I will never forget the buzz of the vacuum. Nor will I forget the insensitive nurse informing me, “this part shouldn’t hurt” as she forcefully pressed down on my abdomen while the life-sustaining water poured out, splashing on the floor.
My vision blurred with tears and I sobbed loudly as I thought about my baby’s body. There would be no proper burial. I would never hold her; never know who she would become. My heart ached. Soon, I awoke in the recovery room and reached down for my tummy. I could feel my womb’s emptiness. My heart missed her but I also felt relief.
A few months prior, I met my first boyfriend. He told me he loved me and made me feel special. Growing up, my dad hardly said those words to me and open affection was rare. I yearned to hear those words and to be held. So, I gave myself to the first boy who did.
When I missed my period, I didn’t want to believe it. I took a pregnancy test at my best friend’s house and it turned positive in 2 seconds. I was stunned. My immediate thought was my parents are going to kill me. My friend did her best to reassure me as I sobbed.
I was sixteen, top of my class, on drill team, a member of the band, and my parent’s pride and joy. My family was highly involved in my church leadership roles. I became overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. The thought of walking around school and church with a baby bump was unbearable, along with the disgrace I would bring my family.
I went to my two closest cousins for advice. Over a period of days they helped me see that although having a baby at a young age would not be easy, it could be done. I talked with my boyfriend. He too was worried about how his parents would react. I told him I wanted to keep the baby and he supported me.
I went to my mom, while my dad was at work, and told her timidly, “Mom, you’re gonna be a grandma.” She responded by telling me I absolutely could not have the baby. She would pay for an abortion.
She listed many reasons why keeping the baby would be a bad idea – I had too much going for me, it would hurt my dad too much, I would never be able to support the baby…I was shocked. I didn’t expect excitement but I definitely had not expected this reaction. I told my mom I didn’t want an abortion. She insisted and reluctantly I decided she was right; it would be easier and better for everyone.
I told my boyfriend the final decision and although he did not agree, his input had no effect on my decision since he would not be putting his future and reputation on the line. In hindsight, I see my selfishness.
I found a clinic to admit me quickly since my belly was getting harder to hide. It was located in a rough part of town. When I arrived with my cousin there were pro-life supporters at the entrance holding large signs with the simple message “LIFE” and a picture of a baby in the womb. I tried to avoid eye contact. I could sense their compassion but I was determined.
Many women sat in the lobby, all with their heads turned down. Several of us were transferred to a waiting room. One girl mentioned she was there for her fifth abortion while another girl was curled up in her chair weeping. Another had traveled from a distant state because this state allowed abortions in the third trimester. I just sat there, wanting it to be over.
At about 22 weeks, my baby’s life was terminated. Because I was in my second trimester, the abortion was performed over two days. I left the clinic and returned to school the next day. I finished my junior year astonishingly well.
A year later during my senior year I fell into a very dark depression. The abortion had occurred near Thanksgiving and I was reminded of the loss. I had deceived myself. I had taken a life and could not pretend. I neglected school and failed to graduate. As shame and guilt crushed me, I began to contemplate taking my own life.
My depression led to a series of poor choices, including marriage at the age of 18. In the midst of all this pain, God was working. My husband’s mother worked for a pregnancy center and I confided in her about my past. She pointed me toward a post-abortion Bible study group.
I learned various names and attributes of God, including God, Who is there, God, My Healer and understood He is All Powerful, All Knowing, and Never Changing. I found healing at the cross. Because of every mistake I’ve made, I deserve death. And when Jesus died on the cross, he died the death I deserved so every one of my sins could be paid for. And when Jesus came back to Life, he defeated death, my death, and gave me new life.
Jesus knew I would choose to have an abortion and He died for my decision too. The day I decided to trust in Jesus, I no longer had to drown in my guilt. I had been forgiven.
To commemorate our babies’ lives, we held a ceremony, naming our babies. I felt mine was a girl and named her Christina. Acknowledging her life then accepting responsibility for my choice and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness allowed me to move forward.
Moving forward included forgiving my parents. Over time I understood they were parenting me the way they had been parented. When I saw their humanness I was able to let go of my anger and forgive. Over the years, God has brought healing to our relationships. These days, my dad doesn’t hold back affection or “I love you’s.”
My favorite verse will always be, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” II Cor. 5:17. Praise God for his grace and mercy. By his forgiveness, we can receive new life.
*The author’s name is pseudonym.