Abortion was a dirty word she knew nothing about until her fifth pregnancy in about as many years. So much for nursing as a form of birth control. She squeezed the EPT in her palm as if warming it would change the color. Not again Lord. I can’t do this again.
It was that simple.
She’d read a few articles on the topic, all pro-life, by women way out of her league. Rebellious and pregnant at 19, converted at 33, now 45 and testifying mightily for the cause of Christ. Or the one Christian mother who chose life for her baby at the risk of her own. She had carried to term with the full support of husband and 4 year old son. Had she lived or died? Shonna couldn’t remember.
In none of those scenarios was abortion the best choice for the baby.
But it was for hers.
She didn’t tell Jesse about the blue line or the address she kept on a card in her purse. She was pretty sure what he’d say, and it was more than she could carry. Just like his baby.
Boy or girl? she wondered. They currently had two of each.
She drove by the Planned Parenthood clinic on a roundabout way to the grocery store. It looked normal: a brick mansion with an extra large driveway. Four cars were parked out front. She pictured hers as the fifth.
Lily screamed and Abe poked Crystal with his helicopter. Jonas slept in his rear facing carrier. He would wake to eat in about twenty minutes.
How had it come to this?
She had wanted a large family. They’d decided together to trash her BCP Rx. She liked natural ways. She’d wanted a garden, too, and a canner and chickens.
How naive she’d been.
Lily’s screeching woke Jonas.
Jesse would be working late again tonight.
Instead of groceries, she bought the kids Chick-fil-A, nursed Jonas on a bench next to a big yellow slide, and drove home.
Dishes from breakfast stacked on dishes from supper. Dishes, dishes, dishes…an endless cycle just like the laundry: clean, put away, take out, dirty.
She booked a babysitter they couldn’t afford from 12-5 tomorrow because it was cheaper than a week of fast food. If push came to shove, she could grocery shop in 40 minutes. An abortion appointment was 220. That left 1/2 hour of wiggle room besides driving. If push came to shove.
She started on the dishes.
Jesse called. He always called when he could on his lunch break. He talked to her with his mouth full, then to each of the kids. Those who could talked back. Her turn again. “Love you, babe,” he said, and she loved him, too. “You doing okay?”
How often did he think about what a failure he’d married? “Yah, I’m fine. Rough morning.”
“Wish I was there to help.”
“You are helping. Work okay?”
“Pretty good. Should be home on time tonight.”
Which really meant 6:30 instead of 7.
“Oh, Jess, that’d be great. But whatever is fine. You know it doesn’t matter with dinner.”
Dinner. What a joke. By the time she fed the kids and put them to bed, she wasn’t hungry anymore. Jesse had been scrounging for weeks. She’d been living on granola bars. And not even the good ones–too expensive.
“Bye, baby. Love you.”
That was that.
She looked at the counter full of dirty dishes.
Push had come to shove.
Next afternoon, there was her minivan parked in that extra big driveway, and her in the clinic waiting room, dying inside. This is for you, baby. I love you. I can’t bear you. I can’t bear to fail you. Not you, too.
The doctor was running late, and her 30 minute cushion would be up in 3 minutes.
“How much longer?” she asked the receptionist.
“Soon. Just a few more minutes.”
She’d said the same thing fifteen minutes ago.
Please, God, she prayed. For my baby.
She decided she could wait 20 more minutes before she would absolutely have to leave. She was a fast shopper.
She waited 30, but the doctor never came.
She left the clinic crying. I’m sorry, baby.
She called Jesse. He took the rest of the afternoon off and they spent it over peach milkshakes at Chick-fil-A.
He helped her get groceries.
That was 28 years ago last week; her babies are grown and gone now. For the last 10 she’s been writing and speaking to young mothers, telling them they are not alone. There is hope and help. This, too, shall pass; and until it does, there are people who will do your laundry and watch your kids for nothing but love. Just ask.
Don’t give in to failure.
1 Corinthians 10:13.