Safety Harbor, FL
I received my Answered Prayers angel from Diane, the pregnancy center manager where I work in St. Petersburg, Florida. This is meaningful because my path to a deeper relationship with Jesus has been a very tortuous one, yet miraculously, Jesus never let me go and continued to draw me to Him until I finally gave my life to Him totally without conditions.
Here is my story:
Hi, my name is Barb and I’m an ultrasound nurse with the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida. By this, I mean that I am an RN who has gone through basic training to perform obstetrical ultrasounds that are specifically for pregnancy resource centers. These ultrasounds are basic in that their purpose is to find the baby in the womb, confirm that the baby is alive by locating the heartbeat and measuring the approximate age of the baby. This is generally a first trimester ultrasound. Most of the women who enter our pregnancy centers with an unintended pregnancy are about 6 to 13 weeks into their pregnancy.
Ten years ago, I never dreamt this would be the fulfillment of my nursing career! Twenty years ago, after my first divorce, I experienced an unplanned pregnancy. This has helped me to understand the choices and lifestyles of the clients I serve. My pregnancy became apparent after my boyfriend and I had ended our brief relationship. He had already left for Spain with the Air Force Reserves. When I realized I was pregnant, fear gripped my heart and my only thoughts were for myself and my plans. Abortion seemed to be the logical decision for me.
I rationalized that I was having a “procedure,” and that as a nurse, I could look at this clinically, objectively and as the only reasonable option. After all, I had two young children and was in a marketing position with a home health agency. Being single and pregnant at age 33 would be a huge embarrassment. When I called the abortion facility in my area, I asked them if there would be any prolife picketers there that day. I definitely wanted this to be a secret and I didn’t want anyone around who might make me feel guilty or try to talk me out of it.
When I went to the facility that day, I was interviewed by a gray haired, matter-of-fact woman. I told her that I was a Christian and that I didn’t believe in abortion – wow, what a statement! In fact, I had given my life to Jesus Christ as a teen. At the time, I was the only one in my family to become a Christian. My family laughed at me, it was another of my zany activities. They had seen me get into drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and boys in high school, then they observed as I began attending a Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting in my town after being invited by my long-time piano teacher and friend. My life did change and I made better choices but was always plagued by low self esteem and codependency which often led me into shallow and unhealthy relationships. My first marriage was a total mismatch and ended in divorce after 8 years and two children. It was then that I rejected Christianity, I blamed God for the failure of my marriage. I proceeded to create God in my image, no need to attend Church or even worry about what was right and wrong, just try to do my best and be a “good person,” however I might choose to define it!
Back at the abortion facility, the motherly, gray-haired woman told me plainly, “of course, nobody believes in abortion but you have no other choice.” This was what I wanted to hear. She told me that life did not begin until the baby was born, no need to give it another thought. I proceeded to have a suction abortion. The nitrous oxide they gave me helped to control the pain but the noise of the suction machine was unforgettable. During the procedure, the abortionist and his assistant talked about their dogs and didn’t show much compassion or attention, everything was short, quick and to the point. I asked them if my child was a boy or a girl and they told me it was too early to tell. That was it. Afterwards, I sat in a chair, alone, in another room for a short while. When I walked out of the facility I knew in my heart that I had done something terribly wrong, that something had been removed from my body that was more than a piece of tissue or some appendage of mine. Life was missing!
This path I had been on was no accident. I remembered the day when a close family member tried to hand me a package of birth control pills. At the time, I was sixteen years old and in my first relationship with a boy. He proceeded to tell me, with pride, that he helped women in our town obtain illegal abortions. He had doctor friends who would perform the procedure. After my own abortion, when I was 33 years of age, another family member shared with me that she had had two abortions herself!
I went on to marry the man whose child I aborted and have two more children with him. Again, this second marriage ended in disaster five years later. Single again and with four children, and now seeking answers through New Age spirituality, I decided to pray for wisdom, since God had blessed Solomon greatly when he prayed for wisdom… and I wanted to know if I needed Jesus for salvation or were there other options. The Lord answered my prayer and revealed to me wisdom about my own life, the choices I had made, and the evil that had taken root in me. I realized that I needed to give my life totally to God because my life was an absolute mess that only Jesus could clean up and that otherwise, continuing my unhealthy choices and lifestyle would eventually bring destruction to my children and me.
This time, I obeyed! I had begun attending an Episcopal church when my two older children became teenagers, I didn’t want them to make the same immoral choices that I had made as a teen, I wanted them to know right from wrong. I tried to forgive myself for the abortion and to believe that God had forgiven me; maybe partially because I went on to give life to two more children, trying to make up for the one I had destroyed. I went to confession in the Episcopal church and attended healing weekends to seek restoration for all my brokenness and self esteem problems. I met Tom, a committed Christian, and we married in 2000, after dating for three years. We moved to the Clearwater area, and began attending a nondenominational church, since I had been Episcopalian and Tom was Southern Baptist.
Years later, the struggles with our faith and bringing together a blended family, led us to several different Protestant churches over the years, seeking a closer relationship with Jesus and His peace for our lives. I remembered my early conversion to Catholicism as a teen and decided to attend a Catholic Mass near my home. My heart was profoundly touched and I knew that God was leading me back to my early Christian roots. I was invited to a Rachel’s Retreat by a friend from Church and although I believed I didn’t need any further healing or forgiveness – I went anyway. The wound that I had tried to cover and forget about was gently exposed in a safe place among caring people. Finally, I saw the truth about the grave sin I had committed by killing my own child and how damaged my life still was! Yet, although painful, the weekend was the most lovingly beautiful event I have ever attended. I experienced God’s love and forgiveness in a deeply profound and life-changing way. At the retreat, I connected spiritually and emotionally with my baby in Heaven for the first time! I named him Matthew Robert and I know he forgives me and loves his brothers and sisters and me …and prays for us.
Although losing a child to abortion will affect me for the rest of my life, healing and restoration continue by God’s grace. About a year after attending the retreat, I felt a prompting in my heart to attend a March for Life in Tampa, where I held a sign stating “I Regret My Abortion.” My abortion would no longer be a secret. An organization of post abortive women and men called Silent No More had sent some representatives to the March and they had brought the signs. Two years from my retreat, I began volunteering a few hours a week for our diocesan pregnancy center in Tampa and was sent to Virginia to learn obstetrical ultrasound so that we could offer ultrasounds to women entering the abortion facility on Fletcher Avenue in Tampa one Saturday a month. Soon after, the director of the pregnancy center wrote me into the budget for ten hours a week and I was able to juggle being a home care nurse and an ultrasound nurse. The following year, I switched career paths and worked for two pregnancy resource centers performing obstetrical ultrasounds and eventually resigned from my position with a home health agency. In August of 2012, I began working fulltime for Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center, a ministry of Catholic Charities, at their four Diocese of St. Petersburg pregnancy centers in Spring Hill, Dade City, Tampa and St. Petersburg.
I absolutely love this work, it is such a great blessing to see the little baby and hear his or her little heartbeat via ultrasound. Many women, upon seeing the tiny heartbeat, immediately choose to carry their child to term, even though when they first arrived to our pregnancy center, they were unsure and even leaning towards aborting their babies. I have been able to share my story and stories from other post abortive women, with women and men who are thinking of abortion as a “quick fix” without risks and complications. Foundations of Life Pregnancy Centers are educating and informing clients and our community about abortion and the gruesomeness of the procedures as well as the significant short and long term risks and complications of abortion. Most importantly, we are educating our clients and our community about the growth and development of the little baby in the womb – how quickly this tiny being takes on human shape with a beating human heart!