Last January, I was travelling on business, staying in a little hotel in a college town. I like to think I'm usually more aware of my surroundings, but it was so snowy and windy that I wouldn't have heard his footsteps even if he had he been stomping. It happened so fast. I got the door open, turned around to close it, and he was there - a huge man. My first instinct wasn't fear, just confusion. In an instant, he punched me in the face. I don't remember being dragged from the room, but I was found in the stairwell. I don't know why - maybe I was trying to go for help.
The rape kit came back negative for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and dozens of other things I'd never heard of. God is gracious.
The following month, I was scheduled to work on a cruise ship. I was struck with dysentery on day two. But after not getting better with antibiotics, I was taken to what passes for a hospital when we docked in Cartagena, Colombia. Concerned about intestinal obstruction, I was given an ultrasound. And we saw the pea - my son. Happy Valentine's Day.
Back on the ship, I told the doctors an abbreviated version of my story, which resulted in me being quarantined. Suicide watch? In danger of a psychotic break that will have me running naked across the shuffleboard courts? Who knows. What I know is that I spent the next week listening to a team of very well-meaning doctors and nurses console me with how "easy" it would be to "take care of it" - to kill the child. To start over. Easy?
There were a lot of things discussed over scratchy, tearful transatlantic phone calls home that week, but the possibility of "taking care of it" never came off my lips. Or my husband's. When I told him I was pregnant, he said with his voice calm and steady, "Okay. Okay . . . all right . . . this is all right." I asked him, "What do you MEAN this is all right?" "I mean we can do this. We'll get through this. It'll be okay." And, "I love babies. We're going to have another baby. Sweetheart, this is a gift. This is something wonderful from something terrible. We can DO this." And I began to feel the stirrings of joy for the new life in my womb, blossoming under my heart. That new love that would grow so fierce it overwhelmed any trepidation or angst. And my husband was right. We could do it.
On my last morning aboard the ship, I said to this caring team, "If you ever think about this again, if you ever wonder what happened to me - I had a beautiful baby in October 2014." Their reaction...the looks on their faces...the doctor who had pushed abortion more vehemently than the others - she had tears in her eyes. For the first time, I thought of how God can use this, this nightmare I'd endured. Use me.