Thursday 23 May 2019

The Day My Pregnancy Was Terminated

terminated pregnancy

Today is May 24th which for most of you it’s just an ordinary day. But for me, May 24th is a day of remembrance. On this day in 2005 my 8 week pregnancy was terminated and my heart beating baby was removed from my body. As I write this my heart is racing and my hands are trembling as I think back to the day that placed a weight in my heart that I will forever carry with me.

I can remember the day like yesterday. I had been bleeding throughout my pregnancy on and off. I was finally sent for an ultrasound early one morning after a visit to the ER the night before found my uterus was not as large as it should’ve been for 8 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound tech’s furrowed brow and the sharp pain of the probe she kept prodding me with told me something wasn't right. She left me alone, I assume to consult with the doctor, or radiologist, or whoever knows how to officially read the black smudges on the screen. I laid in the room listening to myself breath in the hopes of a welcoming distraction in the silence. Just a few days prior my mom and I had gone to the fabric store to buy fabric for the baby’s room- cowboy and farm print. My dreams for our family had been sweet, but the sinking feeling surrounding the day was causing them to fade in the most painful way possible.

The technician returned.

“Go home and wait by your phone,” was all she said.

Although my husband and I only lived 5 minutes from the clinic, by the time we opened the front door the phone was ringing. It was my family doctor.

“Sarah, your baby is alive and has a heartbeat, but is growing in your tube. I’m calling ahead to the hospital. You’ll be having surgery today to remove the child before your tube ruptures and you hemorrhage. You must go there right away.”

There was a hum in my ears as she spoke. The sounds of our home become muffled by the questions that had began to circle so furiously in my head, I could barely hear my husband speak to me. To this day, I have no idea what he said in that moment. I called my mom to tell her, though I don’t remember what I said, I do remember her saying something about meeting us at the hospital. 

We entered the ER for the second time in a 24 hour period, this time all hope of hearing the words I desperately needed to hear were gone. I was taken into a room and given a gown. There were swarms of nurses in and out of the room, the bustle never seemed to ease up. I was rushed for another ultrasound. They decided against a second one as quickly as they had wheeled me down the hall. I was taken back to the room where a team of nurses was waiting, one began to collect blood on one arm, another began to hook me up to an IV on the other arm. The IV didn’t work and within minutes my arm began to swell as fluid filled my arm. More nurses came pouring in. 

“I don’t feel well,” was all I could get out. Those words prompted more blood work to ensure I wasn’t turning septic. It had nothing to do with being septic. I was suffocating in the swirl of medical personnel. I was drowning in the chaos, but there was no time to come up for air. Down and down I went, further to the bottom of the sea of IVs, stretchers, hospital smells, and medical jargon. Down and down I went from the blissful anticipation of being a new mom, to a heartbroken mother grieving unexpected loss rather than the expected gain. I wouldn’t leave the hospital with a baby in my arms as I had envisioned. I would leave the hospital empty-handed. Vacant. Void of the life I had brought in with me.

I was taken up to what would become my post-op room and signed off on the surgical papers. You know the ones that warn you that you may never wake up. My life, my baby’s life, the preciousness of life was at a stand still. 

For the first time since the ultrasound that morning I was left in an empty room as we waited for the porter to come to take me into the surgical room. I lay there quietly rubbing my hand over the left side of my swollen abdomen where baby was peacefully nestled. 

“How do you tell the child you've never met that it will be ok?” I whispered into the quiet room. 

My husband stepped out to breath for a brief minute, and just Mom and I lingered in the room. Two mothers grieving for their children.

I pushed my hand deep into my belly and asked my mom to put her hand on top of mine, I was desperate for validation from someone else to recognize the budding human growing inside me. Only the surgeons would bear witness to the sacred life my eyes would never see. There we sat, quietly speaking to baby and praying to God.

The porter arrived. Every ounce of air from my lungs was instantly sucked from my body. This was it.

Laying on the stretcher outside the operating room the surgeons arrived, a husband and wife team. As the Mrs. washed her hands the Mr. stood beside me. 

“Will this hurt the baby?” I asked.

“It’s just group of cells, not a real baby. It won’t hurt anything.” His answer shocked me. This was my baby! The baby I had been speaking to for the last few weeks of my life.

“But my baby has a heartbeat,“ I pleaded.

“The heartbeat is only the result of electric pulses and nothing more.” His response was almost as sterile as the room that surrounded me.

The Mrs. overheard and made her way to the other side of the stretcher, her response was only slightly more comforting. 

“Your baby feeds on your blood supply and will be under anesthetic just like you. It won’t feel anything and I’ll leave it inside you until we are finished.”

With that I was wheeled into the OR. My body shivered in the cold, steel room. Tears streamed down as my face and a few breaths later I was asleep.

The room seemed painfully bright as I came to from the anesthetic. The room was still just as busy as when I had gone to sleep, but, this time, there was one less person present. The emptiness in my body was unbearable. 

One week later my family gathered for a memorial service of our little Finch. Early in the pregnancy I gave the baby a nickname, Finch, like a little baby bird. A tiny, fragile life growing in the shelter of my body- a shelter that couldn’t save my Finch. 

It has been 14 years since that day. I’ve had five more babies since then, though only 3 of them are living this side of Heaven. 

As I thought about sharing this with you, I realized I still have unanswered questions and my mind still gets the best of me sometimes. What if I had said no to the surgery? What if I was given more time to get answers? Did I murder my baby?

I can’t answer most of those questions. What I can do is share with you from the side of this pro-lifer. Even as I write “pro-lifer”, the nagging feeling of guilt still threatens to press upon my heart.  

I write this first to my fellow pro-life advocates... 

While my story falls in a rather odd category, you need to have heard my story. Most woman who have had an abortion feel the sharp pangs of your comments of “murderer”. She doesn’t roam the streets looking like a killer (whatever that looks like in your eyes). She looks like me. The girl next door. The lady you sit beside in church. The woman who is now a mother, grateful for the kids she has been given a second chance at. The woman with unseen hurt that she’s likely far too embarrassed to tell you about. This is her. Be gentle with her. 

God’s loving arms are gracious and full of mercy. His love is never-ending. As pro-life advocates we should never forget that pro-life includes all humans, not just the unborn. We are here to fight that all life should see their value and worth just as God has shown us. We are called to love our neighbours, called to reveal a God that offers forgiveness. 

Some of these women are unable to see their own worth let alone the worth of what is growing in the sacred depths of their bodies. They don’t understand the depth of our Father’s love. When we shout profanities, shake our fists in rage, and crush spirits how will they ever know why we value life with such passion if we don’t first show them we value their life too? Speaking truth is no doubt part of God’s love, but truth without kindness will only stir up more strife (Proverbs 15:1). Let’s be quick to remember Paul’s beautiful letter of what it looks like to love one another as God has established for his Church.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 emphasis my own)

To the woman who has had an abortion...

 I know your weight, your grief, your chains. I see you, I hear you. I know that while you’re trying to buy into the lie that you only removed a group of cells that in your heart you know the reality of the loss. There is hope for your burden, but it isn’t found in this world. It is found in God, the Father of both you, and of your child. 

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...(Jeremiah 1:5a)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We all make mistakes. We have all sinned, we have all missed the mark, and come up short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But God is a God of grace and mercy and love. He doesn’t just possess love, He is the very existence of love (1 John 4:7-21).  Love doesn’t keep records of wrongdoings after the apology has been offered. Unlike you or I who struggle with forgiveness, God is perfect, and He does not struggle. You can find freedom in His presence because He broke your chains on the cross. No more condemnation, no more guilt. Just freedom to know you have been forgiven and can walk beside Him without the stain of blood on your hands. 

To the woman who is considering an abortion...

Know this. There is an unimaginable burden that follows the conscious choice to end a life. I can only assume, like my story, that the speed of what is happening around you is moving too quickly. Like a runaway train, you are desperate to just make it stop moving, whatever the cost. Unless you are hemorrhaging on the spot, you have time. Take it. Breath. Pray. Repeat. Even if it’s just for an hour, shut the terrifying words of the doctors out of your head. Close your ears to those around you who are persuading you that taking a life is what’s best. Be still, and know that there is a God who knows far more than any doctor, far more than any diagnostic testing, far more than anyone around you. He is worth trusting, even if you barely know him. The entire Bible is a story of God’s redemption of a world crushed by our poor choices. If he can redeem a world, he can redeem your story whatever it may be. Breath Him in. Call to Him. Trust Him. 

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalms 147:4-5)

If God knows the stars by their names, surely he has not forgotten you, nor your baby. He will not abandon you. You are not alone. I plead with you from the bottom of my heavy heart to reach out to a pregnancy support center. At least listen to a second opinion. You owe it not just to your baby, but to yourself to hear from someone who honestly wants to hear your fears and concerns, and who long to help you make choices that you won’t regret. Many of them have already been praying for women just like you. They already love you before you’ve even walked through their door. 

My story was and is complex. If I could go back, I would’ve done it differently. It really doesn’t matter though, the past is over and unchangeable. I grieve my loss often, as any mother who’s lost a child would. I hope and pray that someway, somehow, my sharing can change the outcome for someone else. I pray my voice can spare just one child. And, one day, when I make it to Heaven, I will kiss my beautiful Finch and tell my baby how we changed a life together.  


photo credit: Nynne Schrøder @

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