Until the summer that I turned 19, I thought I knew what life had to offer… In one year, my parents got a divorce, I dropped out of high school, I got pregnant and had an abortion, and my own brother was ripped out of my life only to be seen behind a glass window.
I expected to be hurt. I expected that no one wanted to be bothered. But I knew I could smile through anything.
I was 18 the first time my eyes ever met a positive pregnancy test. Sitting there, on a toilet in a little house, I was completely and totally caught off-guard. I had not expected this. I stared hard at the stick that was changing my life – like a tiny plastic magic wand with pee all over it. I double-checked the instructions, hoping I’d got it wrong. Oh, how I wanted it to be wrong.
I spent the next four weeks pretending the test was wrong. Living as if there hadn’t been another heart beating inside of me, I filled my body with unbelievable amounts of cocaine and vodka, all the while saving and borrowing money for the $250 abortion. Smiling.
I went to a pregnancy crisis center to get the proof of pregnancy I needed in order to get an abortion. It was free. I endured the kindness from the older women who volunteered there. I even sat through all of their pro-life videos. I smiled the whole time. They told me my due date was Feb 19, 1999. I went home and scheduled my abortion appointment for July 14, 1998. The amount of drugs and alcohol I was using increased. On July 5, I was kicked out of my house. I slept in a park, couch-hopped, and used people. Still smiling.
I was relieved, when I drove into the parking lot of the West Side Clinic, to find that the protesters had taken the day off. It was a Tuesday. I was prepared for this day. I’d done everything they’d said to do. I’d taken a warm bath. I packed my bag with everything they had listed. I also brought $250 cash, my I.D., and proof of pregnancy. Smiling, I walked into the clinic.
I struck up conversations with everyone in the waiting room. I sat next to a young couple who were aborting their baby that day because it just wasn’t good timing. On the other side of me was a dancer who was worried because they said she had to be off her feet for six weeks. Behind me was a mother and her 14-year-old daughter. The mother said she just couldn’t wait to put all of this behind them. I was there because I was afraid to tell my mom I was pregnant.
I remember getting a sonogram that day. I giggled when I asked the woman, who wouldn’t smile at me, if it was a boy or a girl. She didn’t look at me, but she said, “It’s a boy.” I knew she couldn’t know, and I wondered why she had said that. She kept looking at the TV screen, where she could see my baby’s heart beating.
During “the procedure” (the moment I ended my child’s life), I was fully aware of what was happening. My heart started beating really fast because I had just changed my mind, but I knew it was too late. My baby was in pieces somewhere close by. Heart not beating.
A few hours later I was resting at my friend’s house in their parent’s bed. The pain I felt was extraordinary – both physical and emotional. I writhed. I sobbed. I wanted to take it back. The next morning when I woke up, my heart was hard. Still smiling.
I spent a lot of years convincing myself that I was an exception. That I hadn’t been affected by my abortion. I started to believe in Jesus when I was 22, although I hadn’t given my life to Him yet. But in my belief, I believed that I needed to tuck this abortion thing into the dark parts of my heart. He could just let me handle that, because I was under the impression that he dealt with only nice girl problems. But Jesus didn’t die just for good girls.
Jesus didn’t leave me lying there on that table in the abortion clinic. He’s walked a long, hard road with me, loving me, repairing me, putting broken pieces back together, and giving me reasons to really smile.
I gave my life to the Lord – like, no-take-backs gave my life to the Lord – on Aug 26, 2012. I gave Him cigarettes, too. I was a two-pack-a-day smoker, and He told me to give Him my cigarettes and He would give me something even better than sitting on my porch smoking. He gave me photography. He gave me birth photography.
On Friday, March 22, 2013…13 years, eight months, and eight days after my abortion, I met a girl who found Embrace Grace. A girl who probably looked at her own pregnancy test and thought the timing was not right. She may have thought an abortion would be a quick and easy way to put it all behind her. She may have even been afraid to tell people she was pregnant. But she chose to do something amazing.
The Father, my Father who made my heart beat, plopped me right down in the middle of the birth of this amazing girl’s baby. The baby who would not go to her arms the moment it took its first breath, but would be passed to another woman. This amazing girl chose to let her body be stretched, torn, and bruised so her baby could live, take a breath, and be loved.
My friend stood next to the amazing girl while she worked hard to bring their baby into this world. I was there when the baby was passed from the amazing girl’s body to my friend’s waiting arms. Ten years of waiting behind her and a lifetime ahead of her. In a moment of memories, breath, life, and happy tears, my friend was holding the person who will call her “Mommy.”
I smiled. I smile.
Written by Crissy Terrell and photos by Crissy Terrell