Shipwrecked in Lubbock, TX
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
If I had to point to ONE significant event in my life that greatly influenced my path in young adulthood, it would be what I am writing about today. This event brought me to my knees. I had to face severe, lifelong consequences of some really stupid choices I made. My coat-tail faith did me zero good. And there was no place to hide.
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I didn’t handle responsibilities of college well. I was too bored & overwhelmed & distracted by a relationship that was out of control. That relationship ended. I lost my grandfather followed soon by the death of a mentor and close friend. My dad sternly suggested I find a job and decide what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t handle my failure well. I was expected to excel at this ultra conservative religious college just as I did all through my earlier school years; or at the very least, come away from it with an MRS degree. It just didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t know how to fail. But I was soon going to learn.
I spiraled. I rebelled. I would work all day and party all night. I survived for months on just two hours of sleep per night. I hid my life pretty well, even from my roommates at the time. I even managed to show up at church on Sundays. However, much of it was out of spite. Over losing my boyfriend and my grandfather and then my friend who had been helping me deal with all of it. Essentially, my life was a big, living, on-going temper tantrum. I was behaving like a spoiled brat. I was sailing my ship directly into a hurricane - not having any sense to run away from the storm. I, instead, fueled the storm as I raced towards it head on. And that is when it happened.
I went into a local sandwich shop to grab a bite to eat and there he was, my ex-boyfriend. He asked me for my number. I gave it. He called that night and we talked for hours. We wanted to try and make things work. He lied to me about breaking up with the woman he had cheated on me to begin with that led to our breakup. I ended my partying life immediately. I repented and prayed to God that if He would have a hand in this relationship and bring us back together, I would be done with it. But all I wanted was a chance. I was done with the rebellion. All I can say today is thank God for unanswered prayers.
We got together. We hooked up. I ran into him at the mall with a jewelers bag that appeared to have a ring box in it. He lied to me and told me it was his watch he had taken in to be repaired. And just a short time later, I learned within 24 hours of each other that I was pregnant and he got engaged.
I didn’t tell anyone who the father was. My friends never even asked me. They didn’t know I was talking to him again. And I suspect, they were more aware of the life I had been living prior to that enough to know that maybe I didn’t know who the father was. I told my parents. I expected and prepared myself for every response they could have except for the one they responded with. I knew they would be sad, disappointed and angry. Their response: Have an abortion, hide it and never speak of it again. They also insisted I tell the birth father which I had not planned to do. I strongly suspected they just wanted his family to suffer as much as they were in that moment. Looking back, I wish I had never told him given what occurred soon after that. And he never told his family. He lied to them when they heard the “rumors” and asked him about it.
I was brought up extremely conservatively. I had been in classes in my youth about all the wrongs of abortion. I was adopted for crying out loud! I didn’t make a commitment to them that I would take care of it. They assured me I would not have a family to return to if I didn’t have the abortion. When I left home to go back to where I lived, I was completely lost, devastated, and very much alone.
I was in such agony, I researched abortion. I considered it for about 48 hours. But the more I researched, the more I realized how dangerous the procedure was. Many young women died from abortions but records just showed: complications due to surgery, internal bleeding, etc. Family doctors helping protect surviving families from the shame of a crisis pregnancy. I spent 8 solid hours on my knees, then in the corner of my room, covered in my tears and shame praying God to deliver me and in my decision to carry the pregnancy and place the child for adoption, that He will deliver me a surrogate family so I would not have to go through it alone.
In my freshman year in college, I had met a young woman who lived across from me in the dorm who had told me about a baby she had placed for adoption and in fact, I took her to see the social worker that helped her at the adoption agency at one time. So, I placed a call to the agency and spoke to the social worker and made my plan… fully believing that I was risking losing my family forever going against their wishes.
I kept working my full time job and worked with the social worker. I chose my own doctor - a doctor who at the time everyone loved and recommended. Something happened to this doctor during my pregnancy where his demeanor changed. He had an atrocious bedside manner. He gave my name and number to his infertility patients and I got hammered constantly with phone calls begging me to place my child with them. I was promised the moon - money, a car, a house, etc. But I stuck with my plan of using the adoption agency. I changed my phone number. I unleashed hell upon the doctor and his staff for giving my name and number to their patients. I also had another battle to contend with: The Birth father and his gang of friends.
That phone call with him - was brutal. He refused to meet me so I couldn’t have the convo in person. So, I told him over the phone. He, of course, asked if it was really his & would I consider having an abortion. When I said no, he paused a moment and asked me to marry him. Romantic, huh? I asked him if he loved me and he grew silent. That silence was my answer. Of course, I already knew he didn’t before I even asked the question. So, I told him marriage was hard enough without starting it off with a child right off the bat. He told me he would go to doctor appointments with me etc and I knew when I hung up that he would run and I would never hear from him again during the pregnancy. I was right. His friends though? An entirely different matter!
My friends started hearing from his friends that I was pregnant and accused him of being the father, but that was impossible. His fiancé went one step further to make up lies about me and tell everyone I had been at a house party and slept with a bunch of guys drunk and high on drugs. This is where she messed up. Everyone who knew me knew I was scared to death of illegal drugs. They also knew while I might be promiscuous it was with one person over a period of time. I was selective and cautious while rebellious. At least I had some sense about me! And as for his friends? My friends knew that the only person I had told who the father was was the father himself. So, they knew at that point it was true.
They came to me about what they were hearing. By that point, I had encountered some scares with my pregnancy & all I wanted to focus on was my pregnancy and just getting through it with a healthy baby that I felt tremendous responsibility for. I asked them not to get into any issues with his friends over it. Just to let it go - I had some fierce friends who wanted to battle it out and defend me to his friends and I just didn’t want energy to be spent there. I didn’t care about his friends - or even him at that point.
Most of my so-called Christian friends bolted at the news of my pregnancy. But I had a few that stuck through it with me. What really is crazy is I could have hidden it - and not told anyone. People saw me the week before I delivered and didn’t even know I was pregnant. My family did come around, but didn’t want me to come home and endure the judgment of my legalistic childhood home church congregation - so they had made a few trips to see me. They later told me that they didn’t think I would have the strength to endure the crisis pregnancy and I surprised them and everyone else, including me!
My water broke & I went into labor early on a Friday. Before I had any lamaze classes or met the other doctors in the practice. I thought I had time. My doctor couldn’t be bothered on an unusual sunny day in January to come off the golf course for his patient. So, I got a doctor on call. I believe that was a God thing really. I got so much more compassion and understanding from that doctor than my own. I was put on the PIT to progress labor. I was in such pain but didn’t dilate. The baby was exhibiting signs of stress. The on-call doctor called my doctor to come in and perform an emergency C-Section. My doctor insisted on finishing his golf game and dinner first. I had an amazing compassionate nurse who cried with me. My social worker Francis was there. My brother and his then girlfriend came to see me that day. My brother was nearly broken watching me endure that day. He wanted to go hunt down the birth father and take out the pain on him. Luckily, he wasn’t found that day. Once my doctor finally showed up, things moved fast. They told me I would have to decide whether or not to be put out or get the spinal block and be awake. I was stripped naked in my room. Covered with a blanket and wheeled into the surgical suite. Once I got past those doors where no one was admitted, the blanket was taken and I was wheeled naked into a surgery room full of people behind masks all looking at me. I had my first of what would be many of panic attacks. I had planned to be awake but my panic annoyed the doctor who told the anesthesiologist to put me out. I began counting backwards at his instruction fighting through tears, fear, confusion… 99, 98, 97, .. 96…. And it all went dark.
I became aware of the deepest darkness I had ever known. I could hear voices, but nothing made sense. Then, I heard my mom’s voice telling me to wake up. Then a nurse coaxing me and saying, “Here she comes.” I woke up to what I know only to describe as chaotic light. I felt divided. Like a part of me was still trapped in that dark hole from which I had just escaped. And then it hit. Excruciating pain. I had never known such pain in my life. I was screaming for something for the pain. The nurse got a bit too close. I grabbed a hold of her and showered her with a stream of words that shocked my mom. She told me she couldn’t give me anything for the pain until they got me into a room. And I told her to get me into a room now. It took a couple of people to pry my arms off of that poor nurse. She went and called my doctor and argued with him about how much pain I was in. And she came over and she said they would get me to a room now - she would deal with my doctor later if he didn’t like it. Left me to wonder just what happened to my doctor & just when did he become such sadistic s.o.b?!
The next day or so was a blur of me pumping for more morphine. No one was talking about my baby. I thought he had died. I finally just broke down sobbing and my mom asked me what was wrong and I asked her what happened to my baby. She said they had told me when I was in recovery - it was the first thing I asked when I came to. I didn’t remember anything from the recovery room except the pain and the assault on my poor nurse. I had a baby boy and he was in an incubator - he was small but healthy. Just needed some time under some lights. I finally asked to see the baby and was wheeled down to him Saturday night. I touched his hand and gazed into his eyes - he looked exactly like his birth father. I spoke to him, but I don’t remember what I told him other than I loved him very much. I didn’t hold him, I was afraid I would never be able to let him go. But I assure you, I held him in my heart every day since.
The thing I would not wish upon my worst enemy is the signing of the adoption papers on the following Sunday morning. The social worker and the attorney came in early before they went to church and had me sign the papers. There was ZERO compassion. ZERO concern for me. And ZERO respect for the law that says I had to be clear from the effects of pain medication in order to sign the papers. For some reason they were in a hurry. I guess they were afraid I would change my mind. It was so cold and matter of fact: Sign here. Sign here. Don’t ever look for him or we will come after you. And they left. I cried for an hour. No one knew what to do for me. I was met with sad looks and silence from everyone. I had a friend come see me in the hospital and I will never forget it. My employer sent me beautiful pink tulips. My counselor who had been working with me came by and helped me work through some of the emotions I had been dealing with.
While everyone had Super Bowl Fever that weekend, I was shipwrecked in Lubbock, TX. When I left the hospital to begin physical recovery from several hours of labor AND the C-Section, and without my baby, I left all of the dreams for my life including happy endings behind.
There is a part 2 to this story. That hole of darkness I had to climb out of after surgery wasn’t quite done with me yet. So, that will be next week’s story.
In spite of the fog of pain, grief, being so lost and utter devastation and failure, there was a seed planted deep inside me. This could be used for good. But I was far from understanding exactly how. But it was hope. It was all I had. Looking back, I can tell you what I did with this. I have talked with pastors, preaching students, nurses, doctors, and social workers about how to treat an unwed mother planning to place her baby for adoption with dignity and love and respect. I have spoken to countless numbers of youth groups, classes, and civic organizations about what it is like to be a birth mom and to face crisis pregnancy. I have counseled with unwed mothers-to-be and their friends and families. I have lobbied politicians at local and state levels about laws and bills surrounding the adoption issue. I feel like I've made the journeys of others a little better due to my experience.
This is just one of many shipwrecks in my life, probably one of the biggest. I lost big. But I gained big. I shed the coat-tail faith I had due to my upbringing. I went through deprogramming therapy - the same anyone would go to recover from being in a cult! It is one of the most difficult things I have EVER had to work through - but it was worth it because I shed the legalism from my life and I learned about true forgiveness, grace and a deeper love for Scripture and a personal faith I had never known before. I fiercely protect my personal faith and I am often the first to speak up to defend anyone being judged by anyone else - or being force-fed religion. This experience instilled within me some pretty fierce core beliefs and it taught me compassion.
In the 28 years since, every time I face a hardship, I look back to this time in my life and have faith that because of how I was brought through this experience, I have faith and hope that I will be delivered again. And again.
Where I see God in this:
The friends he placed in my life that stuck by me.
The friend I met in the dorm my freshman year in college who introduced me to the social work and the adoption agency.
The compassionate labor nurse
The on-call doctor
The pink tulips (pink tulips show up in a recurring theme in my life - they signal “Everything’s gonna be ok.”)
NOT losing my family
The social worker
NOT going home again during the pregnancy (more on this next week)
Giving me wisdom enough NOT to work the relationship or marry that guy
That HIS GRACE is big enough to reach and soften a spiteful, rebellious heart like mine.
Something I never thought at the time would happen, I did find and go to meet my son when he was 19. He has an amazing family and has had a life experience he never would have had with me. And as I told him, There was no ONE right answer in this. Life just would have looked different had I chosen to raise him as a single mom or got married. Abortion was the wrong answer for me.
The a-ha I walked away with: