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.

  • Anonymous

    Your testimony is beautiful and brings so much hope! Thank you for sharing it! God bless – Laura A.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17128643518805976665 Luke and Ashley

    What an amazing story, Calah. Thank you for bravely sharing it! -The Mutschlers

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00747308009364094199 scmom (Barbara)

    Thank you for sharing your story. And for taking the heat that your story has brought. You are a brave woman.

  • http://theworshipwarrior.wordpress.com/ theworshipwarrior

    I can't say that I know where you are coming from because I've never walked that road. However, one of my hearts desires is to be one of those people that not only says, "You can do this!" But adds, "And I'm here to help" True Christian love, reaches out, not to save someone (only Christ does that) but to hold the hand of someone in need and be there with support. "Carry one another's burdens" Love in action.Thank You for sharing your life with others.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13302775757558379006 Dianna@KennedyAdventures

    Simply speaking, may God continue to bless you. I can't wait to see His plans for you! Thank you for sharing your story, ad I pray that other women are led to see their true worth.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17458004521580842197 MarieC

    Well I'm really late to this party…just came over from CMR…sooooo glad I did. This is an awesome story. Keep up the great posts! Have a blessed Holy Week!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06195528409761980551 Anne

    Wow! How I wish I had read your story before I met the person in this story. Maybe I would have said and done things differently. Thank you so much for being a mother to your daughter and for sharing your story with the rest of us.http://annebender.blogspot.com/2010/02/beautiful-blessed-life.html

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

    Thanks for all the comments, you guys. The stories in this combox are amazing! I wish I could get to them all individually, but since I can't, I just want to thank you all for contributing, for sharing your stories, and most of all for defending life. I'm so honored to count myself among your numbers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03852754398007790428 Renee

    Thank You for sharing, I volunteer in the foster care system, it's so important to help the mom as well as the child.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13057183557031707514 Zelda

    Choice – I'm an agnostic, but a humanist. You don't need a religion to form a pro-life opinion. Abortion is an extreme violation of human rights because the unborn child is both human and alive and that fact cannot be argued. There is no basis for any human right if the right to life is arbitrarily denied to human beings at any stage of their development. Until abortion is made illegal, it becomes very important for women to collectively choose to be the guardians of this most basic right and it is a moral obligation to encourage the choice that protects life.