my story and the inspiration
behind the Buttons Project
So often we look at other people, and think they have got it all together.
But you never know the journey someone else has travelled.
My name is Marina and I am a New Zealander. My husband, Peter, and I have been married for 30+years, and we have three adult children. Over the years, our marriage—like everyone else’s—has had its ups and downs. But we also carried within our hearts a deep and secret loss. A loss which we could not grieve for or talk about openly.
Before we got married I found out that I was pregnant. Peter was the father and we were both very young; I was only 20. My emotions were very up and down, I was scared and confused. Would Peter leave me? Would I be bringing up another child without a father? I knew what it was like to not know your father, as I myself had grown up in a so-called blended family. We didn’t tell very many people about the pregnancy, but many of those who did know, said that we would never get ahead in life if we kept the baby, and that we should get rid of it. There was much pressure—and no discussion of any other options.
Peter accompanied me to the abortion clinic, where I met with a counsellor. She agreed with my anxieties, indicated it was “for the best”, and promised to hold my hand during the procedure. I was still frightened and confused, but agreed to go through with it. I was awake during the whole thing and felt the suction: it took all of 10 minutes to change my life. Although my main feeling at the time was numbness, that day is forever etched in my memory. I will never forget the other women in the recovery room crying for the babies they had lost.
A part of me died. I changed from an outgoing girl to someone who was more withdrawn, more within myself. Few people close to me knew what had happened; not my friends, didn’t tell my parents. It would have been their first grandchild.
I realized quickly there was no place to openly grieve our loss. Our marriage became marked by periods of private depression, when I mourned the loss of our baby. I was often distant, withdrawn. Peter too was suffering but he dealt with it inside and didn’t want to show it. He wanted to put it all behind us. We had difficulty communicating. I suffered emotionally and physically. As our family grew, I would look at our children and see their similarities and wonder which sibling our first baby would have most resembled. I still wonder. And, yes, sometimes there are still tears.
Over the past few years, however, I have grown as a person, as a wife and as mother to my children. Peter and I were able to come to a point where we grieved together, which enabled us to move forward. I have walked a long road to grace and forgiveness—and it is because of this healing that I can now talk about it openly. The abortion experience has never left me, and for years I have wondered how to give other women like myself a safe place to grieve; how to give them a way to commemorate the babies lost. For there is no grave we can visit, no place to lay flowers, no tangible way of remembering them.
Then I came across the story of the Paper Clip Project, and the idea for the Buttons Project was born. My journey of healing has led to strength and hope—and a passion to help others who have been through a similar experience. Sending in a button or a story won’t heal anyone in and of itself, but it is a place to start….or one of many steps for someone already on the journey to healing.
I named our aborted baby, “Hope”. Hope for the future; hope to be a good mum, wife and friend: hope to make a positive difference in this world. And so I have started the project by giving a button. It is for my baby, Hope, and for me. It is for hope in the future and peace with the past. It is for closure, and to commemorate something that was a part of us.
I look forward to receiving many, many more buttons—and to hearing your comments and stories.
We have written a booklet "The Unforgotten Babies" The inspiration behind the Buttons Project. It is part of my abortion story and journey of healing. Along with my husband Peter, sharing from a male perspective, which is often not heard. If you are interested in this booklet, which also has links to where to get help, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or order through https://goo.gl/forms/g0LPL8ioaSZ3AmDg1