I opened the door of the clinic, leaving the bright, warm afternoon behind me. Disoriented from the change in light and temperature, my heart raced and my palms felt sweaty. I blinked, adjusting my eyes to the dimly lit reception area.
Discreetly, I didn't look anyone in the face. In my peripheral vision I noticed an attractive black woman scratching a pen on a clipboard full of forms. Another woman, much older than me, flipped through a ragged magazine, silently agreeing with my no-eye-contact rule.
I felt small and unimportant. I stood hesitating, working up my nerve.
Somewhere a radio station played an instrumental tune that I'm sure was meant to soothe me but only sharpened my fear.
My mind rehearsed all the reasons that this was a good idea. Nobody cared. Nobody would ever know. (One thing I've learned in life: whenever you say, "No one will know," the most important people already know: you and God.)
I ignored the tiny fluttering of protest I felt in my tummy. (Is that the baby?) I felt my decision waver but, as if on cue, the receptionist stepped out from behind her imposing counter to greet me. Again, it was all about me.
Yes, she understood my dilemma. How right and smart and modern I was for coming by. I felt sympathy. I grew bolder.
Would I care for some water? I pushed past the niceties and dutifully accepted a clipboard and pen. Even before I finished, a cheerful nurse (I assumed) called me to the back. I barely remember writing my name, listening to the nurse describe the procedure, making my payment.
A shriveled doctor with cold hands strolled in, repeating the same information. I nodded my understanding. Yes, I had signed everything.
I saw the receptionist again. She handed me a paper gown and offered another "You're so brave" smile.
Dutifully I lay down on the paper-covered bench. The pain medicine made me woozy. The music seemed louder. Was the doctor humming between my legs? A nurse entered the room to witness my shame. I covered my face with my hand. I felt the doctor's cold, dry hands on my skin. I ignored the clattering of instruments, his incessant humming.
"It's not too late!" I thought. Then it was.
I felt the cold scraping inside of me. One, two, three. I muffled a cry. Tears, hot and hypocritical, slid down my face. I welcomed the warm rush of blood I felt between my legs, wishing I could die too.
I don't remember what happened in the next few minutes.
The nurse wheeled me into a "recovery area," where I was told I had to rest with my feet up for thirty minutes. As I rolled down the hall on an odd bed-chair combination, I looked forward to having a moment to myself. Everything had happened so quickly!
I wanted to cry, scream and cry, some more, but preferably in private. Out of sympathy or perhaps a sad habit, the nurse stuffed a few tissues into my hands. With a good push, I passed through the swinging doors to join a miserable company of four other women.
Except for the crying of one young woman, the room was as quiet as a grave.
The nurse gave us a pep talk about the recovery time, having sex, and what to take for pain. I don't know what anyone else was thinking; it hardly seemed appropriate to ask. I knew that what I had just allowed to happen was wrong, wrong, wrong.
I watched the clock's minute hands spin slowly around. I wanted to flee, to run and hide.
My friend pulled into the driveway and whisked me away. I wasn't supposed to drive. I don't know why but I turned to look back.
I’d left my baby behind. I’d denied her her life. I’d taken everything away from her in just a few seconds: her first smile, her first step, her first kiss. All her happy life, stolen by the only person she should always count on - her Momma.
I can't find the words to explain the depths of my misery, how I felt then and for so long afterward. When I couldn't cry anymore, I found new ways to help me forget. To smother the anger, the guilt, my great remorse.
My life is so different now. Many sad experiences happened between that first abortion and the God-life I have now. Before my visit to the Cross, I submitted to three abortions.
Sometimes when we sit around the dinner table, Kevin, my husband; Ryan and Jesse, our boys, I think about the other three who should be there. I wonder about the relationships I stole from my living children too. Together we should be laughing, loving, and living.
I know that God has forgiven me. Without a shadow of a doubt I know it. Still, sometimes I don't want to be forgiven. I want to go back and do it over again. I want my children.
I know that by the power of the Holy Spirit they are with me, waiting, not to condemn me for my sins against them, but to love me and let me finally be Momma.