Apparently this isn’t uncommon with survivors of trauma. They will either block their memories or remember every detail. It always felt like a curse that my brain chose to do the latter. Until a few months ago, when it was became clear to me that I was given this memory so that I could tell this story….
My story begins even before my first memories were formed—when, for reasons that are still unclear to me, my mother gave my father full custody of my older brother and I—even though she knew that he was a sociopath, alcoholic, and had been convicted of the kidnapping and rape of a teenager.
It’s impossible to remember a time in my life when I wasn’t being abused. The rape started when I was seven years old. At just ten years old, I started my period, possibly due to prolonged and severe sexual abuse. I remember my father saying to me several times, quite casually, “Don’t worry—if I get you pregnant, we’ll just get you an abortion.”
Despite the dysfunction all around me, my sense of right and wrong stayed intact. I knew that abortion meant killing your baby, and I knew that it was wrong because even as children we have the instinct to protect innocent life. So, whenever my father thought he was comforting me with the promise of abortion, I would become filled with anger. Biting my tongue, I would think to myself, As if the abuse you put me through isn’t enough, you would further traumatize me with an abortion? And even at that young age, I understood that an abortion would destroy the evidence of my father’s crimes and he would be free to continue abusing me for years. The thought of which left me suicidal as a child.
Around that same time, I would occasionally visit my mom. I remember she would sometimes tell me about the baby that she had gotten pregnant with after my brother and before me, that she aborted. It seemed strange to me how casually she could mention this. She would tell me that the baby she had aborted was me, but that she wasn’t ready for me yet, so I came back two years later. I remember being deeply hurt by this and thinking, No, Mom, that baby never came back. You chose to take that baby’s life. I am a different baby and I deserve for my mom not to tell me I was aborted the first time around.
Though I felt forgotten by God for most of my life, He must have been looking out for me because I didn’t become pregnant. Two months before my fourteenth birthday I was able to save myself from the abuse and get away, but the damage was already done. Both of my parents had successfully groomed me for abortion. I no longer valued life, especially not my own. And I definitely didn’t value innocent life, because it was something that had been stolen from me.
At the age of twenty-one, I was a single mom to a two-year-old boy and in my last semester of nursing school. During winter break I was visiting my grandparents when I was briefly re-introduced to an old “family friend” five years my senior. He said and did all of the right things and gave me attention that I so desperately needed. He had a four-year-old son and was the picture-perfect dad to him, and to watch him interact with my own son melted my heart. He pushed to be in a long distance relationship and I was so damaged that I chose to ignore a vivid, nagging memory of him and his brother molesting me when I was five years old.
By spring, our relationship had quickly deteriorated and the mental abuse seemed constant. He used me, humiliated me, lied to me, and cheated on me. We were always breaking up and getting back together. It was a completely toxic relationship, but that was normal to me because abuse was all I had ever known.
A few months later, I learned that I was pregnant with my second child. I remember naively thinking, Maybe my boyfriend will love me now. But as we sat across from each other on his bed and talked about it, I realized just how much he hated me and how much he hated our baby. I started to feel sick as he said things like, “If you have this baby, I will want nothing to do with you. I will make your life miserable. You’ll be sorry you had this baby.” He made it clear what he wanted me to do and I was terrified.
Scared and alone, I turned to my mom for advice. Adoption had only briefly crossed my mind because I was so afraid my child would end up in an abusive home like the one I had grown up in. And as much as I wanted to keep my baby, I didn’t believe that I had the ability or resources available to raise a second child on my own. My mom made no attempts to change my mind; she just went straight to abortion, reminding me happily that she had aborted me but that I came back later when she was ready. She even had one of her friends who’d recently had an abortion call me to tell me how great her experience was and that she was a better mom to her first child because of it.
On November 29th I threw a big birthday party for my son who was turning three. The irony of the moment was not lost on me. There would be no birthday to celebrate every July 15th because as I was celebrating the life of one child, I was preparing to end the life of my other child.
Reality hit hard again when the morning sickness came because I knew that morning sickness was a sign of a healthy pregnancy and I didn’t want a healthy pregnancy. I wanted to have a miscarriage because I didn’t want to have to kill my baby, but I just kept getting sicker and more hopeless every day.
I waited a couple of weeks before calling the Planned Parenthood of Spokane, Washington, hoping my boyfriend would change his mind. I knew that every day I waited, my baby grew bigger and I hated myself for that. I can still picture myself standing in my boyfriend’s kitchen, tears pouring down my face as I made that phone call.
The ultrasound was quick. They just needed to confirm that I was 9-10 weeks pregnant so that they could put a $500.00 price tag on the life of my baby. I was then counseled in a room alone. As a brand new nurse, I hadn’t learned about fetal development yet. I put my trust in the counselor and asked her what we now know to be the two most commonly asked questions by women considering abortion: “Is my baby a baby?” and, “Will he feel pain?” Of course, she lied to me and told me that my baby was barely formed and had no brain activity. She didn’t tell me that he had fingers with individual fingerprints, that he had teeth growing, and could suck his thumb. She also never once mentioned adoption or parenting.
My child was scheduled to die the morning of Monday, December 10th, 2001. I remember hoping that no pro-life advocates would be outside that morning because I was so terribly ashamed of what I was about to do. Yet, when we arrived, there weren’t any advocates and I suddenly found myself desperately wishing that there were. I wanted so much for someone to be outside of that building to tell me that there was hope, that there was another way, and that I didn’t have to go inside. But there was no one. It was just me and the man who was insisting that our baby be killed.
Walking into the waiting room, I was shocked to see it full of other girls waiting for their abortions. I had been told that I would be in and out in roughly one hour, so if you did the math, how many babies were being killed just that day? It was eerily silent in that room. No one was happy to be there. No one was celebrating their “right to choose”.
A nurse then came to me and demanded that I take a pill, telling me, “Once you take this pill—if you don’t go through with the procedure—your baby will be born with multiple birth defects.” The pill that they gave me was called Versed, and it is specifically used to induce memory loss. They didn’t want me to remember any of this and they definitely didn’t want me to change my mind. Their scare tactics worked and once I swallowed that pill, I believed that there was no going back.
A short time later, my boyfriend and I were taken to the procedure room. At that moment it hit me just how cold and desensitized everyone was. From the moment we walked in the clinic doors, there was little to no eye contact, no comforting touches, no reaffirming questions like, “Are you sure you want to do this? Are you okay?” even though they could see me crying. I found this bizarre because as nurses, we pride ourselves on providing comfort and being perceptive. Not these nurses. They just told me to lie down, and I was immediately given IV sedation.
Within seconds, the drugs made it so that I was completely unable to move my body or form intelligible words, yet I was still completely aware of everything that was happening. The nurse was on my right side and my boyfriend on my left. Neither one of them offered a hand to hold or words of comfort.
When the Abortionist walked in, the atmosphere in the room completely changed. It was as though Death himself had entered the room. He immediately went to work without a glance or word spoken in my direction.
I remember being grateful that I was given a local anesthetic because when I looked down at the violent and blind manner in which the Doctor was manipulating my body and the way that each dilator came out of me covered in blood, I could feel the panic rising inside of me.
What came next is a sound that I will never forget…..the sound of my baby dying. I wasn’t prepared for how loud the vacuum would be. I remember trying to tell them to STOP, but the drugs were stronger than my body, and even if I could have spoken, no one would have heard me. I knew that the nurse or my boyfriend had to have seen me struggling to speak, but neither one of them spoke up for me as my baby was rapidly dismembered and sucked from my body.
Once it was reported that the abortion had been a success, the Doctor scraped out what was left inside of me. I was told that there may be some cramping, but what I felt was close to the worst pain of my life. I was sobbing and shaking in pain, begging the Doctor to stop because I thought I was going to pass out, only to be told to keep still. It seemed like it would never end, but I’m sure that pain was nothing compared to what my baby had just felt.
When it was finally over, I remember thinking, Thank God. I can rest now. My body had just been traumatized and I was crying hysterically, surely they’d let me rest for five minutes. I was wrong. They needed that room cleaned up and ready for the next abortion within minutes, so the nurse pulled me up by my arm, made sure I wasn’t going to faint, and told me to put my pants on.
I felt violated and I knew that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.
As I was steered out of the room, I tried to lean in to my boyfriend for a hug, but the nurse wouldn’t allow it, and my boyfriend stepped away from me.
When I made it to the recovery room, I was given a chair to cry in surrounded by other drugged up girls. The nurse then left us alone with no post-operative monitoring. As I sat down, the girl sitting beside me asked if I was okay. It was the first and only time I was shown compassion that day. I sobbed that no, I wasn’t okay; I had just killed my baby. And she said she understood. She’d just had her second abortion.
Twenty minutes later I was told to go to the bathroom to check for excessive bleeding. I remember thinking that I was lucky; as a postpartum nurse, I knew what excessive bleeding looked like. But what about all of the girls who didn’t know what too much bleeding looked like, or what an infection looked like? What about all of the girls who left abortion clinics in ambulances? What about the girls who never made it back home to their families?
Thirty minutes after the death of my child, I was sent away and went back to my boyfriend’s house with him. We didn’t talk about what I’d just been through. There were no hugs, and he didn’t ask if I was okay. In fact, less than an hour after arriving at his house, he told me to drive myself home.
When I got home, I called my mom to let her know I was okay, but I was lying. I was not expected to mourn the death of my child lost to abortion. There would be no pictures to remember him by and no memorial service to honor his short life. When I wanted to feel close to him, there would be no memory box to open and when the tears threatened to come there would be no one else that knew him to turn to for comfort. I hardened my heart that day and buried deep the secret of the baby I’d just lost.
A year later, I found out that my boyfriend had been in another relationship while he was with me. I’m almost certain that that other relationship was why he insisted on the abortion. When I think back to the conversation I had with him that decided the fate of our child, I have a hard time forgiving myself for not being stronger, for not fighting for my baby’s life. And I struggle every day to forgive my baby’s father for choosing life for his other children, but not for our child.
Throughout the years, I told a few trusted people that I’d had an abortion, but no one knew the whole story and no one knew how much destruction it had caused in my life, including me. Only months after the abortion, I started cutting myself. Years later, I started burning myself as well. This self-harm eventually escalated to the point of several visits to the ER and Psych ward. I hated myself so much that I endured multiple abusive relationships as well. This behavior continued on and off for about twelve years, but I never knew why I did it. I figured it was solely because of the abuse I suffered as a child. I buried the abortion so far down that I never thought that it might have been the guilt and sorrow of killing my own child that was causing my slow suicide.
I was detached for so long that in 2011, I interviewed for a job as a nurse at the Salt Lake City Planned Parenthood. It was then that I learned of the lies that Planned Parenthood tells to sell abortions. And it was then that I learned what happened to my baby’s body after he was so violently taken from me: how he was dumped into a petri dish over a light box. How the POC technician would sift through his remains in search of two legs, two arms, a head, and a torso. And how once they were able to reassemble his broken body to make sure nothing had been left inside of me, he was carelessly packed into a freezer to await being incinerated, thrown into the garbage, or used for medical research.
At the time of the interview, I was newly pregnant, though I had a devastating miscarriage only about a week later. For years, I wondered if God took that child from me as a way of punishing me for my willingness to assist in the future deaths of countless babies. I now thank God that I didn’t get that job. I can’t even imagine how much more trauma I would have suffered if I had taken part in other women’s abortions.
So how did I get from there to here? I guess it just took time and a very slow change of heart.
I believe the seed was planted in 2008 when I went to the Bodies Exhibit and saw a perfectly formed nine-week-old fetus. A baby. That’s when I realized that I’d been lied to. I understood then that my baby really had been a baby. But, even as I became more Pro-Life, I still continued to justify my abortion as necessary considering the situation that I was in. I had no feelings for the baby I had aborted because all of those years, I had only thought of him as my boyfriend’s baby rather than my baby. It was the only way I could cope with the loss.
Then, in the spring of 2019 when my son would have been in his junior year of high school, my heart finally softened and let me feel the loss of my second child. I did a lot of crying for a week or two. I didn’t sleep. I had anxiety attacks around the clock. I finally realized that although I had been pressured, threatened, and coerced- ultimately, I had allowed the murder of my own child. I realized that my baby was innocent no matter how horrible his father had been to me and that he had deserved my love and acknowledgment all of these years. Had my sweet baby been given the chance to live, he would have been every bit as awesome as the four living children I have now. He would have been just as much me as they are.
Once the floodgates opened, I felt a strong, urgent prompting that I needed to give my baby a name right away. As I searched for a name I felt stuck because I had already given my two living boys the two best names I could think of. And then a voice clearly said to me, “You know what to name this child. You always wished you could have named one of your sons after your greatest hero. We saved this name for this baby.”
And so, I named my baby Tyler- after Tyler Joseph- a man who has been helping me stay alive day after day with the music he writes. Once I named Tyler, he was now my baby to love. He was a part of my family. And once I named him—after seventeen long years—I could picture his little face looking up at his Heavenly Father with the biggest smile saying, “My mom finally gave me a name!”
The opposing side would like to say that I would have been better off terminated in the womb than given a life with inevitable child abuse, poverty, mental illness, and domestic violence. They would have you believe that it is an act of compassion to end someone’s life through abortion in order to prevent their future suffering. But every one of us suffers in our lives; every one of us feels deep pain. Without despair, we wouldn’t be able to recognize joy. My life has had great value despite what I was born into and what I have had to live through. Along with the pain that I have survived, I have also experienced tremendous joy that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
And what about my little Tyler who only lived to be the size of a cherry? Did he even live long enough to have a purpose in this life, to make a difference in this world? They say that God can take anything bad and use it for good, but this? How could God make something good out of the murder of my innocent baby?
For so many years I was so hurt, so lost, so angry, and damaged that I couldn’t find my way back home to my Heavenly Father. I hated God for the life he had given me. I knew that Tyler was in the arms of his loving Heavenly Father, but I still couldn’t believe that that same God loved me. But my desire to know my child in Heaven led me to a bridge that Tyler had built for me; a bridge that would lead me back to my Heavenly Father. And when I found that bridge, the veil between here and the other side lifted, and God showed me my son.
And he is so happy and loves me so much!
In those moments, Tyler became as clear to me as my living children. I couldn’t deny God’s love for me anymore because He had given me the gift of knowing my son in Heaven.
Tyler sacrificed his life so that one day I would be able to find God and so that together, Tyler and I could help save mothers and children from the violence of abortion. And that is a miraculous accomplishment for having only lived on this Earth for 63 days.