Just seventeen…

Cheerleader, gymnast and aspiring writer. Contestant in an upcoming national teen beauty pageant. Honor student, blue ribbon artist and art director for the school yearbook. Scholarship applicant to a prestigious women’s college. Nursing home volunteer and much-loved only daughter…

Pregnant.

As she looked in the full-length mirror, she tried to imagine how this would all play out. Her parents would be furious, disappointed…would they even want her anymore? Her friends, incredulous…her reputation had been above reproach, now she was the ultimate hypocrite. How could she even do this? She looked at her thin, small frame and tried to imagine how she would be able to conceal a pregnancy, or at least wondered how long she could.

And so she did. For four months she said nothing to no one. Her boyfriend had begun to suspect, and questioned her continually, swearing that he would stand by her…that he truly loved her and would love their child. She just couldn’t process the information…his love wasn’t enough to penetrate the dark fog that had begun to gather around her.

She contemplated abortion. She knew other girls who had done it. Was it really all that bad? Just a quick trip to the local clinic and good as new. Yet, somehow, in the depths of her heart she knew there would never be a “good as new” with such a decision. She knew there was a tiny life growing within her and she must protect it. So she waited as long as she possibly could before she told.

The reactions were as expected. Her boyfriend was supportive and insisted that they marry as soon as possible. Her parents were devastated and prophesied the end of all her hopes and dreams. Her friends laughed and said “right…good joke…you, pregnant? I don’t believe it…” Her tearful insistence soon demonstrated just how serious the situation was. In her small high school, teachers with hurtful/helpful suggestions visited her daily. She was mortified. Her head was filled with a chorus of “abort it!” “give it up!” “keep it!” She knew this nameless “it” was her child, yet she felt like such a child herself…

Her mother, who had always been so very proud of her good girl, was in total crisis. She left home for a week to visit her own mother, looking for solace during the emotional storm that was raging within the household. When she returned, she asked her daughter if she wanted an abortion. The poor, beleaguered child said, “no…I can’t…please don’t make me.” Her mother, weeping as though her heart would break said “I just don’t know what to do…but I won’t make you if you don’t want it. Years ago, I was forced into a decision like this, told that it was medically necessary to terminate my pregnancy. You were twelve…you never knew and I’ve never gotten over it. We’ll figure this out…” This sad teenager looked into her mother’s sorrowful eyes, heartbroken at having never known the burden and loss that she had carried for so many years for the child that had been taken  and mourned ever since. Now there was another child, unborn and waiting…its fate resting in the hands of this mother and her child.

The poor, worried mother of this pregnant teenager looked in the phonebook for help. Planned Parenthood seemed the most obvious choice…the ad said they offer pregnancy counseling and this poor family needed help. So, on a cold, windy-rainy April day, mother and daughter went to Planned Parenthood for advice. Oh, the irony of such a name for such an organization! There was never any talk of parenthood, planned or otherwise. This frightened girl and her mother were barraged with effective and compassionate insistence that the pregnancy be terminated; there was no other choice that could possibly be considered. How would this young woman with such a promising future ever manage a child? How could her frail body even accommodate a full-term pregnancy? These fear tactics were powerfully persuasive and for a brief moment both mother and daughter wavered. The mother said “I thought this was Planned Parenthood…that you helped girls who were going to be parents. Don’t you have any literature or at least the name of an obstetrician that my daughter could see? We aren’t looking for an abortion.” How hard it must have been for her to say those words! Yet she did, and the embarrassed “counselor” rifled through the bottom drawer of her desk and pulled out a couple pamphlets on fetal development. The young girl rifled through the first one, and quickly turned to the incredibly detailed photograph of a fetus, four months gestation, just the age of the little one that was growing inside her. She was shocked as she looked at two hands…ten fingers and ten toes…large eyes and delicate features…she looked back at the woman sitting at the desk, who was now looking in the phonebook for an obstetrician’s phone number and realized, with horror, that this woman had only ever considered the death and never the life of her child. She looked at the little one in the photo and placed her hand on her swollen abdomen…she had been feeling the slightest little fluttering for several days now, wondering what they were, but that picture seemed to confirm that her baby was moving inside her and not only was this child alive, it was…

…a life. A life separate and yet dependent upon her, even now in all her fear and uncertainty. There was only one direction from here…

With the love, encouragement and support of two families, this young girl…this young couple…succeeded in spite of every obstacle. A beautiful little girl with bright red hair and enormous blue eyes was born to them, and became the light of their lives, a joy they had never planned but praised God for. This young couple learned how to be husband and wife, mother and father, and welcomed another eight planned and unplanned miracles into their lives, never ceasing to marvel at the beauty of each new life. Grandchildren followed, a gift from that first little one saved from the horrors of abortion, and now mother to four precious little girls of her own.

And then another test. One cold November day, a frightened twenty-two year old called home and with sorrow and many tears, told her mother she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, who had become involved with another woman, had told her to abort the child, and for a brief moment, this young mother thought perhaps she should. Oh, the heartbreak! But the “choice” was really no choice at all…it was life, presenting itself under the most difficult and challenging circumstances and yet waiting to be affirmed. This sweet girl, with the help of her mother, father and extended family chose that LIFE. The pregnancy became complicated and both mother and child were in danger, yet after an emergency delivery and an extended stay in the NICU, a sweet little boy was welcomed into the family. He lights up his mother’s life and every room as soon as he enters…

This is my story.

I was that frightened seventeen year old girl who knew so very little of life, yet in choosing it for my unborn child, was given so much more than I ever dreamed. Nine children. Five grandchildren. An adoring husband of thirty one years and the most amazing and supportive parents on both sides. I could never have predicted the life of love and grace that came from that difficult choice, but I’ve since learned that God presents the best gifts under the most trying circumstances. We’ve tried hard to show appropriate thanks for all He’s given us and have never wavered in our understanding that God Himself is the ultimate giver and advocate for life.

“Pro-life.” It’s more than just a slogan on a banner or bumper sticker. It is what we do and how we choose to live. It is the way we vote, the way we worship and the way we think. There will always be difficulties to overcome, but it is in the overcoming that we show the depth of our love and trust in the goodness of God and in the beauty of living.

Blessings,

***This is a post I’ve promised my Father in Heaven for many years…it took awhile to find the words but the time seemed so right and I humbly thank the lovely women in my family for allowing me to share their part in this story.  It has been posted exactly 31 years and 2 days after the birth of my first child…to the minute…published at 12:18 a.m., the time of her birth.   Thank you for reading…***