What a Woman in Crisis Really Needs

Amidst the debates swirling around about defunding Planned Parenthood, some oft-repeated catch phrases are being tossed around like word grenades. One of these are “women in crisis.” I’m sick and tired of hearing about “women in crisis” and how they need access to emergency contraception and abortions. That is a huge, steaming pile of lies, propagated by people who like to murder babies. Women in crisis do not need access to abortions. What they need is love, support, a safe place to live, and people (even strangers!) who will tell them the truth: that they are more than capable of being a mother. That they can do this. That their crisis, no matter how terrible, will be healed in the long, sometimes painful, always joyful process of becoming a mother.

Think this makes me heartless, speaking from my comfortable suburban home, having never known trials in my cushy little life?

Think again.

When I got that positive pregnancy test, the one that changed my life, I was addicted to crystal meth.

And do you know what the people around me did? They didn’t take the secular line and say, “this baby’s life would be horrible. You’re unfit to be a mother. Better for it to not be born at all.”

But neither did they take the typical pro-life line in that situation and say, “you are clearly unfit to be a mother, but all you have to do is carry the baby to term and give a stable couple a wonderful gift.”

The Ogre said, “you’re a mother now, and I’m a father, and together we’ll raise our child.”

My parents said, “marry that man, and raise that baby. You’ve made the choices, you have to live with them.”

My friends said, “you screwed up, big time. But we love you. We’ll throw you a baby shower, buy you maternity clothes, and babysit while you finish your semester.”

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, being a newly-pregnant drug addict. But it gave me something to live for. Someone to live for.

Many times, women who are addicted to drugs manage to clean themselves up during the pregnancy only to fall back into old habits after the baby is born. This is why conventional wisdom states that a drug addict can’t raise a child, even if she manages to carry the baby safely, healthily to term.

In some women, this is doubtless true. But think of the message we’re sending those women.

You can’t do this. You are too weak to resist. You’re not a mother, you’re unfit to be a mother, we know you won’t make sacrifices for your child. Better for the child to not live at all than to be abandoned by a drug-addled mother. After all, what kind of life will she have. The daughter of an addict. 

We in the pro-life community need to remember that we stand for life…all life. Just as much as that baby needs to be born, the mother needs her child to be born. Becoming a mother is a powerful thing, and I can tell you from experience that a child can bring new-found strength to a woman in a terrible place.

I vividly remember one day, three months after Sienna was born. I managed to get us both dressed and we went for a walk. I walked around our apartment complex, unconsciously making my way to a friend’s apartment with drug connections. Before I had really decided to do so, I was knocking at his door. No one was there. I sat on a bench across from his apartment and waited. I waited for an hour, my  mind racing all that time. I couldn’t get over the one, obvious hurtle. If I were to use drugs again, I couldn’t breastfeed the baby. But what excuse could I give for not feeding her? What excuse would I have for using formula? And what if the Ogre figured it out? What if he told my parents? Would the drugs really enter the breastmilk? Would it affect her too much? Couldn’t I just smoke a little bit, and then see if she acted funny?

In the midst of this frantic train of thought, I happened to look down at my daughter. She was sleeping, her soft pink mouth open, her little hand curled up against one fat, rosy cheek.

She was absolutely beautiful, and absolutely perfect. I knew the hell of drug use, and in that instant I knew that I could not do that to my daughter. I couldn’t let that horror into her tiny, flawless body.

She opened her eyes, yawned, and smiled at me. It was a rare thing for her to smile at me. I was an absent mother, a source of food. We had almost no relationship at all. But at that moment, for the first time, I loved her. I picked her up and held her closely, shaky and nearly weeping from the adrenaline that had been coursing through me. Just as my friend’s car pulled up I held Sienna in one arm, turned the stroller around and went home.

From that moment on my half-formed plans to use drugs again began to dissipate. It took years before they were gone completely, and even still, on bad days, the thought sometimes pops into my head, unbidden and quickly chased out.

But my daughter saved my life. She saved me from that terrible crisis. The people around me didn’t say, “You can’t be a mother. You can’t parent. You’re addicted to crystal meth, there’s no hope for you.” They said, “You are a mother now. This is your child. You can, and will, raise her.” And I did.  I am.

That is what women in crisis really need. They need to be told that this is what they were made for, that motherhood is in their blood, in their very being, and that they can do it. Just as their babies deserve a chance to live, so do they deserve a chance to be a mother.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12268407996242055175 Nicole

    This is such a powerful testimony. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05117120475033380036 Emily G.

    Nicole said exactly what I was going to say, to the letter. I don't know much else to add. I am so glad you shared it, Someone like me could write about an issue like this, but I have zero experience with some of life's truly tough issues, like drugs and unexpected, unwed pregnancies. Your words are poignant because you were there. You know what these women "in crisis'' are going through. Your life is such an amazing proof of how much God's grace can change a person!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07137080807945525006 Cam

    I just discovered your blog last week and all the posts I've read have been so amazing. Thank you so much for your blog and all that you share with your readers!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09357573787143230160 Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble

    That was worthy of a facebook post. Thank you for your courage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14638075878905614981 Stacy Trasancos

    Thank you Leila for telling me about this blog! That was a beautiful post, perfect and clear truth. Great pro-life slogan…"Just as much as that baby needs to be born, the mother needs her child to be born."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07559496654130426058 texasmama

    I'm so glad I know you!! God is working wonderful things in and through you because you are letting Him.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15603439076606550856 Margaret in Minnesota

    This is a powerful and courageous post, Calah. Beautiful, too! A beautiful witness to walking the walk that being Pro-Life requires.

  • KT

    This is right on. Thank you. Would you consider doing a post about the logistics of how you overcame your addiction during pregnancy?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13774997165220926432 Dobrovits Family

    God Bless you Calah! You are one powerful woman (doubtless supported by divine grace and the prayers of those who loved you)!I respond to a FB post by a friend who said "why do Republicans care about vaginas?" with "vaginas we don't care about. Women and babies we do."My good friend (cradle catholic) was coerced into abortion at age 18 by her boyfriend and a "helpful" pediatrician she trusted… I would not wish the he'll she has been through the last 15 years on anyone (she married the BF and they now have 3 boys…but she suffers from depression and they are attending counseling because she blames him for making her kill her first baby)….Thanks for your honesty! You are an amazing witness for life!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07808091849367216425 Mary

    Beautiful. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story and writing this post! I am eager to share it with others!