Honest Questions, Haunting Answers
(Editor’s note: This story contains a graphic account of a second-trimester abortion and may not be suitable for young readers.)
I have asked myself what could have altered the events that led up to the murder of my child. What could anyone have said, what could anyone have shown me that would have changed my mind?
How is it, I ask, that I, already a mother of a two-year-old—a good mother, a loving mother, who deeply understood what it was to love a child, could so calculatedly agree to end the life of a baby I already knew? These are all questions I have asked.
After all, I wanted this baby—a baby who already had a name; a baby whom I could feel moving in my womb; a baby with eyelids, eyebrows and fingernails grown to the end of her fingertips; a baby who could hear and distinguish my voice; a baby who could feel pain.
…But the hard lessons always come. …That’s why the timing was so important.
I had buried the memory of this baby in a grave so deep that I don’t even know if I ever brought the nightmare of it to the forefront of my thinking. How could I? It would have killed me. It has been 15 years since it happened.
Dilation and extraction
I was five-and-a-half months pregnant—my baby was at 22 weeks of gestation—when I was told that, most likely, she would not live to term. The ultrasound revealed severe edema about the head.
I was still lying on the table, the audible heartbeat of my baby resounding in the examining room, when the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. I was given a choice of several methods of aborting my baby. I chose the procedure described below, which was recommended by my physician.
For a second-trimester abortion, my cervix needed to be sufficiently dilated, as the baby was too large to pull from the uterus using the suction device employed in first-trimester abortions.
Approximately five narrow rods were inserted into my cervix, and I was sent home for the night to dilate. When sufficient dilation had occurred, the abortionist used a surgical instrument to rupture the amniotic sac.
Next, the abortionist used forceps to grab any part of my baby he could. He pulled until an arm or a leg was torn off and took my baby out, one piece at a time. In a second-trimester abortion, the baby’s intact skull is too big to pull out of the cervix and must be crushed prior to removal.
When the abortionist saw the brains spilling from my cervix, he knew my baby’s skull had been successfully crushed. They call this the calvaria sign. At this point, the skull was removed.
Once the abortionist had pulled out all of the pieces he could, he used a curette to scrape the inside of my uterus to retrieve any remaining body parts. The pieces of my dismembered baby were then reassembled on a tray to be sure that all of her body had been successfully removed.
Answers for others
I have new questions these days. What could I say; what could I show someone contemplating abortion? Could I tell them that the damage to their soul would require such intense healing that no one, short of the Lord, could heal the depth of that wound?
Could I tell them that the pain of that decision would remain hidden like a heavy weight until one day, they would have to come to terms with it, one way or another? Could they comprehend the shame that eventually seeps into one’s consciousness and the shock that follows?
Could they simply and blindly go forward with their lives for so many years without mention of the baby they had aborted?
Could I paint for them a picture of experiencing that sick feeling, deep in the gut, that eventually gives rise to words that sound more animal than human and the subsequent groan “How could I have done this to my baby?”
Could I explain to them that one day, like me, they might find themselves driving along in their car or sitting quietly at home and suddenly remember sitting in the abortion facility’s waiting room, vividly recalling the fluttering, low, on the left side of their abdomen—the movement of their preborn child?
I went on to have another baby, what everyone called a “perfect” baby boy. But I remember, with a mother’s grief, my little girl—Melanie, I named her. I never talked about Melanie to anyone. No one knew her name. The anniversary of her death would pass silently each year, and I honored her short life alone in the chambers of my heart.
I think about how much a not-so-“perfect” baby could have meant to me and to others who might have known her, had she lived. I think about the loss for the world—how she might have helped straighten out our twisted thinking—the perverse standard that defines who is good enough to keep and who we see as imperfect enough to throw away.
How the lie is fed
Abortion begins with a lie and is masked with an empty promise. The lie tells us that the new person growing in the womb is insignificant and dispensable. The empty promise tells us that the action of abortion is justifiable and without consequences—not for the mother, nor the child, nor the world.
This lie permeates not only our courts, but our households as well. In the culture of death, it is being passed from generation to generation, thus living, moving and breathing among the people, deriving its energy from the multitudes who believe it. That is how the lie is fed, and this is how fallen we are.
I once broke down and cried as I stopped to view a five-month-old fetus floating in a jar at a museum. At first, I was surprised and a little shaken by my instantaneous display of emotion. So was my husband. But, of course, he knew why I reacted that way. And so did I, but we never spoke of it.
Christ says, “When you do this for the least of these, you do it for Me.” I ask myself, who are the “least of these” today? Are they the homeless? Those dying alone in nursing homes? Refugees? Drug addicts? The imprisoned? Surely they all are.
But what, I ask, about the innocent, “unwanted” preborn babies, who have no voice and no defense, who are helpless in the false security of their mother’s womb? Surely, the “least of these” can be no more “least” than these.
Redeeming a bleeding heart
Of course, I never received any remains of my daughter. So there was no little body to bury, no doll-sized casket, no gravestone to adorn with flowers.
My baby never got to smell her mother’s skin, nor did she get to die in her mother’s arms, warm and loved.
She never lay on her mother’s belly, hearing the familiar heartbeat that would have been audible to her already-sensitive ears. There was no kiss goodbye, no tender tear to fall on her tiny cheek.
I imagine she was just discarded in some garbage bag, along with the other babies who were aborted that day.
I carried nothing in my arms as I left the facility, vomited in the parking lot and rode home in silence while my husband tried hard not to look at me.
The days that followed brought no sympathy cards, no meals to be shared and no flowers.
There was no funeral service to honor a life cut short by a woman’s “choice” and by the abortionist’s blade. No one called.
So when my husband went back to work and the silence of the house closed in on me, I went to the florist and bought a plant—a bleeding heart—that I planted in a corner of the garden. It didn’t survive the summer. How appropriate.
Of course, this is not the end of the story. What begins as tragedy can give birth to a life in which God takes the worst of all things and transforms it into something to be used for good.
The choice I made cannot be erased. I could never be sorry enough. But my story can be told as honestly and boldly as possible, with the hope that it will stir hearts, change minds and save lives. I can share it in an attempt to give voice to those who have no voice to raise—the least, the lost, the last—for Melanie, for all children who, even at the first instant of their lives, are children of God—wonderfully knit together by Him in their mother’s womb.
[By N. M. K. This article was published in the May-June 2009 issue of Celebrate Life, American Life League’s bimonthly publication; ALL Pro-Life Today, 18June09)