I am a child of God. I am His daughter, His princess, His brown-eyed girl and his devoted and loving child. I’m pretty happy with this arrangement, and I’m sure so is He. I spent a good deal of this early summer learning and getting comfortable with myself, and my God. It took a lot of hard work, tears and revelation to be able to admit, privately and publicly, that I had an abortion when I had just turned 14 years old. It’s not something you can just discuss over lunch with a friend, or blurt out at some perceived opportune moment. Even now I have difficulty putting this “out there” for all to know, but the difference is now I know it serves a purpose. If telling my experience can save just one girl/young woman/woman from choosing abortion over any other option, I will consider this sacrifice of privacy a success.
Yes, I found myself pregnant at the age of 13, in 1974. Surprised? I was! As a 13 year old in 1974, I was extremely naïve, and just plain didn’t know much. So when a young man approached me (he was also 13) and wanted to be my boyfriend, and he gave me lots of attention, I was flattered and loved the attention. Who wouldn’t? We took that next step, and we weren’t careful. As I look back I think “What was I thinking???” Well, obviously I wasn’t.
There are some blank spots in my memory surrounding that summer. Somehow our parents found out, and took it from there, making the decisions and all of the arrangements to get things taken care of quietly so that he (the baby’s father) and I would be able to continue on with our lives without interruption or inconvenience… I guess. The next thing I knew, I was being admitted to Crouse Hospital for three days, and my parents left me there alone. I wouldn’t discover until decades later that I was never alone. But here I was. This was not to be your “simple” abortion, by the way, somehow months had gone by before my admittance, and I was now almost 5 months along, well into my second trimester. So a “saline abortion” had been ordered by my OB/GYN. Now, at my age, I had no idea what was even happening, all I cared about was if it was going to hurt. As I stared at the 10″ needle that was about to be inserted into my uterus, my doctor and his attending nurse tried to reassure me. I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, thinking about being able to go home and go horseback riding… after all, it was summer vacation!
Somewhere in the middle of the night the contractions began and kept me awake. I labored for the better part of 10 hours in my hospital room, by myself, as I watched the nurses going about their routine outside in the hall. I remember thinking to myself when would this end and what would be the result? When could I go home? Then I remembered “three days” and knew I’d be able to leave the next day. The nursing staff pretty much ignored me and left me to myself as I felt like my stomach was about to explode. Why hadn’t I been allowed breakfast that morning when I woke up? Finally, after an eternity, I had to push and my child was born in the hospital bed. I felt the little arms and legs jerk between my legs, and I called for a nurse. A 40-something year old woman came into the room and seemed surprised to see a baby there, but she began to wrap him up and prepared to whisk him away to who-knows-where. I quickly asked if it was a boy or girl, and she hastily told me my son had been born alive… then they were gone. My parents picked me up the next evening after they finished work, and they took me home as if I’d just had my tonsils out. It was never mentioned again, by them or by me.
Decades later, when I began having bouts of depression and uncontrolled crying, my husband and I were stumped as to why. That is, until I began having thoughts and memories of that summer in 1974, and regrets and doubts about what I should’ve/could’ve done to change my baby’s fate. See, now I had become a Christian woman, a woman of God, and I didn’t believe in abortion… under any circumstance. I believe in life at conception, and under no circumstances should a person take that child’s life or it would be considered murder. Was I really seeing myself in that new light? Certainly I could not be considered a murderer, as I had no control over what my parents did. And they couldn’t be murderers, they were my parents, doing only the best that they could for my benefit and future. Certainly neither God nor I could blame them!
Well the depression and crying continued intermittently. I sent to Crouse Hospital for a copy of the records of that abortion, and I got a clinical 4 page assessment of what happened. “Products of conception” he was called. My baby boy. This year, 2012, it hit me again ~ very hard this time. I confided in a friend, who told me about a post-abortion Bible study group from our church that might be helpful, and she gave me a name and a phone number. I was skeptical, but I made the call and the arrangements to meet with this “group” and commit myself to getting through this and getting better, getting results, getting to the bottom of this. The group was to be 10 weeks long, and we met once a week. Two incredible young, devoted and loving women from church lead the group ~ each confessing that they, too, had been there and back, and that we would get through it and come out alive and better for it. Seriously? Who ARE these people? But I devoted myself to my Monday night sessions, and to the homework as well, which consisted of reading a “workbook” and answering a myriad of questions in addition to reading Bible passages that pertained.
I learned so much from this Bible study. I was finally able to mourn the loss of my child. Society supports women who have lost a child due to miscarriage, or after birth, but nowhere is there recognition or support of a woman who has had an abortion ~ also the loss of a child. And society would say, “Hey, you’ve had 38 years to get over it,” in my case, but does any mother ever truly “get over” the loss of their child? I put it right up there with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and in fact, it is referred to PAS (post abortion syndrome), and it is real. Go figure? Finally a NAME to address what I’d been experiencing, and an avenue in which to get better! I learned how to forgive myself, as God has forgiven me, for being complacent in going along with the plans for my son. I did nothing to thwart his death. I also was able to forgive all of those people involved in this: my son’s father, my parents, his parents, even the OB/GYN. I needed to forgive and show mercy. Having mercy means that we no longer hope in our hearts that they’ll get what they deserve, no longer want to see them punished. I could finally put the depression, anger, guilt and even the suicidal thoughts behind me. I was finally beginning to feel my life come back to me and my spirits lifted.
At the end of the 10 week study, I felt like a new person (2nd Cor 5:17) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I realize that there will be times when I think about my son, who has since been named, but I know how to deal with these emotions, and on who I can rely and trust. I am my Father’s daughter. Those of us in the Bible study, and our study leaders had a memorial celebration at the end of the 10 weeks at the church. It was beautiful! There were flowers, candles, music and speeches in memoriam of our children. At the end, we let go of helium balloons outside and watched them glide away. Al and I also purchased and planted a beautiful red oak tree in our front yard in memory of the loss. The oak tree will grow big and strong, as I know my son would have. He must’ve been a strong little guy to make it through and survive as long as he did.
And now I’ve been able to move on and put the past behind me. I know someday I’ll be able to see him again in Heaven, and I’m looking forward to that day. Until then, I can rest each day knowing he’s with Our Father, and that my future is set. And I’m thanking God each day that I’ve been Forgiven and Set Free!
4-3-2013 Update ~ Recently our church, Word of Life Assembly of God, in Baldwinsville, NY, helped facilitate a promotional video of the Forgiven and Set Free experience. It can be found HERE on You Tube. It breaks my heart and sets me free each time I see it, remember it, remember him (Kirk Leroy Thomas) and hear that song (about abortion). I hope you’ll visit the link and listen in … can you tell which one is me?