Different Paths

Wisconsin,  United States

I grew up believing in God, but fell away from church and fell in love at 19.  I used Planned Parenthood, and tried the pill, and IUDs. I was pregnant at 21. The woman at the clinic asked what I would do and I quickly answered - abortion.  (I say ‘the woman’, because I didn’t know if she was a nurse.)  She asked to talk about it, but I panicked in shock and denial and ran away crying, thinking abortion would erase the problem.   

I told 2 friends and my boyfriend. I couldn’t tell my family because I was embarrassed and mad at myself, and thought they would be too. I frantically called a friend to find an appointment for me in Milwaukee the next day.  I had to go out of town, so no one would know, and had to do it quickly so the tissue couldn’t grow.  I never once pictured that tissue as my growing son or daughter with hands, feet and a heartbeat.  I just needed to fix my mistake.

The next day I drove to the address. It’s all a blur but I think I was there at 8.  I think I paid $260 cash. I think I was called into a room with 5 other girls. A woman told us what to expect: we would be in the stirrups, different sized rods would open the cervix, it wouldn’t be painful, the tissue would be sucked out and it would be over. When she left, a girl in the circle had some valium and asked if we wanted one. Everyone took one.

I never saw the doctor.  I was on the table and the rods started hurting.  The woman asked if I wanted to hold her hand and I was so grateful for that. I heard the vacuum sound.  Afterward, I went to a room to dress and got a pad for the bleeding.  Then I went to a room with hospital beds and had juice and cookies. There were other girls there, but all I remember were the very large windows and that I was glad to see the sky.  Driving was a blur, but I remember waiting for my boyfriend to get home from work on a blanket under a tree. It was a gorgeous September day, but the date and place in Milwaukee were eraced from my mind.

I tried to outrun my secret for 20 years - through college, relationships, drinking, playing sports, partying, and moving across country.  My friends married and had kids, and finally loneliness brought me back home.

By 36 I had a failed marriage, and after another failed engagement, I quit drinking, and went into a depression.  I went to a counselor who got me on Prozac, but still never connected my behavior with my abortion.  I look back now and see that I was having symptoms of Post Abortion Stress: Numbing out through addictions, promiscuity, isolation, self-punishing behaviors, choices driven by unworthiness, and even thoughts of suicide. I became very angry when I saw Pro-Life demonstrators. My bumper sticker read, ‘If you’re against abortion, don’t have one.’  I had to think I had done the right thing.

Finally at 41, I cried out to God and finally felt the reality - that I had murdered my only child.  The anguish swept over me as I realized that I could’ve taken different paths.  That my life could have been totally different if I had given birth.  Not perfect – but different, and I would know my 36 year old today.

That night on my knees, I prayed and began trying to live life God’s way.  I joined a church, stopped pre-marital sex and went through a healing Bible study. 4 years later I was married to a Christian with 2 sweet daughters. Over the years, God even helped me name my son Adam. 

Then on September 17th, in Milwaukee, God lead me to a building with very large windows. I came full circle and found peace there, at the site where my son died. 

I participate in any activity where I can speak or hold up my sign that matches my new bumper sticker:  ‘I Regret My Abortion’

To honor my only child, and to warn others, I am Silent No More.

Priests for Life