Thursday, May 1, 2008

In the beginning....

In the Spring of 2006 I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child. Just a day after being told that we were going to have a baby girl (July 31st), I was informed that she would most likely not survive life outside the womb.

It was a terribly difficult time in my life but also a time that I would not want to miss. Like most things I have lived through, I have been able to recognize the hand of God working. I'm so thankful for that because had I not been able to see it, I surely would have given up.

Right before I got pregnant with Charlotte, I had tried once to be a sidewalk counselor at the local abortion clinic. I remember the day well. I had signed up to volunteer at a church a few weeks prior. I spoke with a man there named Fred. I had all 3 of my kids with me and the church was hosting a Ministry Faire. I shot across the quad and made my way to his table. I explained to him that I was interested in helping out because I once faced an unplanned pregnancy. He gave me directions and a time to be there.

When I arrived at the clinic, I was so nervous. Not only did I not know anyone I was "meeting" there, I didn't know what to expect from the people who were going into the clinic. I'd seen TV reports of really hostile situations at abortion clinics before, what if a fight broke out there or something?? All of the signs the Protesters were holding were disgusting. Bloody baby parts laying next to a dime. People shouting to Mothers as they pulled into the parking lots. People praying with Rosaries on the sidewalks. It was crazy.

I understand why the Protesters use the tactics they do. They have all of about 15 seconds to grab the attention of the patients going into the clinic, hoping to make an impact. Hoping to stop the killing of innocent babies. Hoping to change the minds of the moms. But I wonder if they really understand the reasons why Mothers are going in there in the first place. They feel like there is no hope. No other way of dealing with this "problem". Many of them haven't thought of the life growing inside of them in terms of it being a baby. Showing a tiny foot the size of a pencil eraser with it's leg missing is one way to illustrate loudly that there is a life growing within.

One of the things that bothered me the most about it were some of the responses that were given by the people going in. I heard things like "I prayed about it and God has already forgiven me" or the 'ol stand by of flipping us off as we plead with them to turn back.

There were two sets of people that impacted me that day. One was a young man taking a young woman in. He looked to be in his mid-twenties and she an older teen. He held the door open for her as they went in together. Others around me were shouting "Murderer!" and "You don't have to do this..." and ""Your killing a baby!". I stood there stunned that he even opened the door for her. I know that 's a stupid thing to get fixated on, but I thought to myself, how can he be such a gentleman as he ushers her into the killing zone?

He came out to have a cigarette about 20 minutes later and got in a yelling match with Fred. We were separated by a wrought iron fence and a low hedge. Honestly, I was a little scared. My adrenaline was pumped because I wanted to go in and rip that girl off of the table, but couldn't. When the men quieted down, I walked as close as I could get to the man smoking and begged him to take her home. I didn't have a clue what their situation was and I didn't care. I just knew they were about to kill a baby. I started telling him that Joseph must have been terrified too. That his girlfriend (Mary) was about to have a baby that wasn't his and that he had been chosen to care for that child. This guy could do it too! He just needed to get up and take her home. I don't know where those words came from. They flew out of my mouth without a second thought. I truly felt desparate. He was much nicer in speaking with me, well, actually he just listened, didn't say much back. He finished his cigarette and went inside. About an hour or two later, they walked out together, holding hands. She had a newspaper or towel or something covering her face.

Shortly after that, a woman drove into the parking lot in a big SUV. She and a younger woman got out and headed in. I found my voice to say "You don't have to go in there! We can help you." The older woman flipped us off and proceeded in.

When the older woman came out (leaving the younger one behind) I walked in stride with her to her car. We were still separated by the fence and in a moment... by the slamming of her car door. So I waited. It must have gotten hot in there because she rolled her window down. She lit a cigarette and puffed away with a very agitated look on her face. I tried to talk to her but she was already defensive. I asked her why she would take someone into a building to go kill their baby. She said they had no choice. That her daughter (the younger woman) already had a few kids and the doctors told her that this one could cause serious health issues for her and probably wouldn't live anyway. That they HAD to terminate the pregnancy. She said I had no idea how hard this is... what do I know? I tried to tell her that God has everything undercontrol. That they didn't have to do this. I told her that I have a blood incompatibility issue and doctors tell me it could be serious with each pregnancy, but please, don't kill that baby. She got really pissed a couple of times and rolled the window back up. But when the heat of the car got to be too much, I was still there waiting. Eventually, she got back out of the car and waited inside. I really don't remember what else we said to each other. But I clearly remember what the feeling was that I had. I was defeated and my hands were tied.

All of the girls going inside were not outwardly pregnant looking. Except this one. She had a round belly that was only accentuated by the loose sweat pants and T-shirt she was wearing. The sunshine of that morning lit up her auburn colored hair like fire.

And again, an hour or so passed and they came out. The younger woman looking down. The older hurrying her along.

It is almost errily quite when someone walks out of the clinic. Most eyes do not meet. No Protesters shouting. No howling prayers. Just the rumble of a car's engine racing to leave the parking lot to get outta there like it's evil.

At one point I got up the courage to cross the line and go inside the clinic to see for myself what it looked like. I had been warned that I would probably get yelled at to get out of there, but since it was my first time, no one would recognize me as a Protester and to be careful.

I was so saddened to see the room. There were rows and rows of really uncomfortable looking waiting room chairs. Cold metal frames and vinyl seats. There was a reception counter with 2 or 3 ladies working away, answering phones. They chatted about their microwaveable lunches and plans for the weekend. They seemed so normal. Didn't they know what was going on in the room behind them? Blood was being shed. They didn't care. They had a smile too big on their face when I walked in. Didn't they know babies were dying?

I was so nervous. I asked for a *price sheet*, hoping that somehow them hearing me phrase like that would jerk them into the reality of what's goin on. But it didn't. One of the women passed me a business card and discreetly wrote on the back of it. It was disgusting. (The *Gen* is for General Anesthesia). It costs less than $500 to kill a baby. So after a few hours it was all over. I guess that most of the appointments are done in the morning. It was about 1pm or so when I left.

As soon as I got in the car and headed towards the freeway, I burst into tears. What the heck did I just see? It took me the 20 minute drive home to compose myself. I just cried and cried.

When I got home, I felt so alive! I hugged and kissed my kids. I felt so much love for them. That night I emailed my dad and sister the report of my day. I felt as if I was telling them the accounts of a foreign war and I was on the firing lines. It was gut wrenching.

Needless to say, it left a mark on me. I wanted to make a committment to going back but it was difficult. I couldn't arrange for babysitters and shortly after, I found out I was expecting. I didn't think I could handle being there while I was pregnant, so I have yet to return.

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