Stories

Lyn… ‘too young, too incompetent’

The first time I fell pregnant I was 14 years old. I had a stable boyfriend at the time, my first love. After reading some bad advice in a girly magazine, I took a risk with unprotected sex. Abortion didn’t cross my mind at first, I didn’t even know what it was at the time. My mother had once entered a bathroom with a coat hanger when heavily pregnant, and I knew somehow that she was trying to kill her baby, but I had never grasped the concept of “abortion”.

My main concern with the pregnancy was telling my mother, and hoping to get to a point where I was large enough that she wouldn’t hit me. So I hid my pregnancy for several weeks before the rumour got out at highschool and eventually reached my mother’s ears.
She immediately demanded I get an abortion. When I asked what that was, she told me, and I broke down in tears and screamed, “How could I kill my baby!?”
“Its not a baby! Its just a clump of cells” My mother had spat back angrily.
It was a line I would hear frequently over the coming days, months and years.

My mother told me I was too young and incompetent to have a child, even though I had been helping her take care of her own children, my siblings, since I was 8 years old. She told me she wouldn’t help me. I couldn’t live with her, she had her own children to worry about, which must not have included me.

She dragged me to a Dr to get a referral for abortion. I hoped the Dr would help me out, but even after seeing me in tears and hearing me say I wanted to keep the baby, the Dr told me that abortion was the best option. She gave the referral to my mother, and my mother called up the clinic to make an appointment, all the while I cried and pleaded with her not to make me.

Back at school I sought out the counsel of my favourite teacher, hoping she could help me, maybe talk to my mother. She too told me I was too young and incompetent to care for a baby. She told me it would ruin my life, my education, and that abortion was the only solution for someone in my situation.

I clung to my boyfriend who was supportive at the time. He was raised Catholic and I told him I couldn’t kill my baby, and he agreed with me. He said he would do everything he could to make sure I could keep my baby, and his mother, also a devout Catholic, said she would assist any way she could.

I went back to my mother with this new information, which she immediately refuted. “You want to be like his mother, stuck at home with 6 children!?” She had yelled. “You know he’ll leave you once you have a baby and get fat and have a stretched vagina. He’ll want someone fresh and unburdened.”

I tried to ignore her. I believed my boyfriend would stick by me. I believed his mother would help me, and I clung to that hope, until that too was taken away. After a few weeks of arguing, of being told I was incompetent, of being told I was ruining my life, of being weakened, my boyfriend came to me.

He had been talking to one of the teachers at school. She had told him how risky pregnancy was, how I could die because I was so young. He told me his dad was pressuring him to leave school so he could support me and the baby, but that he wasn’t ready to leave school. He told me “We can always have another baby, later, when we are ready”. Now he too wanted me to have an abortion.

Feeling as though I had lost my last support, I gave in and allowed my mother to book the appointment.

At 13 weeks pregnant (it was illegal to terminate past 12 weeks in 1998 in WA), I took a day off school to attend the clinic, and went with my mother and my boyfriend. We went into a mostly empty waiting room, and my mother filled in some paper work before I was pulled into a room alone for “counselling”.

The counselling consisted of telling me about the anaesthesia they would use, “twilight sleep”, and how to use the contraceptive pills they were giving me. They discussed nothing of the procedure, and nothing of what would happen to my “clump of cells”.  Maybe they thought too much discussion would scare me.  It would have.  Then they asked me if the abortion was what I wanted.  I told them no, it was what my mother wanted.

“We can’t do the procedure if it’s not what you want.”  The counsellor had told me.  She leaned in close, and said to me in a very practiced way, something along the lines of,  “You will have to go back out there and tell your mother it’s not happening, and it was a waste of time and money coming all the way out here.”
I was terrified of what my mother would say or do if I was sent back to her, still pregnant. “It’s what I want too.” I lied.

They dressed me in a gown and took me into the surgery. They told me they had to do an ultrasound, but I didn’t have to look if I didn’t want to.  They helped me on to the table, and then gave me an injection to sedate me.  A nurse held my hand and I counted backwards from 10, until I blacked out.  They never did an ultrasound.
When I woke up I felt giddy and happy.  I commented on how I liked the colour of the walls. They sent me away with antibiotics and birth control pills, and an empty uterus.

At first I felt fine, relieved that it was all over and I could go on with my life, without my teachers and mother hounding me.  Then I started noticing the babies. Everywhere I looked there were babies. Even at school, girls were having babies. I didn’t understand why they were capable of having children but I wasn’t. I started to break down and fell into a deep depression. I cried constantly, and when I wasn’t crying I was sleeping. I stopped seeing my friends, I stopped doing my school work. All I wanted was my baby back.

My mother told me I was making a big deal over nothing, and that I should “get over it”.  My teachers told me to “get over it” and get back to my schoolwork.  Even my friends couldn’t understand why I was so upset.  My boyfriend, who was supportive at the start, began to get frustrated with me. He was sick of looking after his miserable girlfriend while his friends were off and having fun. He wanted me to “get over it”.  Then the worst thing happened. My boyfriend, and only support, broke up with me. We would never have that replacement baby he promised.

Now I was completely alone. I started drinking and sleeping around. I fought with my friends, my ex, and all his friends. I became the crazy girl who had an abortion, and eventually I was driven out of the school and the area.

In my new school I tried to settle down. I tried to forget my past. I tried to “get over it”, after all it was just a clump of cells, and I couldn’t let a clump of cells ruin my life. I had to be a normal person, and normal people didn’t grieve abortion. I buried my pain, moved on and made new friends, but I was constantly on the search for something to fill a void. A huge hole in my heart. I ended up with the first guy who came along and showed an interest in me past just having sex. He was a drug addict and an alcoholic. But I didn’t care, because he loved me, and the hole filled in just enough to continue on.

I moved in with him when I was 17 years old, and after a year of living together I became careless with my pills, knowing I could get pregnant, but not really caring. I cried when the test came back positive, more because I was scared of telling my mum than anything else. Scared that she might be able to talk me into an abortion again. She was angry of course, but she could do little now. I didn’t live in her house of under her rules anymore.

At the 12 weeks scan I saw my baby up on the screen. He was rolling around and doing somersaults, and looked just like a human being. A little miniature person. He was a week younger than the baby I had killed, but he was still just a clump of cells, right? But this was a wanted clump of cells, and therefore he was worthy of life.

I loved my son with all my heart, enough for me to realise that my boyfriend was bad news. I tried to make things work at first, begging him to seek drug and alcohol counselling, but he refused. I moved out on my own when my son was a few months old, but he tried to follow me. He would come to my house unannounced and then wouldn’t leave. He would demand sex from me, and get angry and aggressive towards me and my son when I refused.

Around 6 months after we broke up he was at my house again, drunk and disorderly. He demanded sex, and not wanting to upset him I gave in. He didn’t want to use a condom, and I didn’t argue. The chances of me getting pregnant from one time was slim anyway…right?

Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. I came to my decision rather quickly. I couldn’t have another baby with him and be trapped with him for any longer, and in this country you never have a baby if it’s going to cause you inconvenience. I knew it was the right thing to do, because every authority figure in my life had told me so, and I knew grieving a clump of cells was wrong, because every authority figure in my life had told me so.

I booked in for a termination without any more thought. I went in for the quick procedure, hurrying the doctor through the “counselling”, because I had been there before, and new what I was doing. I was completely emotionless. It was like having a tooth pulled.
Afterwards I felt relief. So much so that I went out nightclubbing that very night. I finally left my boyfriend a few months later and my life got back on track. I attended university, I met my husband. I got married and had a baby. And I new this had to be because I had an abortion. Abortion helps women. It helps them to leave their parents and get and education, because women are too incompetent to do those things AND take care of a baby. That’s what we are told anyway.

In 2007 I fell pregnant with my 5th child, 3rd I had planned on keeping. We were so excited. We were going to have a family of 3. We were going to be complete. Then at approximately 8 weeks pregnant I miscarried.
I was devastated when it happened. I locked myself in my room for nearly 2 weeks and ate and spoke little. I couldn’t help but think the universe was punishing me for my abortions. I killed two babies because they were inconvenient, and now I was losing a wanted and planned baby to make up for it.

I feel pregnant again almost immediately after, but this didn’t help my pain. I still felt guilt, and it affected my ability to care for myself and my children. My depression, which had always been lingering in the background, grew worse and worse. I began to be unable to cope with parenthood. I was put on medication after medication, and tried to medicate myself with drinking and partying, but nothing really helped. Finally in 2009, after years of feeling worthless and useless, I gave in and tried to end my life.

I was at home with my youngest son at the time, and scared he would be left alone when I died, I called the police thinking they would take at least 15-20 minutes to arrive. They arrived only a few minutes later, and luckily this saved my life.

They took me to the hospital, and they fed me charcoal to try to counteract the effect of the sleeping pills. I was in and out of consciousness, but I remember a nurse asking me my name, and the date and then how many children I had. I said 6, and he asked my husband if that was right. My husband gently reminded me we only had 3, and I broke down in hysterics, thrashing and calling out for my lost babies.

I was put into a mental hospital, for the fear I would try to kill myself again. I remember begging one of the orderlies to bring my babies back to life. She acted like I was crazy. I’m not sure if it was because I wanted my babies back, or because I wanted clumps of cells back.
After two days of being away from my family and my children, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I begged to be let out. They agreed and put me into my husband’s care. I attended intensive therapy for a few weeks, with a focus on self-care. I got help with caring for my children, and eventually I regained a sense of normalcy, yet the pain of my abortion was still there.

I wanted to support other women who had had abortions as a way of dealing with my pain. I wanted other women to be aware of the psychological effects so they could make the right choices. I volunteered for a pro-choice post abortion support group, thinking a pro-life group would only judge me for my abortions. However after a few weeks working in pro-choice groups, I discovered this talking about abortion grief was not welcome, and the main aim was to put all the focus on the woman, no focus on the child, and help her to “get over it”. Pro-choice did not want anyone to know about the negatives of abortion. They didn’t want people grieving over “clumps of cells”.

I was in limbo for a while. Caught between abortion being necessary, and abortion being awful. It was soon after that that I came in contact with the pro-life movement, I had never really been exposed to a rational argument, and was under the impression that all pro-lifers were crazy religious nuts who hated women.

I started to see that there were many in the pro-life movement that really cared about women, and they also cared about the “clump of cells” which they called a human, a person and a baby. They told me it was okay to grieve for my lost child. They understood the societal pressures that drove me to that choice. They didn’t judge me for my grief. They helped me to heal. And now I hope that I can help other women do the same..

Felicity

3 years ago this month I had a termination.  Whilst it wasn’t the easiest decision I’d ever made, I didn’t think I agonised over it at the time.  My husband and I discussed the options but things were a bit rocky between us at the time and it seemed that this (having another child) might be the thing that pushed us both over the edge.  We have 2 healthy boys, the youngest of whom had just started school, so I was finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Every now and then I’d wandered through shops like Target, looking at little girl dresses and thinking how it might have been to have had a daughter but I didn’t dwell on it.

The abortion and everything on that day are things I will never forget.  The process was like being on a production line.  Sit down, get a form, sit down, speak to a counsellor, sit down, have an ultrasound, sit down, move to another room, sit down… wait, wait, wait.  Then finally it was done.  And I felt nothing.   My husband and I both went in to see the counsellor.   I vaguely wondered how she knew if I really wanted this and that my husband wasn’t pressuring me.   I thought it was strange not to be speaking to her alone.  I don’t even know why the thought crossed my mind, but it did.

She wasn’t that interested in the decision anyway, just in checking how ‘this’ happened.   I felt chastised.  As though we were stupid somehow and this was the punishment.  Her main focus was on making sure we knew how we had ‘failed’ and that we were prepared to do what was necessary to make sure it didn’t happen again.

In the 3 years since, I have had up and down times.  I have sometimes wondered if we did the right thing, but I haven’t been beside myself with grief.   Until now.   A month ago, my younger sister gave birth to a baby girl.   Their house is full of pink.  I felt the first twinge when I went in to Target to buy her a gift.  As I admired, and caressed tiny pink frills, I felt tears threaten and then I felt panicked, then it all hit… what we had actually done.

I have worked in a social welfare field my entire adult life.  I have seen women make this decision dozens of times.  I had even seen some suffer afterwards, but I always firmly believed it was because of their religious conflict or some radical prolife guilt trip.   I never in a million years believed that their grief or sorrow was real, or that their beliefs that they felt pressured were genuine.

I felt no pressure toward abortion, except by virtue of the fact that it seemed so ‘normal’, so available.   At the time I was a little annoyed that I’d had to travel to Melbourne for it (2 hours away), but it was only a minor inconvenience.   Now I see so many things differently.   I am only just beginning to understand that what I did was betray my unborn child, potentially the little girl I’d sometimes wished for.   I’m a little numb about it right now.  I’m not really sure where to go to talk to about it.  I think about all the times one young client of mine used to want to cry to me about her ‘baby’ and I would tell her about the ‘choice’ she made and that it was valid and okay… I denied her her grief, just as right not I am not able to face my own.

Do I regret my abortion?   Absolutely.   Would I have made a different decision?   Probably not… because I had NO idea this was possible.. NO idea that I would even think about it again, let alone that I would feel so overwhelmed with an indefinable sorrow in the middle of a Target store that I would panic.

Regret looks very different to different people.   ‘Choice’ looks very different to me today than it did then.   I would never advocate abortion to a woman.

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Renee, loss of a brother

My Experiences as the Sibling of an Aborted Baby:

My name is Renee, and I am the oldest of 5. Sadly, I’ve never met the youngest, a little boy (brother number 3) named Joseph Michael. He died by abortion when I was only 10, although I didn’t find out ‘til nearly 11 years later. My poor mum had to keep that secret for so long L I’ve known for just over 6 years, and am really struggling with it. I’ve come to the point where I realize that a lot of the issues I have, are made much worse by what I went through regarding the abortion. While I have always been more of an internalizer, this is becoming harder, and I am starting to seek out healing. Easier said than done, I am discovering, as most post abortion support groups only have programs for the parents. It is sincerely my prayer that more awareness will be brought to the suffering of the siblings. My siblings and I have had to silently deal with the pain of hearing people speak ill of women choosing an abortion. We know firsthand that sometimes it is done in a desperate time, and to spare the baby from a life of suffering.

My mum was widowed in June of ’94, at the age of 30. I was 10, and the youngest, at the time (baby number 4), was only two. A few months later, she met a man, and became pregnant unexpectedly. I know very little about that time for her, as I was very young, and had no idea that my little brother was growing in her belly. But we were living with my grandparents, and I don’t know how they would’ve handled the news. Also, maybe my mum didn’t feel capable of caring for yet another baby, who the doctor said may have health issues (from what I believe). While she knew it was wrong, she believed that the baby would be better off in heaven, free from suffering. While I hate that my mum (and brother) went through that, I admire her greatly for all the strength she has shown. She now understands what some of these women are going through, when they consider abortion, and has used her experiences to help them choose life. She also has used the pain she feels over my brother, to help those mourning the loss of their own babies, aborted or miscarried. I pray for the strength to one day be able to reach out to other siblings like myself. I have actually tried to avoid the pro life movement, at times, mostly for two reasons: one, it makes me think more of my brother, and the horrible way he died, and two, I am very defensive of my mum, and am afraid that some of these people will judge her harshly. I also don’t want her to have to deal with any extra sadness or regrets. But as I said before, she is a very strong woman.

I have heard it said by quite a few people that my mum should keep the abortion secret. What about her reputation? In their view, it will make others decide to follow her, and do the same. Or turn against her, and stop trusting and/or respecting her. Well, I can speak for myself, my siblings and at least one very dear friend, that the exact opposite is true!! I hate that she had to bear that by herself for so long, and am so grateful that she told us. It has made her a more compassionate, sympathetic, less judgemental person. It made me listen more when she was talking about pro life things, or prayers and sympathy for the abortive ones, knowing that she’s actually been in their position. She has come so far. I am also thankful she told us, because although we ended up going through unexpected mourning, we as siblings are now more aware of the horror of abortion. All these years I never knew we were personally touched by it.

As I said, finding out caused such shock and grief. I remember the night that she told us, we were all talking in the living room, because she said she had something important to discuss. I remember my heart started pounding, more and more. We were shocked to discover that she had been pregnant after the fourth baby. Our dad had died, and there were only four of us children with her, so where was the last one? Did I have a sibling given up for adoption, that I could possibly reconnect with (as went through my head at times while watching or reading about it), or did she miscarry? Abortion never crossed my mind, because we knew she was so against it. But she admitted that that is what happened. I did not give into the tears that threatened, as I have always been very guarded with my emotions. Very quickly the four of us went up to her and hugged her. Comforting her and assuring her that we loved her. We found out a few things, such as the father, and the date. Apparently, the anniversary was only a few weeks away. In just a few weeks, valentine’s day to be exact, it would be 11 years since that horrible event. Apparently she chose that night, because going out, then, would not likely arouse suspicion. Years later it brought me such pain to think that that night before she left, when I gave her a hug, I also hugged my little brother inside, but the next time I hugged her, it was just her alone. L How sad she must have been. And how innocent and unaware I was.

That Valentine’s Day was hard, but so refreshing in some ways. Between my dad’s death and then, I noticed that she made an extra effort to make it a pleasant day for us, AND THOUGHT SHE DID IT TO SOFTEN THE BLOW OF NOT HAVING OUR DAD AROUND. WHEN I REALIZED THE PAINFUL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DAY, I STARTED TRYING TO MAKE IT A SPECIAL, PEACEFUL DAY FOR HER. What stands out the most from that night are two sweet memories. The first is that mum made us a yummy cake for dessert. And on it were 6 hearts. 1 big, and 5 small. A mama surrounded by her babies. For the first time ever, mum was able to admit that she was a mother of 5. She didn’t have to ignore my brother that night! And we were comfortable with it too. The other sweet memory associated with that night is that we decided to play the lottery, and being aware of a new heavenly intercessor, we asked Joey to pray for us, and we won $10!! The most money we’ve ever won in the lottery! Thanks, Joey! Now multiply that by a small million please! ;)

For a while after finding out, I had such a deep sadness that I could not identify at first. I felt like I did when I lost one of my nursing home friends, but nobody had recently died. What was up? Then I realized it was my brother. I was grieving the loss of a little sibling, that up until then had not existed (that I was aware of). How strange. How could I possibly feel so strongly for someone I never met, or even knew about? As I mentioned before, I am not an emotional person, so these feelings were extra unappreciated. I felt stupid for grieving 11 years later. He was long gone, I shouldn’t feel anything. But, that’s not how it works. Over time, I felt that sadness less frequently, but still, 6 years later I feel twinges at times. I have also, at times, felt completely at peace with our situation, and at other times, have seriously forgotten about him. That, I believe, is often a defense mechanism.

Whether I am thinking about him or not, I noticed that I am more sensitive to some things than I was before. For example, I feel pain/jealousy seeing others becoming big brothers and sisters. I experienced that three times, only, and never will again. I am also very sensitive to my youngest brother being complimented, etc by mum. Feeling like he is getting the bulk of the attention, because he is the last “baby” she’ll have. Deep down, I know it is false, but it is still a frequent struggle. Another struggle is forgiving/moving on. When I first found out about my brother, I can’t remember much about how I felt about his father. As I’ve gotten older, though, I have felt so betrayed by him. We loved him like a stepfather for quite a few years. How dare he try to take care of us, and help raise us, when he didn’t even keep his own flesh and blood alive. This was especially hard for me to come to terms with, because I, too, was conceived out of wedlock. But my dad did the right thing, and married my mum (before I was born). It just feels strange. Why was I okay to keep, but my brother wasn’t? I have made great progress in this area, but still have need of more healing.

This is only a small bit of my experiences as a sibling of an aborted baby, but I am sharing this in the hopes that others can be comforted knowing that they are not alone. Or perhaps a sibling like me will be in denial, and reading my story, they will realize their need for healing, and get it. My prayer is that we can feel at least some of the peace that our siblings do, as they await our arrival in heaven. What a nice meeting that will be, and while we had the misfortune of being separated on earth, we will have all eternity to catch up! J To any parents reading this, please give your kids the benefit of the doubt, and tell them about their lost sibling(s). It may strengthen your relationship as it did ours. You shouldn’t have to keep your baby(ies) a secret. For those who are not directly affected, I thought I would give you a small idea what we are going through, in case you happen to connect with us. All who read this will be in my prayers. God bless and peace be with you. Thanks for letting me share my story..

Karina’s Poem

           THE   RIVER

The widest river full of tears could never wash away

The pain and deep regret that I lived with every day

My intense shame and sorrow was too great to tell

In fact, my life had become more like a living hell

I thought I deserved the tormented existence that I led

After all, four babies, by my choice, were dead

But did I really “choose” for my babies to die?

When it comes to abortion, the word “choice” is a lie

Resignation is a word closer to the mark

Other options are left very much in the dark

The clinic counsellor is there to “help” you decide

Have they been there? Have they done that?

What makes them qualified?

After being told “the facts” and assured that this is no big deal

You’re asked to sign consent for the life they’re about to steal

And no matter how much you cry or wish there was another way

No one acknowledges your confusion – to them it’s just another day

Just another day at the death clinic where lives are lost before they’re born

Little souls going up to Heaven, mothers left behind to mourn

But mourn what? You’re told that you’re supposed to feel relieved

Then why do I feel so bad inside; I think I’ve been deceived

Deceived by that package labelled “choice”; it was all a great big lie

I’ll never get to see my baby, nurse it or even hear it cry

If it’s “no big deal” then why do I feel so rotten to my core

And why does my empty womb grieve for the babe it never bore

Why can’t I stop the ache that comes from so deep within my soul?

Will anything ever fill this raw and ragged, crater-shaped hole?

I couldn’t bear the thought of carrying this burden even just one more day

But Jesus that’s when You came to me and offered to take my burden away

At first I didn’t want to let it go and You so patiently understood

I didn’t want to forgive myself and You so gently told me I should

But Jesus, what happened to those dear little babies I let go

“I have them” You said, “they’re safe with me, but there’s something they want you to know

“They want you to know they love you and they’re waiting here with Me

“Waiting for their Mum, until together you can spend eternity

“They forgive you and so do I, so let My river of blood flow each day

“To consume all of the shame and guilt that your tears could never wash away”

Thank you dear Jesus for cleansing me in the healing river of Your blood

You washed me even whiter than snow when I felt as dirty as mud

So Jesus please tell my little babies that I love them with all my heart

That I’m sorry I never gave them life and that for now we are apart

I’m so grateful Jesus that my precious babies are with You

And I look forward to the day when I can be there with them too

Karina   3-2-06

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