by Cindy Hendrickson
I was the only daughter of a doctor in Enid, OK. In August of 1971, when I was 16, I was born again at a Church of the Brethren church camp. During the last two years of highschool, I became angry at God for not giving me a guy who would love me. In 1973, I went to college, started drinking and lost my virginity while drunk. I dropped out of college and became involved in drug use.
Within two years I was involved in what I called a relationship and was pregnant at 19. The father said we would be married, but changed his mind. When I moved home, my dad started talking about abortion. I told my parents that I wanted to give the baby up for adoption. My mother took me to Kansas City because she and Dad had once sent a friend’s daughter to K.C. to a home for unwed mothers. When we got there, she couldn’t find it.
After we went back home, Mother didn’t talk to me anymore about what to do. My father talked to me every morning about my getting an abortion, then came home at noon and talked some more, and every night, too. I kept telling my dad that I was 14 weeks pregnant and that it was illegal after 12 weeks. I was several weeks further along when I finally said OK, since I didn’t believe they would do it that late. So my dad sent my mother and me to Houston. Mother took me to the clinic, paid almost $500 in cashiers check and then they told her to leave. I truly believed that they would say “you’re too far along” and would tell me to leave and then my dad would have to help me find a home for unwed mothers. Of course, that didn’t happen.
The counselor took all the girls (25) into a room and taught us about birth control. That was the last I saw of her. Then we changed clothes and were given shots of Demerol every four hours. Around midnight, the doctor came to my room injected saline into my uterus using a large syringe and long needle. I was so frightened. He barely spoke to me. The nurses never spoke to us any more than necessary, either. No one told us what would happen.
Sometime later, I went to the bathroom to have a bowel movement. I looked down into the toilet and saw my baby hanging from me by the umbilical cord. I began screaming for help hysterically. My roommate turned on her call light and after 15 minutes she went to the nurses station and got a nurse. God bless her for her mercy. I could hear the nurses talking and laughing at the nurse’s station. The nurse came and I begged her to “take it away” but she refused saying she couldn’t until I passed the placenta. She made me walk back to the bed with the baby dangling between my legs. I lay in bed for one to two hours, my legs bent and knees up trying not to touch the baby, screaming and crying hysterically. Finally they removed the baby.
At the abortion clinic, I wore new house shoes that my mother had bought me. They had blood on them from my walk from the bathroom to the bed. After I returned home, I wrapped them up in a towel because I couldn’t wash off the blood and hid them under long dresses in the back of my closet. Every time I moved between dorm rooms and apartments after college, I moved them and hid them at the back of my new closet. After several years, I washed them but still couldn’t look at them because could still see the blood. Finally, it came to me that I could throw them away.
I have never told my parents what happened at the clinic. I began college the next fall. I took lots of speed. I cried lots and lots. I seldom ate. My weight dropped to 90 pounds (I’m 5’8″), and I passed out in my room from anorexia. After I passed out, my dad came and got me and took me home to “get over the flu” and got a doctor friend to put me on antidepressants.
I kept the abortion a secret. I told the father and the people in Kansas that knew I was pregnant that I had miscarried. After the abortion, I hated men and seduced the baby’s father back into a relationship and then dumped him when he thought we were going to have intercourse–telling him just what I thought of him. I continued that behavior with a lot of guys that I would meet in the bar.
The first year in college, an eighteen-year-old girl asked me to take her to the health department and wait in the car. She came out crying and I took her back to my dorm room. I told her that I knew what was wrong. I told her every detail of my abortion and then didn’t tell another soul for many, many years. The father of the baby married her and I had a bridal shower for her though we had not been friends. Several years later, she went to my parents home looking for me and though I wasn’t there she told my mother to tell me “thanks.” I knew what she meant!
I met my future husband in 1977 and got my R.N. degree. James and I married in 1981. Immediately I started to try and get pregnant. We had years of infertility treatment. About a year after we started treatment, I was convinced that God was punishing me. Under extreme mental stress, I told my husband about the abortion. He was supportive and loving. Eventually I returned to church looking to God to give me a baby. A year later, He did. I had three sons and a daughter between 1985 and 1992. I couldn’t get enough babies. I believe I was trying to replace the baby I killed. I had a hysterectomy two years ago.
I spent eight years after the abortion in destructive behaviors. I went to three different secular counselors, never telling them about the baby. I got off of antidepressants only two years ago. I am receiving counseling now at Birth Choice and hope to eventually be able to counsel others. I have judged myself guilty of murder for 21 years. I had received God’s grace and forgiveness for my many sins, but I could not forgive myself, especially since I knew it was a baby. There is no statement strong enough to explain what it is like for a mother to kill her baby.
My counseling and healing continue to progress. For the first time in 21 years, I don’t feel shame and guilt. I’m sad about the abortion, and I am sorry I was in sin, but I have finally been able to grieve for my aborted baby and can think of him without horror.
I’ve received the opportunity to tell a teenage boy who was pro-choice the truth about abortion. He was really receptive to what I said and verbalized a change in how he views abortion. A youth pastor’s wife at another church told me about her abortion and how she can’t forgive herself. I shared with her what I have learned. In six weeks I will receive training to work at Birth Choice. I’m looking forward to that.
Thank you for your pro-woman / pro-life work.