My abortion happened in the spring of 1996. I’ll never forget; it was around Easter, just before I finished my freshman year of high school. I had been dating a guy three years older, a senior. I couldn’t believe someone so much older took me seriously enough to date me. I had stars in my eyes and would have laid my life down if he’d asked.
We slept together for the first time shortly after we met. Another guy had already taken my virginity, but I didn’t realize that I could stop having sex any time I wanted to. I thought it was normal for me to have sex with the person I was dating at the time and worried about what other people would think if I just suddenly stopped altogether. After all, I was supposed to be tough; wouldn’t I look like a scared little girl if I stopped now?
After a couple of months, his feelings for me began to cool. I had come from a broken home and vowed that I would make any relationship work that came my way; I was devastated by his rejection. Shamelessly, I sobbed and begged him to come back, and for a while he did. But things were never quite the same. I always felt in danger of losing his love, always felt I had to do my best to stay prettier than the other girls or he might find someone else he liked better. I became anorexic to stay thin enough and slept a total of only four or five hours a night. Most nights were spent wondering why he hadn’t called or where he was and who he was with. The times he did call it would be three in the morning, but I would bolt out of bed to answer it so as not to wake up my Dad; I lived and breathed this guy.
By the time I got pregnant, we had been dating on and off for nine months. I wanted to get pregnant because his ex-girlfriend kept coming around claiming she had had his baby and he was thinking of going back to her. I thought if I had his baby he would stay with me and maybe he would start treating me better and we could be together forever. But because my mother wasn’t supposed to be able to have children I thought the problem probably ran in the family and didn’t really believe I could get pregnant.
By the time I realized I was pregnant, the baby was eight weeks along. I was scared to death because my Dad had always told me if anything like this ever happened he would kick me out of the house and disown me. I thought my boyfriend would protect me and our baby, but that didn’t happen. He told his parents who then wanted to talk to me about what we were going to do.
Knowing so little about the developing person inside me, his mom convinced me it was just a blob of tissue that didn’t look anything like a human and we had to get me an abortion as quick as possible before it got too big to abort. She said her son had a whole life ahead of him and I should be able to understand that he couldn’t be tied down to me and a baby so early in his life. And anyway, if I did give birth, she said I was too young to be a good mother and they would get custody of my child so I would never see it again. She offered to put up some money for the abortion, but I would have to pay it back in time.
I panicked. Never had the idea of killing my child crossed my mind. Not for a second. I was only 14 at the time, but even then I knew this was so very wrong. I had hit rock bottom and if my baby had to die, I would die too. I tried to think of the least painful way to die: hang myself, turn on my Dad’s car and let it run in the garage? I didn’t know how to tie a noose or start a stick shift car, and no one I knew owned any guns. I tried cutting my wrists, but there didn’t seem to be anything sharp enough and it hurt too much; I felt like a weak little failure. I couldn’t even kill myself!
I went to the school nurse and questioned her up and down about whether or not it was legal for her to tell my parents if I came to her with something really bad. Once she figured out I was pregnant, she admitted that, by the laws of our state, she was not required to tell my parents. She attempted to persuade me to tell my Dad, but his words rang loud and clear in the back of my mind. This would have to be a secret. She called the abortion clinic and made the appointment for me. We arranged for my boyfriend to pick me up after my first hour class.
The morning of my abortion, I sobbed silently in the shower. I jabbed my belly with my finger and called my baby a parasite, trying to distance myself from what I was about to do. My heart wasn’t in those words, but I knew if I was going to have to do this, I had to do everything I could to keep my mind from envisioning a little face that would never be.
I don’t remember walking from gym class to the nurses office, or out to my boyfriend’s car. Only the long drive down to the clinic with my seat leaned all the way back, so I wouldn’t be sick and so no one would recognize me out of school. We didn’t speak the whole way down and I knew it was the end of our relationship as well—for good this time.
It was an old school building which seemed sickly ironic, and we passed it once on the way. There were no picketers shouting at me or mobs trying to barricade the door. Just one lone voice out on the sidewalk, drown out by my sobs and my boyfriend’s yelling. We went through the metal detector and up the stairs to the waiting room. We sat there for hours, cramped into a room with about 30 other women, all waiting their turn. One woman sat next to me and spoke loudly with her friend about how she already had one son and that was enough. It made me sad to think how callous these people were, workers and patients alike. I wanted so badly for some "crazed, lunatic" Christians to storm the doors and rescue me, but they didn’t come.
I went in for my preliminary pregnancy test and they confirmed that I was pregnant. But the nurse told me things that I learned in later years were all lies to get me to follow through with my decision: like how it could be a tubal pregnancy (which is extremely rare), or how, because I was so young, I could die giving birth.
When my name was finally called, a lump caught in my throat. I signed in and went back to the room where they do the suction abortions. I thought the doctor would be a nice person and take pity on me. He wouldn’t even look me in the face, and was irritated when I resisted. I asked if it would hurt and he said, "It’s gonna hurt a lot more if you go through labor!" Dismayed, I finally gave in. What choice did I have? My boyfriend had driven me here and wasn’t going to let me leave until I went through with it. I couldn’t go home and tell my dad, and it would become blatantly obvious in a few months what was going on. My baby’s life ended that cloudy April day.
I was driven home in silence and left at my house alone. I tried to watch TV, but daytime television is filled with images of children and babies, so I had to shut it off. All I wanted to do was sleep. I couldn’t be in my bedroom because I had already planned where my baby’s crib would sit. I couldn’t take a shower because I envisioned my baby playing in the tub. I wanted to disappear, to just not exist anymore.
I found out later, in my junior year health class, that my baby had developed to the point of looking like a person with arms, legs, and a head, and could feel pain. That will haunt me for the rest of my life. My baby’s name is Natalie and she would have been born in November. She would be almost eight years old now and going into the third grade. I wonder sometimes if she would have been blond like me, if she would have liked to draw and paint. I would trade every success and milestone in my life to have her back. On this earth I will never be able to hold her, kiss her good night, or tell her I’m sorry. I wish I’d had the courage to stand up for Baby Natti.
Through my tragedy Jesus touched my heart and came into my life as my Lord and Savior. I now take full responsibility for the death of my child and for the denial that led to that tragic decision. I now know that:
· I should have never been having sex until I was married, and how I could have stopped any time I wanted to; peers have less respect for someone who sleeps around than someone who stops cold-turkey.
· Sex and boyfriends should not have been my outlet for grief over my parents’ divorce; it only led to more destruction in my life.
· No guy is worth all the trouble I went through to keep someone who clearly didn’t love me.
· The developing child inside me wasn’t just a blob of tissue; she looked like a person from a very early stage.
· No one would have taken my child from me for being so young; that was a lie.
· My Dad was just trying to scare me out of doing something stupid when he said he would disown me; he wept when he found out about my abortion.
· I’m glad I didn’t end my life, because now I can experience the goodness of God’s grace. He’s given me another chance at life after all of this mess I created. And would you believe the rest of my family knows about it now and these days it’s as if none of that ever happened! I give all the credit for that to God!!!
And I also know that He forgives me for what I did. When I asked for His forgiveness, He gave me a clean slate. He remembers my sin no more. For that, I am eternally grateful!!! I know that, when I die, God will welcome me into Heaven and standing next to Him will be my little Natalie.
I am now married to a wonderful man who loves and takes care of me. We’re talking about starting a family soon, and I thank my Father in Heaven for mending my heart so I can do that and not feel ashamed. Natalie will always be my first baby, nothing will change that. But through the Lord’s healing, I’m able to move on with my life and not dwell in my guilt and despair. I am "free indeed"!