I held the pregnancy testing stick in my hand, praying not to see the second line but I didn’t have to look down to know it would be there. I’d been here before in other surprise pregnancies; my body and heart already told me what my mind could not grasp. We’d already had our “last” child. We were done having babies, and here I was: Pregnant and Pro-Life.
It’s easy to say you’re pro-life, but when push comes to shove, what does it really mean? Is the pro-life movement just people who bury their heads in the sand, people who don’t understand what challenges life presents? Is being pro-life solely about the life of the unborn or does it extend to others too?
Being Pro-Life While Losing Your Baby
Even before we knew we’d lose our first baby to an ectopic pregnancy, before I had to make a horrible choice, I was pro-life, but I didn’t fully understand what being pro-life meant and had never taken the time to connect my claiming to be pro-life with my lukewarm existence.
This ignorance ended on May 10, 1996, when I began bleeding and again on May 13th when the doctor told me with a shrug of his shoulders as he wiped off his hands, “It’s just a miscarriage.” Other dates are a blur of pain and weakness as I lived in a fog knowing my baby would die inside me.
I went in often for blood work, sitting in the ob-gyn office with smiling, happy women massaging rounded bellies, asking me how far along I was. There were times I couldn’t speak as I sat desperately hoping this unplanned child would survive, knowing it would not do so. I wondered how to explain I was closer to the end of my pregnancy than they were to theirs, even though i had a flat belly.
I’d begun bleeding at about seven weeks. Four weeks later, when the “pregnancy tissue” was finally found in my fallopian tube, I was sick and weaker than I’d thought possible. I tried to find ways to stop the “procedure,” begging the doctor to let the baby develop a little more and just be born early. I even thought about surgically moving my baby to the uterus where she would have room to grow or even to take it out and let her grow it in a dish. I cried out, “For Heaven’s sake, just do not let my baby die. ” I begged God to please not let me be the one who had to make a decision about my life or hers.
I would have gladly traded my life for that child’s, in a heartbeat, without a second thought. With all the joy my life has shown, I would still give my life for my unknown child’s – except it was not an option.
A baby implanted in the fallopian tube could not develop beyond a certain point. I was in such agonizing pain and having such difficulties because my baby was almost 11 weeks old and my tube was ready to burst. I learned being pro-life means you need to make tough choices. If I didn’t have surgery, both the baby and I would die.
Today, things have changed. I’ve heard it may be possible to move a baby from the fallopian tube, but in those days, an ectopic pregnancy meant certain death for both the baby and mother. My healthy, strong, athletic body had betrayed us both in ways I couldn’t have fathomed only a few weeks before. Knowing I chose to live rather than die with my child is a pain which will live on forever in my heart.
It would have been easier to die with my first baby than to have gone on living but this is not what being pro-life is about.
12 Years Later & Another Surprise Pregnancy
Being pro-life is about making hard choices. It’s about valuing life, even when it’s a sacrifice to do so. It’s about learning to find joy again and to trust in the Lord for the plan He has for you.
Twelve years after losing my first baby and making a horrible decision to save my own life, I held another pregnancy stick in my hand and watched the second line creep up.
This time, things were different. We had four wonderful, healthy children proving the doctors wrong. I still wonder despite even my own desperate research, whether we could somehow have saved our first baby, the one who lives in heaven and in my heart.
Our youngest had started kindergarten; our oldest had started middle school. My husband had a hard job, but it was a job he loved and took pride in. I was a part-time youth minister. The home we had built was nearing completion. Life was good.
The stick with the two pink lines was going to change things. I questioned God’s giving us this baby. I questioned why He hadn’t given it to a loving, infertile couple. I selfishly wanted our time back, time we had planned to travel, to put in the pool table and basketball set and bar in the basement. Time and money to do things which had eluded us for so long.
Things did change. I had to be put on a home IV and developed complications until the final PICC line was put in. The baby was at high risk for Grave’s Syndrome, and, in the perfect storm, Facebook came into play that year and my husband reconnected with a girl he’d dated 20 years earlier. This girl was now a wealthy woman, living as we’d planned for so many of those early years.
We’d entered the perfect storm, and five months after conceiving our baby in love, I was a suddenly single mom, pregnant with four scared, confused little boys ages five to 11. No fault divorce and society’s acceptance of divorce have crushed women and families, and we were no exception. The financial hardships we endured and, continue to face to some measure, were incredible. We would not have survived without family and friends who got us through in relative comfort. The emotional devastation of sudden abandonment is still impossible to describe accurately.
Never once, though, not when dealing with my hyperemesis gravid arum or the thought of having a child with complications or when my husband left or when we lost our home, did I consider any choice other than to offer this precious child life. This is what being pro-life is about.
There are those who say they couldn’t have a child alone, and since starting my website, Single Mom Smiling, I’ve had people say incredibly encouraging things and others write to express anger and shock at my husband and this other woman, but I’ve also had women from all over write about similar stories.
There are more stories than one might think, stories about men walking out on pregnant girlfriends and on pregnant wives too, about men who desert newborns, leaving postpartum mothers to care for children alone. Courageous, loving, overwhelmed women who don’t understand what has happened to their lives but who give their child life. Being pro-life, even in the face of adversity and abandonment, gives these women love and someone to hold onto.
What Being Pro-Life Really Means
Being pro-life means choosing life over your own desires. It means giving hope and a chance at love when the world tells you you’re not enough. Being pro-life means choosing life when the choices aren’t what you want them to be.
Being pro-life is the faith-filled diabetic woman who chooses to fight her fear and carry her unplanned child. Being pro-life is the family supporting this woman and unknown baby, knowing both are at risk and your heart may break if you hope too much. Being pro-life is understanding sometimes babies happen for reasons we don’t understand and loving all parties unconditionally.
Being pro-life is the woman who has cancer and finds alternative treatments getting her baby to the point where she will survive before beginning treatments. Being pro-life is the neighbor who cooks dinners and helps with laundry and housework and childcare while the mom is on bed rest.
Being pro-life is seeing the mom in the grocery store with children hanging off her and on her and under her, children whining, with runny noses, and lying on the floor having a fit and, instead of making snide comments, reaching out to help, offering a kind word, an understanding glance, and an empathetic smile.
Being pro-life is about seeing girls brought in to have abortions and realizing many of these girls are sexual victims rather than promiscuous teens. It’s about researching and posting pictures of missing children and sex-trafficked victims and holding people and politicians accountable.
Being pro-life is about teaching young people they are valued and worth waiting for and there are alternatives to pleasure in the here and now. It’s about teaching those who have already had sex they still have worth. They don’t need to give themselves away to the next guy. They don’t prove masculinity through sexual prowess and there are always choices beyond Planned Parenthood and abortion.
Being pro-life is about courage and talking to another about what a mistake your abortion was. It’s about being honest with yourself and with others who may follow your path so that changes in direction can be made and lives can be saved. Being pro-life is about overcoming your mistakes because you now know better and so you now do better.
Being pro-life is about teaching our boys and young men they cannot be excluded from this discussion because these choices affect them deeply. Being pro-life is about men knowing they are leaders and life is not a woman’s issue because these babies are their children, their flesh and blood, their legacies.
Being pro-life is about stepping out of your comfort zone to stand, to be gawked at, yelled at, and flipped off outside the abortion clinic in silent, prayerful hope. It’s about speaking out at schools and in churches. It’s about recognizing abortion tempts Catholics and Christians and older women and mothers too. It’s about watching what you say and jokes you make when you don’t realize the impact your words may have. It’s about listening and reaching out.
Being pro-life is about letting your story be known. It’s about standing up and speaking out. Being pro-life is about Faith, Hope, and Love in a better tomorrow.