The year was 1982, and I was 19 years old. I was sitting in a friend’s living room when the phone rang.
I took the phone. Three words from another friend, a lab tech at a free clinic, struck fear in my heart. “It’s positive, Yvette.”
Pregnancy. A paralyzing prospect. I could marry Michael, my boyfriend, but he’d have to defy his mom and lose his blue-blooded lifestyle. Not promising. I still had nowhere permanent to live and very little money. And how would we be able to care for a baby all the while nursing our drug habits? Questions like this one ran through my brain for days.
Michael, of course, was devastated by the news as well. We decided to keep it all simple and quiet. In the end, it seemed like a no-brainer: We chose the route of abortion.
I felt OK about my decision until the afternoon before the date. According to my friend Lona, she tried to talk me out of it. I had completely blocked out this conversation until recently. This is Lona’s account of that awful day:
You called me on a Tuesday night. We were getting ready for church, and you were crying. You said, “Lona, I have an abortion scheduled for tomorrow, and I need you to talk me out of it.” So I told Dad that I couldn’t go to church, and that you really needed our prayers. I ended up telling him and my momma so they could pray for you. I was hugely against abortion, and I came armed with all sorts of material and brochures. And I sat down with you and said, “Tootie, you cry if a puppy dies; you’ll never be able to live with yourself if you kill a baby.”
I stayed with you for four hours. Michael was so angry that I was pressuring you to have the baby and filling your head with doubts. He said that you guys weren’t ready to be parents. I talked to you about adoption and going to live at a home for unwed mothers. I talked to you until I was blue in the face! When I left, I knew that you were going to have the abortion. I was absolutely sick.
The next day you called to say that you made it through OK. And I never judged you for it. Neither did my parents. We loved and treated you the same. I never talked about it. But you brought it up from time to time over the years and volunteered that it was for the best and that it didn’t bother you. You brought it up so much that I knew it was killing you inside. I remember that you called years later. You were crying and said, “Lona, you were right all along. I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself.” We talked a long time that night.
I’ve blocked out most of the memories of my abortion. I recall the nurse giving me a Valium to take off the edge. I stayed awake throughout the procedure. I heard a loud vacuum sound and thought, There it goes.
Michael waited for me in the clinic lobby. We spent the night in a hotel. He brought me chicken noodle soup and Sprite to soothe the vomiting. And then we slept. The next day we drove to his brother’s house, and I smoked a joint to help numb the pain and to push down the reality of what we had just done — what I had just done!
If I was spiraling downward before, now I was heading straight for hell on earth. I dove into nonstop partying and other emotionally numbing activities. Being in a mind-altered state helped stave off the growing storm of personal issues gathering over my head.
Life was crumbling for me in Kentucky. I still had no permanent place to live; I still loved a man who wouldn’t marry me; I still had those emotional and spiritual issues following me. I had to get out.
My brother-in-law graciously paid for my flight to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to visit my cousin. There I met Tommy, and we both fell hard. Tommy and I eventually moved in together.
One morning, several months into our relationship, I felt nauseated. Oh no, here we go again, I thought. I went to the doctor and took the test, and sure enough, I was pregnant. I broke the news to Tommy. He didn’t believe that we were ready for a family. I was still fairly unreliable as a girlfriend, and we had our problems as a couple. Basically, I had cheated on him weeks earlier, and he was still unsure whether he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. Tommy urged me to consider abortion. In fact, he said if I wanted to have the baby, I should move back to Kentucky. He didn’t want any part of it.
So I made the appointment. But I couldn’t go through with it. Two weeks later, I made another. This time I got a bit further: I was in a hospital gown, my feet in stirrups, mulling over my options. I honestly didn’t think I could survive another abortion — but I also couldn’t have the baby alone.
I began to sweat. I felt trapped. I needed air. I fled the room and the clinic, still in the open-backed gown. I sat in my car for a while. Then I drove away; I couldn’t even go back for my clothes. I can’t get rid of this baby, I thought.
I broke the news to Tommy the next day, and he was silent.
I made plans to return to Kentucky. I had enough cash and a place to live lined up. I woke up the next morning to find a note on my door. The note was a proposal. Tommy asked me to marry him. He wanted the baby. He wanted our relationship to work. He said he’d be there to support me. I still have the note! Pregnant to high heaven, I walked down the aisle with Tommy . . . and five months later, the twins, (yes, twins!) Lee and Lauren, were born.
God blessed me with these two miracle babies in spite of my two scheduled abortion appointments! Grace, indeed.
Through counseling, forgiveness and tackling the issues that led to my rebellion and teenage depravity, I have learned to see life through God’s eyes.
Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about the baby that Michael and I conceived. He would be a little older than my other children; he would be making his way in the world. While my actions will always cause me grief, I have learned to forgive myself as God has surely forgiven me.
While it’s true that abortion “stops a beating heart,” it also dulls, numbs, and deadens the mother’s emotions. I don’t think there’s any way around this process: If a woman has an abortion, she simply must develop an emotional barrier for survival. A mother must learn to shield her heart from getting too close, from feeling.
Over the years I’ve served as a spokesperson for abstinence and pro-life causes. I communicate a number of messages concerning these issues, but there are certain concepts that hit close to home. Not only do you cheat yourself by not remaining pure, but you also cheat your future mate. How I wish I could have given Tommy my purity. I robbed him not only of physical purity but also of emotional purity. I gave of myself freely to many others without ever realizing that my body and my heart were being used.
In using sex to fill the voids and longings in my heart, I was setting myself up for hurts that will never go away this side of heaven.
Have I forgotten? No. Am I forgiven? Absolutely!