February 5th was the date that changed my life forever. I was in the day surgery waiting room with my boyfriend at the time, waiting to have the simple, quick, (so the nurses had explained) termination of my pregnancy--abortion. I felt an unusual calm, convincing myself that this was the only way to go and the right thing to do. After all, that's what Kirk (not his real name) wanted and I didn't want to lose him.
I grew up in a "buffet style" Catholic home. We practised what suited us, and things that didn't suit our life styles or decisions, we threw out of the window. One thing my parents did oppose was abortion. When I first dated in my late teens, my father sat me down and sternly said that if ever the situation arose that I would become pregnant, I was to know that abortion was not a choice in this house and that my parents would help me raise the child. Through the years, this was a reassuring thought even though I wasn't planning on getting pregnant.
A good friend of mine got pregnant one day and decided that she did not want a future with the father of the child, and therefore had an abortion. I was so furious with her, furious that she could ever get to that point, I clearly remember saying to her: I WOULD NEVER HAVE AN ABORTION, NO MATTER WHAT THE SITUATION. IT IS WRONG!!! Well, lo! and behold! a couple of years later I found myself in her shoes.
Kirk and I had only been dating for three months when I became pregnant. When we first met we discussed issues and values that were important to us and both he and I agreed that abortion was not a solution, but murder. When the home pregnancy test turned out to be positive, my first reaction was shock, and then denial. I was a nurse now but also completing my third year B.Sc.N. at the University of Ottawa. How would this change my future? Then my father's powerful words put things into perspective. I told Kirk that I would put university on hold until after the baby was born. Kirk had other ideas. He explained that because we had known each other for only three months, he didn't want to bring a child into this world: "If you do have the baby, we will get married and later we will divorce. I will then hire the best lawyer in town and make sure this child comes with me." His response was a complete shock. Now looking back, I know he panicked, felt cornered and saw no way out but to "get rid of the problem." For seven weeks, Kirk mentally abused me with threats of what might happen if I didn't have an abortion: "There is no other choice! You must have the abortion!!" Everyday I cried, asking God what I was supposed to do. Kirk broke down my strong line of defence, day by day, bit by bit, until one day I said to myself, "he is right".
After the procedure, I felt numb and emotionless, as if nothing had ever happened. I thought, let's move on from where we left off. I finished my remaining semester and returned to my R.N. position in the Emergency Department.
My first day back to work was bizarre. I wasn't able to talk to my patients or colleagues without breaking down, crying hysterically. If you knew my personality, you would know this was an odd behaviour for me. I was a happy, positive, outgoing, emotionally stable person. This behaviour was completely out of character for me. Even I was confused by these puzzling outbursts. My employer gave me two weeks sick leave and I was obliged to seek psychological counselling during that time. The psychologist and I came to a quick conclusion after two sessions--I had begun to grieve the loss of my baby!! So often I had to point out the signs to my patients and family, yet I never recognized them in my own situation.
My first response was SHOCK: I didn't allow myself to feel anything because I had to finish school. That part of my life was blocked out completely and buried somewhere in my subconscious. Then came SEVERE ANGUISH: crying, crying, uncontrollable crying. I also began to feel enormous anger, towards Kirk but mostly towards myself for having made the worst decision of my life--taking the life of my baby because it interfered with our goals. After a few months, MOURNING followed: I knew I had offended God in the worst way. I kept asking my baby, who now was in heaven, to forgive me for having made the selfish choice of not giving her the opportunity of life here on earth. For RESOLUTION, I needed forgiveness from God as well.
I had asked God to show me my baby in a dream. A little girl appeared over a flower covered meadow, with a big smile on her face. She had Kirk's straight chestnut hair and my big blue eyes. She was skipping along singing a song. When I woke up, I decided to name my daughter Maria.
It has been eight years since I had the abortion. She is often on my mind and I miss her dearly. I wish I could have held her, cuddled her, brushed her hair, bought her first dress and shoes, seen her take her first steps, done all the beautiful things I have enjoyed doing with my three sons. I am crying as I am writing this part because the pain will always remain in my heart that she is not here with us.
ACCEPTANCE is the last stage: I have taken full responsibility for my actions. Something good has to come out of this tragedy... A change of heart from the Moms and Dads who feel abortion is the only option.
Many people may think that the public is well educated on the topic of abortion, and health
professionals even more so. This is a great fallacy!!!! During my seven years of nursing education, the only thing "touched on" regarding abortions were the different types one can have at different gestational ages. The procedures were played down and no mention was ever made of the details of the procedures, such as the counting of all body parts to make sure no parts of the body of the baby are left in the uterus, or the use of a strong saline solution in abortions of babies at more advanced gestational age, which tortures the babies by eating away at their delicate skin--the baby is delivered only when it is presumed dead. One of the main reasons I like to talk about this subject to young and old students is that WE ARE BEING LIED TO. I believe that we have a right to know the whole truth about all the procedures as well as all the short and long term consequences.
When a person goes for any kind of surgery or procedure, it is the legal responsibility of the physician to fully explain the procedure and list ALL possible consequences and side effects so that an INFORMED consent can be made by the patient. Before the person goes to the operating room, a registered nurse normally asks the patient to explain back what they understood of the procedure and if they are aware of the possible side effects. By signing the consent form, the patient is giving permission for the procedure. Occasionally some patients are not properly informed and sometimes change their mind before the surgery when they come to fully comprehend the whole picture.
In my case, I think, had more complete information been provided, it would have shaken me up and made me realize that abortion was not the way to go. I think if we all knew the whole truth we might reconsider our decision in wanting one. There are other choices such as adoption or keeping the baby. Women and men, young and old, who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy, panic. When we panic, wrong decisions are often made because we act out of desperation.
For those of you who demonstrate in front of the abortion clinics, my advice to you if you want to reach someone's heart in hopes that they will change their mind is talk to them with love and kindness. Hold them in your arms. Pray for them and the baby. If you've had an abortion, share your story with them and let God change their hearts. I strongly believe that deep down in our hearts and souls, we KNOW that abortion is wrong. That's why a majority of women and men never talk about it , perhaps out of guilt or because they are still at the denial stage, which could last a life time.
My husband (not Kirk) was also involved in an abortion decision with a past girlfriend. We have had an opportunity to share our story with some friends of ours who were considering aborting their third child. After sharing, we asked God to do the rest of the work which was to change their hearts. In the next few days, they came to realise that their financial situation was not a reason to abort their baby. Today they have the most beautiful baby boy. They can't imagine being without him.
Maria is in my heart everyday. I wish I could change history, but I can't. I have made some crazy and stupid decisions in my life but there is only one I will regret for the rest of my life and that was the visit to the outpatient surgery clinic eight years ago.