Overcoming grief of four abortions

“My childhood dream was to get married and have children. So simple, and yet, as it turned out, all too unattainable. At the age of 18 I found myself in a relationship with a man 14 years older than me and pregnant. We had been together a year and I felt certain my dream was going to come true. I had experienced a lot of trauma in my life and desperately wanted to be a mum.

I was devastated when the father was adamant on abortion.

I tried to stall but to no avail, and because of my past trauma and having no tangible support, I felt I had no choice but to do what the father wanted. I started drinking heavily and hoping for a miscarriage. I secretly wanted someone to see how upset I was at the thought of having an abortion and rescue me. No one did.

The dreaded day of the abortion arrived. I only remember three things about that day. I remember sobbing my heart out in the clinic counsellor’s office. Absolutely sobbing. Those “counsellors” are only there for one thing – to make you go through with your abortion. She even brought the father of the baby in and both of them proceeded to bully me into saying I wanted to go through with it. I didn’t. I wanted to run out of there as fast as my legs would carry me, but I wasn’t strong enough. I remember lying on the table and being injected with the anaesthetic, and crying as I went into sedation. I remember waking up and realising that my baby was gone forever. That is an agony that cannot be explained. The helplessness, the anguish, the grief, it’s overwhelming. I started to sob loudly, the agonising wails of a grief-stricken mother with empty arms, which are uncontrollable. So I was carried out the back door of the clinic by the baby’s father because I was still too groggy to walk. They wanted me out of there. Crying is very bad for business.

It wasn’t long before the relationship deteriorated. I was so angry at being made to kill my baby and I wanted him to pay. As I was packing up my things, I saw some packets of Valium, and I wasn’t sure why at the time, but I took them. A couple of months later, I returned home after a night out and calmly proceeded to take 34 of those Valium tablets, which was how old the baby’s father was at the time. My Mum found me and I was taken to hospital to have my stomach pumped. I rang the baby’s father from the hospital but he didn’t come to visit and didn’t care. I was released from hospital without any follow up care.

And so life went on, but I was the living dead.

Not only does your baby die during an abortion, part of you dies too. The part that makes you a woman. Something so precious, that we have been created to embrace, had been horrifically violated. Motherhood. One of my favourite quotes is, “having an abortion doesn’t make you un-pregnant, it just makes you the mother of a dead baby”.

The next few years I tried to stay as numb as I could. I had a succession of loser boyfriends and became a laxative-abusing bulimic, exercise junkie and binge alcoholic. Somehow a nice guy fell in love with me and wanted to marry me, but I successfully sabotaged that relationship and called the wedding off three weeks beforehand. I didn’t feel good enough. I appeared confident, but deep down I hated myself. How could anyone love me after what I’d done?

Five years after my first abortion, I found myself pregnant to a guy I had just ended a relationship with. I told him but never heard from him after that. My mum took me back to the same clinic I had been at five years earlier. This time I wasn’t even upset. I guess once you’re dead inside, you don’t feel anything anymore.

It was only six months later and I was pregnant again. The subconscious desire to replace an aborted baby is very strong, although at the time you’re not even aware of it.

There was a lot of pressure on me to abort, but something felt different.

The only support I got was from a friend who knew of my previous abortions, and said that it was time I had a baby, and he’d never talk to me again if I didn’t! It wasn’t even positive support but it was all I needed. So on the October 26, 1997, my beautiful son Connor James was born. Life had new meaning now and I loved being a mum. Life as a single mum wasn’t easy, but I felt such a sense of fulfilment.

However, having a baby does not cure post abortion trauma, which I didn’t even know I had and in fact had never heard of. So when Connor was old enough to go for visits to his dad’s, I returned to the party lifestyle on the weekends he was away.

It wasn’t long before the abortion cycle continued.

I had two more abortions. Each time it was such a difficult decision as I would have loved to give Connor a sibling, but I struggled with the stigma of having kids to different fathers, and the fathers were very unsupportive as well. Around the beginning of 2001 I had just had my fourth abortion, and was starting to spiral out of control, just trying to numb the pain of killing four babies. Thankfully I have always hated drugs otherwise I’d probably be dead. And thankfully God stepped in and rescued me.

Connor was almost four when I started going to church, and I’m so glad he was too young to remember my old life, although despite it all, I was a good mum. God can do many things, but I believe He doesn’t instantly heal us of our pain as there is something very valuable in the process of healing, as much as we don’t like it. So although my life had changed, I was still very broken, with a severe lack of self-esteem and self-worth. This is what post abortion trauma (PAT) does to you. It makes you feel worthless. Consequently, in 2003 I married a man who treated me exactly how I felt about myself. Of course, it took me many painful years to realise this. Soon after I was married, through a series of events, I ended up talking with a lady about PAT, which I still hadn’t heard of. It was a real lightbulb moment when I realised I had most of the symptoms. She suggested I come for a counselling session and, in the meantime, name my babies, which I did after much thought and consideration.

Shannon, Dakota, Ashley and Morgan.

I went for my counselling session and she encouraged me to speak out my first baby’s name. I couldn’t. I sobbed for half an hour before I was able to utter that precious name.

On May 26, 2004, my second-born son Isaiah William came into the world and I had a long-awaited sibling for Connor. When Isaiah was nearly two, I had the opportunity to participate in a Rachel’s Vineyard healing retreat. The thought of going was terrifying and appealing at the same time. I almost didn’t go, but I’m so grateful that I did. I got to see the face of each of my babies in a dream, and process the unresolved grief that had been suppressed for so many years. I got to say goodbye and mourn, although the mourning never ends. I got Certificates of Life for my babies, the only tangible evidence that they existed, because I never got to see them, nurse them, or even hear them cry.

After doing Rachel’s Vineyard, I began to share my story publicly, and also volunteered at a crisis pregnancy centre for four years, seeing many babies saved. I felt I had found my purpose, and it helped ease the pain of feeling trapped in an emotionally, verbally and sexually abusive marriage.

At times I felt like I was in hell on earth.

I had my long-awaited daughter Grace Isabelle on February 10, 2011, and three months after her birth, her and Isaiah’s dad left for the final time. I had tried everything to make the marriage work and felt I had been set free. Shortly after this, in 2013, I participated in a group therapy counselling course called Hope Alive. This completed my healing, as much as is possible here on earth, by dealing with my childhood abuse and neglect, as well as sexual abuse. During Hope Alive I met my wonderful husband Mark, and we were married on Valentine’s Day in 2015. Every day I’m grateful to God for bringing me such an amazing husband. I never thought it would be possible to be this happy, although I had a long, hard, excruciatingly painful journey to get here.

I am now Chair on the committee of a new crisis pregnancy centre in Rockingham WA called Pregnancy Matters. I continue to share my story whenever the opportunity arises, and my husband is very supportive of the work I do. I often wonder what would have happened if I had seen a Not Born Yet ad or received support from a crisis pregnancy centre? I think my story would have been very different, but God uses everything and I have been blessed to see babies saved and women healed from the pain of abortion. I look forward to meeting my babies one day.”

– Karina Lewis


Why do women have multiple abortions?

The most recent abortion statistics from South Australia show that more than a third of women will have more than one abortion in their lifetime. That is, one in four women will have an abortion, and 36.6% of women had had a previous abortion. Ninety-two women (2.1%) had had four or more previous abortions. Leading post abortion grief counsellors (like those at Abortion Grief Australia) explain that concurrent pregnancies (even after one, highly traumatic abortion experience) often occur as a replacement or atonement for the loss of the first child. The same circumstances and lack of support sadly often result in additional abortions. But it doesn’t have to be so. If you or someone you know is in this cycle, as you read above in Karina’s story, all it takes is one small gesture of support to bring about healthy change. Reach out.

Posted on

April 4, 2018

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