I remember telling some friends of mine at age 16 that I didn’t want any kids at all.
Go ahead, laugh it up.
I’m now the proud parent of a whopping seven children, complete with a set of BOGO twins.
I love babies. I love mothering. I don’t love the bickering, but we have some sweet, funny, or endearing moments that warm my heart.
Like when my second-grade daughter saw an ad for “The #1 sports app!” She asked, “Why would they say they’re the ‘hashtag one’ app?”
Or when my capable teenage daughter chucked a bunch of zucchini during meal prep because she thought they were rotten cucumbers.
Or when one of the twins, during a punishment he found far too exciting, sprayed a substance from a Windex bottle on all the car windows, just to discover he had just plastered wallpaper removal gel on every surface.
Oh boy, we all got a kick out of that one.
Eight years ago, after the beautiful home waterbirth of my sixth child, I began experiencing more frequent and more painful back spasms.
My husband and I decided at that time to prevent another pregnancy due to the very real threat to my health.
Seven years later, my mind whirred with fear when two unplanned pink lines burst my dreams of travel, freedom and ease.
(Tweens and teens are by no means easy, but they require a different kind of attention that’s not quite as physically demanding as infants.)
As we suspected, the pregnancy literally broke my back. I know because I had an MRI a month before conception that showed a healthy space in my lower back, only to discover a month after the delivery in another MRI that my disc had exploded into my spinal nerve and caused almost a year of debilitating pain that left me stranded on the couch.
The issue could have been (and has since been) easily resolved with a common surgery. Except I was pregnant. So I couldn’t have the surgery to relieve the pain. And I couldn’t have the drugs to relieve the pain.
I just had the pain. Oh, and a household of 8 to manage.
Even so, I never once considered an abortion. I believe it’s because even from my formative years, I had shunned the idea as morally reprehensible. I hold a worldview that grants God sovereignty, and my heart has always valued life.
I also have now seen through ultrasound seven beating hearts in my own womb at six weeks gestation. I have seen weekly sonogram updates of my twins, fully formed by 12 weeks gestation, growing larger each week. I have seen one twin kick the other. I have seen my babies hiccup. I even knew from a third-trimester ultrasound picture of their faces that my twins couldn’t be identical, even though they were definitely both boys.
I have seen lips that look like my husband’s. I have seen profiles that look like my own. I have seen one baby flash me the “OK” sign and another flip like a professional swimmer.
In January, New York blazed a trail for states to broaden their deregulation of the abortion industry. New York, Vermont, and the other states that will follow their lead have valued a woman’s right to not raise her baby over the life of real, live, active, flesh-and-blood, viable, no-denying-it infants.
We have told our women that they should not have to bear the burden of raising a child when they find themselves in a less-than-ideal situation for doing so.
We have demanded a type of equality with our male counterparts that is only accessible to us through violence to ourselves and to our offspring.
We have been told abortion solves problems, failing to address the fact that abortion doesn’t make a woman unpregnant. It makes her the mother of a dead baby, a fact that often seeps into her subconscious unnoticed and leads to depression and suicidal thoughts.
New York’s law changes abortion from a criminal matter to a health code. Anyone who has been certified (but not necessarily an MD) can perform what amounts to a true surgical procedure with a multitude of serious risks, like fatal perforation of the uterus or incomplete removal of the baby’s parts.
In the name of women’s rights, the state has opened the door wide open for charlatans to take advantage of desperate women in crisis. Regardless of your opinion on abortion, you have to see that this could be terrible for women.
These non-MD practitioners need very little to qualify their patients for the procedure. I could have said, “This pregnancy will cause me back trouble that will result in the need for surgery,” and under New York’s new law, a practitioner could have lawfully approved an abortion.
I couldn’t even convince my doctor to induce me a week early when I was carrying around thirteen pounds of twins because there wasn’t a “medically necessary” reason! I argued mental health, which she quickly rejected, saying, “That’s not my field of expertise.”
Now New York says women qualify for this abortive surgery even if they are actively having birthing contractions for pretty much any reason at all that may affect them negatively.
It’s like a bad Mad-lib: “I’m too (adjective) to have a baby right now.” (Old, young, sick, busy, poor, tired, upset, depressed, addicted, single, skinny, fat…)
What would happen if our entire framework for childbearing shifted in our society? If we offered congratulations instead of intrepid condolences upon hearing the news of a crisis pregnancy; if adoption was the first consideration in a crisis moment rather than abortion; if women felt safe and stable in their relationships; if the economy supported single-worker families; if we started referring to babies (and yes, even teens) as blessings and delights instead of burdens and trouble.
When you start to look for it, you will see how the language we use in society shapes our values and morals.
My tribe did support me, providing both emotional and physical help when I could not help myself, and as a result, my unplanned infant rocked my world and blessed us in ways I never imagined possible.
Especially back when I was 16.
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