I think her name was Shirley.
Although I didn’t know her, I tucked my head in to her chest and held her tightly as I bent over the side of the bed, feeling the needle slide up my spine slowly and effortlessly like butter slides around a pan. I could smell her perfume tickle my nose hairs as a tear dribbled down my cheek and fell off the side of my chin. I squeezed the fatty part of her arm as more tears were cascading down my face, burying my face deeper in to her chest as she continued to repeat, “You’re doing good, Neeli. You’re doing so good.”
The next several hours are now remembered as a blur. Training nurses were scurrying around my room, checking my monitors and adjusting wires. My mother and mother-in-law were conversing together on the visitor’s couch as my husband stood next to me, one hand in my mine and his other dragging slowly across my arm. I could tell he was nervous, but he was trying his hardest not to show it.
When the moment finally came for me to breathe new life in to this world, my heart stopped. As she was removed from me, I heard no breath, no cry, no sputter…no life. Although I was groggy and sick from the opiates, I managed to cry out, “Is she breathing!? Is she breathing!?” It felt like an eternity before I heard that first screech, the first sign of life, and the most beautiful sound I had ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Of all of the terrible, no good things I had done in my life, this was definitely not one of them.
On March 14, 2013, I gave birth to a 7 pound 9 ounce baby girl named Annadelle who has forever changed my life…and my view on it.
I was sixteen years old when I was named editor of Smoke Signals, the student-run newspaper at my high school in Georgia. I was proud of my accomplishment, but not as proud as I was when I was chosen as a member of the Newnan Times-Herald Teen Board, a small group of high schoolers hand picked to craft editorials on current events and happenings within the Coweta county area.
If I remember correctly, the Board met once every two weeks at a small office of the Times-Herald. I would get really excited during our meetings because our sponsor would bring a large tray of Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets which were my absolute favorite. Once the nuggets were on the table, my mind would shift to my love of food and I would mostly ignore the topics at hand. After all, I already knew what I was going to write about. (Remember: I’m a teenager and I know everything.)
There is one meeting that sticks in my mind even to this day, not because of the impact of the meeting or the fact that I wrote some amazing article based off the discussion (because I didn’t), but because of the stark contrast of my argument at that meeting and the argument I make today, almost fifteen years later, after experiencing so many parts of life that I hadn’t experienced back then.
On average, there were probably 8-10 members of the Board who would show up to the meetings on a regular basis. Some of the members would be a little too overzealous with their opinions, much like a Doomsday prophet at the corner of 23rd and Main Streets, so it was no surprise for them to be so vocal when the subject of abortion came up. But to attack me personally for my pro-choice view? I didn’t get it. While I didn’t agree that abortion was pleasant to view or discuss, I also didn’t believe the government had the right to tell someone what they could and couldn’t do with their own body. There is no gray area in death; you are either pro-life or pro-choice. However, there IS a gray area in political views. I didn’t figure that out until almost fifteen years later.
Although this post isn’t mean to start a debate, or even discuss the abortion debate in detail, I think it is worth noting that I was once pro-choice and am now definitively pro-life. I believe you need some background on me to understand the remaining content of this post, as well.
I disagree with abortion. Obviously my view has changed over the years and I will contribute that to the fact that I now know the power of unconditional love as it has been provided to me in the form of a beautiful baby girl. Now that I’m older, I simply can’t understand how anyone can put the needs of their own above that of a child, especially their own child, even if it is an unborn child.
I don’t donate to Planned Parenthood. I don’t use their services. I don’t ride around with a “Pro-Life” vinyl car decal and I don’t hashtag #prolife on Twitter. When I vote, I do not vote for candidates who back pro-abortion bills or actively pursue funding for pro-abortion activities. But if my candidate loses? That’s the extent of my activism.
It’s not just me, though. A majority of America is this way, too. We can rant and rave on Facebook and Twitter all we want, but what do we accomplish? Here’s the shocking answer: nothing. We have the ability to come together and make changes of great magnitude, but instead we are too lazy to really act on our beliefs.
Recently a friend of mine (whose permission I obtained to feature in this post) was so bothered by recent stories featured about Planned Parenthood that she took it upon herself to make a difference. In essence, she put her money where her mouth is.
April’s story is best described in this series of Facebook posts:
When I read April’s posts back in July, I admired her for her efforts. And while the Negative Nancy in me thought she would get nowhere, I asked myself, “What would happen if more people did this?”
Most of us learned about the Boston Tea Party in high school, but I doubt many of us can look back now and relate the history of the tea party to modern times. Even more disturbing is the fact that when I recently asked a high school youth to tell me about the history of the Boston Tea Party, he was clueless. His response was, “Tea with the Queen?” Lord, help us all.
Just in case there are some reading who don’t remember much of their high school career or American History in general, I’ll provide an extremely brief overview of the Boston Tea Party.
The Tea Act of 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. Its prime objective was to convince the colonists to purchase tea from the financially troubled British East India Company in an effort to help the company survive. In turn, the colonists would also implicitly agree to accept Parliament’s right of taxation. Well, the colonists just weren’t having that, so groups of merchants, smugglers, and artisans alike assembled in opposition to the Act and attempted to stop the delivery and distribution of the tea. This resistance culminated on December 16, 1773 when Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships in the Boston harbor and tossed 342 chests of tea overboard. This event became known as the Boston Tea Party and was a fire starter to the American War of Independence that began in April of 1775.
Do you get the point I’m making here? Colonists were tired of putting up with sh*t from Parliament, so they dumped their goods overboard and threw up a huge middle finger.
And to think it all started with one person.
After seeing several of April’s posts, I happened to run across this on Twitter:
Apparently April wasn’t the only one trying to make a difference.
You see, when you speak, your voice is heard. It might not be immediate and you may not get a response, but you should always speak the hard truth even if you are the only one speaking it. Don’t let yourself fall victim to the Bystander Effect. Realize that your voice, your thoughts, your opinions, and your actions matter.
Whatever you are passionate about, make sure you make an impact on it. Former First Lady Abigail Adams once said, “We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”
Crazy how her words ring true almost 200 years later, eh?