When I was 17, I found out I was pregnant. At that time, I had a boyfriend and loved him very much but was very naive and overlooked a lot of things, like the fact that he was an alcoholic, was immature (although older than me), and was in no way ready to be a father. I remember being so happy to find out I was pregnant that I went out and bought prenatal vitamins right away and a maternity top. I called my OBGYN to find out what I needed to do next. My life seemed pretty hopeless, and I was hard up to that point, but the baby turned everything around for me. When told my boyfriend I was pregnant, he seemed surprised but didn’t say he wanted the baby. I really didn’t know what to expect from him. My mother’s response was a different story.
For background, I have no brothers and sisters. My father is an alcoholic, and we were never close. Our extended family was extremely small and, due to my dad’s alcoholism, other family members did not have much to do with us. I was shy; I did not have many friends and was teased in school. That left my mother as the only person in the world I really trusted. It had always been that way. I saw my mother as “superwoman”, who could hold everything together and fix everything. So, when I told her that I was pregnant, I was so hopeful that she would support me and, like she always did, make this situation work out, too. I wanted my baby so much! Of course, I did not think she would be proud of me, but I NEVER expected her to respond angrily. At first, she denied the whole thing. l would say, “I’m going to have a baby,” and she would say, “No, you’re not!” When my father heard us arguing and then found out I was pregnant, he swore, slammed the door, and went out drinking. He never offered to help or even gave an opinion. We never spoke about it. After a few days, my mother finally acknowledged that I was in fact pregnant and said there was no way I was having a baby, she just kept repeating, “You know what you have to do!” The option of adoption was never mentioned. In fact, no other options were mentioned. My mother seemed to have a one-track mind for abortion. I kept waiting for her to calm down and understand, to become the loving mother I wanted with the response I was expecting. But it never happened. She became cold and unloving to me. When she called the abortion clinic and made the appointment, I remember it was so early in my pregnancy that they would not even perform an abortion yet...I was told I would have to wait until I was at least eight weeks pregnant, and I was only five weeks at that time. They said I wasn’t “far enough along”. I was happy about that. I hoped that my mother would change her mind during that time and see that this was a blessing and not an “embarrassment” like she thought. So, for three weeks, I talked to my baby every day and night. I was so proud to be a mother. I was so hopeful. My boyfriend and I remained together. In my mind, I imagined that when the baby came, we would get married, and he would quit drinking and get a job, and life would be perfect. I told my mother every day, “Please, don’t make me do that (get an abortion)...I can’t do that!” It didn’t even occur to me that my mother would go through with making me do “that”.
I felt that way as she drove me to the clinic, as I changed clothes and put on that hospital gown. Even as I got up onto that table. I kept waiting for her to stop everything from happening, but she never did.
I vaguely remember signing some papers before we started. The nurse, or whoever she was, told me not to worry. I could always have a baby later, when I was ready. I felt like I was ready at that time, it was everyone else that wasn’t. She said my baby wasn’t a baby yet. Lies.
I was so scared. It was cold. They asked me if I wanted to be sedated for the procedure, and I said no, because I thought that if I let them put me to sleep, I would never wake up...I was terrified. I was sure that God would kill me for what I was doing. So, I agreed to be awake.
What happened next was the worst pain I had ever had. The nurse told me beforehand that I should expect to feel discomfort, like strong period cramps. More lies.
I began crying, and after a few minutes kept telling them to stop, but the doctor seemed irritated and just snapped back, “I can’t stop now, it’s too late, hold still!” There was a nurse next to me, and she was holding my hand. I’m sure I was crushing hers.
It seemed like forever but not long at all, if that makes sense. When it was over, I was taken to a room where there were other girls. Most were sitting in chairs, but they had me lying down, because I said I didn’t feel good. I kept crying. I heard the others talking about what they were going to do that night, making plans, like nothing ever happened. I was only thinking about my baby. I immediately felt different. Empty. And hopeless again. I felt so much guilt for not fighting hard enough to save my baby. Maybe I could have refused to go to the clinic. Or ran away. But then what?
Looking back, I’m surprised I was not angry at my mother at that time. I think I was just stunned...shocked that she would make me do that and shocked at myself for letting it happen.
My boyfriend and I broke up shortly after the abortion. I started what would be a five-year downward spiral of self-abuse. I ran away from home, drank almost daily, and engaged in many risky behaviors. I hated myself. I didn’t think I deserved to live after letting the abortion happen. I hitchhiked, had a lot of promiscuous sex, and even worked in a strip bar. I didn’t really have a home, but I moved from place to place. I had absolutely no respect for myself. It was like I was daring God to take my life; it was so bad. If anyone had told me that a year later, I would find myself pregnant again and have another abortion, I wouldn’t have believed them. But that’s exactly what happened.
I met an older man who treated me nicely and wasn’t like the others that I knew. He was mature (or so I thought) and seemed to understand my sadness and broken lifestyle. He paid attention to me, something I felt no one else did. A few months later I found out I was pregnant again, and I was so happy! I thought this was a second chance and that everything would work out. I was excited to tell him about the baby, but he had something to tell me—he was married. I couldn’t believe it, but it was true. And then he was gone and wanted nothing to do with me. His wife found out and was very threatening. People who I thought were my friends disappeared. I had no job and ran out of places to stay. I felt ashamed for not realizing that this man was married. The reality of it was I was just a scared, homeless teenager, and I didn’t know what to do. I panicked, so I found myself going home. My mother was willing to take me back, under one condition. She said, “You know what you have to do.” At that point I didn’t think I could be any worse of a person than I already was. So, I moved back home. I let her take me to that same clinic, and I had my second abortion. This time I let them put me to sleep. I didn’t care if I woke up.
That was almost 35 years ago. For a long time, I lived my life the best way that I could, but it was so hard. The relationship my mother and I were left with was awkward and uncomfortable. I became good at compartmentalizing my feelings for her and “faking it” on the outside, but on the inside it was unbearable. Three broken marriages, a hospitalization for suicidal ideation, hundreds of visits to psychiatrists and counselors. They would always tell me I had a lot to be happy and thankful for, but any moment of happiness I had felt undeserved. I have been blessed with many things since my abortions, most of all my three amazing children, but everything was always overshadowed by the monumental regret and sadness and guilt that I felt. If I found myself enjoying something, it didn’t last long. I envied other mothers, as I imagined what it would feel like to just be able to love my children freely without the crushing feeling that I didn’t deserve them. I wondered what it would be like to have a mother that I didn’t hate for making me choose between her love and my own babies. Whenever I thought of my life, it was always in two aspects—before the abortions and after the abortions. I knew I could never go back to the way I felt before them. But I didn’t know how accept the way I felt afterward.
In 2012 I heard about the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat program, and that’s when my healing started. Almost 30 years later. After a long separation from the Church, I found out that God was willing to forgive my sins...even if I wasn’t able to forgive myself. The program started me on a healing journey that I’m still on to this day. I want to help other women by telling my story. I am willing to show my support for the pro-life movement in any way that I can. I want to tell any young mother facing an unplanned pregnancy this: know that you are stronger than you think. Do not give up. Ask others for help. Don’t be afraid to fight for you and your baby! Also, I would strongly advise any mother of a pregnant teen against coercing her to abort. Their relationship as mother and daughter will be forever torn apart.
This is why I am Silent No More.