The following journal entry was written recently by a Catholic woman in the Omaha archdiocese. It’s an open letter to her unborn child, whom she aborted over two decades ago. She submitted it to the Catholic Voice, requesting that it be published so that others considering abortion could better understand its impact. The names and a few of the details of those involved have been changed or omitted to protect the author’s anonymity.


Open letter to an unborn child

To my unborn child –

I wish I knew what led me to the clinic in Bellevue. What led me to such a bold act of cowardice. Nothing I told myself then would apply for one second to my life now or what I would choose now.

But I owe you an explanation, so I will try my best twenty-plus years after the fact.

I was in my twenties at the time. Your brothers and I lived alone in an apartment in (location). Jacob was 10, Nick was 9 and Andrew was a little past his first birthday. I wish I could tell you the exact dates but my memories are blurry.

I know I said goodbye to you before Christmas. But it may have been before Thanksgiving. I do not know for sure.

They told me you were only a couple centimeters big. No limbs. No eyes. But I know you already had a heartbeat. I saw it on the ultrasound. I don’t remember taking a pregnancy test, but I must have, because at some point I told your dad.

Your dad was not happy about you. He was scared. I could see it instantly. He asked out loud how his parents would react. Not to mention his daughters (your sisters). And his wife, who he was still very married to.

I hope that after he asked all those questions that he asked how I was. I cannot confirm or deny, however, that he did.

The options as far as your dad was concerned … well, there weren’t any.

Adoption was out of the question because I would still be pregnant and everyone would know. According to him. It was something I considered.

I pictured the pregnancy and how people would react. I already had three boys with two fathers. Such bad choices – according to “people.” They would talk about stupidity and birth control and promiscuity and how messed up your mother was.

And what would giving you away do to your brothers? I had already made their lives difficult. A single mom, never been married, just had another baby with some man she was no longer with.

How could I add another burden to them?

This is when your life turned into a task. A chore to be taken off a to-do list. You no longer had a due date. You had a deadline.

I had to have called Dr. Carhart’s office myself. That is not anything your dad would have done. Again, the details are blurred.

They asked about my last menstrual cycle to find out how far along I was. The price of the procedure changed depending on how much you had grown. It breaks my heart to even write those words. I stopped your growth.

Not the doctor or the vacuum that ripped you from me. Your dad didn’t do that.

I did.

I laid on that bed and let them stop your growth. I let them dilate my cervix and insert a suction tube that took you away from the only home you had ever known.

You should have been safe there.

Your brothers were.

They implanted and shared my blood and space in my body. They grew arms and legs and hair and faces and got to breathe real air with their first real cry.

I took that from you.

You never got to dance in my womb like Nick did when I went to a concert. You never got to listen to your brothers talking to you every chance they got like Andrew did.

I stole that from you.

I was so selfish, baby boy, and I am sorry.

You were too young for us to know what gender you were, but I always thought you were a boy.

I didn’t know your dad very well when we conceived you. We had only been seeing each other for about five months.

He was separated but still married. I got caught up in a lot of drama. My life became protecting him from his wife and his parents and apparently my reputation and my history.

I thought I loved him. Twenty-some years later, I know now that I did not. And he did not love me.

Another mistake that cost you a chance at life.

Your dad got the money we needed, or part of it. I don’t really remember. But we got the money together like we were pitching in for a Christmas present or taking care of a bill. So task-like. So cold. So detached from any real emotion.

We went to the clinic for a consultation first. They may have done a pregnancy test. I know an ultrasound was done. An appointment was scheduled for another day.

When we left the clinic, there were pro-life people with signs. People standing asking us to reconsider. And I angrily thought, “They don’t even know why I’m here.”

But they did know.

I left there and I remember crying in the car on the way back.

How secure was I in my decision when it was making me cry?

Your dad cried, too, I think. Which, conveniently for him, put me back into caregiver mode. I guess I was done with any indecision. Your dad was sad. And I needed to stop making him sad.

He sacrificed to get the money pulled together for his portion of the procedure, how could I back out now?

I am so sorry, son, that you have to hear this. That the decision to end your life was so much like a chore.

It should not have been that way.

I shut my heart off. I had to think of you as a tadpole or a bean. You couldn’t be seen as my baby. I could never willingly say to a doctor, “Take this baby from me.” But if I thought of you as anything but a baby, I could do this. I could fix everything and make it go back to normal.

I think we drove back on a Friday. It was cold and cloudy. I cried quietly, secretly on and off on the way to Bellevue.

I couldn’t let go of all the fear I was feeling because I didn’t want your dad to be scared. How ridiculous that sounds now. And I will explain later why.

There were picketers outside the clinic that morning, too. I did my best to ignore them. To try to justify my decision. To make myself more okay with what was about to happen.

I feel horrible that I don’t remember your last moments. I don’t know if I blocked it or have simply forgotten. But I don’t forget much, so I think I blocked it.

I am sure those last moments will come back at some point. Like a ton of bricks and my heart will break like it should have then.

I deserve that pain.

I have no idea how long we were there. Or what was said or what my discharge instructions were.

All I know is I was pregnant when I walked in.

I wasn’t when I got back in the car to go home to your brothers.

Dad wanted to stop to eat, so we did. We went to Champps at Oak View Mall. I had a Rachel and seasoned fries with their dip they were known for. I was in pain and couldn’t stay awake. I just wanted to lay down. To go home. To be anywhere but at a crowded restaurant pretending to enjoy a lunch that I wanted to fling across the table. To not be anywhere but alone.

I needed to process what just happened.

I don’t think I ever did.

You had no funeral. Nobody came over to offer condolences. Or bring a card or flowers or a kind word.

Because nobody knew. Just your dad and me.

And your dad was not discussing it.

I went home not feeling good to your brothers. Your brothers who didn’t know their mom had just took their baby brother away from them.

And then life just went back to normal.

I was okay with it. With not being pregnant anymore. I didn’t have to answer any awkward questions. Or get fat. Or have to take time off work. I didn’t have to try to raise another boy in my two-bedroom apartment. I didn’t have to worry about how I could possibly afford yet one more child all by myself.

Your dad kept up his façade with his family and your sisters and his wife.

Your due date was July 14, (year).

You would be (age) this year. Most likely getting ready to graduate from college. Maybe you would be really great with kids like Jacob. Or an engineer like Nick. Or a wanderlust like Andrew.

You could have met your little sister, Megan.

You would have teased her and protected her like your brothers.

You could have played baseball and learned to play guitar. Gone to prom. Learned how to use a power saw and build me a desk. Build a snow fort. Played in the park. Sent me a Mother’s Day Card.

I am so sorry, baby boy. I had no right to not give you a chance to be loved. To be held and comforted. To just be.

About seven years after I took you from this world and about three years before your little sister was born, your dad and I got pregnant again.

That time we had been married for several years. We had a house and jobs and things were “normal.” Your siblings were excited. Even Grandma and Grandpa (family name) were happy for us. My coworkers were so excited for us, too.

That very next week, I started having problems. I was spotting and cramping. We went to the doctor and the heartbeat was strong. They sent me home and told me to rest, told me that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Followed up a few days later and the heartbeat was still strong.

I miscarried several days later. On Easter Sunday I was cramping and passing clots. Clots the doctor told me to watch and save. So I did. I was sitting on the toilet, cramping and bleeding, when I expelled the fetus. Just a tiny fetus. No arms. No legs. No face. And now … no heartbeat.

That baby was probably as old as you were when your heartbeat stopped.

I couldn’t stop thinking about you or crying. It was a nightmare. I was seeing you. Seeing you at the stage I ended your life.

God was mad at me, I decided. He wanted to show me what I lost in making that horrible decision that day.

God decided I was a bad person and I didn’t deserve to bring another baby into this world.

I still think that.

He was angry at me for trying to be Him. For deciding whether or not you should live, baby boy.

I would like to think that I loved you then. At the moment I saw your heartbeat on that monitor. But I must have shut that love off. Acted like it didn’t exist. Acted like you didn’t matter.

I should have fought for you harder. Even if I didn’t keep you. I should have fought for you.

I should not have cared what other people said. I should have sent your dad packing at the mere suggestion or agreement that an abortion was our only option.

I do not expect your forgiveness, baby boy. I can’t even forgive myself.

I hope the angels took good care of you.

I know it’s too late, but I do love you.

I am so sorry.


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