I should start my story by explaining that I have an exceptional memory. I can remember details from conversations I had years ago. I can visit the city I haven’t lived in since I was 6 years old and drive you straight to my childhood home. I can even remember the birthday and middle name of the boy I dated in high school. And, unfortunately, I can remember details of every traumatic experience I have lived through.
Apparently this isn’t uncommon with survivors of trauma. They will either block their memories or remember every detail. It always felt like a curse that my brain chose to do the latter. Until a few months ago, when it was became clear to me that I was given this memory so that I could tell this story….
If I’m honest with myself, my story begins even before my first memories were formed—when, for reasons that are still unclear to me, my mother gave my father full custody of my older brother and I—even though she knew that he was a sociopath, alcoholic, and had been convicted of kidnapping and rape.
It’s impossible to remember a time in my life when I wasn’t being abused. By the time I was seven years old my father had taken my virginity. At only ten years old I started by period, likely due to prolonged sexual abuse. I remember my father saying to me on a regular basis, quite casually, “Don’t worry—if I get you pregnant, we’ll just go to a third-world country and get you an abortion.”
Despite the dysfunction all around me, my sense of right and wrong stayed intact. I knew that abortion meant killing your baby, and I knew that it was wrong because even as children we have the instinct to protect innocent life. So, whenever my father thought he was comforting me with the sickening promise of abortion, I would become filled with anger. Biting my tongue, I would think to myself, As if the abuse you put me through isn’t enough, you would further traumatize me with an abortion? Furthermore, even at that young age, I understood that an abortion would destroy the evidence of my father’s crimes. If I were forced to have an abortion, my father would be free to continue abusing me—a reality that struck me with deep hopelessness.
Around that same time, I would occasionally visit my mom. I remember she would sometimes tell me about the baby that she had gotten pregnant with after my brother and before me, that she aborted. It seemed strange to me how casually she could mention this, almost like she was proud of it. She would tell me that the baby she had aborted was me, but that I wasn’t ready to be born yet, so I came back two years later. As much as I loved my mom, I remember being angered by this and thinking, No Mom, it’s not that I wasn’t ready to be born yet; it’s that you didn’t give me the chance to be born. You took my life. But I also had the contradictory thought of, No, Mom, that baby never came back. You chose to take that baby’s life. I am a different baby and I deserve for my mom not to tell me I was aborted the first time around.
Though I felt forgotten by God for most of my life, He must have been looking out for me because I didn’t become pregnant with my father’s child. Two months before my fourteenth birthday I was able to save myself from the abuse and get away, but the damage was already done. Both of my parents had successfully groomed me for abortion. I no longer valued life, especially not my own. And I definitely didn’t value innocent life, because it was something that had been stolen from me.
At the age of twenty-one I was a single mom to a two-year-old boy and in my last semester of nursing school. During winter break I was visiting my grandparents when I was briefly re-introduced to an old “family friend” five years my senior. He said and did all of the right things and gave me attention that I so desperately needed. He had a four-year-old son and was the picture-perfect dad to him, and to watch him interact with my own son melted my heart. He pushed to be in a long distance relationship and I was so broken that I chose to ignore a vivid, nagging memory of him and his brother molesting me when I was five years old.
By spring our relationship had quickly deteriorated and the mental abuse seemed constant. He used me, humiliated me, lied to me, and cheated on me. We were always breaking up and getting back together. It was a completely toxic relationship, but that was normal to me because abuse was all I had ever known.
A few months later I made the decision to make the three hour move to the same city as my boyfriend for a job opportunity, despite having no support system nearby.
Two months after that, I was expecting my second child. I remember naively thinking, Maybe my boyfriend will love me again. But as we sat across from each other on his bed and talked about it, I realized just how much he hated me and how much he hated our baby. I started to feel sick as he said things like, “If you have this baby, I will want nothing to do with you. I will make your life miserable. You’ll be sorry you had this baby.” I knew what he wanted me to do and I was terrified.
Scared and alone, I turned to my mom for advice. Adoption had only briefly crossed my mind because I was so afraid my child would end up in an abusive home like the one I had grown up in. And as much as I wanted to keep my baby, I didn’t feel that I had the support or resources available to raise a second child on my own. My mom made no attempts to change my mind; she just went straight to abortion, reminding me cheerily that she had aborted me but that I came back later when she was ready. She even had one of her friends who’d recently had an abortion call me to tell me how great the experience was and that she was a better mom to her first child because of it.
I waited a couple of weeks before calling Planned Parenthood, hoping my boyfriend would change his mind. I knew that every day I waited, my baby grew bigger and I hated myself for that. I can still picture myself standing in my boyfriend’s kitchen, tears falling down my face as I made that phone call.
Reality hit hard again when the morning sickness came because I knew that morning sickness was a sign of a healthy pregnancy and I didn’t want a healthy pregnancy. I wanted to have a miscarriage because I didn’t want to have to kill my baby, but I just kept getting sicker.
On November 29th I threw a big birthday party for my son who was turning three and the irony was not lost on me. There would be no birthday to celebrate every July 15th because as I was celebrating the life of one child, I was preparing to end the life of my other child.
My memories of being at the Spokane, Washington Planned Parenthood may have taken place over two days or may have all occurred on the same day. I’m not certain, as it all merged into one nightmare.
My baby was scheduled to die on Monday, December 10th, 2001. My boyfriend and I went to the clinic first thing in the morning. I remember hoping that no Pro-Life advocates would be outside that morning because I was so terribly ashamed of what I was about to do. Yet, when we arrived there weren’t any advocates and I suddenly found myself desperately wishing that there were. I wanted so much for someone to be outside of that building to tell me that there was hope, that there was another way, and that I didn’t have to go inside. But there was no one. It was just me and the man who was insisting that our baby be killed.
The ultrasound was quick. They just needed to confirm that I was nine weeks pregnant so that they could put a $500.00 price tag on the life of my baby. I was then counseled in a room without my boyfriend. Being a recently graduated nurse, I didn’t know much about fetal development. I put my trust in the counselor and asked her what we now know to be the two most commonly asked questions by women considering abortion: “Is my baby a baby?” and, “Will he feel pain?” She lied to me and told me that my baby was barely formed and had no brain activity. She didn’t tell me that he had fingers and toes with individual fingerprints, that he had fingernails and teeth growing, and that he was capable of sucking his thumb.
After I was counseled—if you could call it that, because not once did she mention adoption or parenting—I was told to sign a piece of paper giving them permission to dispose of the “tissue” they took from me.
My child would soon be nothing more than medical waste.
Walking into the waiting room, I was horrified to see it full of other girls waiting for their abortions. I had been told that I would be in and out in roughly one hour, so if you did the math, how many babies were being killed just that day? It was eerily silent in that room. No one was happy to be there. No one was celebrating their “right to choose”.
A nurse then came to me and instructed me to take a pill, telling me, “Once you take this pill—if you don’t go through with the procedure—your baby will be born with multiple birth defects.” The pill that they gave me was called Versed, and is specifically used to induce memory loss. Like many medications, if I would have abused it several times throughout my pregnancy, then yes, there probably would have been complications. But one dose of it likely would not have caused damage. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time, so once I swallowed that pill I believed that there was no going back—no matter how much I wanted to. The nurse’s words were just one more method of coercion that was used on me that day.
A short time later my boyfriend and I were taken to the procedure room. At that moment it hit me just how cold and desensitized everyone was. From the moment we walked in the clinic doors, there was little to no eye contact, no comforting touches, no reaffirming questions like, “Are you sure you want to do this? Are you okay?” even when they could see me crying and shaking in fear. I found this bizarre because as nurses we pride ourselves on providing comfort and being perceptive. Not these nurses. They just told me to lie down and I was immediately given IV sedation.
Within seconds, the drugs made it so that I was completely unable to move my body or form intelligible words, yet I was still completely aware of the assault that was unfolding. The nurse was on my right side and my boyfriend on my left. Neither one of them offered a hand to hold or words of reassurance.
When the Abortionist walked in, the atmosphere in the room completely changed. I felt Death enter the room with him. He immediately went to work without a glance or word spoken in my direction.
I remember being grateful that I was given a local anesthetic because when I looked down at the violent and blind manner in which the Doctor was manipulating my body and the way that each dilator came out of me covered in blood, I could feel the panic rising inside of me.
What came next is a sound that I will never forget. I wasn’t prepared for how loud the vacuum would be. I remember trying to tell them to STOP as soon as it turned on, but the drugs were stronger than my body and even if I could have spoken, no one would have heard me. I knew that the nurse or my boyfriend had to have seen me struggling to speak, but neither one of them spoke up for me as my precious baby was rapidly dismembered and sucked from my body.
After they killed my child, they took his remains in to a room and dumped him into a petri dish over a light box. They then reassembled his little body to make sure none of it was left inside of me; two legs with feet and toes, two arms with hands and fingers, a head with a face, and a torso with a heart that had been beating just moments before. Next his broken body was carelessly packed in to a freezer to await being incinerated or simply thrown in to the garbage.
Once it was reported that the abortion had been a success, the Doctor scraped out what was left inside of my uterus. I was told that there may be some cramping, but what I felt was close to the worst pain of my life. I was sobbing and shaking in pain, begging the Doctor to stop because I thought I was going to pass out, only to be told to keep still. It seemed like it would never end, but I’m sure that pain was nothing compared to what my baby felt.
Suddenly, it was over and I remember thinking, Thank God. I can rest now. My body had just been traumatized and I was crying hysterically, surely they’d let me rest for five minutes. I was wrong. They needed that room cleaned up and ready for the next abortion within minutes, so the nurse pulled me up by my arm, made sure I wasn’t going to faint, and told me to put my pants on.
As I was steered out of the room I tried to lean in to my boyfriend for a hug, but the nurse wouldn’t allow it and my boyfriend stepped away from me. He was taken to the waiting room while I was taken to the recovery room. I was given a chair to cry in surrounded by other drugged up girls before the nurse left us alone with no post-operative monitoring. As I sat down, still hysterical, the girl sitting beside me asked if I was okay. It was the first and only time I was shown compassion that day. I sobbed that no, I wasn’t okay; I had just killed my baby. And she said she understood. She’d just had her second abortion.
Twenty minutes later I was told to go to the bathroom alone to check for excessive bleeding. I remember thinking that I was lucky; as a post-partum nurse, I knew what excessive bleeding looked like. But what about all of the girls who didn’t know what too much bleeding looked like, or what an infection looked like? What about all of the girls who left abortion clinics in ambulances?
Thirty minutes after the death of my baby I was sent away and went back to my boyfriend’s house with him. We didn’t talk about what I’d just been through. There were no hugs, and he didn’t ask if I was okay. In fact, less than an hour after arriving at his house, he told me to drive myself home, thirty minutes away.
When I got home I called my mom to let her know I was okay, but I was lying. I was not expected to grieve the death of my second child. There would be no pictures to remember him by and no memorial service to honor his short life. When I wanted to feel close to him, there would be no memory box to open and when the tears threatened to come there would be no one else that held him dear to turn to for comfort. I hardened my heart that day and buried deep the story of the baby I’d just lost.
A year later I found out that my boyfriend had been in another relationship while he was with me. Looking back on it, I’m almost certain that that other relationship was why he insisted on the abortion. When I think back to the conversation I had with him that decided the fate of our child, I have a hard time forgiving myself for not being stronger, for not fighting for my baby’s life. And I struggle every day to find the strength to forgive my baby’s father for choosing life for his other children, but not for our child.
Throughout the years, I told a few trusted people that I’d had an abortion, but no one knew the whole story and no one knew how much destruction it caused in my life…..including myself. Only months after the abortion, I started cutting myself. Years later, I started burning myself as well. This self-harm eventually escalated to the point of several visits to the ER and Psych ward. I hated myself so much that I endured multiple abusive relationships as well. This behavior continued on and off for about twelve years, but I never knew why I did it. I figured it was solely because of the abuse I suffered as a child. I buried the abortion so far down that I never thought that it might have been the guilt and sorrow of killing my own child that was causing my slow suicide.
I was so detached for so long that in 2011 I interviewed for a job as a nurse at the Planned Parenthood of Salt Lake City. It was then that I learned the brutal truth of what had happened to my baby after the Abortionist so violently took him from my body. At the time of the interview I was newly pregnant with my long awaited third child, though I had a devastating miscarriage only about a week later. For years I wondered if God took that child from me as a way of punishing me for my willingness to assist in the future deaths of countless babies. I now thank God that I didn’t get that job. I can’t even imagine how much more trauma I would have suffered if I had taken part in other women’s abortions.
So how did I get from there to here? I guess it just took time and a very slow change of heart.
I believe the seed was planted in 2008 when I went to the Bodies Exhibit and saw a perfectly formed nine-week-old fetus. A baby. That’s when I realized that I’d been lied to. I understood then that my baby really had been a baby. But, even as I became more Pro-Life, I still continued to justify my abortion as a necessary evil considering the situation that I was in. I had no feelings for the baby I had aborted because all of those years I would only think of him as my boyfriend’s baby rather than my baby. It was the only way I could cope with the loss.
Then, in the spring of 2019 when my son would have been in his junior year of high school, my heart finally softened and let me feel the loss of my second child. I did a lot of crying for a week or two. I didn’t sleep. I had anxiety attacks around the clock. I finally realized that although I had been pressured, threatened, and coerced- ultimately I had allowed the murder of my own child. I realized that my baby was innocent no matter how horrible his father had been to me and that he had deserved my love and acknowledgment all of these years. Had my sweet baby been given the chance to live, he would have been every bit as awesome as the four living children I have now. He would have been just as much me as they are.
Once the flood gates opened, I felt a strong, urgent prompting that I needed to give my baby a name right away. As I searched for a name I felt stuck because I had already given my two living boys the two best names I could think of. And then a voice clearly said to me, “You know what to name this child. You always wished you could have named one of your sons after your greatest hero. We saved this name for this baby.”
And so, I named my baby Tyler, after Tyler Joseph, a man who has been saving my life day after day with the music he writes. Once I named Tyler, he was now my baby to love. He was a part of my family. And once I named him—after seventeen long years—I could picture his little face looking up at his Heavenly Father with the biggest smile saying, “My mom finally gave me a name!”
The opposing side would like to say that I would have been better off terminated in the womb than given a life with inevitable child abuse, poverty, mental illness, and domestic violence among other hardships. They would have you believe that it is an act of compassion to end the life of the sufferer through abortion in order to prevent their future suffering. But every one of us suffers in our lives; every one of us has felt deep pain. Without despair we wouldn’t be able to recognize joy. My life has had great value despite what I was born in to. Along with the pain that I have survived, I have also experienced tremendous joy that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
And what about my little Tyler who only lived to be the size of a cherry? Did he even live long enough to have a purpose in this life, to make a difference in this world? They say that God can take anything bad and use it for good, but this? How could God make something good out of the murder of my innocent baby?
For so many years I was so broken, so lost, so angry, and damaged that I couldn’t find my way back home to my Heavenly Father. I hated God for the life he had given me. I knew that Tyler was in the arms of his loving Heavenly Father, but I still couldn’t believe that that same God loved me. But my desire to know my child in Heaven led me to a bridge that Tyler had built for me; a bridge that would lead me back to my Heavenly Father. And when I found that bridge the veil between here and the other side lifted and God showed me my son.
In those moments Tyler became as clear to me as my living children and I could feel his fierce love and protection for me. I couldn’t deny God’s love for me anymore because He had given me the gift of knowing my child in Heaven.
Tyler sacrificed his life so that one day I would find God and so that together, he and I could save women and children from the violence of abortion. And that is a miraculous accomplishment for having only lived on this Earth for 63 days.