A parish friend of many years ago was in her third trimester when she asked me to help write her story. Only as her story would unfold did I come to understand the courage, trust, faith, humility and unconditional love of life that were embodied in her request.
It gives me great joy to share this powerful testimony with our CatholicMom family.
A True Story
I was a single mom going out with a girlfriend on a carefree-kid-free night. What began as an innocent night on the town ended up as an irresponsible, uncharacteristic and morally careless encounter with a man I had just met that evening.
The thrill of the encounter, the faux romance and immediate physical gratification passed in an instant. Contrary to the fruit of a sacramental union between a husband and wife as God intends, I felt empty, abandoned, worthless and ashamed. I drove home alone and in tears.
For several weeks I tried to live my life as though nothing had happened. Providentially, I was preparing to attend a three-day Catholic women’s retreat known as Cursillo. Any enthusiasm I may have had about attending the retreat was overshadowed by a dark thought lurking in the back of my mind for several days. I suspected I was pregnant.
At first I dismissed the thought as paranoid. I rationalized that pregnancy was impossible because I had to be treated for infertility before conceiving my third child. Nevertheless, I forced myself to purchase a pregnancy test kit. The results were positive.
My heart sank into deep and unfamiliar despair. I tried to deny the truth even though I recognized all the physical signs of pregnancy. I felt I had nowhere to turn so I attended the Cursillo. It was during this retreat that God helped me understand how special I am to Him. I never felt more loved at any other time in my life. In spiritual intimacy, as only God can, He assured me that everything would be all right.
The quiet promise that God whispered in my heart remained to be realized when I returned home from the retreat. Everything wasn’t all right. I had to face the harsh reality that I was pregnant. The terror of an uncertain future knocked me completely off balance.
What would my children think about my pregnancy?
How would they react?
How could I answer their questions?
My children weren’t my only concern. I was engaged to be married.
I started to panic. I began to lie. I thought it would be easier if I concealed the truth from everyone. I thought my pregnancy would be more socially acceptable if I told my fiancé that he was the father of my child. I was certain this was not true. Desperate and confused, I agreed to marry him the following month.
The day arrived quickly. God knew I wasn’t ready to make this commitment. I knew in my heart that I could not – should not – marry a man that loved me based on the lie that I was pregnant with his child. I didn’t sign a certificate of marriage on that day or any other day. Our engagement and our relationship eventually came to a very sad end.
Time passed. Fear consumed me and the peace of God’s promise eluded me again. A horrible thought occurred to me as I agonized over what I should do next. I thought I could have an abortion and then tell everyone that I had a miscarriage.
I started thumbing through the phone book and found an enormous ad under “A” for abortion on the very first page. It read in big, bold letters: “Abortions to 24 weeks. Unplanned pregnancy ended while you sleep.” There was also a photo of a young, attractive woman with a bright, confident smile on her face. I now believe that the photo was intended to give me a false sense of peace and empowerment regarding the decision I was about to make to end my child’s life.
I phoned the clinic and explained that I was four months pregnant.
“No problem,” they said, “you won’t feel a thing.” The clinic also accepted credit cards for my convenience.
I scheduled the appointment. I convinced myself that my life would soon be back to normal after the abortion. I only succeeded in convincing myself of another lie.
I recently completed my full initiation into the Catholic Church. I learned through the course of instruction that “direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2271).
With this in mind, I struggled intensely to rationalize my decision to have an abortion. I lied to myself again. I told myself that it would be acceptable to have the abortion as long as I hadn’t yet felt the baby move. The stronger inner voice of Truth reminded me that life begins at the moment of conception.
In the midst of my interior tug-of-war, I began to see the brilliant light of God’s truth exposing the darkness of abortion as the evil it really is. This wasn’t merely a relative question of right or wrong or a person’s right to choose.
This was a matter of life or death.
I realized I needed to come forward with the truth. Telling the truth meant admitting that I had intentionally deceived my family, my fiancé and my friends. Telling the truth after so many lies was frightening and difficult. The fear of being scrutinized, judged and rejected was overwhelming. Being truthful was the first step to regaining the freedom I sacrificed when I turned away from God’s grace, began to lie and came so close to killing my innocent child.
I told everyone about my infidelity. It was indescribably painful to witness the initial expression of shock on the faces of those who love and care for me. I accepted responsibility for hurting many people with my lies and my lack of trust in their willingness and ability to love and support me.
I asked for their forgiveness. God showered me with that precious gift in the fountain of their tears.
My parents’ plea for the life of the child opened my heart completely to the realization of God’s will and the fulfillment of His promise. I canceled my abortion appointment and announced my intention to place my child for adoption. Making this decision was like suddenly receiving the gift of sight after a lifetime of blindness. I focused my new vision on His beacon of truth.
I prayed more deeply for greater trust in God. I began to listen to God more intently. I allowed Him to put the pieces of my life back together. I hadn’t totally cleared the storm, but I was confident that I was heading in the right direction.
I also prayed that God would help me find the best possible parents for my child. It wasn’t a coincidence that my physician knew a very special Catholic couple that carried a cross of infertility through twenty-seven years of marriage. I agreed to meet with them.
The formal interview lasted nearly three hours. We exchanged many personal questions and answers in an atmosphere of trust and peace. They assured me that they would love my baby as their very own child.
I invited them to each prenatal visit. We were able to witness the inconceivable miracle of the baby’s development. We heard the strong, rhythmic heart beat and we could count all the fingers and toes.
We also learned that the baby was a boy. At that moment, I knew, looking in the eyes of the parents-to-be, that they loved him even before he was born.
As I recovered in my room following his healthy delivery, I received the most beautiful birth announcement from the adoptive mother and father. My eyes were filled with tears of pure joy and my heart overflowed in thanksgiving to God. It wasn’t until after this precious child was born that I understood and so deeply appreciated what God had accomplished through me.
I cannot now, so many years later, without trembling and regret, recollect that I ever considered ending his life as he rested so vulnerably and so safely in the sanctuary of my womb.
Life begins at the moment of conception.
Tragically, every child conceived is not born.
Every child born is not conceived in a union of love between a husband and a wife and joyfully welcomed into the world and a family to grow and thrive.
Life is a gift from God and God alone is the only author of each life from conception to natural death.
There is only one right choice for your future and the future of your child.
I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy, 30:19).
Brian is cradle Catholic, husband and father. He is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Brian and his wife are consecrated members of the Militia Immaculata. The Militia of the Immaculata (MI) is a worldwide evangelization movement founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1917 that encourages total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means of spiritual renewal for individuals and society. For more information on the MI and total consecration please go to www.consecration.com.