Sunday, December 1, 2013

How my pregnancy will help me minister in unplanned pregnancies

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I mentioned before that I was surprised to find myself nervous after my positive pregnancy test.  (I ended up taking a total of 5--just to be sure!)  I realized in those first few days that if I could be nervous, an unplanned pregnancy in the midst of a life just not ready for such an event could be just too overwhelming.  I knew this of course.  I've volunteered at pregnancy centers before and I have some experience with these situations.  But I knew my own experience was going to be helpful in the future.

When we learned that our baby had serious deformities that were not compatible with life outside the womb, there were many of the opinion that an "interruption" or "therapeutic" abortion or "termination" was the best option.  These weren't all medical opinions and this opinion came from more people than you would think.

Because of my job and the complexity of the situations I have seen, I have always had the ability to have a more balanced perspective on the pro-life issue.  I wasn't shocked by those who thought it best.  I wasn't angry at them.  I understood.  These were people who cared about me and worried about what carrying to term could result in.  What risks could I be taking, seemingly unnecessarily?  I happened to be that rare case that makes many pro-lifers say "This is the exception"--the life of the mother.

But I knew no matter what watered-down term I used, I couldn't end my pregnancy.  Here's how I saw it: I had a dear friend who meant the world to me die when we were 17 years old.  His life was shorter than it should have been and his mother couldn't have known that.  If she did, and she too was a "high-risk" pregnancy, do I think she would have decided it was an unnecessary risk because he would die young?  No, and I can't imagine if he had never lived.

I wasn't currently at risk.  My health was an extremely flimsy excuse because my health was great--totally fine, no ill-effects from pregnancy whatsoever.  No parent knows if their child will live a long, full life.  If we started being able to tell parents that their children would die at 2 or 5 or 12 or 34, would that change their desire to have their baby?

I also told my husband that this baby was an answered prayer.  He had been prayed into existence for some time and no matter what was "wrong" with him, God had given him to us.  We had trusted in God's providence to give us our baby blessing.  How could we possibly just suddenly say, Sorry, God, we wanted you to be involved when we could be happy about things, but now that we know it's not going well, we're just going to step in and take over.

I do, however, think that anyone desiring to champion the pro-life cause should spend some time understanding the stories of those who choose abortion.  Far too often I encounter individuals passionate about outlawing abortion who have very little experience "in the trenches".  I have never been to the March for Life or stood outside of a Planned Parenthood with a sign.  But I have sat with numerous women who have good reason to fear their pregnancy and what they will need to do or what someone might do to them when they find out she is pregnant.

A few days before we learned our baby was gone, we attended the Mass for the Unborn.  We had planned to attend for months, especially since we had an unborn to bring.  Our recent diagnosis did not deter us.  But I found myself quite disappointed by the Mass.  It was for the unborn after all, but I think our baby was the only unborn in attendance.  I wish the Mass had been set up to encourage expectant mothers to come.  I wish the reserved guests of honor seats had been for these mothers.  I wish that at the very least we would have been asked to stand and receive a blessing.  But the Mass seemed less for the unborn and more of just another opportunity to reiterate that all of these abortions occur every day and it's awful and we are against it.  I found it very one-sided.  There was no affirmation of the unborn and most of the people in attendance were people who were around long before abortion was legal--people who would more likely have easily been against abortion.

There was no mention of the difficult circumstances that can lead to abortion and how we can fix them and there was no mention of poor women like myself who may very well find their health in danger.  We need pro-life supporters to understand the complexities of why abortion can seem like a valid option.  There is no way to be effective otherwise.

I decided to carry my baby to term and even began preliminary funeral planning (this was surprisingly therapeutic one day).  But I had the benefit of a strong faith, a good financial situation, a supportive spouse, and relatively good health (at least in that moment).  Women get abortions because they think there is no better option.  It would be better for us to make it seem like there are better options than to fight and fight legislation.  We should get in there and get our hands dirty helping women (and men) in difficult situations.

If you consider yourself pro-life, I encourage you to look for ways to volunteer to at pregnancy centers to be a part of the solution.  Learn about and try to understand these women.  See how they can feel the way that they do.  And then if you still want to stand outside in the freezing cold, go to the March for Life :-)

4 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Damning people will never be a solution.

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  2. You are wise, my friend. This is a message that many of us need to hear (and be reminded of).

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  3. Kelley, I just have to tell you that you are such an amazing mom. You are so courageous, and I'm so proud to have you as my cousin. Malachi was blessed to be carried so lovingly by someone who cared for him, prayed for him, and honored his life, however brief it was. I love you guys!

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