Just over eight years ago, I became a dad for the fourth time. But things weren’t easy for my son, Josh, on his first night.
In the first eight hours of his life, he stopped breathing six times. Four times he started back on his own; twice he was revived by staff members. The good news, the doctor would tell us later, was that this was not an unheard-of situation and it would likely take care of itself.
Still, Josh was taken to the neonatal ICU (the NICU) for observation over the next several days.
Jenn and I made a lot of trips to the NICU during those five days. During one of those trips, I realized once again the value of what we do in pregnancy help ministry.
NICU families get a chance to visit with all of the nurses and physicians who take care of little ones and conversations often result. Such was the case one morning, when a nurse asked me, “What do you do for a living?”
I told her of my work with pregnancy help centers, and her response? “I had a feeling you did something like that,” she said. Then, she had a story for me.
“There was a girl who won her state’s pageant,” she said. Actually, she told me the state but I’ll leave it out here. “She was going to represent her state in the Miss America pageant. She had everything going for her; she was dating a football player and one day, they were going to get married.”
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My nurse friend continued. “But as her reign began and she was getting ready for the Miss America pageant, she found out she was pregnant.”
I had no idea where she was going with this story.
“She could go on to the Miss America pageant if she wanted to, but she couldn’t be pregnant,” she told me. “So she had a choice.”
No kidding, I thought. Can you imagine? This woman had an opportunity to be famous, to win the adoration of millions—if she would make one choice.
“But she wouldn’t do it,” Josh’s nurse told me. “She went to the state pageant directors and relinquished her crown. She married the football player. She gave it all up to have that baby.”
What a great story, I thought. But was it true?
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“I’m glad she did,” Josh’s nurse told me. “That’s my mom and dad. I’m the one she wouldn’t give up.”
I have no idea how many lives this nurse had a part in saving. Dozens? Hundreds? More?
But this isn’t about numbers. It’s about why we do what we do. Though she did not visit a pregnancy help organization, the mother of Josh’s nurse chose life because of an inner strength in the midst of crisis. Not many have such strength.
To those we see, these decisions are just as difficult as the one faced by this nurse’s mother. They may be struggling in a relationship, dealing with trying to get through school, or afraid of any one of dozens of scenarios.
We offer an opportunity for those who come in our door to breathe, to take the time necessary to gather up the courage to make a positive, life-affirming decision. The truth is, most who come in our door want to have this courage; they just need to know how.
That’s what we do, every day. And as time goes on, we continue to hear not just the stories of the moms and dads, but of the children too.
The story of Josh’s nurse reminds me once again; what we do is not just about the moms and dads, it’s also a story of the generation to come. Those few minutes now more than eight years ago help me to see a bright future for the sons and daughters of those who choose life today.