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.

  • KT

    As the daughter of an addict (now in recovery) I would love to hear a firsthand account of an addict, especially a young one. If you're up to it I think it would be great.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15692764946210332158 Tiffany

    Amazing story! Simply amazing! Just stumbled upon your blog…SO glad I did! I admire your honesty! You have such a beautiful family :)

  • Choice

    Actually, what a woman "in crisis" needs is support, and the chance to decide for herself what course of action is best for her. She needs nonjudgemental information, and a safe place to go regardless of what decision she makes. Being forced to have a child may have been a great thing for you, but it may not be so for other women. Some women's greatest goal in life is not to be "barefoot and pregnant," at least not until they're ready and willing to do so. Please, don't be so close-minded as to think that the path you took is the right path for everyone. Life is about all of us finding the path that's best for us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13371993808242884849 Olivia D

    In response to "Choice"…Frederica Mathewes-Green made this accurate quote: "A woman doesn't want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche, but rather like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg."Women don't choose abortion because it's just another viable choice when you become pregnant…"hmmm, should i abort, put up for adoption or keep the baby?"Women choose abortion because they feel/think they have no other choice, and that's not "choice," that's hopelessness. I, for one, don't want to be a part of that kind of hopelessness. Women deserve better.

  • Choice

    We just plain old disagree, and that's fine of course. I DO happen to think it's a viable choice. If I became pregnant, those are exactly the three courses of action I would ponder because those are the three choices I have. For some women, the decision might come from a sense of hopelessness, but for me and for many others it would be a conscientious decision-making process. Do I want to have a child right now? No. Do I want to have children in the future? Probably. I am a woman living in a time where, fortunately, I have the means and the right to make the decision to become a mother when I am ready and able to. Ideally, those decisions would be well thought-through ahead of time, and a woman who doesn't currently want a child would be using effective contraceptive methods or would choose not to be sexually active. In the real world, though, women get pregnant unintentionally (I believe the current figure is 30-50% of pregnancies are unplanned)and need to have the ability to make the choice they want to make. Not because they've lost all hope, but because they screwed up/something didn't go according to plan/something beyond their control happened and they don't want to continue down the path of motherhood at that particular time.I just don't believe that the ability to make a decision is synonymous with hopelessness. Don't believe in abortion? Then don't have one. Simple as that. But don't be so self-righteous and naive to think that everyone else should follow your beliefs.

  • Tiffany

    Choice- do you think suicide is okay? I'm just curious about your take on that particular issue. By the typical pro-abortion reasoning, a woman is in charge of her body. Does that line of reasoning extend to suicide? It is my body, therefore I should be able to kill it. If suicide is not for you, don't do it. "But don't be so self-righteous and naive to think that everyone else should follow your beliefs. " How far does the choice extend?

  • Choice

    Suicide is painful and awful but if someone desires not to live anymore, they have within their means and their right to take their own life. We are the masters of our own destiny. Why should anyone be told they don't have the right to make a decision for themselves? It's a selfish and often foolish decision, but a decision a person can make nonetheless.Also, do not refer to my viewpoint as pro-abortion. I think abortion is an awful, terrible, painful thing and I wish it didn't exist. I wish the world was perfect and no one ever found themselves in a situation where they were unwillingly pregnant. But people find themselves in this position every day, and deserve the right to make their own decision. I am pro-choice, not pro-abortion.

  • Tiffany

    PS: Calah,This is my first time visiting your blog. I love it! You write so beautifully and honestly. I feel proud to know you. What a wonderful testimony; it reveals the depth of your experience and the wisdom that God has blessed you with. I'm so happy for you and your family. You are truly a special person.-Tiffany (Brown) Johnson

  • Tiffany

    I believe in God, not a God that is oppressive, but a God that loves me. A God that, much like a parent, has rules to help us stay safe and happy. A parent does not have rules because she doesn't want to allow her child self-expression. A parent has rules because she wants to protect her child from pain. God loves us in the same way but even more deeply and more completely. Please don't be so narrow-minded as to discount this viewpoint. I would never say to someone I cared about, "sure, break the rules and open the door to a world of heartache. If that's what you believe then it must be okay". That's not love; it's cowardice. There is a right and a wrong. The world is not relative. If it were, then life would have no meaning. It's funny- you are pro-choice, but you don't include the choice to believe that abortion is wrong. I guess the choices are limited to what you think they should be… Also- I don't want to take over my friend's blog with this most lengthy discussion topic. If you are actually interested in discussing it, maybe we could do it elsewhere.

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

    Tiffany! I've been wondering how you are! (I'll perhaps send you a catch-up message via facebook, though?) Thanks for coming by! By all means, feel free to hijack my comment box. I will enjoy reading the discussion. Choice, I'm actually writing a post right now directly addressing your comments. Unfortunately I truly do not have the time to hash this issue out via the comment box, but I do have a few things I'd like to say. Please feel free to respond either at that post or on this one, and if I have time I will answer you. But do understand that I'm not ignoring you or unwilling to discuss things, I'm just a busy housewife and only allot a certain amount of time per day to blogging and blog-related things.