I am unexpectedly pregnant after something went slightly awry with the NFP this month. To be honest the timing could not be more inauspicious. Yesterday my husband, who was up until midnight last night, a Rector in the C of E, resigned his benefice in order that he might become a Roman Catholic, a move he has been contemplating for quite some time. Whilst this was undoubtedly the only thing he could do, having spiritually and mentally come home some time ago, what this decision means for us as a family is that we will shortly lose our home and source of income, although he is applying for lay jobs elsewhere. The difficulty is that with career experience consisting of purely ministry and three theological degrees, options seem to be somewhat limited, him being either over-qualified or lacking in experience and due to the current economic climate, there being a glut of applications for every suitable position. Still, as Mr Micawber might say, I have every faith that something might turn up!
What additionally complicates the issue is that I am due to start a full-time undergraduate degree in English Literature, with a view to teaching at the end of the month. Pregnancy did not figure at all in our plans, however, as Catholics, we always need to be open to the possibility of life and not taking on board the contraceptive mentality. Whilst we had not discounted more children in the future, we had taken the decision that it would not be sensible to be adding to our family at this time.
Pregnancy entails for me, morning sickness of the direst nature. Why it’s called morning sickness is beyond me, it’s more like all day constant nausea, vomiting and migranes, although I will spare the grisly detail. This post has taken over a week to compose, in a piecemeal fashion, because looking at screens and reading books only exacerbates the condition. I have absolutely no idea as to how I am going to be able to complete any preparatory reading and am more than a little concerned. In addition my work as an at-home researcher for a text answering service has been hindered, meaning another source of income is reduced.There have been times where I have been lying on my bed absolutely desperate to make the sickness stop, prepared to do almost anything, just to gain some respite. Offering it all up has never been my forte, even though I undoubtedly know its the only course of action. I am thankful for this pregnancy in many ways, children are always a blessing and when I read of the agony of infertility suffered by so many couples, I know that I am extremely fortunate to be blessed with hyper-fecundity.
But, all in all, its difficult and I am more than a little daunted at the prospect of 2 young babies, 16 months apart and an uncertain future for our family.
So this week, I went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy. I was absolutely exhausted following a day of sickness and extreme fatigue, my baby is currently teething and not sleeping through the night, our nights consisting of her crying and my taking the path of least resistence, i.e bringing her into bed with us whereby she spends the rest of the night fitfully breastfeeding. The doctor took one look at my ashen face and instantly offered me access to abortion services. Clearly, we do have a “good case” if such a thing exists for terminating this pregnancy. In addition to which he harangued me about the use of NFP, telling me “it doesn’t work”, “I’m a Catholic and we have to live in the real world” ending up concluding in a hash of new age philosophy “well, any contraception can fail, I guess really its meant to be”!
I was horrified. Although the scenario as I’ve painted it, is not ideal, where is the hope? Things are never hopeless and in fact all that would have sufficed was a spot of sympathy. I wasn’t actually looking for sympathy, it was simply that after an incredibly stressful few months, I had reached my emotional limit. For me it was a stark illustration that in the UK we really do offer abortion on demand, which is what the detractors of the Abortion Act originally feared. The spirit of the abortion act was intended to help women in truly desperate circumstances. Though at times, in the throes of hormones and sickness I have felt utterly wretched, my situation is not a desperate one. To give birth to this baby is not going to cause me considerable mental or physical damage, even though at my most melodramatic moments, it may seem that way. I am married, I have a husband to emotionally support me, who, to give him his enormous dues here, is more than sharing the load at the moment in terms of childcare, he is the one currently doing the majority of changing and feeding the baby, in order to give me some respite. The worst aspect of the sickness is that my own precious baby’s smell is repugnant to me, which is heart-breaking. I find myself holding a baby in one arm whilst heaving into the sink.
My parents live 3 hours away; upon informing my mother, her response was “oh NO, that IS bad news, I just don’t see how you’re going to be able to cope”, which has been repeated quite a few times. I know however she means this with the best of intentions, she is obviously just very concerned.
The thing is, that amongst all this, there IS hope. Although life isn’t going to be easy, by anyone’s standards, the result is going to be a beautiful baby who is going to bring an enormous amount of joy and happiness to all. A new life with all of its possibilities. I am not going to crack up under the mental pressure, I am not going to be physically damaged by the birth, although admittedly conceiving 8 months post c-section goes against medical advice, but again its not that uncommon. I am an educated, intelligent women, my children are certainly not going to be physically or emotionally neglected, there is no reason to suppose that everything is not going to be alright.
This is what gets me, the consumerism and instant gratification of our easily disposable culture. Many people might argue that there would be a sound case for an abortion, it is my body, my rights and I should have an abortion and not feel a shred of guilt. I am shocked that a doctor can glibly offer an abortion as a solution. How was he to know that my physical and/or mental health would be adversely affected? He just offered it as being a way out, an answer, without giving it much thought. My experience is that abortion causes many more problems than it solves.
Many people would undoubtedly feel that I am being reckless, but surely this reckless attitude to life, as being disposable, dispensable with, is what is at the heart of many of society’s problems. My baby has the same right to life as everyone else, despite the physical difficulties it might be causing me. Besides, these are only temporary. Sickness and exhaustion are debilitating and add to the woes of women in a crisis pregnancy, making it difficult for her to be able to think rationally, particularly in the throes of all the extra hormones. I know, I have felt utterly wretched and desperate at times.
What has kept me going, is the fervent congratulations from people, reminding me that this is actually an occasion of happiness, a new life with all its possibilities, not some great disaster or tragedy. Clearly my faith has also been the contributing factor, but I think the point I am trying to make here, is that being pro-life requires no religious, but rather a moral conviction as to what is right. I am strong, I will cope, I have no excuse for killing my unborn child, other than it’s somewhat inconvenient timing. It is horrifying that society passively accepts and would validate my decision, should I have taken up the doctor’s offer, thereby destroying 2 lives.
At least now, I can look women facing crisis pregnancies in the face, I can say, look I’ve been there, I know it’s incredibly difficult, but there is hope, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Right now the words of Mother Teresa seem very apt:
“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. ”
I have a scan tomorrow to discover whether or not its a multiple pregnancy as there is a more than a distinct possibility that this could be the case.
Things are going to be just fine.