How The Nine Days Of Prayers Comforted Me While I Fought Demons…

… With the upcoming March For Life, the topic of abortion seems to be every where at the moment. Because of this it’s been on my mind daily. Perhaps these daily reminders is what triggered the event that happened this morning.

My first waking thought hit me like a sledge hammer and I was instantly transported back ten years. I was standing alone in a sterile room wearing a hospital gown. In my hand was the sheet that I had pulled back off the portable suction machine that sat in the corner. Memories I thought I had drown bubbled up despite mentally wrestling with myself for years to un-see them.

What I am about to write next is horrifically graphic. I’d been debating with myself all day whether or not I should share this memory or just stuff it back down in the murky recesses of my addled brain but then I was reminded of something Elizabeth Scalia wrote.

And somehow, I can’t imagine that any of our elite female voices — the ones who, in every election year, can be counted on to take up the fake “war on women” mantras and tape PSA’s about “keeping abortion legal” because it “empowers women” — have any sense of the realities of these under-inspected, under-reported hell-holes, where the only ones being empowered are the profiteers.

And a hell hole it was. There is no way to advocate what I am about to describe. None. There is no reason, no exception, no situation in which what I saw could possibly be rationalized away as a “reproductive right” or an acceptable choice.

**** If you’re post-abortive what you are about to read might be too graphic and upsetting.****

I encourage you only to proceed with great caution. Please know I don’t write this to cause you any pain. I write this post so that people who advocate abortion can read what it is exactly they are advocating.

The vacuum.

I remember thinking it looked like a regular vacuum cleaner with a glass canister which allowed me to see the contents. I clutched the sheet that covered the vacuum in my hand and stood staring at it for quite some time trying to decide if what I as seeing was real. I just couldn’t comprehend it. Why would any one leave that there, like that, for a patient to see? I kept thinking, surely this was a mistake and any minute an apologetic staff member would come in and take it away. Someone was careless and just forgot to clean up after themselves. Yeah, that was it. Why else would I have been left alone in the room with that thing?

The glass container was half full and splattered with blood. Even the tube that fed into the container was crusted with blood. What I saw inside the collection container defies belief, little baby parts swimming in a bloody muck. All those graphic photos you’ve ever seen of tiny dismembered arms and legs are accurate. Only this wasn’t just one set of tiny arms and legs… this was more than I could count. This wasn’t just one baby that was aborted and some careless worker forget to remove from the room. This looked like all the babies that had been aborted that day. All together in one glass container, swimming in a gruesome soup of blood and bits. They hadn’t even bothered to clean the equipment between patients and I suddenly realized they had every intention of using the same filthy equipment on me.

What happened next was sheer panic. I never wanted to have an abortion, I was just stupid and believed there was no other choice. No other way. And it was just a clot. A big menstrual clot. That’s what they told me. Yet that glass container told me otherwise. And I suddenly felt every urge to run from the room screaming, but I was frozen in place. When a staff member came back into the room she found me still standing there clutching that sheet and staring at the vacuum.

Something inside me clicked off and I mentally shut down. I allowed her to guide me to the table and the procedure was started. When the abortionist [I will never call them doctors] came into the room he didn’t even acknowledge me but when he wheeled that vacuum over toward the table and switched it on I sat upright and tried to jump off the table. No hell no, I thought. But it was too late.

And this is what I remembered this morning. My first waking thought that greeted me at dawn. The memory of the “nurse” growing impatient with me and the abortionists barking at me to lay still. And then my ears where filled with the wet suctioning sound of that hideous vacuum aspiration machine.

I had completely forgotten, until this morning, that when it was all over I made myself look at that thing again. As the staff member held my arm and steadied me out of the room I reached over and yanked the sheet off again. I made myself look at that blood filled glass canister. Somewhere in their was my child and he/she deserved to have me be haunted with the memory of what I had done and where I had left him/her. I remembered thinking to myself, “Don’t you ever forget what you’ve done. You don’t deserve to forget”.

But I did forget. Not right away. I was suicidal for months after, drinking and consuming every pill I could find. I took the entire contents of mine and my roommate’s medicine cabinet one night. All I did was sleep for two days straight and no one checked on me. I think it was during that time that I eventually managed to bury those memories.

For whatever reason they chose today to pop back up. But instead of feeling hopelessly lost in that old dark abyss something different overcame me. Not a peace. No. I don’t think that I will ever know true peace. It was a comforting feeling. Like a hundred people praying for me right at that exact moment. Then I checked my email and I realized that they were. Today marks the beginning of the 9 Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage sponsored by USCCB.

“For the mother who awakens each morning with the memory of abortion fresh in her mind: that the Lord may still the terror in her heart and lead her gently to the well-spring of his love and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

I don’t know what God means to do with me and my horrible memories but whatever it is at least He timed it perfectly so that I have prayers to help me cope. I swear, if it had not been for that email I might have been swallowed whole by despair. If you are currently participating in the nine days of prayer and happened to pray today for post-abortive women to find healing I want to extend my thanks to you. Your prayers were felt and very much needed.

Dear Catholic Church, her members and leaders, thank you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for not giving up on us. And if you are post-abortive and can feel the tides of despair rising please please please seek out the folks at Project Rachel. Right now. And lastly, please let us never stop praying for each other.

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About Katrina Fernandez

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  • Lisa Hendey

    Praying up a storm, for you and for so many… hugs!

  • Maggie Goff

    God bless you for writing this. And yes, I am one of those who are praying for you. God is so merciful, and there are no coincidences.

  • Christopher Lake

    Kat, I’m so sorry about these terrible memories.. I don’t really know what to say, other than, I am praying for you, and please remember, you have been forgiven, and you are infinitely and perfectly loved by the One who died for you and rose again.

  • Micaela Darr

    Praying for you. May God continue to heal you.

  • Infinite Grace

    Yep. Ditto. Me too. This week and the ones before have been a swelling crescendo for me as well. I hope that I’m on the downside now and will peacefully move toward the March for Life on Friday. A few evenings ago, I was hit in the face again with the memories, the details, the ugly full color details of “that day.” Through hurt, anger, remorse, despair, doubt and all the rest… the next day I returned to a daily Mass and was tenderly pieced back together again, but the wounds remain fresh. In typical post-abort fashion – I ignored your warnings of the graphic description coming – and kept reading b/c there will always be that part of my that feels as though I deserve the feelings that come with the graphic. How many hearts have been broken and souls destroyed by that sound and that jar? Feel free to visit me at Today’s comfort and hope will be found at mass again in a few hours.

  • G Bradshaw

    I am a postabortive mom & I appreciate your courage in continuing to give voice to this. I’m on my way to DC to the March & will carry your intentions in my heart. May I say, eventually true peace is possible.

  • Kristen

    ((HUGS)) from coastal NC. Having survived several miscarriages and knowing the sadness, depression and utter desperation I felt, I cannot imagine the horror you witnessed and endured. Continuing to pray the novena for you and all those victims of this heinous act. If one person is affected by these prayers, it is worth it and you have courageously shown that today.

  • priest’s wife

    I forgot that you wrote a while back that you are post-abortive- PRAYERS!!! and I’m sorry you are still going through this

    one minor correction: you wrote today that you will never feel peace. Perhaps you will never feel peace here on earth, but after your good fight, you are going to be in the presence of pure peace who is our savior

  • tj.nelson

    Thank you very much for writing this. You have helped me understand it so much better. I don’t get this stuff – I know nothing about birthing, babies, heterosexual sex, etc. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman or have a baby or be a mother or be given a choice not to be all of those things. I’ve sometimes spoke disparagingly of women who have made mistakes because I have not understood…
    Thanks very much for writing this – God is so good – you show that.

  • Bernard Fischer

    I am praying for you and all people affected by abortion. God loves you. I hope that one day you’ll find the peace you’re missing. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Barbara Fryman

    I read this last night at 3 AM after putting our baby down for the umpteenth time. I read because I was tired and wired all at once and was looking for one of your funny posts, but what I found was a woman with a gaping wound bearing witness to the healing salve of prayer. Your story will be carried in my heart and will remind me that no matter how tired I am, I must pray. I tried to pray for you last night. It was a pitiful attempt, but I gave the best that I had at that hour in my state of exhaustion and anxiety. I pray that all your pain and suffering on earth be for your soul’s quick passage through purgatory and reunited with your family in heaven.

  • Jess Bro

    Thank you for writing this! I can’t accept your thanks, because until today I have not participated in the 9 days of prayer. But it’s really nice to know that prayers are powerful and actually felt even when we personally cannot see the result of them. This reaffirms so much that I have been believing all my life. God bless you and your road to peace!

  • Brenda Becker

    I offered my morning Mass today for all of us who have been wounded by abortion, filled with a sense of frustration, pain and futility because my church community has chosen to remain utterly silent on this topic, even on this Respect Life Sunday. Reading your piece a few hours later was uncanny. May God take my broken and imperfect prayers and join them in a healing ocean of grace for you and all our sisters who have been thus wounded, and may you know the peace and freedom and joy that come with redemption.

  • IrenaeusSaintonge

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am sure that your child prays for you every day.

  • Barbara Ropiecki

    I will continue to pray for you!! Our God is full of mercy and he loves us all so very much. He loves you and your beautiful child…..peace.

  • Gail Deibler Finke

    Kat I am praying for you and for all women who have been through that. I don’t believe for a moment that God planned that for you so that you would be able to share it this way (what is the matter with people who think like that?) but I do think that God takes our worst decisions and helps us use them for His glory and to help others. I know what you wrote here will help others. God bless you for that.

  • Susan Peterson

    s abortions were so long ago that they were done by curette rather than by suction, but I still have memories of lying on the table just before, of waking up vomiting after. Thank God I never saw what you saw. I once ran out of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis when a priest was describing how an 8 week embryo looks and the results of an abortion. Mostly I think I have built up walls against thinking about it with my real feelings. My abortions were in 1967 and 1970 (one in Japan, and one at John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore under Maryland’s ‘Life and Health’ law.Lots of stories to tell about what was going on there!) That’s a long time to remember. I still know how old both those children would be now; I still think, when meeting someone that age “I could have a child your age.” I have had nine children since then, and the uniqueness of each one made me wonder who they were, who I never got to meet. Perhaps they exist in heaven? I know in the abstract that all, all, will be forgiven by anyone who is in heaven, but I still am uncomfortable about the idea of meeting them, knowing what I did to them. I was baptized since then, so I know I am forgiven, but that does not stop the regret.

    • Susan Peterson

      First word was supposed to be “my.”

  • dougpruner

    As a man I can’t imagine just how you feel, but you do have my sympathy FWIW.

    When you write, “I remembered thinking to myself, “Don’t you ever forget what you’ve done. You don’t deserve to forget’” it certainly shows a repentant attitude, which God wants from us. But did you know that He will remove your self-imposed punishment? Rev 21:4, Douay, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more. Nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.” “Passed away”- no longer in the memory of you or anyone else. Moreover, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Ps 145:16. What is your desire, to forget? To be forgiven? To see the dead brought back to life in paradisaical conditions? You’ll have it: “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.” Ps 37:29
    That’s the good news (“gospel”) that Jesus brought us.
    Hang in there.

    • Tess208

      Your comments were wonderful, Doug. I would also like to remind Kat that in times when you can not control your brain over this (think: lying in bed trying to get some sleep) picture Jesus sitting upright and holdind you in His lap with His arms abround you. You will fall asleep in His peace. He is there to comfort you to sleep in His love for you. We are all sinners, and He knows us each of us by name. He will welcome you, just as He will when your last sleep comes. He loves you, and forgives you.

  • Joy Therese

    I want to say that I’m sorry for your suffering, but that seems trite and almost flippant. I sincerely hope and pray that you continue to heal, and are able to find some peace. Thank you for your difficult testimony; may God bless you!

  • Anthony S. Layne

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. Dear Kat, I don’t know what I can say, except that you have my heartfelt support and my prayers. As Christopher Lake said, Christ has forgiven you, and I hope you have come to the place where you have forgiven yourself. You are in my prayers.

  • Leticia Velasquez

    Thank your for your incredible honesty and courage for telling the awful truth. Slavery would never have ended if abolitionists hadn’t exposed the horrors of slavery, and the same is true of abortion, our great national sin. I am sharing this far and wide. May it bring women (and men who have sent them to abort) to repentance, confession and healing.

  • Nan Wooden

    Thank you for writing this; it needs to be heard. Kat, you are the voice of thousands of women who are going through the same thing and I believe you have given them some hope. I will pray for your healing and may God Bless you.

  • humbleandproudofit

    Whatever we hand over to God, God takes and heals. He can use even our falls to build beautiful things. We all know the story of St. Peter – how he denied His Master with an oath. Basically, Peter asked God to be the Witness to the lie that he knew nothing about Jesus, and this at the very time when Jesus most wished him to be beside Himself. And yet, because Peter returned to Christ, we call him “Saint”, and his rejection and thrice-repeated denial has become a source of inspiration and hope.
    But Peter still regretted. According to tradition (with “a small ‘t’ “) he had grooves on his cheeks from the tears that he had shed, and kept shedding, since Good Friday. He knew he was forgiven, he knew he was Loved, he knew the Master was using his errors to save souls (it is in Mark’s Gospel, the Mark who learned from Peter, where Peter’s stupidity shines clearest), and still he wept.
    I guess what I am trying to suggest in my clumsy way is — ask St. Pete to help you turn everything over to Our Lord. He understands far better than I do, and can help you far better as well.

  • Renee King-Alliegro

    The Lord is great and merciful. May His grace be around you now. You are in thought and prayer. And thank you for this post. You may save someone, you know.

  • Stevelsn

    Powerful testimony! It is a crime that this is foisted upon women. As many have learned, your sin may be forgiven, but the consequences live on. If our media portrayed the reality of abortion it would become far less frequent and many less victims. We pick up such an unfortunate message about sex when we’re young. We think we are too young to be married and at the same time are but brute animals who can’t and shouldn’t be chaste. Where do you encounter a message of the sacred and wonderful gift of marriage. I firmly believe that the first and only person you have sex with should be your wife. There is a bonding there that is never to be duplicated. It’s a beautiful thing to have a mate for 20, 30 or more years. Someone who you have shared the biggest part of your life with, and who shares your joys and your sorrows. I pray for you and your child. “She who is forgiven much, loves much”

  • Jeanne Chabot-Baril

    So, so sorry…

  • Nan

    How horrible. I skipped the part in the middle. I’m so sorry that you have that memory and are but one of millions with similar experiences but happy that you know God’s grace and are sharing your experience with others that they may too know God’s grace and have a better understanding of what abortion truly is. This post is truly a service to others.

  • Stephanie Richer

    I love you, Kat.

  • dmacleo

    I have no words, only tears :(

  • Nan

    I prayed for you tonight at our lovely seminary; they had Mass and have all night adoration for hope, healing and mercy. I don’t have a personal connection to abortion but wanted to be there for you, a person who has so much bitterness due to her abortion and the subsequent loss of her born child as a young adult, and society generally.

  • Theresa
  • binder890

    Bless you for your generosity toward those who are lulled by an abortion center’s soothing language, language that deliberately blurs the reality of the choice they want people to make. Yours is an authoritative voice. I’m only so, so sorry that you fell into the position of being able to speak with such authority. Who knows how many people you have saved from falling into that trap? Bless you. And may you find peace.

  • larcolant

    First, I thank your raw honesty. It is so important that women who may consider abortion as a good or viable choice understand the reality of abortion.

    For those who made this hideous choice and carry the burden of shame and regret, I can relate to every emotion expressed and unexpressed within this post and the responses.

    BUT I also understand and hope you allow me to share that we must allow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to set us free with His love and mercy. He truly does set us free!

    I believe that any woman who has had an abortion learns to shut down emotions and put up walls. The wounds and scars of abortion are deep , very deep. As such these walls are extremely difficult to dismantle, but, dismantle them we MUST!, Every brick removed requires living the anguish of the the suppressed emotions and memories that built the wall. It’s painful but much less painful and harmful then living with the lie.

    Once the wall has been removed, through the grace of God, we MUST believe in Christ’s mercy. We don’t deserve forgiveness, we don’t deserve mercy, but it is given to us as a free gift. If we continue to mire in our shame and guilt then on some level we are denying the love and mercy Jesus pours into our repentant hearts. On some level we deny his love truly is unconditional.

    I know now that my child loves me unconditionally. How could he not? He exists in the presence of God. It is not possible for him to hate, or be angry. When I was finally able to accept that my child forgives me, I could further forgive myself. I began to direct my prayer and thoughts to my baby to express my sorrow. I liken it to the intercession of the saints. Eventually I asked my son to pray for his mother and his siblings etc. He is in a place where he understands what a pathetic creature I am and how much I need God’s mercy and grace. His heart is one with God unlike mine still contaminated and corrupt with sin.

    Of course I have moments, such as, what if I am wrong?

    What if I should allow myself to go into that dark abyss of denial, shame, and guilt because I deserve it?

    How could I possible be forgiven such a horrendous sin?

    How could I have actually gone through with it, why, why, why,and so on and so forth?

    Then I ask, are these emotions and questions, that draw me into darkness, from God?

    If He wants me to believe in His love and mercy does He also want me to continue to feel such shame and guilt ?

    I once had a priest ask me in confession “how many times have you confessed this?” – me – “many times .” – he – “Never confess this again, you are forgiven!” He was correct! I kept confessing because I did not have faith in God’s mercy. My other sins might be forgiven but not this, not yet. This is almost unforgivable. I thought afterwards that he must have asked me this because he has experienced women coming to continually confess this sin. I no longer believe we are cursed to a lifetime of darkness in shame and guilt; rather, I have come to understand that while shame and guilt are part of the healing journey of repentance and forgiveness,eventually they take a far backseat to the knowledge of God’s love and mercy. The healing journey unravels the deep intertwined wounds residing deep in our psyche, in our soul. It is not easy but it is essential and it does SETS US FREE!

    We will always feel regret. How could we not? However, after sincere repentance and healing, it should not draw us into darkness. Our faith and belief in the Lord’s mercy and love should overshadow the guilt and shame, providing we are truly repentant. Therefore, I truly believe we should pray to acquire true repentance that allows God, not us, to be our judge and jury. (I thought I had dealt with my abortion but I was so very wrong, explained in the next paragraph) True repentance allows the Lord to walk us through the painful journey of healing. True repentance brings us to the place where we know and believe that we are forgiven . True repentance sets us free!

    I am a cradle Catholic I have always been an orthodox, believing
    Catholic- yes- I still had the abortion – I am more culpable then most
    women. The psyche does very strange things when a young woman is in a
    position to consider an abortion. It is very evil and very strange. 22 years
    after the abortion, I had a large family and I was living a “devout”
    (or so I thought) Catholic life. I experienced an excruciating and painful life altering event that literally put me on my knees for a long time.

    This event was so traumatic the only place I felt peace and a sense of sanity was in the presence of God during mass or sitting in front of the tabernacle. Some days I would spend hours in front of the tabernacle. God bless my husband he was so patient. Lo and behold, during this time of intense prayer I experienced a profound conversion. Initially I was not seeking to heal from my abortion. In fact, it did
    not even cross my mind because I had no awareness that I needed further healing.
    At this point in my life, many years after the abortion, I had a large family and I was living a “devout” (or so I thought) Catholic life.During this time when I engaged in profound prayer , the Lord slowly revealed the wall and the hidden wounds,while He walked me through my long ago abortion and brought me face to face with many of the hidden facets and unrevealed consequences. Eventually He set me free. I had no idea how deep and how profound an effect the abortion had on my life for all of those years, The wounds were so hidden I could not have found them on my own or even with professional help without prayer. When I emerged from the tunnel, I experienced unfathomable freedom, from worry, guilt, shame. I finally understood “He will set you free!”

    My fellow post abortive friends may I ask-

    Is our sin so serious that the Lord wants us to continue living with guilt and shame, as our penance?

    Does the painful journey of repentance and healing suffice?

    Can we truly be set free or is our sin beyond that promise?

    Are we so convinced that knowing our sin is so horrendous that we deny God’s mercy and forgiveness.

    Like all of us I am still a work in progress and will be until I draw my final breath. I don’t pretend to know it all, but I have experienced the freedom in the Lord’s compassion and mercy. He loves us unconditionally. Yes, we must repent, and we must experience the sorrow etc. We also must believe in His mercy and that He will set us free. There is no way we could survive the magnitude of our sin if He did not carry it for us.

  • Cordelia

    Just one more voice adding prayers for you and for all in that unhappy sisterhood… Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

  • Matthew Lickona

    Thank you for this.

  • Katrina Fernandez

    I don’t suffer trolls politely. So might I suggest you partake in the physical act of love with yourself. When you are through perhaps you can find the blogs of all the women who’ve died from receiving “safe and legal” abortions you loathsomely advocate.

  • Neal Meyer

    God Bless you for sharing this. Maybe in God’s providence you just saved a life somewhere. You are helping to cast off the garments of evil so people can see just how ugly it is. The devil cloaks his evil in lies, and the lies are repeated so often that people believe them. The more post abortive women sharing there stories exposes the lies for what they are. I will pray for you, and for all the victims for abortion, both the mothers and their children, and I will pray for my enemies the ones telling the lies and holding the instruments of death.

  • Rhonda White

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you felt when you went through this ordeal. I cried about the lost babies and the psychological pain caused for their mothers. (I’m not post abortive.) I’m sorry that no one seemed to notice when you tried to commit suicide. I don’t think that willing yourself to always remember what you saw was healthy, then or now. I agree with everyone who has said that in Jesus there is peace and amazing agape love. I will pray for you and other women who went thru the ordeal.

  • Brooke Burns

    You are a women of great strength and courage and I thank you for being brave enough to share your incredibly horrific experience. I know that women seeking forgiveness and compassion will find solace in your words. Your post is an answered prayer. As s pro-lifer, prayer warrior living in SF it is exhausting. I feel tired of being alone and feeling like there are no other pro-life, pro-woman people in this city. I was feeling drained and really questioning whether my prayers, our prayers, make any difference at all. And then I read your post. Tears immediately filled my eyes. God IS using these prayers and we are to be encouraged. God bless you for lifting this weary soul up and reminding me what exactly it is that I stand for. A God of love and mercy who has already won the battle!