A Black Day

38 years ago today, Roe v. Wade was passed. No one is naive enough to think that abortions didn’t happen before that decision; the history of killing children in utero is nearly as old as civilization itself. But this court decision paved the way for abortions to come out of the back alleys and into Main Street, opening up the floodgates for millions of children to be disposed of. Most importantly, it took the debate about abortion and placed it squarely into the realm of politics, making it easy for us to look away. Or to debate it lightly. Or to forget that what’s at stake is not a political agenda, or money, or bureaucracy, or women’s rights, or even women’s health. What is at stake are the inalienable rights of these children to life.

38 years ago, our government decided that instead of being protected and given the right to live, these people could be torn limb from limb and discarded.

I’m not going to go into a debate about abortion. It is the greatest evil in the world today, and anyone who denies that is lying to themselves. There are wonderful bloggers out there who’ve written compelling, haunting and undeniable posts about this subject. I defer to their words, which are far more lucid than anything I could put together on the subject.

Today I want to lament those children lost. 53,000,000 irreplaceable lives. 106,000,000 tiny hands and tiny feet. 53,000,000 faces that one day would have dimpled into a smile.

But who can fathom so many lives, so many faces, so much laughter that our world is bereft of?

We can’t. But maybe if I tell you one story, what we have lost will be clearer.

It wasn’t so many years ago that the Ogre and I were driving away from Fort Worth toward the country with grand plans to get away from the lights of the city so we could see the stars of the Milky Way. We were tired of school and tired of life and we wanted to find something in life that was miraculous, something that we could  marvel at. We stopped at Taco Bell on the way. About fifteen minutes later the Ogre pulled over and I leaned out of the truck and vomited.

We turned around and went back to the Ogre’s house. I was sick all night and still nauseous and tired the next day. Around noon I drove down to CVS and bought a pregnancy test. The girl behind the counter said, “Is this a good thing?”

I can’t imagine what possessed her to ask that, but the answer was definitely no. We weren’t married. I was a junior in college and he was a senior. Our lives were a terrible mess, and unlike so many young people we couldn’t claim that we didn’t know any better. We were both raised in families that understood that there is good, and there is evil. We knew that God was real, truth existed, morality was essential and virtue was to be sought. And we were both doing our desperate best to ignore all that truth, because it was inconvenient and difficult.

We wanted life to be easy. We wanted to have our own way. We wanted to have fun.

The test was positive.

I cried. The Ogre was quiet. I sat cross-legged on his floor, with my head in my hands, and wailed, “What the hell are we going to do now?”

Then I said, “I can’t do this.” He stood up and pulled me off the floor. He held me by my shoulders and looked squarely in my eyes and said, “That’s not up to you anymore.”

It wasn’t up to me. What was done was done. We told our parents and friends. One of my friends’ faces fell, and she said “this is the worst thing that could have happened.” Luckily for us, we were surrounded by people for whom abortion was not an option. It wasn’t thought of or mentioned, but there was an undercurrent of despair. We had ruined our lives, taken away our freedom. I had had so much potential, people would say later in the pregnancy. And now it was all gone. Now I was stuck with a baby. I was punished with a baby.

I thought it was a punishment too. I was miserable. I saw my whole life go up in flames. Everything that I had wanted, all that I had dreamed of doing, was gone. And now I was stuck with a baby.

The pregnancy was hard, in spite of the love and unconditional support of our families. I wish I could tell you that the moment Sienna was born I realized what a miracle she was and I was so grateful, but I wasn’t. I was terrified. I was afraid to lift her, afraid to change her diaper, afraid to be a mother to her. I was also horribly depressed. On the first night we were home from the hospital, the Ogre didn’t wake up to the baby crying, he woke up to me crying. And he got up, took Sienna, and let me sleep. That scenario played itself out over and over again, night after night after night for four months. I took anti-depressants just to get through the day. I didn’t love my child; she was like a stranger to me, an albatross around my neck that required feeding, changing, washing and holding.

Many people would say that I should have had an abortion. Sienna was clearly unwanted. I was unfit to be a mother. It would have been more merciful for her to have been killed.

But she was alive. After a few months the shock slowly wore off and I stopped taking anti-depressants. I started playing with my daughter, learning what made her smile, where she was ticklish, how she liked to be held when she was sleepy. I found a dimple on her left cheek that only made an appearance when she laughed. I discovered, to my amazement, that she had my fingers and the Ogre’s hobbit feet. I recognized her father’s eyes and my nose on her tiny face.

Sienna and I grew up together. When she learned to crawl one of the first things she did was try to stick her chubby little fingers into an electrical outlet. The speed of my response and the panic in my heart shocked me. I swept her off the floor and fell onto the couch with her, sobbing in terror at the danger and at my reaction. I didn’t know that I loved her that much until she was in danger.

She taught me how to suffer with someone else. When she was a year old and the Ogre was out of town at a conference she got a stomach virus. I was alone with her in our condo, trying to bring down her fever and trying to clean her up every time she vomited. Finally I lay towels down on the tile floors and sat with her in my lap for most of the day, trying to soothe her when she threw up, cleaning her as best I could, not really noticing that I was covered in vomit too.

Because of Sienna, the Ogre and I learned to love each other. We learned to be patient and to put ourselves aside. We learned that our own desires were not the most important thing in the world.

By the very fact of her existence, Sienna brought us back to God. She reminded us that He has a plan for our lives, and that she is a part of that plan. We learned that there is a greater love than we had understood or recognized before she was conceived. We learned to make sacrifices for her and for each other.

I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this today if it weren’t for that inconvenient positive pregnancy test. I doubt I would be the Ogre’s wife and the mother of his children if it weren’t for Sienna. In all likelihood, I would still be living an empty and joyless life in pursuit of my own desires.

Sienna was not a punishment. Her birth radically changed our little corner of the world. She was the road that led to grace for both the Ogre and I. She was the first grandchild for both of our parents, and has brought joy to her many aunts and uncles. She is spirited, creative, full of joy and incredibly bossy. She loves painting, Bob Marley and anime. She gets excited about helping me in the kitchen and holding her brother. She laughs hysterically every time she hears the word “poop.” She loves raspberries and bacon but refuses to believe that it’s made out of pigs. She draws pictures every day for her friends at school. When she wakes up before me in the morning she washes the dishes in the sink with copious amounts of soap and wakes me up to show me, full of pride for being so helpful. She thinks the statue of Hercules we have on a bookshelf looks a lot like her Daddy. She loves to hear stories about the saints and every time she sees a crucifix she shouts, “Jesus!” and runs up to it to hug His feet.

My life would be much darker without her. The world in general would be much darker without her. And I can’t but grieve at how much darker the world is in being denied those 53,000,000.

What a Light we’ve lost.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17448209025229146658 Mignon

    Oh, mr. anonymous, what a silly person you are. Crime rates going down in the 70's has nothing to do with the legalization of abortion! Abortion was legalized in 1973— what crimes might a 5 year old be committing that would contribute to the declining crime rate of the 70's? Also, speculating that unwanted children who have been aborted would grow up to be thugs otherwise is speculative at best— there is no way of knowing how a person denied his or her very existence would turn out if permitted to live, and no scientific study one could possibly do. Yes, adoption does make a positive difference in society, you are right. But this author's blog post is not about adoption, as you can see. Rather, it is a touching post about one who chose to keep a child out of an "unplanned pregnancy," and who was blessed as a result.

  • Jan

    Beautiful. Thank you for your honesty.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14002502880940663585 Brooke

    Calah, this is truely beautiful!! Thanks for sharing! My sister can learn alot from you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03411156356683809203 Living for the Lord in 2011

    Thank you for your courageous and honest post.I am Sienna also… My parents became pregnant with me before marriage while my dad was in law school…My husband and 6 children and I are all thankful they gave me life…Sadly my sister did not have the courage to make the right choice, she and her now hubby aborted their first baby while in college…so sad the 3 boys they have now will never know their sibling…

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story. Abortion is a BAD CHOICE. What pain and regret most of those wouldn't-be parents must eventually experience! Praise God that Jesus' precious blood covers all of us sinners, even those who have chosen abortions. He's the only one that can heal us. (This was posted by Abby's mom, Chris, whom you know from GVLPS&K.; I can't figure out how to use any other ID.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    KT-isn't it amazing how children have a way of doing that? They teach us more about ourselves than anything else can, I think. And yes, I was very appreciative that mr. anonymous managed to render his rant mostly incomprehensible. Eve-I agree that the "unwanted" argument is really worn, but it seems to have gained new traction. A few months ago Virginia Ironside claimed that it would be more merciful to "unwanted" children to kill them outright. ??Mignon-thanks for the great defense. That was a ridiculous thing for him to say and quite frankly smacked way too much of eugenics for me. There is no way of telling how a person will turn out, and poor, black, Mexican and children of other races have just as much of a right to live as wealthy white children. Nothing exposes our country's insidious racist undercurrent better than the statistics on abortion. Jan and Brooke-you're welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read it.Living for the Lord in 2011-I am also glad your parents made that choice! As for your sister, I'm so sorry to hear that and will keep her and her family in my prayers. In my experience, God uses all of our decisions, even the most terrible ones, and works them into a larger plan for our lives. Grace is always offered and we must only accept it. Chris-I agree. It must be a terrible and painful thing to live with. And, I will explain how to sign in when I see you Thursday at Mommy Connection!

  • Barb

    Calah,thank you for sharing your story! It has helped me to value my own family even more than I did before. I wish I could talk to you and compare notes.

  • Shannon

    I have never ready this blog before, and I have NEVER posted a comment on someone's blog. But I could not hold back this time! First of all, beautiful story of courage and the grace of God. Thanks for sharing.My comment is in response to the anonymous post in support of abortion. I have a story of my own to share. I have been privileged over the last two months to meet an amazing young woman who became pregnant with an unwanted child. The father of this baby wanted nothing to do with it, or her once she was pregnant. He pushed and pushed for her to get an abortion. She didn't want to, but didn't know how to say no to him – so she stalled. She went to a crisis pregnancy clinic, where she received her first prenatal exam and was referred to a doctor who would continue to see her. She also received counseling, from a loving, trained individual who wanted to support her through this. She discussed placing the baby for adoption with her counselor, and began to make a plan. Then came time for her quad screen: her results came back positive for Downs Syndrome. A follow up ultrasound showed enlarged ventricles in the brain. Sadly, her physician encouraged her to abort, too, stating that the baby would have special needs, it would be hard to find a family who would want him, etc. Amazingly, the strong woman was adamant that she wanted to give this baby life, and she pursued her adoption plan. One week ago today, that baby was born. This baby is a tiny, beautiful, perfect little boy. He is healthy and strong, with a head of blonde hair and tiny heart shaped lips. He has a small dimple in his chin when he frowns and slightly pointy ears. He is a miracle, and is already so loved.This boy is also now my son – the child my husband and I thought we would never have – COULD never have. He is the answer to our prayers, the fulfillment of our heart's longing. He is the embodiment of God's grace.We waited a long time for him – and there are many others who are still waiting to adopt the baby they can't have themselves. The problem is not that pro-life advocates aren't willing to adopt unwanted children. The problem lies in resources to support these women, meeting their needs (both physical and emotional) in their darkest hour, and connecting them with families who are not yet complete.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    Barb-I'm thinking I should put up my email address so if anyone wants to compare notes it's possible. Look for it on my sidebar with my information. Shannon-what a beautiful story. What a beautiful and wonderful thing you've done, and what a fantastically strong birth mother he has! Your son sounds absolutely beautiful and precious. Congratulations to you and your husband. Thank you so much for the comment and for visiting, I hope you come back!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03449150594337203350 Christina @ Faith for Fertility

    Thank you for sharing your story!