January 26, 2020
Have you ever stumbled around in a dark room?
Maybe you had to go pee in the middle of the night and didn’t want to turn on the light, so you just stumbled and bumped your way to the bathroom and back?
That has pretty much been my life for the most part of 43 years.
I’m going to tell you a story.
It’s not a funny or pretty, or romantic story. There are a lot of painful, raw, emotive parts.
But it is 100% true.
**Trigger warning- Sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, abortion, trauma from the abortion**
My earliest memories… there are two that stick out…
- My mom is lying motionless on the floor and my older brother, younger sister and I are sitting next to her. One of us looks up and says to my father who is standing on the other side of her, “You killed her.” My dad just laughed at us and said that she was just “thinking of what she wants to do to him next,” like she was a threat.
- I was underneath an adult man. I was four. He had removed my panties. I remember screaming for my mom, who finally came and pushed him off of me. (For the sake of my family, I will not reveal who this was, but if you are somehow reading this, I forgive you.)
So these were my early years. My house was most definitely not a fairy tale “Brady Bunch” house. Chances are, yours wasn’t either, so you may recognize the darkness that I speak about.
Home is supposed to be your safe space, where you can hide from the rest of the world, where you have an army of loved ones ready to defend you at any moment. My house, WAS the war zone. Screaming, cursing, yelling, throwing things. There were other instances of sexual abuse, a friend of my brother’s at 6. I was raped at 15 by a guy I went to school with.
So with all of the wholesome upbringing that I had, it should not be too shocking that I found myself pregnant at 17. I had always been very adamantly pro-life.
It was 1994- I was a senior in high school, with a 3.6 GPA, but my dad wouldn’t give me permission to go to school after I moved in with my mom (another story for another time).
My boyfriend and I had broken up over the summer, and I moved away (to my mom’s house). I met a man and he showed me just enough attention and left within a matter of weeks.
So when my boyfriend called me a month later, I had to tell him that I was pregnant. It was obviously not his baby.
My boyfriend told me that he wanted to marry me and spend the rest of his life with me, but he couldn’t raise another man’s baby.
The father of the baby told me that if I had the baby, he would take him away from me. (He was older and had a job).
My mom told me that it was my choice. It didn’t really feel like a choice.
I hadn’t even finished school. How could I be so stupid? I knew how babies were made. I KNEW to use protection. I let myself be talked out of every common sense thing that I knew.
I wish I could say that getting pregnant was the end of my stupid mistakes, but they weren’t.
I decided that I would have an abortion. I decided that I would have an abortion so that I could finish school and go to college (didn’t happen).
I decided that I would have an abortion so that I could be with the man who said that he loved me. This also didn’t happen. He never called once over the next month, and I went through the abortion by myself.
I decided that I would have an abortion so that I wouldn’t “lose my baby to the horrible man that was his father.” I still lost my baby.
I remember the night before crying and praying for God to forgive me for what I was about to do. I knew that abortion was wrong. I had head knowledge that it stopped the pregnancy. I did not equate it in my heart that it actually killed a baby. I had NO CLUE as to what happened during an abortion or after.
My mom drove me to the clinic. It looked on the outside, and for the most part on the inside, like a regular doctor’s office. I cannot tell you where the clinic is, or who was there that day, but this is what I remember.
I remember that they drew my blood and asked me about my period. They discovered that my blood type was A- which required me to have a Rho-gam injection.
I remember going in for counseling. It was a dark room, or maybe that’s just how I remember it. The “counselor” asked me if I had considered adoption. Check. “I don’t think that I could carry the baby and give it up for adoption.”
That was good enough for her. I’m sure that she asked me other questions, but it was what she never asked me… Are you SURE? Do you understand what is going to happen? Do you want to see how big your baby is, how developed?
Have you REALLY considered your options? No, I hadn’t talked to anyone. I was scared, and if given the chance to say so, I would have backed out.
No one told me how far along I was, but my last menstrual cycle was in December, and this was mid-March, so I was between 10-12 weeks pregnant.
I remember being taken into THE ROOM. I was told to put my clothes in a drawer, and put the paper gown on and lay on the table.
I remember laying there, alone.
They would not let my mother come back. I have to sit with my 17- year old when they get lab tests done, but for this…, my mom was not allowed.
I remember picturing myself putting my clothes back on and walking out. If only I was that brave.
I remember two nurses on either side of me, talking to each other about their daily life as if I wasn’t even there.
They said there would be some cramping.
It hurt. I have given birth without any meds, and this still hurts worse.
I remember reaching for one of the nurse’s hands, and she absently grabbed it and said I was almost done. She continued her discussion.
I remember screaming. It hurt so bad.
My mom heard my screaming in the waiting room. They still wouldn’t let her come back.
I remember the sound of the machine and the container filled with blood.
I remember being moved into a “recovery room” This room was filled with women. Some were in chairs- there was a beanbag on the floor and I laid on it.
I already felt dead inside.
I remember an older lady was in there (older than me- she was probably in her mid 20’s) and thinking that she was old enough to have a family and take care of a baby… why was she in there?
She spoke to me… She said that I was so young and that she hoped that she never saw me in there again (wait… people do this more than once?)
A nurse came and told me to use the bathroom. I did.
When I came out of the bathroom, I tried to tell her that I had a large blood clot, but I passed out.
The nurse yelled something about stupid girls who can’t just say they are going to pass out… yeah… because I do this every day.
When I woke up, they asked me if I wanted to leave. I did. Then they had me sign a paper stating that I wanted to leave before the recommended time frame. I was 17… and had just lost consciousness.
As I was leaving, they handed me a brown paper bag with birth control pills in them. I remember my mom driving me home.
I remember sleeping a lot and crying uncontrollably for days.
My mom would ask me why I was crying. It was my CHOICE.
I can’t even describe the feeling of profound grief and guilt, because I didn’t deserve to grieve, and anger that I was not brave enough to fight for my baby….. and so much sadness.
This is what I CAN tell you… my abortion solved NOTHING.
I still vividly remember the nightmares. There are two that recurred over and over again.
In the first one, my mom is standing on the front porch of her house. She is holding my baby out and I can tell that he is a boy. He is crying. I am running to get to him. The faster I run, the further away he gets. In every dream, I wake up before I get to him.
The second dream is more graphic. I had this dream before I knew what happened during an abortion and before I realized that my baby was actually developed.
In the second dream, I am in a laboratory. In this room, there is an enclosed shelf with jars on it. The door is made of glass and I can see in the jars. The jars are all filled with bloody babies. I feel in my dream that I need to save these babies, but I can’t figure out how to get them out of the room.
So here I am 17, alone- because the said boyfriend was not concerned enough to check on me, in a spiral of hopelessness and grief- and in walks another man.
We were together for twelve years.
The next time I became pregnant, I was happy to be having a baby. I thought that maybe this baby would fill the hole left by the first baby.
Then I started bleeding and cramping. I will never forget going to the emergency room and seeing my little baby on the screen with the words “no- fetal- heartbeat.”
They sent me home to deliver her naturally- she was still tiny- about 8 weeks.
Realizing that ANOTHER baby had died in my womb was almost unbearable.
The cramping and bleeding came, but still no baby. The emotional trauma of it all was too much. I went back to the ER and begged them to get the baby out.
I still did not know what that entailed. Thankfully, they put me to sleep.
My doctor told me that I should get pregnant again right away. There was no reason that I shouldn’t get pregnant. So I did.
Joshua was born in Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas on February 20, 1997.
Nicholas was born at home in Tyler, Texas on May 29, 1999.
Caleb… I was pregnant with Caleb when I was introduced to a group of Apologetics. They discussed different topics and how they applied to Christianity.
Of course, abortion was one of these topics. In an effort to convince the non-believers that abortion was wrong, I decided to research what happened during an abortion as well as the development of babies.
Yes, I already had two babies, and I had a general knowledge, but the internet was still fairly new and had sooo much information.
Information that I was unprepared for.
I was not ready to see the bloody baby parts or read about how they performed a D&C (A D&C (dilation and curettage) is the medical term for dilation of your cervix so that they can insert the curette into your uterus and cut apart your baby in order to suction him or her out of your womb.)
On bigger babies, they need to use a tool with teeth that hold on to the arms and twist them off.
Remember, I let them do this to my second baby too…
I wanted to throw up.
I wanted to cry. I did cry.
God is Faithful
And as beautiful as God is… he sent Beverly Kline and her post-abortion Bible Study to my little town. She runs Living Alternatives and Fatherheart Maternity Home in East Texas. I was able to see that I was not alone.
Others had been lied to and believed the lie. Others had allowed their babies to be murdered. Other mothers had their children lost forever to abortion. Other mothers grieved and felt guilt and anger.
I was given permission to acknowledge my baby. His name is Nathaniel Alan. (sister’s name is Britanny De’anne)
I forgave myself.
Caleb was born on October 31, 2001.
I finally felt at peace and was able to enjoy my baby. The peace lasted roughly a year.
In November of 2002, I discovered my husband’s porn addiction.
I tried to put boundaries in place, I tried counseling, I tried reading “Every Man’s Battle” to understand his addiction. In the end, his addiction was more important to him than our marriage.
My daughter was conceived among all of this chaos. My daughter who I named when I was 16 and prayed for and had all but given up on. She was my bright light in the storm.
I was severely depressed during this pregnancy. There were many hours that I contemplated suicide. I even made a plan, but I couldn’t do it. I could not kill another baby. She saved my life.
Lindsey was born on September 29, 2003.
After she was born, the depression got worse. I would sit in her nursery, holding her with tears streaming down my face. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be happy. The dark cloud would not leave.
My midwife called me one day and we talked about my husband’s controlling behavior and my depression. He agreed to allow me to see a doctor and get medication. My children were eventually removed by the state- until I could get on my feet emotionally and financially.
I fought for a year to get them back.
In the meantime, I met husband number 2. I was angry at God and decided that I was going to do things “my way” for a while.
I ended up pregnant with my daughter, Sarah. Her father was even more abusive than the first. He forced an object inside of me until there was blood pouring out of my body. It was splashing all over me, and the bed. He didn’t want any more babies.
A few weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant, again. I believe that I was most likely pregnant with twins, and I miscarried Sarah, but Samantha survived.
She was born on March 1st, 2006.
I stayed with her father for ten years. The abuse gradually got worse. I was afraid to leave- afraid that I would not be able to care for five children on my own- afraid that he wouldn’t let me leave- afraid that he would take my daughter.
I eventually found my way out and left. He would not allow me to have custody, and I did not have the money to fight, so we agreed on joint custody.
Still, free but not free. I continued to spiral down into darkness. The darkness that I had fought against for so long consumed me.
Then in 2017, I tried to implode. I went to visit “friends” in Dallas, and partied, and got myself in a bad situation. I remember driving home on the morning of March 18th with severe pain in my chest, radiating down my arm. 100 miles I drove and panicked. I ended up in the ER thinking that I was having a heart attack.
God sent my husband to me that day. He just happened to be in town and saw on Facebook that I was in the ER and brought his two kiddos to see me. He loves me like Jesus.
Something that I did not realize until that day was that I always fought anxiety and depression the most during March. March… My baby boy was aborted in March.
The Beauty From Ashes
The last three years have been a roller coaster of healing and fighting.
Samantha’s dad decided to convince her that I have abused her. He filed for custody, and after fighting with an attorney for almost a year, I signed the papers over. Today she doesn’t speak to me. I haven’t seen her in four months.
He took her just like he said he would. I am heartbroken, but God has given me my husband and my photography. I have my God, and God has given me a purpose to be silent no more.
God has used my photography to heal my heart. I have the privilege of photographing mommas as they bring their beautiful babies into this world. I get to capture them in all of their squishy goodness and watch them grow into beautiful children of God.
You can see my work here
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this is a beautiful story after all.
-If you have traveled through this darkness and would like help with healing, you can find many resources with the She Found His Grace Ministry
Crystal is a local birth and newborn photographer currently residing in the Savannah, Georgia area. She loves Jesus, coffee, and her family- usually in that order. Her love for families includes educating and empowering mommas so that they know their choices and can help themselves to have better outcomes in labor and delivery, as well as post-partum.