By Paula A. Smith
A young mother, Karyn (not her real name), who sat across from me in the Birthright office about 15 years ago, has a teenage daughter now. Although time has passed, I will always remember the influence her daughter’s great-grandmother had in her life before she was born.
Karyn stopped in the office late one afternoon and asked for a pregnancy test. Her boyfriend was waiting in the car across the street with their six-months-old baby.
When the test indicated positive, she simply said she could not have this baby.
“Why?” I asked.
“I already have a baby,” she said. “And a five-year-old.”
I invited her to sit down so we could talk and she agreed. She was calm but certain she was not going to continue her pregnancy. She explained her boyfriend was the father of their baby he was watching in the car and the unborn baby she might be carrying. He was not the father of her older child. She did not want him to
accompany her for the pregnancy test because she did not want him to know the result. Although he loved her, she did not want to marry and spend the rest of her life with him. She was not planning to tell him the test was positive.
As we spoke, she repeatedly resisted the idea of carrying her baby to term if a doctor’s examination confirmed her pregnancy. Then she paused. She told me there was something I said that reminded her of her grandmother’s words. She said she knew her grandmother would say to her, “If you can raise two children you can raise three.” With tears in our eyes, she made a decision to keep her baby and would not seek an abortion. For nine months she hid her pregnancy under large sweaters and pants because she was reluctant to tell her father, who helped her with child care, that she was pregnant.
On the day she was admitted to the hospital to deliver her baby she revealed her pregnancy to her father. When she gave birth to a new granddaughter he was not upset.
In years that followed, Karyn called me from time to time mostly to thank me for encouraging her to keep her daughter. If I wasn’t in the office, she would share her story with a Birthright volunteer and ask them to tell me she called. The last time I spoke with her she said, “Every time I look at my daughter I am so happy I had her. Thank you so much.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard from her, but every so often I pause and think about a young mother who chose to keep her baby because of her grandmother’s words.