At the age of only 16, I found myself pregnant. My immediate thought was, how will I tell my parents, my family and friends, my church. My sin of premarital sex would be exposed. It was bad enough that I did not keep my promise to God and to my future husband, but now I am pregnant. Those thoughts are normal and did not last long. I quickly realized that I needed to make a plan for my child. However, I felt pressured into aborting so I decided to go through with it and make an appointment for an abortion. As I looked through the yellow pages in the phone book, I could not believe that my life had come to this. I knew abortion was wrong, and I loved God. How could I do this? When I was on the phone with the clinic, it was clear that I was young, conflicted, and confused. I finally made the appointment. When I learned that a pain reliever would cost extra, I began to say, “never mind, I don’t think I could go through with that”. They asked me my age, then offered it to me at no additional charge. I remember thinking, but how could they do that? Why are they offering this to me? (Now, I know why)
I immediately regretted making that appointment. So much that I decided to tell everyone at school, my family, and my church (who I was so close to). Now, I could NOT possibly go through with an abortion because everyone knew that I was pregnant.
All of these years, I wondered “God, where were you? Where was my support? How could this happen? I was only a child” Recently, I have looked back through this with my adult lens. And I realized that I DID have support, and God was there. But because I was living in sin, I believe that my judgement was clouded. I refused all help and did not even realize it. Now looking at this, I see that there were three times where God intervened. (I do not believe that the number three is coincidental)
1. While waiting for the dreadful day of my abortion appointment, a lady from my church stopped me and asked me what my plan was. She told me that if I decided to not keep my baby, that she knew of a couple who could not have kids and they would love to adopt my child. I knew that this baby would have two loving parents who wanted nothing more than a child. Without hesitation, I replied, “I could never give up my baby”. In my head, I instantly said “but I could kill my baby??” I have had guilt all these years of robbing that couple (that I don’t even know) the opportunity to have a child. I have always wondered if they were ever able to adopt or to have a child of their own. I had a choice. Adoption was a choice for me.
2. My dad was living in Texas at the time. He asked me to come live with him and he would help me. While I had support here in PA, I believed that I could go to Texas that and the reasons as to why I felt pressured to abort would no longer be. So, I asked my mom and she agreed to let me do what I felt was best for my situation. I decided to waste no time in preparation for the move. The very next day I quit cheerleading (I know, this was the least of my worries. But I was preparing to save my baby, so I needed to get ready to be a full-time parent). I had paperwork signed for school for my last day. I told my teachers that I would only be there for one more week. I turned in all my textbooks and I imagine I said my goodbyes on my “last day of school”. I do remember my teachers and the administration giving me confusing looks because I took it on myself to do all the necessary paperwork. Maybe I was afraid if I involved my mom too much, she would want me to stay. After all, I did not give her much time to give in to my request. I had a choice. Moving was a choice for me.
3. Thursday December 3, 1999, the day of my abortion appointment, I was not in school. My pastor’s wife called the school to pull me out for an appointment she had made for me at the Women’s Care Center. This facility is pro-life and would have counseled me and clearly given me my options. The Women’s Care Center is where I went to have a pregnancy test done when my at-home test was positive. The lady there asked me what my plans were, I said “to have my baby”. If only I had been in school that day and gone to the counseling appointment that was scheduled for me. I missed it by just one day. I had a choice. Having my baby with support from my church and my family was a choice for me.
The night before and the morning of my abortion appointment, there were three MORE times where I could have chosen a different option. Now looking back, I wonder, would things have been different if I did not give such a quick, closed off, and angry response. If you are struggling, please feel free to get in touch with me and I can share those personal moments with you (I have shared them with others, and it could be lifesaving to you). To this day, I have guilt about those times. As an adult, I can clearly see that the person with me may have also been reconsidering. I was so overtaken by darkness that I simply did not question it.
The morning of my appointment. I remember the walk to and from were the longest walks I have ever walked. I remember hoping that there would be tons of protestors begging me to not go in, maybe yelling and scaring me. And I would say “ok! Thank you for helping me out of this!”. This one part is unclear and foggy, and I wish I could remember, but I believe the trauma has blocked it out. I vividly remember one lady saying, “please don’t do this” and I thought to myself, I will keep walking and I will wait for the next person. Maybe the next person can say something more convincing. But there was only an empty parking lot. Looking back, I know that God did send that one person on the sidewalk to me. I was angry because there was nobody to stop me in the parking lot. Now, I know that that would not be permitted.
They say that it will only be a few minutes. And they are correct in that the procedure will only take a few minutes. But I spent five hours contemplating on what to do. As I sat in the waiting room and looked around me, people acted as if this was a normal doctor's office and that this was just any other day. I could not believe I was here. When I was called back, I thought that it would be time for the abortion. But it was only the beginning of a long and sad day. The first time I went back, it was for a sonogram. I asked to see it, but I was denied. I remember asking repeatedly for MY sonogram. I saw a part of it for a moment then the screen was quickly moved. I asked if I could keep the sonogram. I was asked "why??" and was told "no". No? Why not?? This makes no sense. I then re-entered the waiting room and was asked, "did you do it?" I almost said yes just so we could leave. But I didn’t. I was then called back again. It is what they call “counseling”. I was with about five other women who were all scared and quiet just like me. A lady showed us a screen and went over the procedure. She used terms like zygote and fetus. When she asked if there were any questions, I was the only one to raise my hand. I asked several questions, and I was NOT given answers. I wanted to be sure that I understood what all would happen, so I would point to the picture and say something like “so this will happen to the baby?” All of the girls gasped and looked at me in terror and the lady presenting was angry. She said no “fetus”. I asked again “but you mean the baby? I am not trying to argue, I just want to make sure I know what will be happening”. She replied with “no, the excess tissue”. When I asked, "what will I tell people?? I have already told everyone I know that I am pregnant". She replied with, "just tell them you had a miscarriage". I asked for the details of that so I would know how to share my lie. She looked bothered and said something to the effect “its excess tissue, it's cleaning out the uterus and that is what we are doing today. It's like having a miscarriage”. That stuck with me. I would justify it as “its only excess tissue, it will not feel anything, there is nothing really there, it's like an induced miscarriage”. When I re-entered the waiting room, I was asked again “did you do it?” I almost said “yes”, but I did not. This went on for almost five hours and each time I thought “next time come back in the waiting room, I will say yes, it's over”, but I never did.
If you are skimming to the bottom of this post, PLEASE READ THIS PART. It was time for my abortion. I asked if the person with me could come back with me during this time. The staff gave me a hard “no” and I had to go back alone. I sat on the table, contemplating, scared, and now desperate to leave. I told the nurse next to me, “I change my mind. I am going to leave.” She appeared to be gentle and caring and said “honey, you’ll be fine. It will only be a few minutes” I remember looking over at the suction tubes and machinery and asking questions. When they told me that after the abortion, they would assemble the fetus back together, I about lost it. Remember, earlier I was told that this was excess tissue. I was six weeks along in pregnancy. They are now telling me that if they accidently leave parts in me, I could have an infection. So, they would need to make sure they had two arms, two legs, and so on. I knew I could not do this. I began to sit up and said, “I’m sorry, I’m leaving.” I was told “no”. I could not understand why I was not permitted to leave (so much for my body my choice, right??) I said, you were already paid, you can keep it, I don’t understand. The lady gently laid me back down and brushed my hair and said, “you’ll be ok”, as she held my right arm down. Another nurse came around and held my left arm down. I quicky realized that she was not trying to comfort me, so I began to sit up and scream. I screamed at the top of my lungs. The nurse to my right said, "get more people over here" and I can remember the look on her face (look of annoyance). Two other people came over. I was now held down by four people. One at each arm, and one at each leg. The “doctor” came over, did not say one word to me, looked annoyed, and began to work as I yelled at the top of my lungs. He became upset with me when I would not “be still” and be quiet. I yelled, cried, and felt instant remorse as it was happening. All wondering, "God, where are you?"
The recovery room was filled of crying women. It’s got to be one of the saddest recovery rooms in the world. I was given maybe 20 minutes to recover. Then, I was expected to go on like nothing had happened.
Since I had already missed school that day, I went home, went to bed, and got up to go to school the very next day. Since then, I have NOT been the same person. I have been forever changed. This decision that was supposed to be the easy way out, that was supposed to be safe for me, that was supposed to make my life better, only made it worse. The abortion clinic told me their lies, but they did NOT tell me that I would:
- Contemplate suicide and have a plan to carry it out
- Would be triggered by this time of year
- Triggered when I am around babies (used to be, I am no longer, thanks to God)
- That I would carry this guilt not for a few minutes but for the rest of my life
- That as a 38-year-old, I STILL weep over the death of my baby while driving to work a few times a week- still!
- That I could not properly grieve my actual miscarriage that I would have years later because I was just so happy that this time, it wasn’t my fault
- The guilt I would have years later that I robbed my parents and the father's parents of their first grandchild. The guilt of thinking how this affected my family and my church family.
- Turning away from God because I though He left me. Then there was guilt for not bringing my children up in a Christian home.
- Having a hardened heart and become lonely
-That I would go on to make poor life choices that would affect me forever.
- Struggling to enter my old high school when my daughter played volleyball. Crying while watching her play and having to hold it together.
- Only thinking of this time of my life when I enter my hometown or run into people from my past. I don’t even have my maiden's name on my social media because I want nothing to do with my past.
-When I threw a graduation party for my stepchild, and I realized that I should have been preparing for 2 graduation parties.
-Becoming depressed when my oldest was the age I was when I met the father, and the depression continued when she was the age I was at the time of my abortion. This would continue on with my second child leading to depression for more than five years straight.
- The guilt for wasting the last 22 years of my life not helping others.
I am ready to help others to not make the same mistake I did, and this is why I’m silent no more!!