Warning: This is a LONG post, but I hope it is worth it. I would break it up into two, but it needs to be said at once. It is my personal story, about which many people in my past know part of, but don’t know the whole. Again, it is MY PERSONAL STORY, so you can come away thinking whatever opinion you want to when I am done, but it won’t change my truth.
Funnily enough, when I was a teenager, I was passionately Pro-Choice. I even won a debate about it once and felt all proud and progressive…but God has a way of knocking you on your butt when you get too high and mighty. He bonked me right on the head, I assure you.
There are three reasons I am pro-life.
1: I am a Christian–A Catholic Christian at that, so by default, I believe in respecting life from conception until natural death. That goes for abortion, death penalty, euthanasia…all of it. There are lots of ways to defend the Christian view of it and lots of ways to be attacked by people who disagree. I am not here to spark that debate today.
2: My husband and I are struggling with infertility. This is a heart-wrenching complex issue, which I will save for another post. Suffice it to say, I would gladly be the next Octo-mom or give birth to a litter of puppies at this point if I could just get pregnant. If I could get around the red tape and just stand at the door of the hospital and take home any unwanted babies, I would. If I could make enough money to pay the exorbitant fees to bureaucrats to adopt the little orphans of the world, I would. We want a blended family anyway, so our options are open. I am not without hope that I could be on an episode of “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” someday and will go to the bathroom and come out with a baby.
3. My son. This is a HUGE reason. I have been between the rock and hard place. I have been at the bottom of the pit of despair. I have been inside Planned Parenthood begging for someone to end my life or my unborn child’s. And God gave me salvation in the form of a brown-eyed morsel of humanity that he entrusted to me…because He intended to.
Today, you will hear about my third reason. I hope to give hope to at least one person out there. If just one girl hears my story and makes the decision to bring her baby into the world, then I would be so glad.
I was your average dumb girl. I mean, I was super-smart in school. I made top grades and behaved myself rather well, but I was dumb. I thought, like every other teenager I have ever met, that I was invincible. Bad things happened to other people, but they wouldn’t happen to me. Even when my best friend got pregnant, I was unfazed. It would not happen to me. Until it did.
My boyfriend and I had been together since I was in 10th grade. I loved walking around school wearing his letterman jacket and riding in the middle of the bench seat of his truck. I had big plans of attending Florida State. Perfectly perfect teenage life. We had fooled around a little, but honestly, sex was extremely seldom, like maybe 5 times in all three school years…which was more frequent than any girl my age should have been having sex. Anyway, I swear to you, dear reader, I SWEAR it, I knew the very instant I was pregnant. And we actually used protection. Turns out that 1% was me. A sudden fear gripped me and I honestly prayed I would just die rather than tell my parents what had happened.
I was in 12th grade, about 2 months from graduation. Like, I said, big plans to go to college. I was working at a drug store and stole a pregnancy test… I intended on paying for it, but I had to find out the truth first and I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing in the meantime. I went into the bathroom at work and took the test and then laid it on the ceramic sink while I huddled in a corner and prayed for 5 minutes. I got up and saw the stupid pink plus sign and immediately threw up. I had convulsions. I pulled myself together and tried to figure out a plan. Do I tell the father? What if he wanted me to keep it? I couldn’t raise a baby! That would mean giving birth, first of all, and I couldn’t be pregnant because I couldn’t tell anyone because my parents would kill me. By my calculations, I was only about 3 weeks pregnant. I looked up pictures on the internet: it didn’t look like anything. It looked like a germ more than anything. I could do it, I could get an abortion.
I called my boyfriend after work and told him. He is a very big, tough guy. He has cried exactly 6 times in his whole life, I think, including when he was a baby. This was one of those times. His fear crippled him, too, and he agreed we should just get it over with and never speak of it ever again. I still wrestled with what I should do, but my fear was winning over my heart. I don’t even remember why, because I was not eating or sleeping well and finals were coming up and prom and all kinds of things that happen at the end of senior year, but we didn’t get to Planned Parenthood for another two and half weeks. After unsuccessfully attempting to terminate the pregnancy with diet pills, I had half convinced myself that I could hide my pregnancy and early enroll into FSU and be 6 hours away from home and my parents would be none the wiser. I would give birth right before Christmas break, give the baby up and go on with my life. I actually knew of 3 girls in high school that hid pregnancies, so this seemed like a viable option. I told you I was dumb.
The afternoon of our secret visit, I was sitting in AP Economics and I suddenly had horrible cramping and rushed to the bathroom. I was bleeding, which scared me instead of relieved me. I had been trying to self-destruct for weeks now and was finally making head-way and here I was getting scared. I called my boyfriend and he picked me up at the edge of the school and we went to the clinic in the next town over. I explained my story to the lady, who clucked her tongue and took me back into a dark, wood-panelled room. She gave me a test and told me to take it in the bathroom. I could barely take the test, I was doubled over in pain and crying. She read the results and then her face turned white and she said I was pregnant, no doubt about it, but she thought I was maybe having an ectopic pregnancy and that I could die without immediate medical attention. To say this horrified me was an understatement. Yes, I had thought of laying down in traffic, but now that I was actually dying, it was a whole different thing.
My boyfriend rushed me to an emergency room, and I could barely stand up. The intake people asked for my parents’ names and insurance…and I begged them to just send me a bill to my boyfriend’s house and I would pay it myself, however long it took. My boyfriend meanwhile called his mother, who showed up looking ready to throttle me, but who ended up soothing me and reassuring me that it would be ok. I waited FOUR hours in the waiting room, crying and nearly passing out from pain and fear. My boyfriend had sneaked off to call my parents, who showed up almost literally breathing fire, and snatched me up in a blanket and laid me down in the backseat of the car. No one said a word. My mother took me to the hospital in our own town and I was immediately seen by a doctor.
“Well, little girl, you are most certainly pregnant. It is not an ectopic pregnancy and you are not having a miscarriage right now. You have a severe UTI and kidney infection, likely caused by the diuretics you swallowed and your stress. We will get you on some antibiotics and hydrate you and you and your baby will live…..would you like to see a picture of your baby?”
He spun the monitor around so I could see and I saw a little, throbbing peanut. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was six weeks pregnant. My baby had brain function, a heartbeat, movement, ears, blood, and very tiny webby-like hands. I couldn’t see all this, but this was something I was told. In that moment, there is nothing I wanted more in the world than that baby, come what may.
It was weeks before my family would actually talk to me, except my mother. My mom and I have butted heads many a time, but she was just so mother-y exactly when I needed her to be. She expertly helped me sell my beat up old car and get a more “family” type vehicle. She withdrew me from FSU and ordered me to enroll in the local college because giving up my education would do more harm than good. She told me I had to get a better paying job and helped me find a job at a radiologist’s office, which was cool because I could look at my baby almost every day.
My relationship with my boyfriend was becoming more and more strained and my life was certainly nothing like I wanted it to be, but the moment that brown-eyed boy was laid in my arms, all wrapped up like a little Indian pappoose, I knew I had made the right decision in keeping my baby.
My son’s father and I never did get married, but we share 50/50 custody of Jackson. He is, and always will be, very special to me. We have a good co-parenting relationship and have both moved on into healthy adult relationships. My husband is a wonderful step-father and gets along quite well with my ex and his family. I realize I am luckier than most.
It took me six years instead of four, but I completed college with two degrees. I went to school non-stop, even in summer, taking 3 classes at a time each semester during the year and 2 in the summer. I continued to work, sometimes two jobs at once, to make ends meet. It sucked, and it was hard, and I certainly missed the time I would have had with my little boy, but I did what I had to do.
Now, I know there are horrible stories out there. Girls and women that have been raped. Women living on the streets or girls tossed from foster home to foster home. I know that the economy sucks and babies can be expensive and lots of women are left by dead-beat dads. I cannot speak for everyone and all of the trouble and atrocities they may have endured. There are also some pretty awful women that probably shouldn’t be mothers and are, and my heart bleeds for the babies that should have been given a better opportunity in life—but they are not better off dead, because even they have a purpose which we cannot fathom. Imagine how many great people we have killed legally since 1972–people who may have had the key to curing cancer or AIDS in their tiny little brains, people who may have grown up to be wonderful people of all walks of life.
I cannot judge anyone if they make a decision to terminate a pregnancy. It isn’t my place to. As a Christian, I am called to admonish a sinner by standing up for what is right and pointing out when something is wrong, but that isn’t the same as judging. I realize that many, if not most, of the girls and women that find themselves in similar predicaments do not have the kind of mom I have, but that is why it IS my job to be a beacon of hope and a source of love for them. It is my job to spread love one way or the other—either by encouraging a young woman to make a better life for herself and her baby either by finding a way or by giving her baby to a loving home to give it its best chance at life, or by loving a girl or woman past her pain after an abortion and help guide her to the Mother of all mothers (who was also a poor, initially unwed teen mother) who will heal broken hearts, and to her Son, who will hide her in His hands. This is not accomplished by shaming or by screaming at people holding mean signs, and certainly not by any violence. Many times, so-called Christians take the wrong route and leave the Christ part out of it. Shame on them for that, because Christ only calls us to love. He challenged the men that were going to stone the adulterous woman by asking which of them was without sin. He also forgave that poor woman and told her to go and sin no more. He didn’t condone her actions, but He let her know that she was forgiven and that correcting her path was the way to be healed–“sin no more”. We cannot help to heal the broken-hearted without forgiveness, and we cannot help to heal our country by condoning sin.
For me, I cannot be pro-choice because I believe so strongly that every little life has a purpose and that God will find a way for you and for that little life, whether to keep you together, or to give you new, separate lives with a second chance. You can always make your own decisions, because ultimately, we all have freewill. However, we are called to make Christ-filled decisions, which means making the decision He would make for us: to do no harm, love unceasingly and trust in God with all our hearts, minds, and souls. He doesn’t forget the ravens, and how much more He loves you.