By God’s grace, becoming pregnant the first time was easy. Too easy, actually, since Abigail came as a complete surprise! We assumed that when we were ready to bring a second child into our home, it would be just as “easy”. Three years, many tests, and a complicated surgery later, found us sitting in the doctor’s office taking in the deafening words that the surgery, which was supposed to increase our chances of pregnancy had in actuality left my husband, left us, sterile.
Our chances of having another child, according to the urologist were “less than 1%”. In the midst of this process, the term “secondary infertility” was tossed around from one doctor to another and yet, I never allowed it to penetrate my heart. I could not accept it. Until this day. This day, I had to accept it. I had to move forward. I had to accept our seeming lot in life and learn somehow to make peace with it. But, goddamnit, Why? I was meant to be a mother. I dreamed of being a mom from the time I was a little girl. I played with dolls and house and played dress up–always as the mom. I always wanted to be the mom. I was supposed to be a mom. I didn’t know how to be anything else. I didn’t want to be anything else.
Dreams had not just broken; it was if someone had shattered them into a million pieces, lit them on fire, and then skipped around them while licking an ice cream cone. The pain was unmatched by anything we had ever known.
The shame of an abortion in my past ate at me, adding more shame to my already bruised and battered heart. I knew better, but my mind wondered if God was punishing me for what I had done. This led me down a path of wanting to control everything. I strove for perfection at all costs, trying desperately to earn—I don’t know—to earn forgiveness, to earn acceptance, to earn something. I cannot accurately put into words the madness in which I lived those years. It was exhausting, and utterly wasteful because God had already forgiven me, I already had His love and devotion. I had His favor.
He does not punish.
People often blame God for the consequences of their actions. I did. I learned that my love for Him was conditional. If life was going well, then I was like, “OK God, I love You and You love me” and I would skip and sing merrily throughout my days (OK, slight exaggeration). If life was hard or I didn’t feel His presence, I was like, “You’re out there somewhere God, but I clearly don’t matter to You because this pain is not love”. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is one of my many stories of just that:
Sitting on the cold bathroom floor in April of 1999, eight weeks after I had been raped, I faced the fact that I was pregnant as I stared into the double blue lines of a home pregnancy test– and the likelihood that it was my husband’s baby was slim to none. I cried while my husband and daughter slept in their beds. Through the night, I sat huddled in my blanket on the cold bathroom floor, rocking back and forth, racking my mind for answers, for direction. None came. I hesitated leaving the bathroom without an answer. I wanted to confine the situation. I didn’t want it to breathe all over my life. I realize that sounds absolutely absurd and yet, that is where I was emotionally in those hours.
I had had an abortion 7 years before and had been emotionally wrecked, damaged, really, only to be picked up, loved, and forgiven and then put back together by the gracious hands of Christ. I had been selfish back then. I hadn’t wanted my parents to know I was living a “double life”, a “life of sin”, so I had the abortion to hide my iniquities. I was not that person now. And yet the thought of abortion entered my mind. I felt I could justify it. I felt that even God would understand my struggle to carry my rapist’s baby for nine months. That was asking too much. TOO MUCH!
Watching my husband turn out of the driveway that next morning for work, I rushed to the phone to schedule an abortion. I didn’t want him to know I was pregnant. The rape itself had been too much for him to handle. This…this would put him over the top. I wanted to protect him. I wanted to protect myself. I wanted to move past the rape. I was just starting to gain some normalcy. Carrying a baby to term would prolong the pain. Anger stirred within me and I resolved sometime in the wee hours of the morning that this was my only option.
A woman answered the phone and I immediately began sobbing. I told her I had been raped just two months before and had discovered I was pregnant. She empathized with me and told me we could bypass the counseling portion of the visit, which is usually required, and schedule the abortion itself in just a few days. My heart twisted and turned as we spoke. My stomach knotted painfully and I felt as if I was going to be sick. I clung to the kitchen counter, bending over in excruciating pain and my head began to pound so intensely that I felt a need to hurry to wrap up the call so I could lay down.
I hung up the phone and instantly felt all pressures and signs of illness fade away. I stood up straight, thinking it was just heightened pregnancy symptoms. But then my mind filled with thoughts that I can only attribute to God’s voice or His way of getting my attention. You see, Dennis and I had been begging God for a baby for three years. It was our all-consuming thought and prayer and now one lived within me. I cried aloud, “But God, this baby is not of me, of us. What if it’s a reminder of my attacker? What if she’s broken? What if I can’t handle it? What if… and you know what I heard (not audibly)? In the most pronounced manner possible, “But… she’s… mine”.
“But she’s mine”.
I didn’t need any more answers in that moment. I knew what I was supposed to do. I immediately called the clinic back. The woman I had just spoken to answered the phone. “Hi, I just called to schedule and abortion, but I need to cancel it”. The woman clearly taken aback because she remembered my circumstances, questioned, “If it’s not too personal, may I ask why are you canceling?” I remember my exact inflection, my exact words as if I had just spoken them yesterday because they were hardly my own.
“Because being raped is not on me; an abortion is on me. I’ll have no one to blame for that part of the story but myself”.
She didn’t understand. She didn’t need to.
I called Dennis at work and told him to come home. That was asking for the moon and we all know that when we ask for the moon, we rarely get it! I didn’t get it, so I had to wait the entire day for him to get home. Telling him I was pregnant was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. For a few minutes he was expressionless and then his anger exploded and continued to erupt sporadically for a very long time; I’m talking weeks. I could take his yelling and frustration. I could not take his silence. It was deafening and it played with my emotions and imagination. Fear was my constant companion.
He was in the midst of transitioning positions at work and had to go across the country for six weeks. Talk about bad timing! His last words to me before leaving were, “I owe this baby nothing”. What the hell do you do with that? What does that mean? I know in hindsight, he was dealing with a lot, wrestling with more than any man should ever have to!