God Gave Me Another Chance to be the Mother He Knew I Could Be
A post-abortive mother speaks out on abortion and God's forgiveness
When I was 20, I was dating someone I thought I was head over heels in love with. It was a relationship that got very intense very quickly. I would come over for dinner and end up staying for weeks at a time. It got to the point that I lived at his apartment more often than my own and he would get angry if I wanted to go home to my own apartment for any length of time. I would attempt to make plans with my friends, or reach out to family just to talk, and I was met with jealousy and rage.
It wasn’t long before I was accused of cheating, even though we were never apart and I was isolated from everyone I knew. Periods of volatility, and sometimes violence, were followed by floods of affection that I believed I no longer deserved.
One morning, I snuck out before my boyfriend woke up. As I was driving home, a wave of nausea came over me, which was very unusual for me. I already knew my period was a little bit late, but it tended to be pretty irregular as it was. I didn’t give it much thought until I was throwing up on the side of the road. I started mentally preparing myself to take a pregnancy test. All four of them were positive.
‘Send It Back to Meet Its Maker’
When I told my mom I was pregnant, I didn’t even need to say the words. Once I said, “Mom, I have to tell you something,” she knew right away what it was. She assured me she was there for me, though I could tell she was disappointed and angry.
When I told my boyfriend, he told me he didn’t want anything to do with “it” and to “send ‘it’ back to meet ‘its’ maker.”
Needless to say, I was devastated.
I didn’t have health insurance, so the first thing I did was go to Planned Parenthood to find out what my options were. They confirmed that I was pregnant and asked me if I was planning to continue my pregnancy. I stuttered when I said I didn’t know. So they came back with a list of abortion clinics I could go to because for some reason they didn’t perform them at that particular location.
Despite how afraid I was and that I had visible bruises on my arms and legs, they never counseled me any further. I was told that if I wanted to schedule an appointment for an abortion at their other location, then to call and make an appointment as soon as possible. I left the clinic feeling like I must be crazy to believe that I could ever be a mother if even medical professionals assume I am incapable.
As days passed, my boyfriend tried harder and harder to persuade me that I “didn’t need to ‘do this,’” and that I had my whole life ahead of me for children. He said things like, “It’s not even a real baby, it’s just a clump of cells.” “It can’t feel anything.” “It’s not a person.” As well as threats, such as, “If you have this baby, we’re done” and “I want to marry you and have children, but not ‘like this.’”
As the pervasive toxicity of the relationship with my boyfriend unraveled, my mom panicked about how to advise me. On one hand, she said she supported me. On the other, she was only prepared to support me if I made one specific decision — to have an abortion. The only people I had to talk to were the very people who couldn’t support me the way I needed them to.
I remember lying in bed alone at my apartment, trying to get in touch with what I, as my own person, actually felt. But all I could hear in my head were the voices of people around me telling me what a failure I was, how unstable and weak I was. Still, I pondered about life’s impermanence. How things can change in an instant, and how my pregnancy was living proof of that — literally. I thought about all the obstacles in my way — career, finances, emotional support, and I wondered how so many others had sprung up from dire situations and stood strong to tell the tale.
I thought about my parents being financially secure for so many years, and then losing their careers in the 2008 housing market crash, and learning to rebuild themselves. Life was constantly changing. Why should I deny my own child the right to live just because of my own current circumstances that could be completely different in a matter of weeks, months, or years from now? In my heart, I knew what was right and what I wanted to do.
But doubt won. The pressure to abort for everyone else’s sake somehow felt more immense than saving the life of my own child, which I was repeatedly reminded was not even a child at all — further solidifying the belief that I was simply going crazy if I believed otherwise.
I made the decision to abort my baby. No one ever wants to talk about the fact that I didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. I have since found out that this is very often the case for many women who seek abortion. And if we’re all being honest, this is probably one thing pro-choice and pro-life advocates can both agree on. Which begs the question — why do we call it “Pro-Choice”?
Health Code Violations
My boyfriend told me he couldn’t come with me for the abortion because he “couldn’t get a ride,” so on the day of the appointment, my mom came with me instead. When we pulled up to the clinic, I thought we were in the wrong place because the building looked so run down and dilapidated. When we walked inside, the air was hot and stagnant, the floors looked like they hadn’t been mopped in months, and the entire clinic felt unsanitary and worn out.
I only recently found out that it was cited with numerous health code violations a few years after my abortion, which include a failure to sterilize instruments and provide a sanitary environment, failure to document credentials, failure to note a discharge diagnosis, and failure to ensure confidentiality of medical records. The doctor that performed my abortion had a history of malpractice suits that included incomplete abortion, bowel laceration, and ruptured ectopic pregnancy. He was banned by the California Medical Board based on the actions taken against him by the Maryland Board of Physicians, placing him on probation and subjecting him to a $10,000 fine for providing substandard care and verbally abusing patients.
No One Checked on Me
After I filled out some paperwork about my medical history, I was called back to the exam room and told that no one was allowed to come back with me. My vital signs were taken and an ultrasound was done. I was almost 13 weeks pregnant. When I asked if I could see my baby, I was told I couldn’t. They said it wasn’t a good idea and that they try not to show patients the ultrasound. I could feel myself starting to cry.
At that point, I was taken to another exam room where I was given a cervical ripening medication called Cytotec. I had no real comprehension of what this actually meant or what to expect after taking it, but I was left alone in the exam room for about an hour after taking it, experiencing what I now know to be labor contractions. I had never experienced such pain in my life. I was sweating profusely, alternating between curling up in a ball or pacing from one end of the room to the other, doing whatever I could to get through the pain. I eventually got so nauseous that I went to the bathroom across the hall and vomited. No one came to check on me.
Assembly Line Abortions
Eventually, I was taken into another room where the abortion was performed. My memory of the procedure is fragmented as I was given what’s known as “conscious sedation,” which is a combination of a pill for anxiety, and an injection containing both pain medication and a sedative. I do remember that the doctor barely spoke to me, that it was over very quickly, and that afterwards, I asked if my baby was okay. I was told not to turn my head in their direction because I wouldn’t want to see what they were doing. They told me not to worry, it’s all over, and to rest until the medication wore off a bit.
When I was stable enough to stand and walk, I was escorted into a crowded room where several other women were all being observed by a medical professional after either having a surgical abortion or in the midst of a medical abortion. I remember feeling as though we were being treated like cattle, not as human beings but more like numbers on an assembly line. After about half an hour, I was sent home with a piece of paper containing some post-care instructions. I stopped at the CVS across the street to buy maxi pads, and then I went home. I didn’t talk about that day with anyone for the next six years.
My Second Chance
The truth is, although I didn’t realize it at the time, I had been grieving an abortion — a child. My child, whom I had never seen or held or heard, but who I knew intimately. And who I failed to protect. I wondered — did I miss my one and only chance to be a mother? And did I even deserve to be one?
My new boyfriend, Charles, and I had only been dating for a few months before I got pregnant. We were terrified. I was between jobs and trying to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life. I had been drinking lot and carrying around so much emotional baggage and turmoil without any conscious understanding as to why. I found myself unprepared for parenthood in almost every way possible. I did pretty much anything my flesh desired. I was living in darkness, without God. On paper, it all seemed like a disaster. But, even so, right away, I knew what I wanted to do.
After taking several pregnancy tests and pacing around the streets of Baltimore trying to gather my thoughts, I headed to my local human services department to sign up for medical assistance since I couldn’t afford health insurance — because I was going to keep my baby.
On June 3rd, 2015, at 4:11 in the morning, I was draped over what my now-husband (were not married at the time of my son’s birth) would refer to as “the noodle bowl.” It was a large tub filled with warm water. After twenty-four hours of labor, I heard my midwife say to me, “Reach down and grab your baby!” In that moment, I gave birth to a son, catching him into my own hands. As I grasped his slippery body and held him close to my chest, I watched his eyes meet mine for the first time, and I fell in love.
A Divine Forgiveness
I knew there was no way for me to live with myself after my abortion without divine forgiveness. And I knew there was no one on earth who I would believe if they had told me I wasn’t a bad person. My heart was sorrowful and contrite.
I asked God’s forgiveness, and little by little my heart started to heal. God gave me another chance to be the mother He knew I could be. I began praying more. I went back to church. I became a confirmed Catholic. And He remains the most important relationship in my life.
If you’ve had an abortion and are in despair, please know that healing is possible. God wants you to come to Him with your grief, so that you can be forgiven and all of your pieces can be made whole again.