I was nineteen, tall with brown hair and brown eyes. I was studying to become a singer, struggling as all college students do with growing up…church, school, work…and a boy. It had been a little under a year since I had lost my virginity in a disappointing and deeply sad moment. On the outside, no one knew that every day since that night had been filled with constant regret, anguish, and despair. I had never intended to lose my virginity, to become a girl desperate for the attention of a confused, verbally abusive boyfriend. How confusing it is to be in a controlling relationship! Where I had once felt strong, I was now weak. Where I had once felt confident, I was now ashamed. Where I had once looked with joy into the future, I now faced each night in tears. I felt shattered and as though, no matter how hard I tried, I simply could not pick up the pieces.
I tried to leave. Over and over and over again, I tried to leave. But, isolated from friends, ashamed to be near my family, and afraid that if I shared my bruised heart with anyone it would become even more broken, I returned to him over and over and over again. I simply wasn’t strong enough to leave on my own.
I began to write in my diary, writing out prayers for deliverance, for a chance to try again. I prayed, “Lord, if you want me, you are going to have bring me back. I cannot do it by myself. Do anything, ANYTHING to bring me back!” It was a prayer of desperation, the most dangerous one I have ever prayed. To this day I look at the words in my little diary in awe, for in there I see how the prayers of a girl who could not longer believe in herself turned to God for answers…and found them!
Very shortly after this prayer, I found myself in kneeling in church. In the Catholic Mass, there is a beautiful moment when the priest lifts up the Eucharist, the moment when the bread is consecrated as the Body of our Lord. On that day, I gazed upon that little, white host and heard the words, “This is my body, broken for you.” And, quite suddenly, I felt nauseous…and dizzy… and the world started spinning…
Only a few short hours later, my shaking hands held a positive pregnancy test.
My singing career was gone. My family was devastated. My boyfriend started shattering before my eyes, falling apart under this new, added pressure. My once flawless reputation was destroyed. And yet, in the middle of some of the worst pain of my life, was the most joy. I LOVED my baby! From the moment I knew of her, I loved her. She was beautiful. She was perfect. She was the answer to my prayer…
The strength of a mother goes beyond the strength of a lonely, hopeless girl. I couldn’t make good decisions for myself but, by golly, I was going to make good decisions for my baby girl! My grandparents opened up their home and, at 24 weeks, I moved out to be with them. Shortly afterward, I applied and was accepted with scholarships to a nearby school and swiftly started the fall semester.
I stumbled around those first few weeks, struggling with major decisions and still reeling from the blows that had already been dealt. Yet, this was also a time of great discovery for me. Whereas before, when I had had little trials, I had felt bitter and miserable, now I felt a profound sense of peace. My life was still in pieces around me but, for some reason, I felt an inner peace that was able to sustain me through the toughest of times. And, of course, these tough times focused mainly on what I was going to do with my beautiful, beautiful baby. She meant the world to me; I loved being with her, touching her, carrying her, talking to her, and loving her with everything that I could possibly give. In the end, it was God who ultimately guided me to a decision.
I had asked God to show me where to go and what to do. Yet, even in this asking, I firmly believed that God helps those who help themselves. God could have given me some great sign from heaven telling me what to do; I preferred to think that if He gave me a sign it would be when I was actively searching for one. I determined that if I could find a good family for my beautiful little girl, my little Annie, it would be God will. And He found me a family; a beautiful, wonderful family that could take care of her as I never could. I struggled with every aspect of this decision, but the constant reassurances, the little things that would happen to show me that everything was all right, strengthened me in my decision. Thus, on Dec. 22nd, 2006, eleven days after giving birth to the most beautiful baby in the world, I watched as she was taken out of my arms and placed in the arms of her adoptive mother.
That initial pain, the knowledge that she was gone….. MY BABY GONE!!! I was faced with emptiness, with the knowledge that I could not be her mother, the empty, pitiless fact that I could not be with her every day, watch her grow, or simply be there to love her. It struck me down. If my family had not been there at that moment to literally hold me up, I would have collapsed to the ground in pain. Pain roared into me and left me voiceless, shaking with this terrible, horrible sense of loss and emptiness that cannot be described.
And then something – Someone – lifted me out of my despair. A sense of peace flooded my soul. I started becoming aware of the people around me, sobbing as they held me and supported me in my pain. I felt GOD touch me and give me the knowledge, an absolute knowledge, that this had been His will and that I had done right. My little Annie was safe and would grow in a family that would love her and take care of her. I had done the best I possibly could, and it was ok to rest now.
I believe, with all my heart, that in giving my baby life I found and discovered my own. Those precious, beautiful nine months were so painful, yet I would not take them back for the world. As I write this, my little girl’s fifth birthday is in only a few weeks. So much as happened in these five years. There has been so much joy, so much love, so much growing, and, yes, so much pain. But that deep sense of peace, that RIGHTNESS about my decision has never left me. This birthday, as with all of her birthdays, I will spend the day trying to write her a letter. Sometimes the words pour onto the page. Others, I simply stare at the blank sheet with a full heart, but an equally blank mind.
I want to fill those letters with words of love. I want to fill those letters with wisdom, insight into the little troubles of her life. I want to share with her about my life, to let her know that I am all right. I want her to know that my life is good and beautiful; that, through my beautiful Jesus, I have discovered sweet, perfect healing which I would have never dreamed was possible after the hurt of letting her go. I want those letters to be like arms, to wrap bands of love around her little heart so that she knows she is very precious, very beautiful, and so very, very LOVED. The time is swiftly approaching when I am to write another letter. Perhaps, this time, I shall write a thank you.
Thank you,baby girl. You saved my life. I love you.
Love, your mother… Natalie