In the summer of 2000, when I saw a dark spot on the ultrasound monitor and looked up to read the eyes of the obstetrical technician, I instinctively held my breath. It wasn’t until I began to hear my pulse pounding in my ears that I understood why the technician returned with two doctors. As my husband took my hand, we listened as strangers in white coats cited a list of neonatal complications that would forever change our 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 me 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 I reached the end of my own endurance, I cried out in desperation to God, who met me exactly where I was.
As it is with secrets, it took an incredible amount of energy to hold back the floodgates of honesty. It was exhausting to pretend. Secrets held me in the grip of sharp teeth. I knew if I moved toward escape my wounds would widen. I didn’t know it was possible to have compassion for every woman in the world who had an abortion yet have no compassion for myself.