‘Forever in my heart’: finding healing after an abortion and a stillbirth
May 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Hannah Rose Allen vividly remembers the decisive moment when she knew that she was going to choose life for her child.
At nineteen years old, this was Allen’s second pregnancy. The first had ended only a few months before with a traumatic chemical abortion that had left her empty, grieving and numb. She had tried to escape the pain by throwing herself into another relationship, only to find herself pregnant again.
Allen had scheduled a second abortion for August 15th, but on a quiet summer evening after the date had come and gone, she found herself standing outside, taking in a beautiful sunset, with her child still growing inside her. She was, she says, still trying to understand why she had not walked through those clinic doors.
“I felt like I had committed the unforgiveable sin,” she remembers. “What’s another abortion? I’ve already had one. It’s too late for me to have a successful life, a happy life, to be a Christian. It’s just too late.”
But that evening, in a moment of piercing clarity, she knew that the fact that she had not gone to Planned Parenthood on the 15th was proof that God had not abandoned her.
“He showed me that he was fighting for me and for my unborn child,” she recalls.
She felt that she had come to “a fork in the road,” and that God was revealing to her the beauty that would come if she chose life. The realization, however, opened the floodgate of fears that haunted the thought of that path: How will I face my parents? What will my future be like with a child? Will I ever get married if I’m already a mom?
But, she says, even as she was overwhelmed by those familiar doubts, she knew that the victory had been won.
“I realized that all those things no longer mattered because I knew that God would walk with me and would hold my hand and give me the strength I needed the moment I needed it,” she says. Little did Hannah Rose realize at that moment how desperately she would come to lean on the promise of that grace.
The pregnancy was a turning point in her life. When she found out she was having a girl, she named her daughter “Lily,” which means "purity and innocence," as a symbol of her renewed purity in Christ. Her first child she named “Luke Shiloh,” which she says means “light and peace.”
“In choosing life for Lily, God restored my heart that was totally broken from my abortion,” Allen says. She knew, too, that she wanted to share her story in order to encourage other young women in crisis pregnancies.
“I started to have this passion ignited within me to be a voice for these unborn children,” she says.
On March 16, 2010, two days after her due date, she arrived at the hospital ready to deliver. It had been a normal pregnancy and an ultrasound just days before had revealed a healthy, full term baby. Contractions were coming steadily, but along with the pain was the joyful expectation of finally holding her daughter in her arms.
But moments later, in the delivery room, she was living a mother’s worst nightmare. What had begun as a routine check of the baby’s heart rate quickly escalated into a frantic search for the sound of a heartbeat.
An ultrasound machine was wheeled in, and Allen’s doctor stared silently at it for a moment before delivering the devastating news: “I’m so sorry. Her heart is no longer beating.”
“I just remember turning my head from side to side and saying no, no, no,” Allen recalls.
With the support of her family, Allen labored all day to push her child’s body out. Lily Katherine Allen-Ball was born that afternoon at 4:24 PM. She was seven pounds, nine ounces, and twenty one inches long.
The nurse wrapped Lily’s tiny body and placed it in the arms of her grieving mother. She was “perfect and beautiful,” Allen remembers.
“I literally remember myself perishing under the weight of this,” she says, “In that moment I knew that God was saying, ‘You have to depend on me.’”
That night, as Allen cradled her daughter’s body and cherished the few moments that she would have with her on this earth, she knew that Lily’s name had taken on a whole new meaning. It was a symbol not just of Allen’s renewed purity but of Lily’s purity, which would now remain forever untouched.
“It just blew me away to see how [God] cared so much about my daughter that He would reveal her name to me,” says Allen. “He fought for her life because He had a greater plan and purpose for her life than I could ever have imagined.”
That purpose, she believes, is only beginning to find fulfillment in her own efforts to reach out to other pregnant and post-abortive women by sharing her story. She now maintains a website, and has spoken at the March for Life and other pro-life events.
The message of Luke and Lily’s life, Allen believes, is that “if you choose life, no matter the outcome, you’ll have no regrets.”
She adds: “These aren’t empty words from someone who doesn’t understand and has never walked this road. I can say ‘I get it’ because I truly do. I’ve walked the road twice and I’ve chosen both ways, and I will forever regret my abortion, but I will never, ever regret choosing life.”
Through her contact with other post-abortive women, Allen has also learned that, contrary to what she was told by a Planned Parenthood employee, it’s “normal and it’s perfectly ok” to grieve for a child lost through abortion.
“It’s the forbidden grief,” Allen notes. “It’s easier to talk about Lily and her loss because a lot of people look down on me for being so open about my abortion. But I feel that I’m called to be a voice for Luke and for other aborted babies, and for the women that live in shame and silence and suffer for decades.”
“God loves Luke and has a plan for his life just as much as Lily’s,” she adds. “They will both forever be in my heart.”
Hannah Rose Allen can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.