You hear the sound of your child in the middle of the night, crying, hysterically. The sound jolts you from your sleep. You sigh. Not again! You wake up and sit down on your tiny 4 by 6 bed, your mother and sister are sound asleep right next to you. You stretch your hand and pull the thin curtain that divides your single room-ed house. You look around. Your head starts throbbing, your heart is beating so hard it almost hurts. ‘Will this ever end?’ you wonder.
Tears chock you but you can’t cry out loud, they’ll hear and ask you what’s wrong. And you can’t tell them your child is crying. Because they’ll look at you startled, ask you ‘What child, Sue?’ And you’ll have to tell them about the child you disposed of right outside, in your shared bathrooms. They’ll weep, or probably think you had a nightmare. They can’t know, they cannot live imagining of a granddaughter or nephew they would have had. You cup your head between your sweating palms and mutter to yourself, ‘Quiet, child, I’m sorry, I promise, I’m sorry.’
When you met Hassan you were a young 18-year-old, right out of high school. He was tall, chubby with a deep pocket and a very generous heart. Your petite self sank into his arms every time he hugged you, you loved that. You loved that your family had a hope of light, that you didn’t have to sleep on empty stomachs ever again or wonder where your little brother’s school fees, shoes or uniform would come from. He took you on dates. It was with him that you first went to Java, had your first Mocha, and you loved it. You told all your friends about it. You hoped they would be jealous of you, the same way you had been jealous of their soft lives.
Even though you continued to move from house to house, looking for someone with dirty laundry so you could wash it, it no longer made you cry. You no longer felt hopeless. It was only a matter of time before your life changed. You envisaged having your own room for the first time, having an actual kitchen rather than just a little space with a stove, having a toilet and bathroom in the house, and having a shower. It was what kept you going. It held you together the way nothing else had.
At least this time, you didn’t have to put on a brave face on Sunday, so no one called you aside to offer unsolicited advice about how you should live. Your mother, Hannah, is quite outgoing. She sang in the choir and served as an usher, so everyone knew you. You wondered if they actually cared, though. When they asked to talk to you, did they really care? Because when your mother fell ill it was just the four of you; your sister Kella, and your brother Didi, in your little house, taking care of her. When you feared your mother was dying, you prayed someone would be there to reassure you that she loved you enough to stay. She couldn’t sleep, she couldn’t eat, she just sat there, waiting to die.
That was what you despised about the church: the pretence, the fake hugs, the spiteful side-eyes they gave you when you wore something slightly above your knees, the rumours…their presence when it wasn’t needed and their absence when it truly mattered. It made you realize that there is no hatred like Christian love at times. But now you had Hassan; he had become your refuge, your rock, your everything. So when he walked out on you at the clinic, you lost everything–your heart, mind, and life.
You borrowed money from your friend Nkatha and boarded a matatu to Hassan’s house in Umoja the day you found out you were pregnant. You kept glancing out the window, hoping no one noticed the tears streaming down your cheeks. As you paid, the female makanga gazed at you for a moment, as if she wanted to know if you were okay. You arrived at his place and broke down when he pulled you into his arms. “I’m pregnant, Hassan,” you announced. “Is that why you’re crying?” Sue, please, dry those tears! That’s our child, baby, I’ll take care of both of you!” he said, his eyes beaming with genuine joy.
You really wanted to believe him. Oh how you wanted to believe him, Sue. But you knew about his other baby mama, Linda, and their son whom he had never met. He didn’t even have pictures of his son on his phone. You grew up with an absent father, the last thing you wanted was a child with an absent father.
You debated it in your brain. He adored you. He didn’t love Linda as much as he did you. But your mother, your poor mother, would be devastated by all of this. You would have proven to everyone in the church who said you were a wild and useless girl that they were right. You envisioned the mockery your mother would have to endure. You thought about your siblings, who looked up to you…You pictured Hassan walking out of your life, leaving you with five mouths to feed, school fees to pay, clothes to buy…and it terrified you to death.
So while the good nurse talked to you at the abortion clinic, Hassan seated right next to you, your mind was made up. “Are you sure? You know you can always place your child for adoption? And your child’s father is willing to assist you, which very few girls have,” the nurse stated. She went on and on about how you must think about it thoroughly. To give you time to think about your decision, an assistant brought you some juice to drink. But your mind was made up.
They informed you of the available options. You’d either have to lie down and they’d use an instrument to kill then pull the child out, or you’d have to take a drug that would cause a miscarriage. You chose the drug to be taken. As the pharmacist prescribed you the pills, Hassan stormed out, and you never saw him again.
That night you were alone at home, everyone else had travelled to see Grandma. You were making yourself some ugali when you started feeling like your uterus was being pulled out of your body. You clutched your lower abdomen tightly, crying quietly in excruciating pain. Your head throbbed, your legs were weak, you knelt down on your old carpet clenching your fist, shaking your hand, slamming your hand on the floor, taking your clothes off…you whispered a soft ‘Sorry’ to God because you thought that was the end. Then you felt something fall from between your bloody thighs. You wept when you held your child in your hands. You were overcome by a wave of intense regret. You closed your eyes, wishing you could change the hands of time. For hours you sat next to it, crying, cursing at yourself. And as you walked slowly, in the middle of the night, to throw it in the communal toilet, all you could feel was great loathing for yourself.
Now Hassan is with your friend Nkatha, they have a child. Sometimes you’re upset with him, but most times you understand, because if you were him you wouldn’t choose you either. You want love, to find someone new, but every time you think of the possibility of being barren you get anxious. You’re terrified that one day you won’t be able to bear a child, and it breaks your heart. Every time you see a mother walking down the street with a child on her back, your throat tightens. You imagine what your baby would have looked like and how much joy they would have brought you if you had let them stay. You still feel overwhelmed by deep emptiness, sadness and regret. You’re black-eyed for constantly beating yourself up for past events you cannot change.
I pray you don’t keep carrying the weight of your mistake, I know it’s gotten hard to imagine going on with life without the guilt. I pray you freedom, true freedom, that you will no longer be held by the cold chains of your past mistakes. Randy writes, “You may think, ‘But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.’ That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. That’s the point of grace.” I pray that you will feel the warmth of God’s embrace, and be assured of His unconditional love and presence with you.
Joining a group for post-abortion healing can help you immensely. If you would like to be part of a community of women who can help you overcome the guilt of abortion please reach out to me on 0743931328 or email me at email@example.com.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life”. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10-12)