Episode 8: GUILT MEETS GRACE
To further conceal my sin and shame, only one thought appealed to me. And I stamped it. I was not ready to entertain any other suggestions.
Abortion…that was the only option.
A Journey of No Return?
I woke up early the next day, had a light breakfast and set out to a nearby city.
Earlier, I had made some researches on the internet about standard hospitals in the city and had chosen a particular one. So I knew where I was heading to.
As I wobbled to the park, a lot of thoughts crept into my mind. But I kept dismissing them.
The Holy Spirit struggled to have a dialogue with me, yet I literally blocked my ears to avoid the persistently nagging urge to turn around and head back home. But the urge kept coming, silently, persistently.
Suddenly, I heard a clear voice say to me, “What if you never returned from this trip?”
Just then, I stood transfixed to a spot. I guess time stopped for a moment. Cold sweat ran down my spine as I shivered at the truth in that candid question: “What if I never returned from this trip?”, I asked myself again.
I became totally confused. Oh Lord, I can’t keep this pregnancy. The shame would be too much for me to bear. The disgrace and condemnation by my father’s relatives. How about mockery from the Muslim folks? It would be too daunting.
How would I face my mother? My pastor back home or the campus leaders? Worse still, how would my converts feel?
What would they say about me? No one would believe my story. No! I have to get rid of it, I convinced myself.
Lost in a World Of Questions
Meanwhile, as I stood still as if in a trance, the sudden honk of a truck’s horn coming behind me jolted me out of my temporary daze. And as I took a step to move away from the road, I bumped into a wheelbarrow-pushing trader selling mangoes.
His goods scattered on the road and got smashed in the busy traffic. He rescued no single mango. Long story cut short, I had to part with some money to compensate the trader for his loss.
Was this a sign that this trip was a dead end for me? Possibly not. This was just a mere accident, so I thought and continued my journey. I boarded a cab and headed for the city.
On alighting from the cab, the busy city was agog with activities. I saw some school children hurrying down to school, and office workers waving down commercial motorcyclists to quickly meet up with resumption time.
No one seemed to notice my countenance. But now, I wasn’t oblivious of my surroundings. I could clearly hear the pleading voice of an aged woman saying, “Please, don’t go there. Please, don’t go there.” The voice was coming from behind me, following me as I walked slowly, navigating my way to the hospital. I was afraid to look back but continued walking.
But involuntarily, I turned, just in time to see an old woman holding firmly unto her mischievous grandson who was walking in a zig-zag manner. Obviously, she must have cautioned him from following a wrong path.
But was that caution also for me?
At the Hospital…
I arrived at the hospital around 8am. A security man directed me to the waiting room. There, I told the receptionist that I want to see a doctor. A short while later, the doctor, a middle aged well-groomed woman was ready to see me.
The look on her face as she examined my countenance gave me away as I guessed she may have known the reason for my consultation with her. However, she enquired. “What can I do for you, young lady?”, looking calmly into my face, mirroring my soul.
“Please doctor, I… I ..ermm…”, I stammered, looking down at my hand, suddenly fascinated by the lines on my palm.
“…want an abortion?”, she simply said, smiling invitingly.
I was shocked and ashamed at her blunt statement. But I kept quiet, too ashamed to talk.
“You look to me as a Christian.”
I glanced at her suddenly.
“Tell me, why do you want an abortion?”, she asked. So I told her exactly what happened. She listened patiently as I recounted my ordeal to her, and nodded frequently in understanding.
When I finished my story, she sighed, wrote something on a paper, called on a nurse and handed it over to her. She nurse looked at the paper and quietly walked out of the office, having understood the doctor’s instructions.
On a Hot Seat
Then Dr Sharon Williams, as her name tag read, faced me. “What happened to you is a very sad occurrence and it would be a very hard decision to take, either to keep the pregnancy or to abort it. But you are absolutely responsible for the decision you take”.
She paused as she examined my expression and then continued. “Meanwhile, before we dwell on the decision to take, we shall first run a PT of your blood sample to confirm if you are truly pregnant. Then I shall explain some procedures to you.”
Just then, the nurse returned to the office, bearing a light tray containing some syringes, a pair of hand gloves, some blood collection tubes, hand sanitizer, cotton swabs, a small amount of gauze, and an adhesive bandage. There were also some forms on the tray.
She drew some blood samples from me and asked me to fill the forms. On the forms, I was asked to provide my medical history as well as the name and contact details of my next of kin. I paused, hoping that a next of kin would not be brought in this situation. But I provided my mum’s details.
As my sample test was been conducted, the doctor walked me through the procedures of the abortion.
“Have you had any breakfast this morning?”
“Yes, I had a light breakfast before coming”.
“I see. But that also mean that if the test turns positive and you eventually decide to carry out an abortion, the evacuation process would not take place today. I shall give you another appointment, and on that day, you must come fasting. Understood?”
“Good. Now let’s talk about the consequences. As you know that doctors are humans, and despite our expertise in medicine and surgery, there may be some complications when an abortion is carried out, because we are altering God’s plans of creation. So I’ll want you to know the risks of having an abortion, which may not necessarily be associated to the fault of the doctor.”
“Okay doctor”, I said quietly.
“First, some side effects may occur with induced abortion, whether surgical or by pill. These may include abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Abortion also carries the risk of significant complications such as bleeding, infection, and damage to organs.
“Hmm…”, I muttered under my breath.
“More serious complications may include damage to the cervix and scarring of the uterine lining. There could also be a perforation of the uterus and damage to your internal organs and inevitably, death can occur”, she said plainly.
I was dried-eyed as she recounted and patiently explained these consequences in a gory-detailed manner. Doubts crept into my heart. Is it worth it… To subject myself to such eternal ordeals?
But she had more to spill out. “Other risks of abortion are preterm birth for future pregnancies, links to other unplanned abortions and breast cancer. But that’s not all.”
“Really?”, I asked rhetorically.
Too Hard To Bear
“Yes,” she replied. “Have you also considered the emotional and psychological impact of having an abortion? Let me tell you, my young lady. There is evidence that abortion is associated with a decrease in both emotional and physical health. For some women, these negative emotions may be very strong, and can appear within days or after many years.
“As for the psychological impact, it can cause post-traumatic stress disorder like eating disorders, relationship problems, guilt and depression. And when you flashback on the abortion, suicidal thoughts may come in.
After the abortion process, you could also be sexually dysfunctional. And if one is not careful, alcohol and drug abuse may set in. Even God will not be pleased with you and there are bound to be spiritual consequences. I am sure you know that too”, she said.
By the time she finished, I was already shaking where I sat. I grabbed my bag and was ready to leave. Just then, the nurse returned with the test result. The doctor scanned through and gave me a quizzical look, a look that told me something was amiss.
“Before you leave,” she said, “I want you have another confirmatory pregnancy test. This time around, we shall have a scan, to erase any form of doubt”.
She handed a form to me and directed me to a nearby laboratory where I could have the scan done, to return immediately with the scan result. I thanked her and just as I stood up to leave, she held my hand and said, “Please, do not do anything rash before you return”. I nodded with a faint smile.
Seeking for Mercy
I took a detour back to my apartment, with a decision to put off the scan until the next day. I was in a slight shock. My consultation with the doctor was a great eye-opener to me about the consequences of having an abortion. I never thought of it that way before. The consequences even outweighed the shame of carrying the pregnancy. One who committed an abortion would just be a living dead, not even considering being a professing Christian (though already in a terrible backslidden state).
It was at this point I saw the extent of my degradation into sin.
Where did I first get it all wrong? At what point did I slip? I began to flash back to the moments when I met Becky and how she had invited the sisters in the room to the purported “All Sisters’ Programme”, which later turned out to be a “molesting party”.
But did it all start from there? I thought. I began to make a self-diagnosis of my spiritual life. At this point, I allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way in my heart. And through divine understanding, I discovered that it all started from PRIDE.
I was too proud of the gallant stride I was making as a Christian and how God has prospered my ministry. I became careless to all the warning signs. The devil had his way in my life and almost completely destroyed me in the process!
Down on my knees, I wept soberly. I cried unto the Lord and wholeheartedly asked for His forgiveness. I told Him I was ready to keep the pregnancy and bear the shame. But I also asked for His grace. I had never prayed so hard in my life before. It was a heartfelt prayer from the depth of my heart.
Meanwhile, after the prayers, I took comfort from the Bible as I read a few passages. The Psalmist’s prayer for mercy in Chapter 51 came readily at this point.
Some verses specifically touched my heart and I repeated them severally as I groaned in my spirit, asking for mercy. I prayed God to:
“Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me… Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:2,3,11,12).
I felt much relieved after the prayers and slept off. In my sleep, I had a dream. I was in a dark tunnel, haunted by some evil men and very frightened. As I ran deeper into the tunnel, the men drew closer and closer, chanting in some strange language.
Suddenly, I stopped and faced them. When they saw this bold move, they were taken aback, but laughed hysterically. However, I looked at my right hand and discovered I held a Bible. I raised the Bible up and stretched it towards them without a word. A very bright light came out from the Bible and struck them heavily. They became blind instantly and their bodies were badly burnt beyond recognition, like barbeque.
At that point, through the shining light, I could see an opening at my right side and walked through it. Immediately I woke up from the sleep. The victory was very unmistaken as I have come to know that God manifests His confirmatory signs to me through dreams. So I held on to this fate as I awaited the result of the test the following day.
My Guilt Meets God’s Grace
The next day, I woke up and noticed a stain of blood in my underpants. I was alarmed! Did this mean that the baby was dying? I should have done that scan yesterday and returned to the doctor. I quickly took a shower and went to the laboratory I had been directed to for the pelvic scan.
I returned to Dr. Sharon with a sealed envelope which contained the pelvic scan result. I was in a lighter mood that morning, for I had come to realize that God would see me through the shame of carrying the pregnancy. I would no longer have an abortion but keep the baby. That was my resolve as I greeted the doctor that beautiful morning.
Doctor Sharon smiled back her response to the greeting and asked me to sit down. “I was expecting you back yesterday”, she started.
“I’m really sorry, ma. I needed to wrap my head around everything you told me yesterday. Here is the scan result,” I said, handing the envelope to her.
She collected the test result and studied it carefully. A look of concern spread over her face and I became a bit worried.
“What does the result say, doctor?”
“I’ll share the findings shortly. But first, let me offer some medical explanations to you.”
“Okay doctor”, I said impatiently.
“Yesterday, your pregnancy test result turned out to be faintly positive. A positive pregnancy test can be caused by a normal pregnancy or what we call “an ectopic pregnancy”. An ectopic pregnancy is what happens if a fertilized egg gets stuck in a fallopian tube in its journey to the womb. This may be caused by an inflammation or mishap of the fallopian tube, or a history of past uterine infections. And from your medical history, we saw that you have been treated for “endometritis” caused by uterine or urinary tract infections before.”
“Yes doctor, that was some time in the past”, I said, recalling the dehumanizing experience I had at the Correctional Centre at Budan which my dad had subjected me to during the days of persecutions from him. I had contracted a severe pelvic infection (Re-read Episodes 4 and 5.)
“So, that is what happened in your case. You have an ectopic pregnancy in your left Fallopian tube which can’t grow to become a normal pregnancy. The embryo isn’t viable because there’s no place for it to grow or thrive outside of the uterus.”
“So…”, I started.
“So this means we have to terminate this pregnancy as soon as possible and remove the fetus through a surgery called laparotomy.”
“Surgery??” I almost screamed.
“Yes, dear, but it’s safe and you’re going to be just fine. This is a gynecological emergency that can be damaging to you if left untreated. Extreme blood loss from the rupture of your Fallopian tube can occur if we delay any further. Have you been bleeding lately?”
“Yes, doctor, I just noticed a little bleeding this morning and some pain in my lower abdomen”, I replied.
“That implies that the growing baby is already eroding the walls of your Fallopian tube and if not removed soon, we could have a massive blood loss on our hands. That is why we need to take this pregnancy out as soon as possible.”
After hearing that, I became relieved but worried. So many thoughts ran through my mind at once. Does this mean I would lose one of my Fallopian tubes? I verbalized my worry.
“Unfortunately, yes, that is what it means, but your second Fallopian tube is most likely still patent and can serve as a channel for subsequent pregnancies to travel to your uterus. Don’t worry, we will take very good care of you. Let’s address the current situation now.”
Needing A Mum’s Care?
Doctor Sharon continued, “You would need a close friend or relative to be by you during the period of your recovery from the surgery. Do you have anyone you would like to call?”
I had been too ashamed to open up to anyone about this and even now, I didn’t think it wise to inform any of my friends. What would they say? It was only a matter of time before the whole fellowship would know what may have happened and I didn’t want any embarrassment.
“Doctor, to be honest, I don’t want any of my friends to know what has happened so far, please.”
“Hmm… What about your mother? You mentioned her as your next-of-kin. Can we get her involved?”
I sighed. My mother would be disappointed but I believed that she would understand, considering the circumstances under which I had gotten pregnant and the need for a surgical treatment.
I nodded but pleaded with Doctor Sharon to make the call to my mother herself. I could not bear the shame of telling her about the incident. The doctor agreed. I dialed my mother’s number on my mobile phone and handed it over to Doctor Sharon, who placed the phone on speaker mode during her conversation with my mother.
Doctor Sharon explained the situation with so much maturity that I began to regard her as an angel sent from heaven. My mother had sounded a bit surprised but thankfully, she calmly listened to everything Doctor Sharon told her.
After speaking with her, Doctor Sharon handed the phone over to me and asked me to speak with my mother. All I could do was break down into tears and ask my mother for forgiveness. Her calm voice assured me that all was well, and she promised to be with me first thing tomorrow morning. My dad was on a business trip as usual, so she would embark on the trip without his knowledge. I was so glad to hear that.
I had the surgery and recovered quite quickly with mother by my side. Some days after, I returned to school to recuperate, then finished up my project. Life went back to normal within a few weeks.
I renewed my devotion and commitment to the service of God, while being watchful at everything. After this near-spiritual-death experience, I could not afford to take anything for granted anymore. I prayed more frequently to stay spiritually alive. I watched my thoughts and actions to ensure I was always free from the pride of life. And my relationship with God became sweeter.