The Numbers Game or Chicago, On My Mind

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Abortion on demand… Think of it in gestation weeks and numbers. In the United States, abortion is banned after a certain gestational time period. Call it fetal viability, this is what the law says when a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb.  The time period of fetal viability varies among the states – but overall, abortion on demand ends around 24 weeks. But, remember, it varies from state to state… In short, it is a number’s game…

Someone asked me last night if I played poker and I responded no – but the honest truth is, I have played a type of card game – a life choices card game, that dealt with numbers. The game cost me my daughter and my fertility. I would later have several miscarriages, have only one pregnancy make it to fruition, and end up with a hysterectomy with a damaged uterus by age thirty-four. Like Banner from A Woman’s Choice, I believed the longer I hid or carried my pregnancy, with a child with birth defects  would allow me to have my daughter.  The year was 1991 – I was not yet 19 – I thought the longer I hid it, the better chances I could to be home free, able to have my child – because it would be too late. Pressure, intimidation, and the comment, “If you have a special needs child and give her up for adoption, you may never know where she is – is she safe, warm, and being cared for? It’s best to give her back to God.” Yes, I know well the numbers game – because even getting to a second trimester to think she and I would be safe from the lies of Roe vs. Wade, I caved with the pressure from my doctors – with the father of my daughter and my own parents convinced, that abortion would be merciful and I would be able to move on with my life. But what I did was ruin two lives: my daughter’s life and my own. Note the year – that was 26 years ago.

The Numbers Game…  My blog today isn’t about me – it is from a  2015 memory of working with a young lady from Chicago – one that began on an early rainy Sunday morning where she had nowhere to go, but concluded as sunshine came out that afternoon and she was throwing things into a bag and yelling into her cell phone, “We’re out – we’re on our way – are you sure she’ll be there?”  She too was playing the numbers game – for the second time.

Her name doesn’t matter, but I’ll call her Chicago. For six years, including the time period I wrote A Woman’s Choice, I spent three to four hours a week doing quiet volunteer work with a post abortive group, handling their social media, and being sent a few young ladies to talk to, and just be a friend. It was all done via social media, but always ended up via cell phone.

Chicago came to me via a friend who found her in a post-partum  Facebook group, where the young mother revealed symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome – one that my friend not only had fought, but won. She called me and asked to join this postpartum group.  I was allowed into the group within minutes and asked Chicago if I may talk to her.

Her story broke my heart, as they all do. Unmarried, with a two year old, pregnant again, and suffering from the anguish of a 13 week abortion about a year after her son’s birth. “I thought I couldn’t get pregnant breastfeeding. By the way, that old wives tale is bogus,” the young woman made an attempt at humor. This young woman was bring pressured by her fiance – who wasn’t ready to get married, yet they living together – to terminate the third pregnancy. In fear, she kept delaying it – until it would be too late. With the law in her state, she could not terminate a pregnancy after week 24. Fights were breaking out daily when he came home from work – she was staying at home and caring for their son – and now she was up to week 19 and if she could – could – just make it to the magic week number…It would be too late to force her to have an abortion…

“You are playing the numbers game, dear,” I told her. I then, told her my story and my failure when my turn came.

“But I will win! I know I will this time. I am almost to 20 weeks! A few more, I’m home free…” Home free – a baseball term – that I even once used…

Stop and listen to her comment, said with a juxtaposed air of defiance and desperation. “I will win!” A number – a week – is your goal to have your baby safe…

Can you imagine? Fighting in your first and second trimester to have  your unborn child and your partner, daily,  being verbally (up until this point, she insisted he had not been physically abusive) abused? He would yell at her, call her a slut, call her a bad mother, and many other cruel things. “If you can’t take care of the one you got, get rid of the one you’re carrying now!” was played to me on her cell phone via electronic media. I gasped.  To be honest, with all my years in the PASS community, I was horrified.

Most people would interject here why doesn’t she just leave? Wasn’t she just repeating history (for a third time) with an unmarried pregnancy in getting pregnant? Wasn’t her true sin fornicating and living with a man without a wedding band? And before any more such questions get asked, I just throw up my hand and remind people, let he who is without sin or blemish cast the first stone. Stop judging. Give solutions, not judgments.

I had already gotten the socioeconomic stats out of Chicago – she had her GED, she had no family, she grew up without parents, living with her elderly grandmother, she was 20, she was Hispanic, with a Catholic upbringing. At 17, she “met her fiance” and ran away. Her grandmother had died, with a last request for Chicago to get her GED and find a trade. She did get her GED – during her first pregnancy. This type of brief history tells you much about Chicago: she is a survivor, she honored a request about her GED, but she had yet to get an education for a job. I asked her what she wanted to do with her life and she promptly said,”Be a good mom – and maybe work with animals… I love animals…” I further asked if she saw her fiance in that life. Her answer was no.

“I am only here… Because I have nowhere to go. I have no money. I have no job. I have no one to help me.”

Pregnant again and fighting for the magic number where he can’t pressure her to abort his child. Not once in the conversation, did she ever use the terms “our child” or “his child,” but always “my” child.” Such use of pronouns means that the woman has some type of separation from the man and although I’m no psychologist, I can tell you women married or even women single, but being pressured into terminating a pregnancy and do not desire it, will refer to their baby as “my child.”

“What can I do to help you?” I asked. By now, we had been on the phone for four hours, her fiance was due home in another three hours, and she was telling me everything about her life.

“I want my baby – I tell myself the last one… Not my son… but my baby… the one I had an abortion… was given back to God because I couldn’t take care of it…”

“You are a good mother to your son,” I told her. This is when the gentle gloves get put on, “Do you think you gave your aborted baby back to God? Who taught you that?”

“I did – because it’s the only way I can live with myself.”

Again, such comments are common when you work with post abortives. The goal isn’t to make someone feel worse than they already do – they know what they have done – or were forced to do – and they don’t need someone kicking their teeth in. What they, again, need are solutions. Sure, she may have Post Abortion Syndrome and sure, she may have repeated history with another unplanned pregnancy, but someone was under her heart NOW and my talking to her, with my story, may help her.

Because in the numbers games, as you fight to get to the legal gestational “I’m home free” number that makes abortion illegal in your state, your psychological, physical, and spiritual being are being broadsided and most often, women succumb to the pressure.

I offered her a solution.

“Do you feel he’s going to hurt you in some way?”

“Maybe – he threatened to – but he hasn’t yet.”

“Do you feel that he’s going to keep pressuring you to terminate this baby?”

“Oh yes, every minute he’s home. I try to be out of the house with my son when he is off work, because he won’t stop. Yesterday, he grabbed my arm, squeezed it, and said if he punched my belly, maybe it would end right here and now.”

I was waiting for that input. It took hours to hear it.

“If I can tell you a safe place to go – with your son – would you go?”

She thought for a moment and whispered, “Yes…  But it has to be soon. Like, today. Can you make today happen?”

Such thoughts are mirrored all over this country by women who are pressured into abortion. Three hours later, just one hour before he was due home from work, I had contacted an individual in her city to meet her in a safe designated place, with her son, and her baby under her heart, to take her somewhere safe.

A few months later, I received a call she had a daughter – and Chicago was planning to start her vet tech training in a few months. Her son is growing, her daughter has a head full of black hair, and she had named her daughter for her grandmother, who had believed in her. “Why stop at vet tech?” I asked her on Skype, seeing the familiar face grin at me, with her beautiful dimples and gap between her teeth, “Come on, Chicago, become a real vet! Have you been to a financial aid counselor? No? Well, this is what you do…”  She is still in her vet assistant training program, but she is thinking about going for her degree! Chicago has returned to her Catholic faith and has decided to wait for true love, not true passion, and has stopped making the repetitive choices of her past.

Chicago, unlike me, won the numbers game because she got out of the environment that was pushing her into a second abortion. Due to the post abortive network that exists, almost underground, she networked through another individual who knew someone who knew someone who had resources in her area. Some would call this luck – or maybe even another numbers game – and I can only conclude that they are right. What do we need? We need resources – the post abortive community and the pro-life community – to work together to get women help:  provide medical care, shelter, psychological care, vocational help and training, and childcare. We must practice pro-life across the board. No woman should have to hide her pregnancy or fight for her right to have her child – and play the numbers game.

A little girl won the numbers game.  Chicago, this blog was for you: may the Lord bless you and keep all three of you in His sight.  I am proud to call you my friend and I am honored to have been allowed to blog about your story – but most especially, your Guadalupe’s story.

Closeup portrait of an adorable baby girl in a pink dress

 

 

 

 

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