Christine. In 1968, I gave this name to my daughter. Admittedly it was not my first choice of names. I loved the name Deborah Lynn. Well meaning friends talked me out of that name. In 1968 you stayed in the hospital three days, if you had no complications, after giving birth. Hours before being discharged the nurses said “you can’t go home until you decide on your daughter’s name”. I picked up the book with baby names and their meanings. I had already searched but I kept going back to the name Deborah Lynn and Christine. Once I read the meaning of Christine “Little Follower of the Lord” I made my decision. Her name would be Christine Marie. Marie was a family name given to one of my sisters and my niece. Lying in the hospital bed the past three days I couldn’t help but go back in time.
During my pregnancy I placed my hands gently over the swelling of my body. I was a new Believer and all I could think about was that I wanted this baby to have the quality of life I never had. I read where Hannah wanted a child and after years of going barren she had a son. Hannah’s gratitude to God was so great that she took her son to the temple to be raised by Eli the Priest. Once a year Hannah lovingly prepared a coat and brought it to her son. Hannah spent time with Samuel and she watched him grow to become a great man of God. Samuel became a priest/judge over Israel his life is recorded in history, forever, in the Holy Bible.
While I was pregnant I lived with my sister and her husband. Someone gave my brother-in-law a piglet that needed to be raised with a bottle. I was elected to take care of “Pete” the pig. I would awaken at all hours of the night with ‘squealing’ that would wake the dead. Sleepily I stumbled into the kitchen, took the bottle out of the refrigerator and placed it in a saucepan of water. Pete continued to squeal while I waited. Time stood still, is this what being a ‘mom” was all about? At last the bottle was ready. I tested the milk on my arm making sure it was just the right temperature. It was cold outside and I shivered underneath my coat. Pete lived in a box on the back porch and I had a strong urge to bring the box and Pete inside where it was warm. The box was too heavy and I knew I’ld be in big trouble if I even thought to bring Pete inside. I would try to quiet Pete as I fed him. He always would fight the bottle – that was not his mother’s tits. I would have to squeeze the nipple so he could taste the milk and then he sucked on that nipple until the bottle was empty. He didn’t stop until it was gone. Nights became longer while he grew and needed up to three bottles. Satisfied, Pete would always use his nose and move the rags around until they were piled around him (as though he was trying to lie up against his mother) and then he would fall fast asleep. During the day my sister and her husband would sometimes feed him and it wasn’t long before we started adding ‘cream of wheat’ to his bottle.
As I took care of Pete, day after day, a bond grew stronger between myself and my baby. I never felt alone as I sang and talked to my precious baby within my womb. Hours and hours would pass while I rocked. Should I keep her myself? Should I put her up for adoption? I was a mere child, unmarried, unloved and with no future. I loved her father so much and miles separated me from the father of my baby. I had time on my hands and time to reflect………..
When I found out I was pregnant my boy friend talked me into having an abortion. My Dad was a recovering alcoholic and a widower since I was in the fourth grade. Before my pregnancy began to show my boyfriend arranged for me to have an abortion. His older sister found someone who could do it. It was illegal in 1968 to have an abortion unless it was medically necessary. I told my Dad I was going with friends and we would be gone for 3 days to visit a college campus. It was the truth, in part, I was going to a college campus where my boy friend’s sister lived. I’ll call my boyfriend J for the purpose of writing my story. The morning arrived and we left at dawn for we had a 4 to 4.5 hour drive. J explained that if we kept the child it would ruin his going to college in the fall and both of our lives would change forever. After all “it really isn’t a baby at this point” and he knew many girls who had an abortion. I was in shock when he told me that his best friend’s girl friend had an abortion. She was also one of my best friends. She had advised me that if you really love your boyfriend it was alright to have sex with him. It was no different from actually being married. It was her mother who saw that she got an abortion.
I was in my junior year of high school. I had college before me. Since my mother’s death I talked rapidly and muttered. Our high school, the first in our state, initiated new English programs. We were required to take one semester each year of English grammar and our other English credits we good choose. We had numerous classes of literature, typing, speech, journalism, spelling, shorthand etc. My dad insisted I take the ‘speech’ classes. I was in my 2nd year of speech and we had just completed the fine art of debate. Our topics were current events and we went to the front of the class where one by one we drew out our topic out of a bowl. My topic was “Debate Teen Pregnancy and the choice of Abortion.” We had to have numerous research sources. The speech had to last between 8 to 10 minutes and we had one month to prepare. Our debate counted for 70% of our grade. My preparation and the hours of research would change my life forever. I was against one of the strongest debaters in our class. I was to support “no sex before marriage” and adoption over abortion.
When I told my boyfriend I was pregnant he was extremely upset. He didn’t want to get married. He was graduating in a few months and had a scholarship for college. No, marriage was not an option. In our small town, in 1968, no one had a baby out-of-wedlock. It was a scandal. You certainly couldn’t consider having the baby and raising it on your own. The baby and the mom would be scared for life. It was the most horrid thing that could be imagined.
My boyfriend arranged and had the money to pay for the abortion. We began our journey at dawn. I was going somewhere, I just didn’t know where we were going. No details were given to me. It was all arranged. It was so quite in his car. I stared outside the window, miles and miles of prairie, no trees lined the road. Wood telephone poles outlined the road with birds resting upon the wire. I felt a stirring within my being which became stronger and stronger. Each mile I would become more frightened. All my research about Teen Pregnancy and Abortion ran through my mind. I read the statistics of young women who had abortions, some died, others never got over the ordeal of ending a life, many were scared for life never to have more children. My research revealed homes for unwed mothers where they continued their education. When the time came for the baby to be born the baby was adopted. Certainly that would be a far better choice than ending a life.
Mile after mile we continued on that long lonely stretch of highway listening to the radio. We were in the part of our state where you must begin your journey with a full tank of gas as no gas station would appear for hours. My boyfriend didn’t want anyone to catch us. He was afraid my Dad would find out and try to stop us. He was taking the roads no one hardly traveled. No words passed between us and only the latest tunes could be heard in the car. My thoughts were so loud I just knew that my boyfriend would hear them. We loved each other and we had joined ourselves together in that love. This was his child. This was my child. It was not an accident. It was our love being carried in my womb.
I began to think back to the time J and I started dating. Often he would get so depressed and he would gaze blankly ahead. J told me if that happened I was to slap him into reality. This happened numerous times and as I watched him drive toward our destination his expression was blank. Didn’t he pledge his love and life to me forever? I trusted him. Why couldn’t we make it work? Why an abortion? That would end the life that I was carrying. I feared if I changed my mind now, he would physically hurt me. Certainly with the help of his Mom (who was a widow) and my Dad we could get married and both of us could still attend college.
Slowly the hours dragged on and the further I was away from home the more uneasy I became. Finally I asked J to pull over for a minute. We stopped and faced each other. I told J how I wanted to keep the baby and it was wrong to have an abortion. He told me “If you keep this baby it will be the 2nd greatest mistake of your life. The first mistake was meeting me.” He opened the door and told me to get out. I couldn’t control the tears running freely down my face. I grabbed my overnight case and began walking. I had no idea where we were, we had passed no cars since we began our drive. We passed no homes or businesses. I did the only thing I knew to do, I got out of his car. I put one foot in front of the other and started walking. I have no idea how long I walked or even what direction I walking. I knew deep inside that while I was scared and all alone I was making the right choice.
I had no answers as to what I should do. I knew, however, that I didn’t want an abortion. How could I be in this situation? J was the only one for me. J gave his life to me and I to him. J told me we were married in the sight of God. He told me there was no place in the Bible where it said we had to have a marriage certificate. As I walked I recalled the research I did for my speech class. My research indicated there were so many couples who wanted a baby to adopt. Why end a life when you could give a life?
Time seemed to stand still as I walked alone on the highway. I had no answers but I was determined to save this life which was living within me – a baby that was created with the one I loved. I don’t remember now where J had driven to, or if he just stayed in the car where we stopped. However, he pulled up beside me and demanded I get in. “Have it your way, but don’t drag me into your life. I’ll deny that his baby is mine!” Yikes! The tension between us was so thick. Is this really who I fell in love with? The only one I had been intimate with? J drove like a maniac and took me to the closest town where he bought me a ticket to go home. Anger boiled within me. How dare he not take me home! He was cold like a jagged stone along the river bed. How could he abandoned me and his child.
After traveling for over three hours I arrived home. I arrived in the early evening and I had nothing to eat or drink all day. I didn’t have any money and I was a 30 minute walk from home. Hungry, thirsty and exhausted I dried my eyes and invented what I believed to be a “credible story’ to give to my Dad why I had come home so soon. After crying for so long, I couldn’t control what I call the ‘crying hiccups.” Hopefully my Dad would be out with his buddies on a Saturday. It was possible I could go home and face the music tomorrow. Putting on a brave face I began my journey. A journey that continues today………
(story to be continued)
No part of this story can be copied or used in any way without the written consent of the author, being myself.