The following is an excerpt of what I wrote days before my abortion when I was 19 and struggling with my boyfriend to make a decision.
“I go to college. We are happy. I really do love my family. My father picks up garbage for a living. His is an executive for a major corporation. I don’t know how we came together. We are so different. I didn’t even know him. All I knew was that I liked him. I liked him well enough to let him stay in my room to sleep with me. And after a time, I liked him enough to become the father of a child that was conceived within me. What had we done?
When I found out the truth about being pregnant I did not know where to turn. I couldn’t even cry. He was shocked and found it hard to believe it could happen to him. Who could we turn to? I couldn’t hurt my parents. But would it hurt them more not to know? And what about his parents? Their position in his community would be ruined.
I ask myself what is love? Is the love between us, if there is any, only lasting enough to raise the money for an abortion? Can we make it if we get married? We don’t want to get married. I want my degree.
I don’t even think of it as a child. It is a group of cells within me. We do not believe in abortion. I am scared. Do I pray? Does God still love me? How can I have an abortion? How can I hurt my family? He is frightened. He is not yet a man, but he is a father. The sound of the word seems harsh.
My father is a proud man who never received a ticket to mar his name. How can I, his daughter, not yet 20, say, “Daddy, I’m pregnant. Do you still love me? I’m sorry.” I can’t even conjure up the look on my mother’s face. I cannot bring the shame of my mistake upon them.
And what about him? He is very afraid. He lets me decide and counts on me making the right decision. He doesn’t want an abortion, but what are the other alternatives? Marriage? Shame? Adoption? How can we ruin a third person, created by us, two people not yet ready? I am frightened. I am a mixed up young women of 19 in a bad situation. He is an irresponsible young man of 19. He is frightened. Do these descriptions warrant us the title of Mother and Father?
Is abortion the only answer? Sometimes my mother would tell me life isn’t as we always want it to be and we have to do things we don’t want to do. I am thinking of it now and wonder if God will still love me after I actually go through with the procedure. Am I being selfish? It is my mistake on my conscious and it isn’t necessary to hurt more people than I have to. I don’t believe the alternative I chose is the right one. It goes against everything I believe in. But I also know I can never imagine telling my parents of my deed. I have to live with it every time I see a baby. When I marry, whether to the father or not, I will always remember and for me that is punishment enough.”
The letter above was written 30 years ago. I did not marry the father and what happened after the initial abortion was even worse. I had the abortion, then went back to the clinic six weeks later for a check up and found out I was still pregnant. The doctor told me I had to have another abortion for fear of the health of the remaining child. Twins! I was 19 and I believed the doctor, so I had a second abortion.
Two days later I began to hemorrhage. On the second night of bleeding, while my 17-year-old sister was with me, I bled until I miscarried the parts of my baby still inside of me. I saw an arm. I saw the fetus. I flushed the bowl, relieved that the bleeding had stopped. I don’t remember what I did the next day, but now 30 years later I know I went into an emotional wasteland. I went on to marry happily. I have four children and genuinely believed my life was good. However, I was afraid to go to church. After my first child was born and he was six weeks old I threw up one day when the realization of what I had actually done hit me. I pushed it further and further away, until my father died. That was when I couldn’t control things anymore. Within six months of his death I began to slip into hell and didn’t quite know why. I blamed it on his passing, but inside me I knew that wasn’t it. It was almost a year after my father’s death when I realized I suffered from Post Abortion Trauma.
There is help, there is recovery, and there is hope. It isn’t an easy journey. In fact, it is the hardest thing I ever had to do, but a journey I had to go on to finally accept my twins, accept responsibility and move forward. The most wonderful lesson I learned is that God is forgiveness and love. He is there for everyone. ~CB
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