This fictional vignette describes some of the thoughts and emotions a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy may experience.
The course of my life would be changed forever. It wasn't as if a smile spread across my boyfriend's face when I gave him the news. Rather, his once-adoring gaze that could infuse my very soul with unquenchable passion turned to cold, hard steel.
"It's a bad time. How are you going to handle it?"
My mother took the news like a heavy blow to the gut. The color drained from her face as all that I had ever been to her spiraled into a vortex of disappointment and disgrace. I would have killed to take it back.
I walked past a picket line of people shouting, "Choose life!" The sound of my own inner voice drowned their voices, "It's my life or hers, isn't it?"
In the waiting room, four women sat in silence. One woman's hands trembled and made her magazine rustle. Another woman broke into convulsive sobbing and then pulled herself together with deep breaths. No one seemed to notice that the harsh green fluorescent lights kept growing brighter until it seemed like everything hidden beneath the surface of everything was visible. I could see the fetuses. They were playing with their hands, stretching their legs, even moving their lips as if talking to each other, but their voices were too small to be heard. The tears seemed to come out of nowhere. Her heart was no bigger than a passing thought. Why, then, could I hear it beat in a syncopated rhythm with my own? I told the receptionist I'd like to reschedule. She nodded, and I left.
I quit my job and sat night after night in a quiet room, studying my options. The adoption agency brought files with pictures. The one I liked was that of a speech pathologist. She and her husband stood on the lawn in front of a large brick house. I imagined her first day of kindergarten with them. She was wearing a ruffled blouse with jeans that had fancy little pockets. She hugged them goodbye. But, before disappearing behind the school doors, she turned around and looked straight at me. Her glistening eyes seemed to whisper, "Why, Mommy?" The overwhelming question slammed me down onto my knees. Why, indeed? Bad timing, disgrace, because I couldn't handle it? I found myself praying, "Lord, God, help me to handle it."
"I will," He answered. "I will take care of you both."
I learned to pray. I learned to pray through childhood, through her teen years, through college, through all the ups and downs and twists and turns life takes you while trying to make sense of this world.
Then it was her wedding day. I was lost as flickering candlelight gently danced on the faces of all those who had gathered to watch her get married. They were speaking of how she brings life to everything and everyone she touches, how there is no one like her, what a great wife and mother she will be. My husband of 20 years radiated pride as he walked her down the pedal-strewn aisle. My son-in-law looked on with delight and devotion. But, before saying her vows, she turned and looked straight at me. Her glistening eyes seemed to whisper, "I love you, Mommy."
The course of my life was changed forever.
Susan Graves is a pregnancy and abortion counselor. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.