No matter how prepared you think you are, there is something a little frightening about those two solid little pink lines.
My husband and I just found out a few months ago that we are expecting our first child. We were “planning” it—whatever that means. We got married in early 2012, so the plan was always to start trying once we’d been married a little over 2 years. We had prayed. We had planned out our finances. We had planned out our jobs. We had planned out our home. All so that we would be ready to get pregnant and start a family. “By golly,” I told myself, “we’re doing this the right way!”
And so it happened that one Wednesday morning, after my husband had left for work, I raced to the store to get a pregnancy test, raced back home, took the test, and waited for the longest 3 minutes of my life.
Two pink lines.
This was what we wanted. This was what we had been planning for. I was thrilled. I was elated. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband.
And yet, somewhere in all those emotions, this one crept in: fear. The inevitable thought of, “Oh my gosh…what have we done??”
Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are beyond excited about our little man, who is due to make his entrance into the world in February. Our families couldn’t be more excited, either. Our son is going to be one loved (and probably spoiled, if grandparents have anything to say about it) little baby.
But even in the midst of the excitement and awe of a new life growing and developing within me, I have felt the fingers of fear creep silently into my thoughts every so often.
We are going to be responsible for the LIFE of a PERSON? How are we even qualified to do that!? Shouldn’t there be a test or something that we have to pass first? Are we really in a place financially where we can do this, or were we just enamored with the idea of starting a family? How in the world am I supposed to take care of a baby? I used to be one, but I don’t remember much about it… And giving birth; can I actually DO that? This baby won’t always be a baby either… he will be a teen one day. And then, college. How the HECK can we afford that?
And so the thoughts can go on and on, spiraling out of control. Usually, this fear will hit either my husband or myself, never really both of us at the same time. This helps so that we can talk one another down out of our endless hypotheticals, and remind each other of God’s provision.
So why share all this?
Because we planned and planned. We have more family support than we could ever ask for. We have friends and a church that will back us up and help us with what we need. We are as “prepared” as we could be.
And still, there have been moments of panic. The “what have we done?” moments.
Now imagine the same situation, only this time change the following details: We were NOT planning to get pregnant, or even wanting to. We do NOT have much, if any, family support. We are NOT connected to a body of believers that we can go to and ask for help. We are NOT in a place financially where we could make it work to have a child.
Suddenly the situation becomes much more serious. Much more alarming. One might even call it a crisis.
This is very similar to how many of the men and women who visit the Care Center feel. Nine times out of ten they were not trying to get pregnant—it may not have even seemed like a possibility to them. In the midst of such a crisis (and it is a crisis for them), the initial knee-jerk reaction for many is to “fix” the problem, to make it “go away.” The quickest, most immediate way to do that? Abortion.
I write all this because I think the importance of compassion and empathy in this situation cannot be overstated.
There are many who fall on one of the two extremes of the spectrum: One is the “it’s-just-an-abortion-and-
Neither is particularly compassionate. The former does not encourage the woman to consider how this decision might affect her heart and body, long-term. It is a “quick fix” mentality and does not empower the woman with all the facts in order to make an informed and healthy decision.
The latter lacks any empathy for the woman and completely writes off her feelings as illegitimate. It lays a guilt trip on the woman for even considering an abortion and fails to listen to her, or see her holistically as a person—not just a carrier of another human life. It also may discount the reality and difficulty of the woman’s situation. Maybe she really can’t parent a child at this point in her life. Telling her things will “work out” would be misleading and a lie.
Now, lest you read the previous paragraph and surmised that I am advocating for abortion in certain circumstances, let me go ahead and address any misunderstanding by saying that I believe abortion is never the best option; not for the baby, the mother, or anyone involved.
But what I am saying is that there is something absolutely terrifying about bringing a new life into the world and being responsible for it. Pregnancy and parenthood are no small things, and all women facing a planned, or unplanned, pregnancy know this. It would be unloving, inconsiderate, and cruel if we were unwilling to even enter into a real and honest discussion with men and women who find themselves in this crisis.
So here is my proposal: if you have any opinion at all on the issue of abortion (and everyone should, by the way), then I challenge you to self-evaluate.
Are you quick to judge women and men who entertain the idea of abortion, or who have already made that decision? Do you think less of those who find themselves in this crisis? Are you lacking in compassion? Is your motivation for speaking truth on this issue based on condemnation and self-righteousness rather than love? Are you unwilling to admit that a man/woman’s feelings in this situation are valid? Are you so defensive about the “war on women” that you would encourage hasty decisions rather than informed ones?
Apathy on this subject is not an option. A pregnancy always changes lives, whether the outcome is parenting, abortion, or adoption. It can never leave the mother unaffected and it would be naive and deceptive to say that it could.
The dictionary defines “crisis” as “a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.”
I can’t think of a better description of what a person experiences in the face of an unplanned pregnancy: it’s a crisis pregnancy.
The crisis is real. How will you respond?
Mary Holloman is the Communications Coordinator at Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. You can find more of her work at maryholloman.com.