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://catholicanuck.blogspot.com JP

    Later still…thanks Zelda for weighing in from another angle of "life-support". Protecting the unborn…it makes infinite sense from a natural law stance, not just a religious one!As for Choice, I wanted to add that at least those of us who protect human life over animal life because we believe there is a higher value to human life are consistent. If one believes life of all species is of equal value, and then only argues to protect the non-human life, where is the sense in that?I will be posting this article on MY blog. Wonderful work Calah. An inspiring story.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09223358952617720139 Jennifer

    This is wonderful. Do you mind if I repost on my blog? I've actually just started abortion research to try and understand the issue. I am ardently pro-life, but am trying to start my research with an open mind to understand the issues that surround it. But what you've just said is what I feel and know in my core. Very nice.

  • http://smacdo03.blogspot.com Sarah in Ottawa

    Calah,Thank you so much for sharing your powerful story. And you are so right – women in crisis need SUPPORT!While in University, my best friend did a work study at our student health services centre. One of her tasks was doing some filing in medical records. And it sickened her that much of the filing – transfered from the local hospital – was for abortions for the student population. I know 2 people who had unplanned pregnancies, then babies, during University; both had great family support and were able to finish their degrees. But what is there for those young women who feel alone and are petrified that they cannot finish their education? These sorts of services were not well publicized, if they were around. And I am certain that they'd have made a difference. We are great at helping high school students finish their degrees if they have children, but what about those in early adulthood?I believe that the pro-life movement would gain much more traction if we put more emphasis on developing support systems for those in crisis pregnancies in their later teens/early 20s. I am not 100% how, but that is where I think the worst of the problem lies.

  • Anonymous

    Kill yourself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13638083792365927053 Sarah

    Dear Anonymous, I am praying for you! And Calah, know that when you elicit such a powerful and violent reaction you have really caused someone's conscience to wake up and flip out. Good work!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12504138560836331047 Kara H.

    Calah, When the devil himself starts posting comments on your blog, I think you knkow you're doing something right. :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09942928659520676271 JoAnna

    Calah, I'd go ahead and delete that comment, especially because it was "Anonymous." If the cowardly a**hole doesn't even have the balls to own his words, he doesn't need a platform to spew them.

  • Anonymous

    In response to formerly-pro-choice Anonymous: thank you. I am pro-choice and your post was the first time I have ever somewhat understood the pro-life position. I really just couldn't get why you all care so much what other women are doing when, the vast majority of the time, pro-life largely comes off as angry, self-righteous, insulting, cold and impersonal towards the mother. At least from my perspective as a woman who faced an unplanned pregnancy as a teen. I have a really hard time seeing the love of God when plastic babies and harsh judgments are thrown at terrified young women outside clinics. I get visions of the Magdalene Laundries the way 'support' and adoption are often presented to unwed and teen moms. Remembering that forced closed adoption used to be the only 'option' sheds light on why women are not running to the church with their unplanned pregnancies. I seriously think 'over-the-cuckoo's nest' when I see political ads on TV showing bloody fetuses. Really? That's working to change hearts? If you want to be effective and convincing, the first thing to do is quit telling and start listening. Acknowledge that 40 weeks of pregnancy is not 'nothing', even for a mom who desperately wants a child, much less an unwanted (not just unplanned) pregnancy, which feels more like having a life-ending disease. Acknowledge life – the mother's life – matters too and that she isn't responsible for the plight of infertile couples. Tell the truth about abortion and adoption: when you present myths like childbirth has no health risks, all adoptive parents honor contact agreements and 90 % of abortions lead to PTSD and sterility, women can sense your personal agenda and disingenuousness. If she changes her mind from abortion to adoption, it will be because someone cared about HER, with total compassion, love and understanding. Isn't that the right of every pregnant woman?- Sara

  • Lark

    aside from any moral or religious considerations, i don’t understand the human who supports the savagery of actual abortion procedures. chopping a miniature infant into pieces; squashing a tiny skull; ripping wee arms and legs from a wee body… in and of itself, it’s disgusting, inhumane, and cruel beyond imagining, and why more people don’t draw back in horror is beyond me.

  • http://medicalsymptomssearch.net/information-about-implantation-symptoms-and-signs/ Nicola

    Very good article. After reading so many thoughts… I feel and sad and happy. I know one thing – no one can judge. To be a mother is the most important job in the world….