We Both Lost a ChildSeveral women and I stood as if in an assembly line, waiting for our turn to enter the infirmary. I couldn't help but stare at the girl standing behind me with a swelled belly. She must have been at least six months along. I kept asking myself, "Why did she wait so long? Why is she killing her baby?" Because my stomach was flat, it was easy to deny I was doing the same.
by Charnette Messe
The clinic made abortion seem like the "easy choice." Little did I know that the "choice" they promoted would multiply my grief and pain.
I was 20, single, and in the midst of a budding professional dance career. When I found out I was pregnant, I was ashamed. I wanted to hide my sin from my family, from the whole world. The man I had been dating for four years didn't want our child.
The clinic staff had assured me, "It's not a baby; it cannot feel pain." The words they used to describe my child were "zygote," "embryo" and "cluster of cells."
The physical consequences of my abortion were dramatic: two full days of severe cramping, vomiting at every menstrual cycle—which continued for several years—and chronic pain in my left breast. But the mental suffering far outweighed the physical. Many nights, I would awake from nightmares crying and shaking. My recurring dream was that I'd hidden a body in my closet, and someone was going to find it.
When I entered that clinic, there were two people—when I left, there was only one. Since then, I have lived with constant pain of loss—first the loss of my baby, then an ovary, and most recently, my breast to cancer. (It's a frequent after-effect of abortion.)
The pain of losing my baby is more unbearable than cancer. Abortion and cancer are sisters; cancer eats away at the body, abortion at the soul.
For years I grieved silently for my baby. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer that I started to have a real relationship with God. By this time I was married with children, but for eight years I had been afraid to tell my husband what I'd done.
You see, he is a hero in the pro-life movement—a Navy Lieutenant Commander, he works as a volunteer physician for our local crisis pregnancy center, which he helped found.
I sought solace and guidance in the confessional. "The only way to heal is to tell your husband the truth," the priest explained in a soft voice. This eased a massive cross from my shoulders.
The day I told my husband, I finally felt free to grieve for my baby. He took me in his arms and said, "Honey, we both lost a child."
In that moment we fell in love all over again.
The day after the diagnosis of cancer was confirmed, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. Doctors suggested I have a "therapeutic" abortion. However, I felt it was my abortion which had caused the cancer, the endometriosis, the loss of an ovary, and the polyps in my uterus and fallopian tube. I was determined to give life to my son regardless of the risk.
And here we both are, alive.
This may shock you, but I love having cancer. I love the fact that I am only 32 and have only one breast. I embrace it because my breast cancer gave me the strength to love my aborted child. My pain comes from looking at my beautiful children, Gabrielle and Christian and not knowing if I will see them grow up.
My peace lies in the hope that one day I will hold my lost baby in heaven.
Charnette Messe is currently working on a book, A Brilliant Performance: How a Young Mother's Battle With Breast Cancer and Pregnancy Defined Her Dignity in the World.
They Named Him '3A'
By Theresa Bonopartis
For years after my abortion, the sight of a mayonnaise jar was a torment to me.
I watched the doctor's impassive face as his cold hands injected saline into my slightly swollen abdomen. (I was just entering my fifth month.) Thirty years later, it is still a mystery to me how I arrived at the hospital. But I can still remember that face.
As I lay alone in a sterile hospital room, my only wish was to die. No one had told me that I would feel my baby thrash and struggle for life—in what should have been his haven.
After 12 hours of labor, I delivered my baby, alone. I could tell that he was a boy, and I marveled at how perfect his tiny feet and hands were. I wanted to pick his precious body up and put him back into my body. I couldn't believe what was happening. What I had done.
I rang for the nurse; she entered my room, holding a container that reminded me of a large mayonnaise jar. She picked my son up and dumped him into the jar, marked "3A".
I grew up in a Catholic home, where we went to church every Sunday. I believed, but I didn't feel, God's presence in my life. But I thought I could rely on my parents. When I told them the news of my pregnancy, they were shocked, disappointed, and outraged.
They asked me to leave their house and forget I was their daughter.
Barely 18, I left my childhood home that day without a dime or anywhere to turn. In those days, pregnancy shelters were nearly unheard of. The baby's father and I broke up. I felt completely abandoned. Despite the bleakness, I was determined to keep my baby.
I stayed with friends for a while, trying to figure out how on earth I would support this child. Messages would come from my father periodically, offering to payfor an abortion.
I began to feel that I did not have a choice. Eventually, I shut down emotionally and just let the abortion happen to me. After that my life took a downward plunge. Thoughts of death were a consolation. I hated myself. I stumbled into an abusive marriage, with a husband who was in and out of drug rehab. I felt I was getting what I deserved.
But once I had children, I came to realize it wasn't what my two sons deserved. This came to me the day my husband got home and my oldest (then 4 years old) said, "Quick, daddy's coming; hide in the closet, Mommy." Soon we left to start anew.
I continued to find strength reading my Bible and praying. I began to attend Mass, but I was uncomfortable. I was sure that everyone knew. I made spiritual progress, but I was severely depressed. Every day it was a challenge to get out of bed and care for my boys.
Then something a priest said offered me hope. I was attending a parents meeting for my older son's First Penance and First Holy Communion. The priest talked about the mercy of God. He told us that God forgives all sin. "God even forgives the sin of abortion." I couldn't believe my ears. I thought my sin was unforgivable.
Confession was my road to healing, but I still had to learn to forgive myself. I spent a lot of time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. I told God, "I am not going to leave you alone until you heal me!"
Our Lady also played a pivotal role. At the beginning of my conversion, I read St. Louis De Montfort's True Devotion to Mary and consecrated myself to her. The Blessed Mother became my constant advocate with Christ.
She was there the night I sat on my bathroom floor, rocking back and forth repeating, "Jesus, I trust in you."
I repeated my plea over and over for hours.
The only way I can put into words what happened next is to say I climbed on the Cross with Christ, and instead of the suffering we see when we gaze upon him crucified, I saw in him the only love capable of taking away my pain.
Theresa Bonapartis is the Program Coordinator for Lumina/hope and healing after abortion, a post-abortion referral network, and co-founder of Reclaiming Our Children, a group of post abortive parents working for the unborn. For an audio version of her testimony visit
A Whole New Beginning
On a fall day in October of 2000, 13 years after my abortion, the cold landscape around the retreat house was stripped bare, but my heart sprang with hope. I knelt before an image of the Divine Mercy, waiting to name my baby - the one that I had never had a chance to cradle in my arms, to comfort, to love.
Each month, the Sisters of Life host Days of Prayer and Healing for men and women whose lives are scarred by abortion. The retreat is centered around the chapel, where people hear each others' stories, sit before the Blessed Sacrament, and attend Mass.
At liturgy's end, each woman is invited, if she is ready, to offer a rose to her lost child and inscribe his/her name in a remembrance book. In my heart, I knew that my baby was a boy. I trembled as I walked forward, bloom in hand. There was no turning back. I was finally facing what I'd done. Relief and grief flooded me, as I carefully wrote "Isaiah" in the copper-plated book.
This day was a whole new beginning for me.
Before my abortion, my life was already taking a wrong turn. At the age of 20, I was well on my way to becoming an alcoholic and a drug addict. When I found myself unmarried and pregnant, in an abusive relationship, it seemed impossible that I could raise a baby. On October 5, 1989, I gave birth to Jacob, whom I gave up for adoption.
My drinking escalated. The only way I could manage the loss I was feeling was to fall further off the edge. By now what little faith I'd had was completely smothered by my lifestyle.
My adoption counselor had warned me that many women who give up children get pregnant again within a year. That happened to me. This time I felt that abortion was the only option.
I couldn't bear the thought of handing off another baby. I had no faith, no hope, and nobody to trust. In an act of desperation, I walked into the same clinic that had provided my prenatal care, but this time my 12-week old baby wasn't going to receive any care.
I have no memory of what happened next.
Before my abortion, I was a prolific writer, jotting down any thoughts or the day's events in my well-worn journal. Afterwards I stopped writing; I couldn't endure what I had done. I forced myself never to think of it—to the point where I cannot recall the actual event.
In my darkest hour, three years after my abortion, my sister suggested, mildly, "Maybe you ought to pray, Kate."
Alone, I lay on the floor with myarms outstretched towards heaven, beseeching God to help me, weeping uncontrollably. My prayer was "God, I don't know if you're there, if you can hear me, but please help me—because I think I am going to die."
This began my road to sobriety. After I got out of rehab, I felt an overwhelming desire for forgiveness. I hadn't been in the confessional for 15 years. I told the priest, "I've broken every commandment, except I have never killed anyone." I wasn't lying. I was so removed from the truth that my abortion did not even occur to me.
That day in the confessional was the beginning of my coming to terms with my abortion. I still wasn't in the Church, but I was trying to make my life right—unconsciously trying to get my babies back. A brief relationship started and ended—and again, I was pregnant. This time there was no question: I would keep my baby.
My daughter had a lot to with my healing. She made me want to reclaim my lost faith. I had to relearn about the Church—throwing out the prejudices I'd picked up and or created. When I started to trust in Christ, that was when I began to heal.
After the Sacraments, the Blessed Mother has played the greatest role in my conversion. The people that I would see in the Church that possessed a faith that was alive and vibrant and full of love had a devotion to the Blessed Mother that I wanted.
It took time, but I finally overcame my prideful belief that I was the worst sinner on earth, and that I had committed the "unforgiveable sin." This allowed me to draw close to our Mother. At last, I consecrated my life to her - and she has given me the courage to be a voice for Isaiah.
Kate is a regular volunteer at the Sisters of Life Days of Prayer and Healing.