I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I lived with my parents and my two younger sisters. I was raised in a Catholic Church, so I have always believed in God’s existence, but I never had a real relationship with Him.
When I was about 11 years old, I was sexually molested by my father. Since then, my attitude towards men has been changed forever. I started being sexually active when I was 14 years old. In my mind, the only way to get attention and affection from a man was through sex. Even if it was only for a few moments, I was getting the attention that I craved for.
In 1994, at the age of 17, I was dating a guy for a month or so, and we had sex only once. Not long after that, we broke up. As my period was never regular, I didn’t pay too much attention, until I started having what I know now is morning sickness. My mum told me my breasts were firming up, and I was walking differently. My mother took me to see an OB-GYN, did a urine test, and had an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that I was approximately 11 weeks and two days pregnant. I saw the ultrasound, and the shape of a baby was staring at me. I even got a printout of the ultrasound. I was shocked, surprised and happy, because I love children, and always wanted to be a mother.
However, my mother had planned for me to study Year 11 in Melbourne, Australia, starting in January 1995. She had already put in a lot of effort and money towards this plan, as this was a way for me to start a new life. I told my mum that I wanted to keep the baby but, of course, she disagreed. She said the baby would ruin my future. Being in the Chinese culture, it is looked down upon to have a child out of wedlock, especially at such a young age. She organised the abortion a week later.
On the day of the procedure, I had a huge fight with my mum. I told her I wanted to keep the baby, but she kept telling me how this baby would ruin my life, how I would have no future, and neither would the baby. I was in tears, and so was my mum. At the end, I gave in and went through with the procedure.
It was the worst day of my life.
After that, I swept it all under the rug and started a new life in Australia. I went to high school, then university. During this time, I became a born again Christian – I thought I finally had a relationship with God. He forgave my sins, so I forgave my father for what he did to me. I was free from unforgiveness. So I thought anyway.
As much as I said I was a Christian, I felt really lonely as I was all on my own in a foreign country. I made friends, but there was still a part of me that craved male attention and affection. So I started joining telephone dating lines, meeting strange men in all sorts of places, and I became promiscuous. And you guessed it, I fell pregnant three more times! They were unwanted pregnancies, and I didn’t want my child(ren) to grow up without a stable home. Plus, I didn’t have permanent residency in Australia, I would have to bring them up in Hong Kong, which is a place I didn’t want to move back to.
So with each pregnancy, I went through the “procedure of convenience”. I remember when I was at the clinic for my last abortion, I was crying so hard that I was inconsolable. I was so ashamed of myself, that I’d let myself be at this clinic again.
Fast forward to 2005. I was married to my now husband and pregnant with our first child. My mum came from Hong Kong to look after me. It was a textbook pregnancy. The day before my daughter was due, which was a Sunday, something told me I needed to go to church. I had a feeling that I need to hear God’s word. So mum and I attended a local Baptist church. The next day, I was in labour, but I fainted in the bathroom while I was on the phone to my husband. Thank God that my next door neighbour was home when mum cried for help. They called the ambulance, and I was taken to Werribee Mercy Hospital. Courtney was born after three hours, while I was in and out of consciousness. I couldn’t hold Courtney before she was taken to the Royal Women’s Hospital. Meanwhile, the medical team was trying to save my life, as I was haemorrhaging severely. Once stabilised, I was sent to St Vincent’s Hospital where I stayed for two days. Courtney and I were finally reunited at the Royal Women’s, where Courtney was in NICU with all sorts of tubes and wires coming out of her. She was beautiful and peaceful. But after an MRI scan, the doctor told us there was no activity in Courtney’s brain, so she would be a vegetable. My husband and I had to make the worst decision a parent could make, to switch off Courtney’s life support. She passed away in our arms. She was eight days old.
After Courtney’s death, I went into deep depression. I was blaming myself for what happened to Courtney. “God must be so angry with me for the abortions I had, so He had to punish me by taking my first born from me, and my husband was collateral damage.” I blamed myself for the hurt that my husband had to go through. I left God. I thought He was a vengeful God, and He hurt my husband as well. I hated God.
But God is faithful. He never left me. He has loved me and protected me. There were times when we were in dire straits, but somehow, we made it through. If that was not God’s provision, I don’t know what is.
One day, many years later after the birth of my son and daughter, I received a wedding invitation from a church friend. I wasn’t sure if I should go because of all the shame and blame that I had. But when I walked into the church, I felt a sense of peace. I felt that God was inviting me back into His house, to be part of His family again. Not long after that I started attending church again, I started reading the Bible again. I laid my sins in front of Jesus, and He forgave me. I don’t feel shameful any longer, because Jesus has set me free. He has healed me from the trauma of abortion, and the pain of losing Courtney.
I may never know why God took Courtney, but I am definitely looking forward to going to Heaven, and meeting her again, and my other children whom I never met.
I hope my story will be able to help other men and women to understand that we cannot determine the value of a life that is not ours from the moment of conception. Someone may think that abortion is just like any other medical procedure, but the aftermath, the mental trauma is not something to be taken lightly.
– by Karen Gillmartin