholicism was never even a consideration. You see, I knew that going back to the Catholic Church meant confession, and this was a deep, dark secret I could never reveal to anyone else – not even in confession. So I spent several years looking for God and looking for peace – I couldn’t find it anywhere! In 1999 my father-in-law died and for the first time in a very long time, I entered a Catholic Church again. At first, I was apprehensive and scared – I told myself that it was just all the guilt instilled in me in my youth and tried to put it out of my mind. Then as the Mass began, I felt a tremendous peace come over me, and an awesome sense of being in the presence of God – I was home! Now I know my fear and apprehension was really my guilt and the fear of facing my past.
But now came another fear – I had to go to confession. Until I did so I could not be fully re-united to Jesus and my church. How could I do this? No one, except my husband and two friends knew about my abortion and now I had to tell some priest I never met! I could just hear the judgment, anger and guilt he would heap on me – I was scared. It took several weeks, but finally I screwed up my courage and entered my church toward the end of the time for confessions. You see I hadn’t been to confession for many, many years and still had visions of confession time of my youth – lots of people waiting their turn. To my relief, no one else was there – I knew this was going to take a long time, and this priest was going to be yelling at me! To my great surprise and complete relief, this wonderful man truly was Christ to me! He listened to me, welcomed me home to the Catholic Church, absolved me of my sin, and advised me to seek a healing retreat. Father told me that I was just beginning this healing process and I would need more, so he referred me to Project Rachel (a post-abortive healing ministry of the Archdiocese of Boston). Finally, I was lifted from the anger and the depression – I began to understand that God is waiting for us to come home, and he runs to meet us and lead us into the banquet. My favorite Bible passage is the story of the Prodigal Son, and I recall it many times – God allows us to make our own decisions, but HE is always waiting for us to come home and accept His loving forgiveness.
As I began to learn my faith again, really learn it, I had to come to terms with what I had done to my son. Yes, now I knew it was my child – not tissue – my son, Joshua! I went to confession and talked with my priest about God’s forgiveness. However, it took a few more years before I truly believed that I had and was worthy of God’s love, forgiveness and His unending and bottomless mercy.
Now I seek to help other women not make the same mistake I made, to know what abortion really is, to what it really does to women. I want the public to know that unlike what they hear from the culture, that abortion does not and cannot help women, it can only hurt them. This is why I AM SILENT NO MORE.
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