STRUGGLING WITH A CRISIS PREGNANCY: FOUR PERSONAL STORIES

STRUGGLING WITH A CRISIS PREGNANCY: FOUR PERSONAL STORIES

The following stories are of four women who had to make decisions about their crisis pregnancies. The first, “Growing Pains,” is a fictional (though medically accurate) account of a crisis pregnancy as told from the perspective of the unborn child. The second, “Who Will Love This Child?”, is the true story of a teenage son whose struggle with the unplanned pregnancy of his divorced mother eventually led him to discover that the myth of the unwanted child is exactly that… a myth. The third, “My Special Blessing,” was written by a woman, who almost had an abortion, but chose instead to let her child live and is glad she did. In the fourth, “Even in the Wilderness, Forgiveness Lives,” the author discusses the guilt and pain that followed her decision to have an abortion. She outlines the steps she took to find emotional healing and forgiveness.

GROWING PAINS
By: Jeffrey Ford

Strange, isn’t it, that I knew and loved Rachel long before she ever knew me?

In a single, polarized instant, our relationship began. In those early weeks, I fed and grew undetected. Though she was unaware of me, I remember how I began to love her and William, listening to them whisper their future dreams as they lay cuddling in their apartment overlooking Monterey Bay.

“When I pass my bar exam and tie in with a good firm, we’ll own a house instead of renting,” he promised, stroking her chestnut-brown hair.

“And after I finish my degree in translation and interpretation,” she said, “some huge corporation will send us on trips to Madrid or Paris, where I’ll negotiate their business contracts.”

“That’s right. After we graduate, everything will fall into place – you’ll see.”

“Will, look how the April sun lights the bay,” said Rachel, sitting up as she wrapped the bed clothes around both of us. “I’m content right now just to be here with you.”

“No, you’re not, my lovely little one,” he said, causing Rachel to switch her gaze from the bay to him. “You’re not perfectly happy just yet, are you?”

“Well,” she began, “you know I want us to be married – and my parents would be much happier if we weren’t living together.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll get married. But first, let’s get our degrees – and then good jobs to pay back those student loans. Getting married in debt is like jumping into a rowboat without any oars.”

When they fixed tea and ate peanut butter on muffins in the mornings, I had some, too – after Rachel, of course. My heart started beating regularly during the third week. After six weeks, my arms and legs formed. My new spine resembled a white toothpick beneath the transparent skin of my back.

I floated inside my amniotic sac. Each time Rachel descended the stairs of our apartment house, I felt like a weightless astronaut bouncing in slow motion – up and down, up and down. It was kinda fun.

*****

“I’m late for my period,” Rachel told William over a savory dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, augmented by an inexpensive bottle of Pinot Noir. It was Monday night, the only evening they were both free from waiting tables. “It’s probably because of mid-terms. They put so much pressure on you in the language labs that it’s enough to foul up anyone’s cycle.”

Will quickly swallowed his mouthful with a painful gulp. “What do you mean late? Late as in tardy, or late, you missed it entirely?”

“Don’t worry, it’s just late. I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned it.” She sipped her wine and put her hand over his. “Actually, I think it’s twins,” she teased.

“Very funny,” he said, but that was the end of their conversation for the remainder of the meal.

*****

Naturally, Rachel’s period never materialized. Her body redirected all its nourishment into my growth. And I put everything to good use: I developed eye lenses, toe joints, and my skull bones knitted together at the crown of my tiny head. Week eight was very demanding. Imagine, acquiring finger-prints, the strength to make a fist and the ability to urinate all in one week!

While William pored over his boring law books, spending most of the bright May days tucked away in the back of the law library, I grew to three inches and began to suck my thumb. Given William’s nervous state of mind at the time, I have no doubt where my worrisome habit came from.

Rachel was busy with upcoming final exams, too, but that was not her overriding concern. Though she said nothing to William, she knew I was there.

“May 30: I missed my second period,” she wrote in her diary. “One moment I am so frightened that it’s true; the next, I am excited at the thought of my baby.”

I loved it when she wrote “my baby.” The next day between her afternoon classes in Spanish and French, Rachel went to a campus women’s clinic for a pregnancy test. This was a mere formality because she and I already knew, but she needed proof for William.

*****

“You’re pregnant?” William repeated for the third time as he read the results at the breakfast table. “You told me you were late, not pregnant.” Rachel drank her coffee and looked at him.

“Yes. I don’t know how it happened. We used everything. What do you think?”

“Think? There’s nothing to think about. It’s a mistake that neither of us want. Right?” He sat down beside her.

“No, I guess not…” Rachel trailed off. She laid her head on the table and began to weep at the thought of what they were going to do to me.

“I don’t want this either, Rach, but how are we going to raise a kid now? Tell me. It’s absolutely the worst time for us. I’d have to quit law school to work full-time and all our plans would go right down the drain.”

“What can we do? I’m 14 weeks along right now.”

“It’s a simple procedure,” William said. “One of my college friends said it’s just a bunch of cells and tissue at this point.”

This man is going to be a lawyer? I thought. This bunch of tissue is three inches long and busy sucking on a thumb!

“It’s an outpatient surgery,” he continued blandly. “They use some sort of vacuum and it’s nothing complicated at all. Takes five minutes.”

At this moment, I began to seriously dislike William. What if they vacuumed him up like a piece of lint? Whose life is it anyway?

He put his arm around Rachel and hugged her. “Honey, when there are already so many children in the world, it’s just crazy to bring in one more that’s not wanted. I promise you, we’ll have children, lots of them. But not now. Later, when it’s the right time.”

*****

The three of us sat stonily in the lobby of the women’s clinic for our appointment with Margo, a counselor.

“I assume this pregnancy is unplanned?” Margo began formally from behind her desk.

Rachel nodded.

“Absolutely,” said William. “There is no way we could have a baby without both of us having to quit school.” Finally, he referred to me as a baby!

“Medicine considers it a fetus at this stage,” Margo corrected William smoothly. “It becomes a baby only when it’s born and breathing. ” In several more weeks, I would begin “breathing” the amniotic fluid through my completely formed mouth.

“What will the doctor do?” Rachel asked, leaning forward in her seat so that I sloshed toward the front of her belly.

“Don’t worry, Rachel. It’s a simple procedure and perfectly safe. You’re only at the beginning of your second trimester so it’s still an outpatient procedure. After a day’s rest, you’ll feel just fine. But first – I want to make sure you’re both agreed on this decision to end the pregnancy.” Margo looked at Rachel, who was squeezing her hands together in her lap.

“I wish we could have it, but it’s the wrong time for a baby,” said Rachel. “Living together has been hard enough for my parents. A baby would completely shatter them. They’d cut me off. I’d have to leave the Institute. I couldn’t do that.”

Margo reached out and placed an understanding hand on Rachel’s arm. “Believe me, you’re not alone. I understand the difficulty of choice – many others, including myself, had the same difficult choice to make. It’s probably the most responsible decision you’ll ever make.”

The counselor turned to William. “And how do you feel about it?”

William raised both arms into the air. “If I don’t finish law school, how am I ever going to support a family? It doesn’t make any sense to become parents at this point. I’m only 22 years old!”

But you already are parents! I opened and closed my wrinkled fist, hoping Rachel would notice. All my efforts proved futile as Margo explained the “painless” procedure that would suck me out of Rachel’s womb so my parents could continue their unobstructed path toward their special degrees.

That afternoon, they walked Carmel beach.

Although Rachel seemed sympathetic to my cause, William was convinced I was an unwanted complication to his brilliant future. He was deaf to my silent protests.

*****

Back at the apartment, the telephone rang. “Margo wants you to drop by tomorrow and fill out some forms,” said William. “The appointment is set for Friday at another clinic a couple of blocks from campus. That will give you the weekend to recover. When I go to the restaurant that night, I’ll tell them you’ve got the bug.”

I’m a child, William, not a bug.

It seemed like Rachel spent a half hour writing out her name, address and Social Security number on a dozen forms. Margo delicately asked what “arrangements” Rachel wanted to use for payment. Did she prefer to put this on Visa or MasterCard? Rachel wrote out a check for $245.

When Rachel and I walked out of the clinic, a middle-aged couple caught Rachel’s gaze.

“Did you have an appointment in there?” the woman asked.

“What’s going on?”

“We’re trying to prevent murder. Please listen to me. My name is Susan, and years ago, I went through what you’re going to go through. They don’t tell you the whole truth. Please don’t do something that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

“What don’t they tell you?”

“They don’t advise you that you face increased possibilities for future miscarriages,” said Susan.

“And tubal pregnancies,” said the tall man. “They don’t tell you about the possibility of sterility and long-lasting emotional disturbances.”

“But it’s not a child yet,” said Rachel. “I’m only 14 weeks along.”

Susan asked if she could take Rachel’s hand. She placed it on Rachel’s tummy. “Feel it? Soon, there will be little kicks, and your baby will start turning. Can you honestly in your heart tell me that is not life? In the Psalms of David, children are called the heritage of the Lord, fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“Rachel, Rachel, are you okay?” Margo called from the front door of the clinic. She began approaching them.

Rachel touched her tummy again, rubbing it as she looked at them. Her eyes filled with tears. I leaned as hard as I could against that hopeful pressure, frantically sucking my tiny thumb.

Margo arrived and took Rachel’s hand. “Don’t let these religious fanatics scare you to death,” she glared.

Rachel pulled her hand back. “No, they haven’t, but I want my baby.” The couple erupted in joy, and I felt the best I had in a long time.

*****

“Boy, it’s nice to see you in such a good mood again,” said William after he got home from the library. “Did Margo give you the address of the women’s clinic?”

Rachel turned around and took William into her arms. She looked directly at him. “I can’t do it. It’s not just tissue inside me, Will. It’s my -our-baby, and I couldn’t do it.”

William’s arms dropped. His face turned red and he stalked off to the bedroom. Several moments later, he returned with a stack of books and his jacket.

“I refuse to start our marriage with such a mistake,” he said, standing in the doorway. “You can reach me at Bill’s when you come to your senses.”

Rachel fell on the couch and began to sob.

*****

It took Rachel an extra year to earn her degree in simultaneous interpretation and translation. She accepted a summer internship with DuPont’s European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Before she left, she met a British diplomat, and within a year, they were married. A child was recently born in London.

As for me, the last time I saw Rachel was the day after I was born. It had to be the hardest thing she ever did – deliver me into the arms of my Mom and Dad. Rachel gave me life, and I will never forget her. Neither, I suspect, will she ever forget me.

WHO WILL LOVE THIS CHILD?
By: David Ohayon

“Get an abortion,” I demanded of my mother. “The child will be unwanted. He’ll have no father.”

A pretty bold demand coming from the mouth of a 16-year-old boy. Especially in light of the fact that I called myself a Christian.

In less than one year, my entire world had fallen apart. My dedicated Christian parents had surprisingly and abruptly announced their divorce after five children and 17 years together.

Both family possessions and children went reeling when my parents quickly parted. Thrust into a sea of new faces at a new school in a new town. I began to question this “Loving God” my parents had introduced me to years before. After all, where was He? He didn’t seem to be doing much in my family.

Where there was once respect for parents, there was now only contempt. My mother, still hurting, began to look for love in all the wrong places. Instead of love, she ended up with a live embryo growing inside her from a man who was not her husband. What would have been regrettable – but maybe somewhat understandable for a teenage girl – was deplorable in a woman near 40 – especially our mother.

My brothers and sisters and I begged her to terminate the pregnancy because of the hardship it would surely bring, but my mother flatly refused. She said that she “would never kill” this baby she was carrying, that “he or she would be blessed by God.” I guess her Christian roots gave her strength when none of us around her would. We just wondered where her strength had been one night about two months earlier.

As the months went by and our mother grew larger, so did our animosity toward our unborn sibling. Having a pregnancy so late in life was physically hard on Mom. And, because she was no longer able to work, going on welfare seemed to be the only alternative. Being raised in a financially comfortable setting, the kids in our family resented being asked to use food stamps and free lunch tickets. Often times, our pride was stronger than our hunger and we would go without.

I never told anyone my mom was pregnant. I was embarrassed. I can remember being at the grocery store one day with her. By this time she was really showing. Down one of the aisles, I noticed some of my new friends from school. I tried to act like I hadn’t seen them and quickly pushed our cart toward the checkout stand with my mother in a maternity top waddling behind me.

My friends saw me and came over to say hello. There was nothing I could do but introduce my mother to them. They knew she was not married. The look on their faces! I could only hang my head. After that, I’m sure Mom knew why we never asked our friends over or why we found activities that would keep us away from home. I know it hurt her.

As the time for birth approached, there were no baby showers in our home… no women laughing and encouraging… no new pink or blue furniture… no tiny pajamas waiting to be worn… no stuffed animals in the second-hand crib. There was just a woman who spent late nights at a sewing machine piecing together remnants for the child who would soon be coming.

Then, one early June day, I returned home and found a note saying that my mother had gone into labor. A neighbor had dropped her off at the hospital for the delivery.

Being the oldest, it was my responsibility to ensure that dinner was made that evening. As we sat down to eat some macaroni and cheese, our thoughts were all on Mom, but no one would volunteer to call the hospital. We couldn’t support this act in any way. Forks were quietly lifted from plate to mouth and there was no peace in the silence.

After dinner, we sat around the television, aimlessly flipping channels. Whether it was irony or God’s hand, my younger sister turned to a religious broadcast. We had occasionally watched the Billy Graham Crusade, but that had been the extent of our religious television viewing. My sister sat crouched next to the TV set, ready to switch channels, while the rest of us listened to his speech pattern so that we might mimic him.

It would have taken only seconds to accomplish our goal, but instead, we listened intently to the remaining 10 or 12 minutes of the program. The man was teaching from the book of Mark, and one of his illustrations came from the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

We watched in stony silence as the credits rolled.

One of my sisters rose and abruptly shut the set off. We just sat there staring at the black glare of the empty screen. Each of us realized that our mother was the woman caught in adultery and that we were those who had been holding stones, ready to crush the life out of her.

Early the next morning, I dropped the other kids off at school in our old beat-up Chevy pickup. As I drove down the road I knew that I wouldn’t be going to class that morning.

Instead, I went to my mother’s hospital room with a bouquet of flowers bought at the local supermarket. I wondered what I would say. How could I apologize?

She looked up as I walked into her room. A little baby lay on her chest. She smiled as I handed her the flowers wrapped in cellophane with the green $2.29 price tag still attached. I leaned over and softly kissed her cheek.

Somehow, she knew how I was feeling. She asked me if I wanted to be the first person to hold my brother, Aaron.

“Me? No, I couldn’t. A boy? No, I mean, yeah… yeah…” I would be proud to hold my brother. As I lifted him into my arms, I felt as Simeon must have felt when he first lifted the Christ-child.

Today, Aaron is almost 10 years old. As I look back to that day when I first found out my mother was pregnant with him, I realize how wrong it was to say, “The child will be unwanted. He’ll have no father.”

For he is without a doubt very much wanted, and now Aaron knows he has a Father who loves him with an everlasting love.

MY SPECIAL BLESSING
By: Pat Saxton

After kissing my daughter good night, I look at her serious, golden-brown eyes, so vulnerable and full of trust. I smooth her long, sun-streaked blond hair. My finger traces the outline of her little up-turned mouth that’s always ready to smile. I shudder to think how close she came to never tasting life.

She just found out today that her art work is going to be shown in the mayor’s annual exhibit. She is excited, yet tries not to show it. It’s important to her to keep her 8-year-old self in perfect control. I wonder how she would feel if she knew how out-of-control I had been.

My story is probably typical for many. I was 19, going to college, feeling quite capable of handling life on my own. I’ll never forget that Valentine’s Day when a month-long “flu bug” turned out to be morning sickness.

Mixed emotions assaulted me. First, total shock. This could not be me. Jim and I knew our relationship had become too physical. For the last two months we had double-dated and tried to do things with other couples to stave off temptation. We had even been congratulating ourselves on how “good” we had been.

And now I was in my third month of pregnancy! How ironic! Secondly though, I felt awe and wonder that a baby could be growing inside my body. My child!… Our child!

Many anguished conversations followed about what we should do. As far as Jim was concerned, there was only one sensible answer: abortion. Marriage was out of the question for the time being. We were both attending a Christian college on grants. If we married, among all the other problems we’d face, we would lose our financing. We had to finish the school year, and I couldn’t go around our conservative campus pregnant and unmarried.

Yet, the very word “abortion” seemed so ugly. That was for other people, not me. I was a “nice” girl. This child I was carrying, although coming at an inconvenient time, was a child of our love.

As I sought sleep those nights, many conflicting emotions swirled in my head. I cried until I thought my heart would burst.

Finally, in anguish, I got down beside my bed, and laying my face and arms out on the covers, I cried out to God. I tried to explain to Him why I was planning to have an abortion even though I already loved this little child nestled in my womb.

The next morning, I felt that my fate was sealed. With dread, I forced myself to go through with what I had to do. By the time Jim and I reached the clinic, I was mechanical and numb – detached from everything that was happening. I signed the forms. They gave me a shot to relax me, and I mindlessly turned magazine pages in the waiting room.

The other girls sitting there looked younger. Scanning each one, I wondered what their stories were. Did they want their babies? Would they feel depression, sorrow or guilt when they left this place? Would they feel relief that this horrible blight had been removed from them and now their lives could go on as planned?

I felt a combination of all of those feelings. I hoped that once it was over, things would be all right. Deep down inside, I knew that I would never be the same. Every time I would see a baby I would wonder what mine would have been like. Every August, I would know that my child should be having a birthday that month.

I also knew that my relationship with Jim would never be the same. Already, I felt resentment. I wanted him to say, “Let’s stop this whole thing and just get married now.” He didn’t. I was doing this for “us,” but I was beginning to feel that the price I was paying for our relationship was far too great. I knew that as I ended this little life, the love between Jim and me would end.

When the nurse called my name, I was taken to the procedure room. I had the weirdest sensation… as if I was on a conveyor belt, headed for a huge saw… being carried along… no way to stop it or get off.

The nurse injected my cervix with anesthetic. I put my hands on my abdomen, wanting to make contact with my child for one last time. I wanted to let this baby know how sorry I was.

Suddenly, a machine came on with a noise like a huge vacuum cleaner. An enormous, life-threatening machine, coming to invade me and tear my child from within me. From somewhere deep inside, my confusion, hurt and sorrow surfaced, and I began to cry. Rivers of tears welled out of my eyes, cascading down my cheeks and into my ears. I must have been hysterical. The nurse turned off the machine and said she would get the doctor.

The next thing I knew, a white-coated man was standing beside me. “I think you’re going to keep your baby,” he told me. At my confused look, he reached for my hand. “You want it far too much for me to ever perform this procedure.”

I mumbled something about Jim and me agreeing that an abortion was the only thing to do. The doctor said he would go find Jim and have a talk with him.

Jim doesn’t exactly remember what the doctor said, but their man-to-man talk turned his thinking around. Two months later, we went ahead and got married.

I would like to thank that doctor some day. I don’t know what his reasons were for his line of work, but thank God he knew that on that table lay a young, frightened girl who very much wanted to keep her baby.

Jim and I now have two other children and a happy Christian home. Sometimes I wonder what our lives would be like if I had gone through with the abortion. When I look at my beautiful daughter – so talented, so full of love for her Lord, eagerly accepting new challenges day by day – I can’t imagine life without her.

EVEN IN THE WILDERNESS FORGIVENESS LIVES
By: Sarah Williams

“You are pregnant.” To many, these words bring joy. This time, they were muttered by a stone-faced doctor to a 20-year-old woman involved in an immoral affair with a married man.

My heart pounded wildly. I fought for control, feeling like I would throw up. My mind whirled like a revolving door.

What would I do now? This was the early ’70s and abortions were just becoming legal. I mumbled something about getting an abortion. The nurse handed me a slip of paper with a telephone number.

I walked away from the office hardly aware of anything around me. The trees and grass even looked different in my panic. I managed to drive the car home. Then, I called the only person I could tell.

Bill said he’d divorce his wife and marry me, but two wrongs didn’t make a right. I mentioned abortion. His relief was evident. But after another phone call, this time to the medical center, I learned that my age required parental consent.

Where else could I turn?

The Christian community would not receive the news with understanding – only judgment. Telling my parents would have brought rejection and anger.

Bill and I decided I could lie about my age. In a couple of days, I was at the clinic. I told the nurse I was 21 years old. Why did she keep figuring out the baby’s due date when we both knew the child would never be born?

I was forced to undress behind an open door because the nurse was in a hurry. A quick examination proved that I was in my first trimester. The doctor told me to come back next week. He reassured me we’d get this problem cleared up and start me on pills so it wouldn’t happen again. He never asked how I was feeling.

I do not remember anything about that week of waiting. I just went through the motions like a zombie. No way to stop this! No time to think! No other choice!

*****

The dawn came quickly. I dressed, packed and drove to the clinic alone, arriving on time for check-in at 6 a.m. Only four of the 10 women scheduled showed up. One was a gum-smacking 16-year-old with a cocky attitude and her parents in tow.

The nurse led us to a room with four hospital beds and had us change into gowns. As we sat on our beds, the nurse calmly and quietly showed us a curved spoon instrument and a vacuum-like machine. I accepted what was soon to be, feeling like a cow in a slaughterhouse.

*****

I struggle to keep my eyes open. “The procedure is over,” says a nurse, stroking my hair. I’m back in my hospital room next to the three other women. Suddenly I realize that I’ve been restrained in my bed. I am rolling back and forth, kicking and screaming. “Please don’t take my baby!”

The nurse comes back with a needle and I sleep once again.

*****

I’m not sure how much time has passed. I am in a different bed. I feel like curling up and rotting. But I force myself to dress and prepare to leave.

*****

The abortion pole-vaulted me deeper into a relationship I had been fighting. My childhood had been miserable. My parents constantly ridiculed me and criticized what I did. My self-esteem was low and I needed Bill. I needed his kind words and loving arms.

I resisted – very strongly at times – his moves toward sex. The battle raged within me, pitting my desperate need for his love against the clear understanding that adultery was a serious sin. With each protest, Bill gently broke down my resistance, claiming, “I won’t get you pregnant.”

Now, just months later, I had given away not only my virginity, but also a baby. Bill’s love was all I had left.

We continued to meet secretly, for lunches or whenever he could get away. But, God’s Word repeatedly convicted me of my sin. All the happiness I once had was replaced by guilt. Sunday school classes and sermons were almost impossible to sit through.

Then Bill’s wife found out about our affair, and that’s when everything started to fall apart around me. Sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, I became depressed and sought psychiatric help, but after each session, I felt more hopeless and confused.

Finally, I decided this had to end. I stopped taking the birth control pill and told Bill it was over. My decision was followed by months of lonely, tearful nights and more counseling. Then my life started to turn around. I met Greg – tall, dark and handsome – a man who loved the Lord. I asked my pastor and two doctors if I should tell Greg about my past. They all replied, “No.” So Greg married me, thinking I was a virgin.

For three-and-a-half years of marriage, I stashed the guilt and unhappy memories in the far corner of my mind. Then, one day, they all came pouring out. Greg announced his desire to start a family.

In desperate need of someone to talk to, I contacted a minister in town. Without details, I shared the facts of my life. He quietly listened, not condemning me, but assuring me of God’s love. He gave me a mimeographed paper titled “The Healing Steps,” and this is what I learned:

1) Relax. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). In seeking the healing grace of God, the body must be free of all tension. The body must be “forgotten” so that the mind can concentrate on God’s mercy and love.

2) Cleanse. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son , purifies us from all sin” (I John 1:7). We must confess our sins without reserve, never explain, extenuate or excuse them; accept responsibility for our sins; and refuse to keep a secret hold on them after we have confessed to God and received His forgiveness.

3) Clarify. “Jesus stopped and called to them: ‘What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32). The person seeking healing must not be vague or general. He must tell God the specific area in which he needs healing.

4) Consecrate. “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8). One of the conditions of divine healing is the spiritual attitude of the absolute relinquishment of one’s life to the will of God.

5) Anticipate. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). There should always be an anticipation of God fulfilling what He has already promised to do.

6) Appropriate. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). The seeker receives what God has promised, begins acting in the strength of the healing power received and is grateful to God for His salvation.

I followed these steps daily for several painful months. They were intermingled with much prayer and my relationship with the Lord began to blossom. Then, I decided to get away from home for a few days. Despite my husband’s protests. I retreated to a motel and spent those days fasting and seeking the Lord. I could never deny or forget what had been, but it didn’t have to dictate my “todays.” I retraced the painful experiences of my past with God and bathed in His forgiveness. Finally, I was able to forgive myself.

When I returned home, I told Greg that I was ready to have his child. With God’s help, history didn’t have to repeat itself. I could treat my children differently than I had been treated.

During the next week, I destroyed all notes, cards and pictures saved from my previous relationship with Bill. I continued to read the Bible and see my counselor. I felt the warmth of God’s love mirrored through him. Then, I wrote 33 pages of painful memories.

The sense of forgiveness I felt was enough to get me through an anti-abortion film without falling apart. But, as I matured in the Lord, He confronted me with my dishonesty toward my husband. I realized there was one more thing I needed to do.

I asked my husband for an afternoon together. We went to the mountains for the day. And, as we sat on top of a mountain in the shade of a small mesquite tree, I tore down the pure, chaste image he had of me. With tears and anguish, I didn’t hold anything back.

Greg sat quietly and listened. He asked questions for a clear understanding. He hugged and kissed me often. Then, he took out a scrap of paper and wrote, “I forgive you.”

We both signed it as a pledge that he had forgiven me and that I had accepted his forgiveness. Then, we buried the paper in the ground.

I have written this story as a final healing step for me and as a way to help others who may find themselves in my story.

How do you respond to someone who’s facing a crisis pregnancy, or to someone who has had an abortion? Are you able to mirror God’s love? If you’re struggling with guilt of your own, can you accept God’s forgiveness? Are you willing to extend that forgiveness to others? The Bible says:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

(The above material was published by Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO.)

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