When Richie was six weeks old, I returned to see my OB/GYN for a routine postpartum checkup. I was 18 years old, healthy and strong. When I went to the doctor’s office that day I had no suspicions that my doctor would find a problem, yet he did.
The doctor gently told me that I had developed a large growth in my pelvis. He suggested that we wait a month to see if it would shrink. If there was no change, I would need to have surgery. The mass was about the size of a grapefruit and had completely enveloped one of my ovaries. My doctor was unsure of what it was, and Terry and I wondered if I might have cancer.
After the predetermined time, I returned and the doctor said that I needed to have the surgery. Richie was only three months old when I was admitted to Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. My sister Cheryl, happily offered to take care of our baby during my hospitalization.
Since Terry and I wanted to have our children close together, I was not on birth control, so on the day before the surgery I asked for a pregnancy test, and for some reason, they did two tests. One of them came back negative and one positive. If I was pregnant, I would have been one or two weeks along. I had already had abdominal x-rays and knew that a growing baby in my uterus could be harmed.
As you may recall, the Roe v. Wade decision had legalized abortion just two years prior in 1973. I wish I had known back then what I know today: That the itty-bitty zygote contains all the DNA needed to become a baby, that from conception to birth this is a living being, a little person in-the-making. I didn’t know that in less than a month from conception there is a beating heart pumping blood through the baby’s tiny body. I didn’t know that within just weeks after conception, tiny arm and leg buds would start to grow. Why didn’t I remember that God is the Creator of all life? Why didn’t I remember the words my mother had read to me from Psalm 139? “We are knit together in our mother’s wombs.”
Terry and I talked about what we should do; however, I don’t think we discussed it with anyone else, which was a big mistake. We were totally unprepared. I do not recall hearing the topic of abortion discussed at home or church, but I wish I had. I believe I would have chosen differently.
Since the surgery was upon me the next day, Terry and I told the doctor that we wanted him to give me a D&C before my operation. In other words, I was asking for an abortion! I knew exactly what I was saying even though I did not call it an abortion. How could I have made such a decision? I think I believed that since a fertilized egg is so minute, destroying it would not be that big of a deal. How wrong I was! To this day, I regret my choice.
When I woke up after surgery my first question was not, “Do I have cancer?” but, “Was I pregnant?”
“No, you were not pregnant,” the doctor replied. I was relieved and tried not to dwell upon what could have been. That was 40 years ago, and thankfully, I know for certain that God has forgiven me; I am free.
Today there are many organizations in which groups of loving people bring life-giving restoration to those who have experienced the pain of abortion. One with which I am familiar is called “Rachel’s Vineyard.” They truly love women and want to see them made whole through the love of Christ. Coming face-to-face with this oft-buried secret in a supportive and understanding environment brings healing and release to those who have harbored deep sorrow and guilt from the past.
The growth in my pelvis turned out to be a benign dermoid cyst which destroyed one of my ovaries. And now, at 19 years old, I wondered, “Will God bless us with another baby?”