Jeanette's Story

It was my sixteenth year

by Jeanette

We loved each other.  Whatever that means at 16.  When I look back now I know that whatever we thought love was, it wasn’t important enough to think of each other’s future.  When we found out I was pregnant my first thought was:  “what will my parents think?  How will they face their friends and our family”?  So it was decided.  I would have an abortion.   We spent a month scraping money together and then we borrowed the rest from a friend whose grandmother had given her Christmas money.

Now, 20 years later, my memories of the day are clear but odd.  It is as if watching a movie that is full of clips that flash from random moment to random moment.  We didn’t have a car or a license for that matter, so we took buses and subways into the city.  I remember some of the money we paid with was rolled quarters. At the clinic I remember they took all the women (and girls) into a room for a group information session.  There was a woman who wanted to know how soon she could get back to aerobics after this.  I remember thinking “doesn’t she know how serious this is…what a horrible thing we are doing, and yet this is her only question”.

I remember lying on the table, full of fear and terror, tears running down my face and nervously telling the nurse, who held my hand, about how we had to take a bus.  I was too young and naive to know that when they had told me not eat that morning before coming to the clinic, that included orange juice.  So, while in recovery I threw up on the floor as a nurse became angry with me for not asking for a trash can or bed pan.  Didn’t she know I was a child?  Wasn’t someone supposed to be taking care of me?

I don’t know how long I lay there; I really wanted to just leave.

When we did leave, as we walked from the entrance of the clinic to the bus stop, I remember a woman, who obviously knew she couldn’t come onto the property, yelling things at me from the other side of a chain link fence.  I don’t know what she yelled, I was in too much pain and already crying too hard to hear her.

We had enough money in change to get some French fries; I needed something in my stomach. I remember lying across the back seat of the bus and sleeping most of the way home.  I remember going to his house to sleep for the rest of the day, and his mother not asking questions and being very kind to me.

I remember not understanding that when they gave me the antibiotic that said, take 2 times a day, that it meant 2 times during the day…and not having to set my alarm for the middle of the night for 10 days to get up and take it...which is what I did. Why would I have known…I was 16, I shouldn’t have been allowed to fill a prescription myself.  I needed to be taken care of by an adult.  But no adult had been required…so in secret I took care of myself.

Now, married with young children…always looking at someone else’s child that is 20…thinking, “That is how old my first baby would have been.” I could go on about how many years I waited for lightening to strike me for my sin.  I could write about many lies I have told to cover it.  But all of that would be insulting to God who has loved me through it all and comforted me in my pain, sorrow and loss.  I no longer condemn myself; I spent many years doing that.  All I can do now is trust in God’s mercy and that through His grace I am forgiven.

I talk to my baby sometimes, and I ask her to pray for me.