Completing this piece has been a sheer act of obedience because of the vulnerability of the topic. It is my hope to publish this memoir at the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest losses of my life. I have felt called throughout this process to find a way to glorify God without diluting the grievous nature of this trauma. Along the way I kept hearing…”be real, be honest, be raw.” It is my hope that through authenticity and transparency, at least one woman will feel less alone.
Natty’s Pond is a true first-person account of abortion of a wanted pregnancy within the context of marriage. Abortion is often referenced within the first trimester where the health of the fetus is typically unknown. This story is unique in that it details the experience of second trimester surgical abortion that was deemed “medically advisable” due to poor fetal prognosis. My story is one of being swept up into a medical whirlwind that offered no other option than what they called the “compassionate choice” to terminate the life of my unborn son. The consequences that followed this most horrific decision were unexpected, grave, and altered the course of my life and health for twenty years. I approach the topic of abortion with compassion toward all women, and while I point to my faith as the only balm that finally healed the soul damage, this is not a message of condemnation. The argument of my memoir is that abortion is life altering and can result in secrecy, silence, shame and a myriad of symptoms which protract grief and contribute to isolation. These painful consequences can be magnified within the faith community, leaving many mothers and parents of the unborn trying to deal with unanticipated physical symptoms, the emotional and behavioral entanglements of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as very real spiritual roadblocks. Healing is possible when courage meets honesty, forging connection with others, opening our hearts to repentance, and to the unmerited grace of the cross. With the unconditional love of an Almighty God we can be forgiven, and ultimately, we CAN forgive ourselves. Through the mercy of Christ, twenty years later I find myself profoundly changed on the topic of abortion, and I pray this story may help others to lead with love and greater compassion toward the countless mothers who lost a child and survived it.
In the summer of 2000, when Jenny saw a dark spot on the ultrasound monitor and looked up to read the eyes of the obstetrical technician, she instinctively held her breath. It wasn’t until she began to hear her pulse pounding in her ears that she understood why the technician returned with two doctors. As her husband took her hand, they listened as strangers in white coats cited a list of neonatal complications that would forever change their lives. Advised by a medical team at one of Seattle’s leading hospitals, there was only one choice presented – therapeutic medical termination. The word abortion was never used. What unfolded was anything but therapeutic, and it tested every fiber of medical ethics and the human heart. A grief spanning two decades was compounded by guilt and consequences that left Jenny feeling vanquished to the island of secrecy and shame, made all the more palpable within the silence of the church. “What I had done was too horrific to admit, too shameful to share, too honest to be heard.” When she reached the end of her own endurance, she cried out in desperation to God, who met her exactly where she was, at the edge of a scenic pond in autumn.