I was 18. I had turned 18 the month before my abortion and was immature in many ways. My boyfriend was not a good guy. Although I loved him and would've had our baby, he did not want to be a father.
Truthfully, I didn't even consider having an abortion when I found out that I was pregnant at about 4 ½ weeks. I took the test in a Wal-Mart bathroom right after purchasing it, cried for some time in the stall, and went out to my car where my boyfriend was waiting to break the news that we were going to be parents. He immediately asked the cliché line: "So, are you going to take care of it? " I remember thinking "What? Wait, he means have an abortion." It hadn't even crossed my mind.
Fast forward two weeks and about 14+ sleepless nights, he asked again and said that his dad would pay for it. I was shocked and disgusted, but I was panicking. He was not a good boyfriend. He'd cheated on me more than once and was a pathological liar and a thief. But I was insecure and foolish, and he said he loved me and that I made him a better person. We had been together for about a year at that time.
I didn't want to, but I also thought of my parents, who had raised me in the Church. I was a good Christian girl (aside from the premarital sex) and I knew I had a Savior who died for my sins. Yet I didn't really understand what that really meant at that time.
So, I called and made the appointment. It was set up during school hours, and I needed to bring someone with me. So, my best friend said that she would take me. She thought I would regret It, but she loved me and didn't want me to go through it alone, so she worked it out and tied to help me in whatever way she could.
My boyfriend didn't even offer to take me.
I was so scared to go through with it, and I was scared that my parents would never look at me the same way again. I feared that they would never be proud of me or ever really love me anymore if they knew. I was afraid that I was going to miss out on a successful life and have to give up my scholarship that I had just received the week before for a school I was excited about. I was also afraid my boyfriend would leave me, and I'd be a teenage single mother, alone, with no help or love. As much as deep down I knew the potential pain I was causing myself, I didn't think I was strong enough to do it alone.
The day of my abortion, I drove to school and met up with my dear friend. We drove together in my car to her house, to get her car and drive 2 ½ hours to the Planned Parenthood in Arizona. I didn't know then why she didn't just bring her car to school until we pulled up to her house, and her mom was waiting for us outside. Her mom hugged me and told me that she understood what I was feeling. She asked me to reconsider my decision. She told me how she'd gotten pregnant at 16, that she considered having an abortion, and that she had been very close to going through with it. She said that she knew it was going to change her life but that not getting the abortion was the best decision she had ever made. My friend was able to be there for me, because she chose to have her. She was the only adult who tried to talk me out of it. She was the only adult who spoke with me honestly and knew it wasn't easy. I wish I'd talked to her a lot sooner, because the fear had set in completely and the decision, I felt, had been made.
She hugged me again, and we started our drive. I remember getting inside the Planned Parenthood building and feeling ill. The lady at the counter was cold, calculated, and primarily concerned in payment of the services. I told her I had cash. She had me sit and wait to be called back. My friend sat with me, gave me loving hugs, and tried to help calm my nerves. I remember recognizing another girl from school in the waiting room with her boyfriend and thinking to myself, “It's not a secret anymore.” She and I made eye contact and seemed to have the same look, as though to say, "I'm not going to say anything if you don't."
I was called back. I was on my own now, and my friend waited in the waiting room for me. I was escorted to a chair outside of the room where I was instructed to sit and wait for the doctor. So, I sat for a while and was ushered into a room where there was a small ultrasound machine and an examination table for me to lay on. The doctor was like the front desk staff, cold and calculated. She told me that they would have to do a vaginal ultrasound to see exactly how far along I was before they could talk about what would come next. I remember thinking about how uncomfortable it was and how disgusting I felt. I also remember wondering why she had the screen turned away from me. I asked to see it, and she advised me that I was six weeks pregnant. I asked again, and she said that they don't usually show patients, because it's harder on them. I can only assume that is because it shows solid evidence that there really is a baby in there. Everyone knows it, and they probably lose customers that way. I was in shock from that moment on and the rest of the appointment felt more like a dream that I remember. But it wasn't a dream. Instead, it was a living nightmare.
She handed me a small cup of water and a hexagonal yellow pill. She told me that I would take that in the office and how the next steps would work. I asked what it did, she said that it stops the heartbeat and nutrition to the fetus (baby). Then 9 to 12 hours later I was to put four pills in my mouth along my upper and lower gums and let them dissolve completely. That would start the labor at home. I would feel severe cramping and some pain for six to nine hours after that and then sit on the toilet and let my body do the rest. It was graphic and scary. I sat for a moment and thought, “I know I’m making a mistake, but it will all be over soon.” She gave me several bottles of pills in a brown paper bag and sent me off. I paid the lady at the front and walked out where my friend was waiting with a sweet and anxious look on her face. She stood and gave me a big hug, and we left. Not more than thirty minutes into or drive back home I got extremely dizzy and nauseous. She had to pull over so I could vomit. Then I slept for most of the ride after telling her about it. I think both of our hearts broke at that moment, and the reality of what I just did set in. You see, it was at that moment that I knew I had killed the life inside me, the life that only I could protect. It was at that moment that I realized, really realized, that I had just killed my baby.
I got home, felt horrible, and went to bed. I woke to my mother coming home and told her I had left school because I was so sick. She was worried about me and let me stay home from school the next day, thinking I had the flu. I took the four pills the next morning at the time I was instructed to do so, and I laid on the couch. My parents were at work, and I started going into labor in the bathroom, alone. I remember feeling so much pain and not knowing what to do, I would panic and cry and bleed and vomit, I went through that for the next six hours. The last three hours, things slowed down, and I started to feel empty in my womb and my soul. I was stripped away in my core, and nothing would ever be the same.
Weeks of depression followed. My boyfriend carried on as usual, but I had no desire to be intimate. I was angry. I was angry with him and mostly myself. The only person who was there was my friend. I didn't talk about it much, except to tell her that I would be ok. Shame, guilt, fear, and now hatred and sadness overtook me. Shame in myself and the shame I would feel if my parents found out about the abortion. Guilt for what I was now fully aware that I had done. Fear of losing my parents’ love if they found out about the abortion. Hatred of myself. Hatred of what I had become after making this most selfish decision. Hated of my relationship with my boyfriend. The depression was intense, and I just pushed through each day feeling sad and having no one to blame but myself.
One of the additional mistakes I made was that, before my abortion, an old friend who I had grown apart from sensed that there was something up with me. She was my best friend for 12 years, and she had changed a lot, so we drifted into different circle. Although I still loved her, I didn't really trust her as I had before. She came to me and asked me what was going on. I told her that I didn't want to talk about it, but she pressed me, so I made her promise not to tell a soul, and then I confided in her.
After my abortion, two weeks had gone by, and I was in history class when I got called to the office. I went to the front desk, and they told me to go out to the parking lot where my dad was waiting in the car. I knew that he knew. I knew that this was it, the end of my horrible secret. I went to the car, and he handed me a paper. It was my old friend’s handwriting, which I knew well. It was addressed to a guy she'd been writing in jail, whom she had had a crush on for a long time. He was the son of our youth pastor but was a troubled kid who'd made bad mistakes and got thrown in jail for them. Apparently she had been writing to him for some time, and her parents found a copy of this letter in her room, which talked about my being pregnant and how she "knew my abortion would be a sin" and "felt like the baby's life was in her hands." Ironically though, she didn't try to talk me out of it, not once. She didn't say any of that to me. I was reluctant to even tell her about any of it, and this was exactly the reason why. I couldn't trust her.
I read the letter and asked my dad what he wanted me to say. "Is it true?" He asked. I told him it was true that I got an abortion. But her letter is not. I explained, and he sobbed. We immediately drove home. He called my mom on the way and told her to get home. She was concerned but came right away. There were no words from my dad as I sat in the living room waiting for my mom. My mom came inside in a hurry and asked what was wrong. My dad handed her the letter and explained what I had told him. She just started to sob and then couldn't look at me or talk to me. I cried in the days that followed and answered their occasional questions.
I constantly had to relive it and never got a hug or a loving word from them. They told my brothers. who were in the military, and both were heartbroken. My oldest brother cried and told me he loved me. My mom scheduled me my first OBGYN appointment to make sure I was ok and that there was nothing left inside me. She insisted on being there, which was awkward and uncomfortable. It was another strange doctor and a vaginal ultrasound stick, poking his way around. But this time it was an old man who gave me an uncomfortable feeling. I remember laying on the table waiting for the results, my mom still not talking to me, and praying that God would just let the wall fall on me, crush me, and put me out of my misery. That was the first time that I felt like I just wanted to die. I felt worthless and less than that.
My parents didn't know what to do. They tried to get me some counseling from a pastor and friends of theirs, but it was just judgmental, and I was embarrassed that they told them in the first place, because I didn't know or trust them the same way my parents felt they did.
Each day that passed was hard until things started to get a little better. My mom and dad started showing me love again and checking in with me. They were lost, and I understood that and felt guilty for it. I was not the same person and felt like an old woman in a young women's body. My boyfriend and I stayed together but were on and off for the next couple years. We even had a very short engagement until I broke it off. My parents have apologized for how they handled the whole thing and are closer to me than ever. They are some of my dearest friends as well, and I trust them beyond what I could've imagined.
For years I've struggled and buried the feeling of pain and shame I caused myself. I have repented and know I'm forgiven, but I had never really forgiven myself.
God, however, has blessed me beyond measure. He brought me to my amazing husband, to whom I've been married to for eight years. I really knew God's unending love and forgiveness when I found out I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter in 2014—exactly seven, the number of completion, years after my baby, who waits for me in heaven now, was taken from this earth. Then God blessed us again, this time with an adorable son in 2017.
After the abortion I always thought that God would be just in not giving me children, and that I had lost the privilege of having children due to that enormous mistake. But God in His loving and complete mercy had a different plan, a perfect plan for my life. He took the worst decision I've made and made a good life for me, regardless of that decision. He has given us so much love through the years.
I still struggle with my abortion, but I want to heal, as much as I can heal. Although I know I will carry this hurt forever, I want to be a light in the lives of other women and families, who are going through similar experiences or are contemplating whether they will get an abortion. All these reasons and many more are why I am silent no more.