On Monday morning, I met Martha. She was 18, pregnant and dead set on having an abortion. Her exact words were, “I just want this thing taken out,” and she wanted it done as soon as possible. Martha was what we considered to be a tough case. She had set up walls a mile thick around her heart and the last thing she wanted to hear about was the life present inside her womb. She wasn’t interested in the procedures, the health risks, or the emotional side effects. The father of the child had been killed only a month before and she had no desire to bring a child into the world without a father. Two of our most experienced counselors sat down with her, and I sat in also hoping I could say something to crack her shell and comfort Martha in her grief.
As we showed Martha the different stages of fetal development, she stared in amazement asking, “Do they really have fingers?” We placed a model of a 12-week-old baby in the palm of her hand and she yelled and threw it across the table. She wouldn’t allow herself to consider even for a second the life of her innocent baby. It seemed that nothing we could say or do was going to pierce her heart. In my mind, I had accepted that she was not going to turnaround. After an entire counseling session she was still adamant about the abortion. I thought this was one of the sad cases you have to entrust to God after doing all you could do. I began to prepare to move on, but the other counselors were persistent. They didn’t give up. They kept talking to her and loving on her and eventually she cracked.
The walls she had built around her heart came tumbling down like the walls of Jericho in a waterfall of tears. Martha could no longer deny the life of her child or the pain in her heart. Martha decided she would keep and parent her child.
We learn lessons everyday in our centers, but I learned one of the most valuable lessons so far. We can never lose Hope. We cannot lose Hope in the heart of woman, the power of the Holy Spirit, or the grace of God. I had all but sent Martha on her way because I had lost Hope. How humbling it was to realize the power of Hope within our hearts! This is a lesson that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life.
I was fortunate to be able to escort Martha to get her sonogram. On the bus ride there and back, as well as the time in the waiting room, I go to know Martha even better. I rejoiced as I listened to multiple telephone conversations as she called to inform her friends and family that she was going to keep the child. Martha said things such as:
“I’m keeping my baby because I want to. I might be crazy, but I’m keeping it!”
“I’m going to have my baby, and you are either in, or you’re out.”
“I’m having my baby. It has fingers! And fingernails!”
I watched as Martha saw her child for the very first time. She stared at the sonogram pictures all the way back home. We parted with plans to see a movie together later on in the week and the joy of knowing her baby would have a life.
A few hours later, I was back at the Life House when I got a call from Martha. She was sobbing as she told me she was at the hospital. She had miscarried shortly before. The child’s heart that was beating just a few hours earlier was not any longer. I talked to her and consoled her as best I could. She felt guilty because she had wanted to abort the child and now her child was gone. I assured her that she had nothing to feel guilty about and that she had chosen to give her child a life. She gave her child a chance.
Despite how heartbreaking Martha’s story is, it was truly a blessing that she was able to turnaround and come to appreciate the gift of her child before the miscarriage. She can now be comforted by the fact that she chose life and that her first child knows she chose life.