A Heart Laid Bare

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This is going to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever written in my lifetime.  I apologize in advance and must prepare you in all fairness…if you are looking for something encouraging, this is not it. You may be tempted to turn away, but I pray, oh how I pray, that you won’t.  This is going to come at a great cost, at such great exposure for more pain.  But please understand…I have to speak now.

The year was 1986.  I was a junior in college, and I had everything going for me….a spot on the dance team, an almost perfect GPA, an attractive, athletic boyfriend, and a belief that I could do almost anything. My goal was to get a PhD and become a psychologist.  I was fiercely competitive, so when the grades for each exam were posted, I was not satisfied unless my student number was placed by the highest score on the list.

But things suddenly changed.  I began experiencing severe illness that made it difficult to attend class.  My boyfriend took me to see a doctor, and that’s where the shocking news was delivered.  I wasn’t sick at all.  I was pregnant.

This was not my plan.  

This would change everything.

So many questions flooded my mind.  This is a Christian college…can I even stay?  Are we able to be good parents?  How will we get by?  But in my heart, I loved my baby.  I dreamed of what it would be like to hold her for the first time.  I wrote letters to her and even poetry.  It wouldn’t be easy, but we could do this.  My boyfriend and I told our parents the news and made plans to marry and raise our baby.

Oh, the pressure that an unplanned pregnancy adds to the stress of a relationship that is already outside of the will of God!  We began to argue incessantly.  He’d storm out the door, and I’d sit crying, asking myself how on earth I could bring a baby into this.  The stress and tension continued to escalate so badly that I began to lose hope.  I realized that we could not be married. Not like this.

So I ran away.

I broke up with my boyfriend, withdrew from school, and moved home.  I still loved my baby deeply and wanted the very best for her.  I weighed out my options, but each one of them seemed to come at a cost to her.  I could keep her, but what about the stigma of being born to a single mom with no money and no good job?  What about the tug of war that would commence between my and my boyfriend’s family over her?  I could give her up for adoption, which seemed like a very good option, but what if they mistreated her?  The one option that I could not consider was the thought of ending her life.  That was wrong, and I did not believe in it.  Not ever.

And then came the doubts.  “Nothing has to change at all.”  “You can go back to your life, just the way it was.”  “It isn’t fair to bring a baby into these circumstances.”  Somehow the lie began to take hold that the most merciful thing to do for myself and my baby was to keep her from being born at all.  So in February 1987, I made the most regrettable choice I’ve ever made.

I took my baby’s life.

Please forgive me, because I have worked so hard to push this out of my mind.  The painful memories are so very repressed, but I must revive them.  It is too important.  I walked into the abortion clinic, wishing to God that they wouldn’t call my name. My boyfriend wasn’t there and didn’t even know that I was doing this.  I dreaded the sound of my name, but inevitably it was called, and I was taken back to be educated about birth control options, as well as what to expect with the procedure.  I was also given a sedative to help me relax so that I would dilate more easily.

When the drug had time to take effect, they began the process of dilating me.  The doctor was all smiles as he spoke to me, but it seemed like he was overcompensating in a strange and dark way.  He noted that I was actually 11-12 weeks along, not the 10 that they’d assumed,   No bother, they would do the procedure anyway.  When the sound of the machine finally commenced, I suddenly came to my senses.  I was writhing on the table as I begged them to stop.  Sobbing, I cried out, “I’ve changed my mind, I’ve changed my mind.  Stop, I don’t want this!”  The doctor became angry, grimacing as he told me it was too late for that.  Everything began to go black, as the nurses attempted to control my movements and the doctor searched for just the right angle to rid me of my child.

Oh, my child, my dear sweet soul.

Darkness enveloped me, as the room began to spin around and around.  What was happening?  Why was everything spinning? I heard the most horrible sound ever, as my baby went from the safe warm place inside me through a tube and into a jar covered with masking tape.  If you’ve heard the sound of a large object being sucked into a vacuum hose, you have some idea of it.  But this wasn’t a sock or a toy, this was a baby!  My baby!  By now, I was heaving, uncontrollably distraught at the emptiness of my womb, and at the presence of my baby in that jar.  The room continued to spin, as I experienced not just the horrific feeling of a body being torn from mine, but the unimaginable sensation of a soul being ripped away from my own.

The procedure was finished, and the doctor and nurses now despised me.  I couldn’t compose myself, couldn’t dress myself, couldn’t thank them for what they’d done.  No, upon being carried into the “recovery room” a bawling mess, I fell crumpled on the floor, holding my stomach, rolling from side to side, unable to so much as keep my gown from making its way off my body and onto the carpet  I lay on that floor in unspeakable physical, emotional, and spiritual agony, grieving the loss of my baby.

And they hated me for that.

The very next evening, I attempted to join my baby.  Believing now that I’d crossed a line that could or should never be forgiven, I loathed myself.  I felt so empty without her, wishing I could go back in time just two days and protect her…keep her. By God’s good grace and mercy, I did not succeed, and slowly, he drew me with his love.  He beckoned me, for reasons I still fail to understand, to come back to him and his unfailing love.  I begged him for forgiveness.  I had him at hello.

That was 28 years ago, and my boyfriend and I have been married for 27 of those.  We went on to have five more biological children and adopt another.  God has been overwhelmingly, abundantly, exceedingly, and most undeservedly kind to us.  Every single day, though, every single day I walk around with a hole in my heart where a baby once was.  And I see the true version of things.  There were answers.  There was hope.  There was a way.  Abortion was not the answer–not for me, and certainly, most definitely, not for my innocent child.

I finally had to tell it, I need to tell it, because I am sick.  I am overcome with a nausea so deep I could produce bile right here and now, because we are silently enduring the most horrific lie.  Having just learned that babies are now being cut open and sold for parts like old cars in a junkyard, we continue to abdicate to the lie that there simply are no better answers for these women.  FOR GOD’S SAKE, not only do we owe babies more than this, we owe the MOTHERS more than this!

Please, can we PLEASE get loud with our love?  Can we not cry out to these mothers who deep down, as I was, are wishing that anyone at all would present them with some hope that there is a better way?  Can we not stand up to our government and tell them not another dollar will we pay for this massacre?  Can we not lay ourselves down for these precious souls who deserve so much more than being sold for parts or even just tossed from a jar?

As a grieving mother, I’m begging you to stop this holocaust.

Note to reader:  In Christian circles, there is sometimes a pressure to embellish one’s testimony.  In contrast, my temptation has been toward minimizing my own.  I long to protect my loved ones, especially my children, from the painful truth.  I pray you join me in recognizing my baby’s story exactly as it took place, in an attitude of grace and prayer for my family.

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