Is this a planned pregnancy? I checked NO on the questionnaire I was required to fill out at my 8-week appointment, probably pressing my pen into the paper a little too hard.
I hesitated at the next question.
Is this a wanted pregnancy?
“I checked ‘yes’ because I know what the question was implying,” I told my husband later. There was an edge to my voice.
“Do I want an abortion? No. But do I want to be pregnant?”
He knew the answer.
I was angry, very angry. I was also extremely exhausted, sick, and confused. I wondered why God had not answered my prayer, prayed in desperation hours after I received a positive test: I don’t know if I can do this again. Please, let this be an easy pregnancy.
But this time, three weeks after we moved from the United States to England, the nausea was worse than ever, even worse than it was with my twins, worse than with either of my next two singletons, relentless, lasting from the moment I got up and sending me rushing to the toilet at 11 p.m.
Mercy, mercy! God have mercy! I prayed as I retched, sinking to my knees.
Then as I wiped my tears, nose, and mouth with shaking hands, I thought bitterly: Stupid, %@[email protected]% pregnancy!
Weeks turned into months. Many days I was bedridden, unable to care for my family, willing myself to not throw up, and failing miserably. Then, after one brutal day of vomiting, tears splattering the inside of my glasses I thought, I want to die.
Did I really want to die? No. But I felt like death.
I wondered, can you die of pregnancy sickness?
Then, a dark thought: do women ever end their pregnancies because of hyperemesis gravidarum?
I Googled “Extreme morning sickness + termination.”
I read the stories of women who ended their pregnancies because their lives were a living hell. They were both devastated and relieved afterward. At one time, I would have been horrified at reading stories like this. But all I felt was sympathy and understanding. I was on the edge of being that desperate.
This sickness was unbearable but I was tormented in other ways, too.
After my fourth son, I never wanted to go through pregnancy, birth, postpartum healing, and a year (or more) of debilitating fatigue ever again. I had postpartum depression after he was born four years ago and even after counseling, medical care, and nine months on an antidepressant, I still battle anxiety and depression.
I thought I was finally coming out of the woods. I had survived 11 years of parenting, including an Autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities diagnosis, joining the military and moving four times.
I was ready to figure out what I—as a woman, not just a mom—was doing with my life.
But here I was, in the wake of failed family planning: pregnant.
Is this a wanted pregnancy?
I was not going to get an abortion but do you want to know the truth, the desperate, damning truth?
I thought about it. Not in a way that I made an appointment or whispered it to anyone but my counselor, but it was a thought. I didn’t entertain it, but it visited several times.
This is a heavy thing for me, a mother of four, miscarriage survivor, an advocate of women and motherhood, and lover of God, to admit.
But admitting it has unearthed some new truths to me.
Being this desperate has helped me understand women who chose abortion. I think many women who consider (or go through with) abortions know that they are aborting a baby.
They know it. But they are in such a desperate situation in their relationship or finances or insurance or job or family or home-life or mental health or other children or any combination of the above that having a child feels more unbearable than the unbearable thought of terminating their pregnancy.
You may say, “I could never, ever . . .” Then you should pause and thank God that you have never been in a life situation that made you feel that desperate. Because that, my friends, is a terrible, terrible place to be, and I only looked over the edge into that pit of desperation.
I have a loving, supportive husband who has a good job with amazing health care.
I have faith that provides both a foundation and compass for my life choices.
I have children who show me how precious life is and how beautiful motherhood can be.
I have supportive friends both in person and online who went grocery shopping, brought me soup and Gatorade, prayed fervently, and checked in on me several times a week (sometimes several times a day).
I have access to physical and mental health care which I have taken full advantage of as I have fought my way, by the grace of God, out of a very dark place during my first trimester.
And I still felt desperate in a way that I have never felt before.
Imagine the girl or woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant . . . without any of those supports. Sit with that image and let yourself feel what she is feeling.
The battle against abortion isn’t a battle to only save babies—it is first a battle to reach into the desperation of the mother and to speak life into her dark, desperate places.
We live in a polarizing political climate these days where sometimes we think that supporting political decisions on social media is what is going to make the difference.
But ultimately, it doesn’t. It’s only when we actively seek to love people through their real-life struggles that real change can happen, when the light truly shines.
So that’s why am I writing about this, this damning confession (that is just inviting people to judge me, my decisions, my thoughts, my family planning, my whatever) because I believe if I can shine a light on my own darkness, it can give others hope, a way to examine the secret, shameful places that we like to keep hidden, the thoughts or desires that we don’t want anyone—even God—to see.
But that which is hidden in darkness cannot be healed by love.
If you are pregnant and desperate—even if you are a married, Christian woman—you are not alone.
Tell someone about how you are really feeling. There is help and hope, truly.
If you know someone who is unexpectedly pregnant, ask how she is feeling about the pregnancy.
Check in on her.
Pray for her.
Check in on her again.
The people who did this for me gave me strength and helped me get through the very dark few months of my first trimester.
They spoke into my dark, desperate places and gave me—and my baby—life.
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