I read the post from the friend of yours who is still in so much pain over losing her baby and it made me feel so much less alone. She puts into words so much of how i’m feeling. Words that I haven’t had for the last 7 months.
I had an abortion. I never thought those words would apply to me. But they do. I desperately wanted my baby. But the doctors told me he would never live. Non-viable. Not compatible with life. Such ugly words.
I was so sick while I was pregnant. My hormones took over and I was also miserable and depressed. I even said at one point “I’ve changed my mind”. I didnt mean it, but oh how I wish I never thought it! I wanted my baby. Then the doctor said everything wasnt ok. He was querying downs syndrome and spina bifida. And sent us into a spiral of turmoil and despair. One of my early reactions was “I want it out”. We prayed and prayed for a miracle, for guidance. My gynae mentioned termination and we just didnt know. Do Christian people do this? Could we? But could we cope with a disabled child? We were so afraid. For 5 days (the longest five days of our lives) we prayed. We asked for clear answers, for guidance, for a miracle. We prayed that we wouldnt have to make the decision. Then we went to see the specialist who said that our baby would die. Probably not make it to term, and definitely wouldnt live more than an hour or two if he was born. She said it was so bad that she would terminate the pregnancy up until the day before i gave birth. She said that she was a Christian and she would still do it. We went to our church and the minister said the same thing. That he and his wife had suffered through a number of miscarriages and he would still terminate the pregnancy in our situation. We thought we had our answers. There was no possibilty of any kind of life. We didnt want our baby to suffer in utero for as long as he may live. We were afraid to continue with a pregnancy, just waiting for our baby to die. So we decided to end it. We went to counselling at church the night before the procedure and i left there with peace.
I was terrified on the day. They gave me tablets to start the process, and pethidine and i spent the day floating. When the doctor came to see me, I was in so much pain, and I just wanted to get it done. I drifted into the anaesthetic, thinking when i woke up, this nightmare would be over. Then I woke up and it wasnt. My baby was gone. I wasnt pregnant anymore. I had gotten rid of this life that I never appreciated enough. I only realised how much i had loved that baby now that it was gone. I woke up a mother. And racked with guilt for every moment of not being grateful enought to be pregnant. Filled with regret for spending the morning wishing it was over with, rather than cherishing my last moments with my baby inside me. For panicking and not waiting a little bit longer to make the decision. I just felt like I had killed my baby.
Its been 7 months and I still dont know what to do with it. I didnt decide my baby would never live. God did. But I did end his life. I know that I prayed. I prayed that God would stop us from terminating if He didnt want us to. Instead, all sources seemed to point to it. Is it ok with Him that we did what we did? Or did we fail some major test? Can I just be allowed to deal with my grief, or should i be dealing with guilt as well? I didnt trust God anymore. I was so angry with Him, with everyone. With everything. I was suicidal. My heart and my faith were shattered. Still are. I am able to function more normally now, but its like there are two of me. the one is logical and dispassionate and says we did the right thing, the merciful thing. Our baby’s heart was beating, but we had lost him nonetheless. The other half of me is just bleeding, and screaming with pain. Did God lead us to do what we did or did I just kill my baby? And regardless of how our baby was lost, he is still gone.
What your friend writes about how people are, and how she feels in church and how much it breaks you inside to have people make their pregnancy announcements around you – all these things are real to me too. At first I couldnt function at all. I would go to work and sit there, waiting for the day to end. I couldnt focus. I would write in my journal, telling God how I couldnt go on. I would go home and just want to be dead. I’ve moved forwards from there now. I was given new projects at work and had no choice but to focus. So I fuction again. But it is still dark. Some days are better, and I tiptoe through them, hanging on to a tenous thread of sanity, not looking around me for fear of something setting off the darkness again. I feel like i am lost in a dark cave. I dont know the way out, and I’m stumbling around bashing up against things and hurting myself. Sometimes I see a glimmer of light in the distance and I follow it for a while then i trip over a rock and get disorientated and its dark again. I dont know how to fix it, i dont know how to come out of it. I’m just praying that my dark days will continue to lessen.
People want to help. My mother sent me scriptures – about how God took Davids baby away as punishment (ok?!). One idealistic soul apologised (6 weeks after the fact) for not making sure i did the right thing (I’m so pleased she knows what that was becasue I still dont), another told me all about the many babies that she lost – again with the best of intentions (ok, she has 2 perfect children now, but i cant contemplate the thought of having to survive this again and again. She’s on the other side of it now. Will I ever get there?) And the one who told me she thought she was pregnant and considered aborting the baby cos they were done with having children (i guess she was trying to tell me she doesnt judge me, which i appreciated, but otherwise, it didnt help!). And my husband. Who decided on “tough love”, refusing to do housework in order to force me to function (we’re still debating on the helpfulness of that one). My husband didnt feel as shattered as I did. He feels we were given a clear answer and he feels that he protected me from having to carry our child even longer, while waiting for him to die. His mom got very sick soon afterwards and so he had more real things (for him anyway) to focus on and I felt so alone. Some unlikely people did help me though. While some were saying things like “you’ll understand when you are mom” (who may acknowledge my pain, but not that i am every bit as much of a parent as they are. I am a mother and i have had to make a much more difficult decision for my child than they have ever had to make for theirs!), other people understood how torn up i was, understood that I am now a mother and it is these people who helped me stand again: My gynae’s wife who visited me in hospital and hugged me while I cried, my GP who supported me when I went to his office and burst into tears, giving me tablets for the short term and making sure I was in counselling for the longer term, the woman who pulled me aside at a breakfast and took me away to cry while she held me and prayed for me and my baby, the woman who said to me “You didn’t kill your baby”, the woman who took the time to find and send me a poem that someone who went through a similar experience wrote – on exactly a day that I needed it most, and my husband’s assistant who phoned me on mother’s day to wish me happy mother’s day – not an easy call to make, but appreciated more than he will ever know.
So now I’m standing again (or at least trying to). I’m still looking for God again, I’m looking for answers, I’m looking for a way forward. I thought I heard God, but everything I thought I heard turned out to be wrong, so maybe the abortion was too. But I get stuck there, because the alternative is equally unthinkable and I dont know that I wouldnt do the same thing in the same situation again. I dont know that I would either (or how I even could), and I just wish I had the answers. I wish I had peace.
I dont. What I do have is pain and a new empathy for people who decide to have an abortion. The terror, for whatever reason, of not being able to handle whats coming, and how it can seem to be the best solution. I wish I could say it is… I dont know. What I have learnt is not to judge others. Ive learned that some days it feels like I’m too broken to breathe, but somehow I do. And I do still belive in God. That all things are working for my good. I dont understand how, I dont understand Him, and it doesnt make it better, but I am trying to hang onto that fact. That His was are higher than mine, His thoughts are higher than mine. The last couple of weeks, I have been hearing again and again that I should be praising Him through everything. I’ve also been surrounded by pregnancy. One morning I listened to a talk on praising God through pain, then later walked past an old friend in the shops who was heavily pregnant. God, in His mercy, didnt have her stop and speak to me, but i nearly vomited right there in the shops anyway. It hurt so much. But i went home and sang. I sang on the way to the car, all the way home and for the next 45 minutes as I unpacked and cooked dinner. I sang (and cried) to God every song that popped into my head, and slowly some measure of peace descended.
I pray that I will find complete peace at some point. And some kind of answer as to the ethics of what we did. I’m praying that we will have healthy children in future and that I will remember that God is God. He is almighty and my days are in His hands. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” 2 Chronicles 20:12.
And one day, I pray that I’ll get it.