Raquel Kato is currently telling her story through her book I’m THAT Girl; Profile of a College Girl with an Unplanned Pregnancy, tentatively due out in January 2014. I also included a love letter she wrote her little girl. The story below was written in her 39th week of pregnancy. She has since delivered AvaMarie Rose, but I wanted to include her touching and vulnerable perspective here.
So…I’m pregnant. I’m 21, single, a senior in college, and yes, I’m that girl. It happened on my 21st birthday. Most people get to enjoy a few too many drinks, and possibly a bad headache the next day for their 21st birthday. My experience was a little different. I was that girl that got way too drunk, that girl that was insecure, that girl that had a random hookup, that girl that couldn’t say no, that girl that got pregnant.
It should be understood that one drunken hook-up did not change my life. The devil had been working through the details for years leading up to this. He had been working the day I had my first illegal drink of alcohol. He was there when I lost my virginity to a guy I hardly knew. He was there when I lost all self-respect and repeatedly got drunk and acted promiscuously. He was there when I searched for guy after guy for security. The devil was there the day after all those miserable hookups, feeding the thoughts of unworthiness and self-hate into my head. The devil was working the whole time. It’s no surprise that on my 21st birthday, I got drunk “justifiably” because it was my birthday, and had sex with some guy. It was no surprise at all; in fact the devil had this in the works for many years.
Fortunately, God was working this whole time too.
The day I saw those two lines indicating a positive result, my whole world completely turned upside down. I was living every young girl’s worst nightmare. I was pregnant. At the time I found out I was pregnant, I was single, alone, and afraid. I literally felt I had no one to turn to. The weight of my own embarrassment, shame, self-hatred, and loss of self-worth was too much to bear and I never told a single soul I was pregnant and scheduled an abortion even though I knew to my very core it was wrong. The devil works when we are alone, and that’s exactly what I was – alone. Inside I was desperately screaming “Who could possibly love me?” There was no way I could tell anyone. I was afraid. I was afraid no one would love me if they knew that I had gotten pregnant. Being raised Catholic all of my life I was well versed in Church teaching on abortion. I knew that every aspect of it was wrong; it was emotionally, scientifically, theologically, spiritually, and fundamentally wrong – yet I was still going to do it.
However, God loved me too much to let me off the hook. The days leading up to my abortion, I would attend mass. I would sit in the very back, by myself, head down the entire time. I would shamefully watch other people receive the Eucharist as I sat there, unworthy of it. The weekend right before my scheduled abortion God pierced my soul with His unconditional, perfect love. It was as if all the readings and the homily were directed specifically at me. That day at mass I learned about God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness. I had obviously known intellectually about forgiveness and mercy, but that day was different. That day, God gave me the grace to feel His presence and his mercy and forgiveness in my heart. For the first time I knew with every ounce of my being that God DID love me as much as he loved the little life inside of me. For the first time in over a month of depression and turmoil and shame, I felt loved – in the midst of my brokenness. I realized that God gifted me not only with my life, but also entrusted to me the life growing inside me. In that moment I felt overwhelming peace and the courage to offer my life back to God as a gift and do His will, no matter how scared I was. By the grace of God alone, I cancelled my abortion.
That day changed me forever. I know His love is real; He has confirmed it to me time and time again. God confirmed His love for me when I finally built up the courage to tell my parents I was pregnant; my parents never condemned me, but instead embraced me and loved me and supported me. God confirmed His love for me when I finally went to confession and the priest praised me for my choice of life and gave me the grace to forgive myself. God confirmed His love for me when I told my friends and they not once judged me, but loved me and affirmed me of my worth. God confirmed His love for me when my doctor never questioned my age or why I didn’t have a husband and instead rejoiced in the development of the baby inside me. God confirmed His love for me every day at mass when I witness His sacrifice for me, so that I, a broken girl, could be forgiven and come to know Him.
I am now proud to say I am 39 weeks pregnant with a beautiful little girl. Any day I will get to hold this beautiful gift of life. I am proud to say that I have given my life back to God as a witness to life as I am one of the few, if not only pregnant girl attending a secular university. I also have a new-found passion for helping the broken women found in an unplanned pregnancy as a volunteer advisor at our local Pregnancy Resource Center. Finally, I share my story with anyone and everyone, with just the small hope that another broken person can feel loved and know his/her life is truly a gift and that they are valued as a child of God. Life truly is a precious gift, and I’m so blessed that God gave me the grace to understand that, even in the midst of brokenness.
March 14, 2012
Hello little baby,
I love you.
I really do and you MUST know that. You’re the size of a grape, at least that’s what I read in these pregnancy books. I hope you know that you are precious and amazing and wonderful. I’m sooo sorry my mistakes may make you wonder if I love you, but I do. I love you so so so much. You are NOT a mistake. In fact, you were perfectly planned in my life by God….I’m serious. You saved my life and you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are a beautiful gift, and I’m so blessed and lucky to have you in me (even though this morning sickness is killing me).
I want you to know exactly what happened, so hopefully one day you can forgive me. So, I will be completely honest. You were conceived on my 21st birthday. I was drunk – celebrating my “monumental” birthday. I was insecure. I was irresponsible. I slept with a guy I had classes with, but he wasn’t a boyfriend, just someone I knew. I found out later that month when my period didn’t come, and five pregnancy tests later, I accepted the truth. I was pregnant. I’m not going to lie and tell you it was an exciting thing to find out, being so young, single, and in college. In fact it was one of the scariest things ever. But, know that when there is fear, it is the devil. The devil made me afraid, because that is how he works. He works through fear. That’s exactly what I was – afraid. The devil started feeding my head with lies.
He told me “you are an idiot, a screw-up; no one is going to love you when they find out. How embarrassing, I can’t believe you let this happen. You know what you need to do, you need to get rid of this, that’s the only way…”
I was so afraid I scheduled an abortion. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t think right –my whole world was dark and lonely. I was just so afraid and ashamed and embarrassed. I was selfish is what it comes down to.
Everything about the word abortion felt wrong. It made me sick. I was anxious, my stomach was in perpetual knots – but I was so blinded by fear that I was going to do it anyway.
Thanks to God, I was saved. You were saved. God wanted you to be here so badly that he saved us. It was the weekend before Ash Wednesday. At mass he pierced my heart with his perfect love. It was the first time in my life that I saw the Eucharist and I knew. I knew that God forgave me, that he loved me, that I wasn’t alone, that you were meant to live, and that we were meant to have a new life in Him.
If it weren’t for you, I don’t know that I would ever know God the way I do now. You saved my life. You are the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. You gave me a chance to make my brokenness something beautiful. I know everyone thinks you were a result of an unplanned pregnancy, but I don’t see it that way. Because you were planned. You were planned by God in his perfect timing and I couldn’t be more blessed. I love you little one, and never forget that.