Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mother and Baby: Who Cares Anymore?

When I was a little girl, I wanted more than anything to grow up to be a mother. I had a baby doll I pushed in a carriage. I dreamed about having a house full of kids. I think I was about eight years old when I told my mother, “When I grow up, I want to have a baby.” My mother said, “No, honey, you don't want that. You want a PhD. Your PhD is your baby. A PhD is far more rewarding.”

I stared at her, confused. So, thinking through this logic in my mind, her PhD was more important to her than me. Of course it was. That's why she spent all her time studying for it and ignoring me. On the positive side, my mother wanted me to grow up to be an intellectual achiever. On the negative side, she had no idea how those words would impact my belief that I was not wanted or valued by her. I'm glad she did give birth to me, though.

I was raised by two pro-life democrats. Yes, they do exist, in greater numbers than either Republicans or Democrats think. The value of unborn life was a value I always took for granted and never really thought about much. The first time I really thought about it, I was sixteen and a friend of mine, whom I'll call Betsy, thought she was pregnant. We went to a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) so she would get a free test. While the worker there was reading the test, we were shown a video on the miracle of life. I was transfixed, amazed at the wonder of how human life grows. Betsy groaned. “I can't believe we came here,” she said, “These people are trying to get me to believe that a fetus is a human and take away my right to do what I want with my body. Let's get out of here.”

We left quickly after finding out her test was negative. I asked Betsy more questions. She told me to read books by feminists like Gloria Steinem. I read that and more and found out a lot about Betsy's point of view. I wondered if she could be right. Because I was from a liberal democrat family, so were almost all my friends, and all of them but me were pro-choice. As I grew up more and more of my friends were having abortions. Two in particular had five and six abortions each. Having an abortion was nothing to them, but just having “a bunch of cells” removed. No concern seemed to cross their minds at all. At some point of time, I believed the “cell story” too.

I'm very lucky I did not get pregnant in my teen years or twenties. I didn't need a man. I was a free and independent woman. Nobody should tell me what to do. Marriage? That's a piece of paper.

I lived in a heavily abortion-minded climate. I would tell my friends, “I can't have an abortion myself, because I'm not sure when the soul enters the body. If I'm not sure, how can I take even a little risk of murder?” Yet because I wanted people to like me, I would also say, “Since we don't know, I guess you're free to take the risk if you want.” Of course, I never judged anyone for having an abortion. I still don't think a woman who has gone through with it is someone to be condemned. Most women choose abortion in a state of panic and often under pressure by family. More than half of abortions are due to the fear of not having financial resources to care for the child.

Add to that how little most women know about fetal development. I really believed that for the first two months, all that's in the uterus is a clump of undifferentiated cells. People told me if I went to a crisis pregnancy center, people would lie and try to show me that a baby was in there. I didn't realize I could just pick up a biology textbook and see that at only three weeks after implantation, there's a heart in there that begins to beat. By eight weeks, every organ in the body is there in the uterus. No, you won't hear that at Planned Parenthood, because they don't want to disturb you. But, they will tell you CPC's lie when the materials they are teaching from are either written by medical doctors or come straight out of biology text books.

I got pregnant for the first time when I was 36. I was not married and my boyfriend had just thrown me out and changed all the locks on the doors. He thought I was lying when I said I was pregnant. I stayed with a friend who watched me take three pregnancy tests and she took all three of them to my boyfriend. He said, “So what?”

I really wanted that baby. I wanted the baby so much I cried when I was pregnant. A child was all I ever wanted. I remembered my parents said they both cried when they found out my mom was pregnant, but they had really good stable jobs and owned a house. What did I have? Absolutely nothing to offer this baby. Yet, I wanted it more than anything in the world.

I left California to stay with my dad in Georgia. Yet, on the way to Georgia, passing through Louisiana, I started bleeding heavily. I went to an emergency room and took another pregnancy test. No more baby. I could die. When I got to Georgia, I saw what I'd lost. A job, relationship and home in California. A future baby. And with the loss of contact with a new age group, I realized it was a very convincing sham of spirituality. My disillusion was pretty total, my depression pretty deep.

I tried to rebuild my life so I could have a home and family, yet everything I tried to do failed. In 2009, I moved to Eugene, Oregon to try to start over, age forty. My life seemed to lose more meaning every day. When I re-discovered God and a church family, I was prostate by the weight of a life not lived as I had ever wanted. I came back to the solace and strength I had gone to in my young teen years, the Catholic Church.

To make a long blog shorter, my life is rich in meaning and purpose today. I am deeply happy. I volunteer in a Crisis Pregnancy Center now, and yes, I do want to save babies. I also want to help make life easier for mothers, so they won't feel the overwhelming need to abort. Sometimes, I still get weepy when I put together layettes with all the cute little baby clothes, because I wish they could be for a baby of my own, but I'm so glad to be doing something for any baby, especially a baby that might not have ever been.

I don't see our culture valuing motherhood very much anymore. I don't see it much looking at the lives of celebrities or in movies or television shows. My own mother didn't value it much. My inborn desire to be a mother was stifled quite a lot. Yet, I will be forty-four in about five months, and the one thing I wish I'd been able to do was to marry and create a stable home for a child.

Most people know that the Catholic Church makes saving the lives of the unborn a very high priority. It's easy to see from whence that sentiment stems. How can anyone look at paintings or sculptures of Mary with baby Jesus and not contemplate her safe, sacred womb and the violence of invading that sanctuary with a blade?

When I hear woman say it's not a decision to be taken lightly, I wonder, why? If there's any chance in their mind it might be murder, where is the decision in that? I know, I know, there are atheists in this country who don't believe in a soul. Why should they care about when or if a baby is aborted? I also know I've said every word I just said to women who have said, “So what. It's my body!”

I used to ask women why it is that when you are two months pregnant and you want to be, you say, “My baby is growing,” but if you are two months pregnant and don't want to be, you say “The fetus needs to come out,” just as if it were an appendix. Women used to look at me, stumped. But recently, I read an article by a woman bragging about this very thing, about how free she was that she could call the contents of her uterus anything she wants, baby, fetus, whatever. I shook my head. No hope, I thought. No one will ever listen.

The war over abortion is ugly. I have become the enemy in many people's minds. I have crossed demarcation lines and have become a traitor. Some will not even post on my Facebook page or read my posts. Perhaps I think they're evil villains for what they've done in the past. Of course I don't. Abortion is murder, but none of the women I've know who had abortions consciously intended to commit murder. Most of them were badly deceived. Abby Johnson, an ex-Planned Parenthood director who is now pro-life, says that overwhelmingly, the most common question women ask on their way to the surgery room, while they are groggy from medications, is, “Will my baby feel pain?”

Deep down, perhaps they know the truth. Deeper down, perhaps it's way to painful to face.


(Note: Their week numbering is based on the whole cycle of pregnancy and the first two weeks are called "getting ready." So, week three of implantation is their week six.)


  1. Great post. It's really scary how many people still don't connect the dots; they think it's their right to decide whether the creature inside the womb is a being or not. But the science is solid: it's a being. If it's in a human womb, it's a human being, just as, if it's in a feline womb, it's a feline being (kitten) and if it's in an ovine womb, it's an ovine being (lamb). If any situation ever arose in which someone's existence were in doubt, the very last person society should ever allow to make the call would be the one who has just expressed a desire to kill the person in question! It would be more just than that to give the choice to someone picked randomly from the phone book. Thank you.

  2. I like what you said. Regardless of my example of "when does the soul enter the body," is the clear and simple fact that human life exists in the womb from the moment of conception. Human life. Shouldn't that be enough? When someone makes human life no longer live, what do we call that? I call it murder. Besides, how does, "It's my body to do with as I want," reconcile the fact that a sperm from outside the body somehow came in and created a body that is, in fact, separate although connected by a cord? Makes as much sense as, "It's my house to do with as I want," as in ancient Rome, where the father had the right to kill his children.

  3. I don't disagree with what you said about abortion, but the Catholic church has no right to speak up for babies in the womb. There have been thousands of babies over the centuries who have been aborted from the wombs of nuns who have gotten pregnant and laywomen whom the priests have gotten pregnant.

  4. Well, someone needs to speak up for them. Seeing is how we are all sinners, that should not hold us back from doing the right thing to save human life, right?

  5. Yes, we are all sinners, but there is that whole thing in the Bible about removing the plank from your own eye before you remove the speck from someone else's.

  6. Right. So, why are you here arguing with me? (and saving the lives of unborn babies has nothing to do with condemning anyone else.)

  7. First of all, I am not condemning anyone. I am a mortal man, and unlike the hierarchy of the Catholic church, I am not arrogant enough to think I have the power to condemn people to Hell or send them to Heaven.

    Second, I am not trying to argue with you. I am merely pointing out the hypocrisies of a church which has become a self-styled family values organization over the past few decades.

    1. Alex, obviously, you are here only to harass, not to dialog or learn. You continue to make outrageous, unfounded and un-researched statements of an anti-Catholic nature. I do not have to tolerate bigotry on my blog and will have to block you.