A Powerful Thing

by Angela Sanders, Freelance Writer
Tonya and baby

“In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“You’d be surprised! At any age, any stage, women will find what they need at Hope Pregnancy Center.” Forty-three years old, happily married and financially secure, experienced mother Tonya never anticipated needing the services of such a ministry.

“I don’t fit the profile,” she explains. “I get the young or new mothers who would need Hope. I get the over-stressed mom who already has her hands full with little ones or who maybe has no money and no support system. I understand why those women might go looking for a place like this – everyone understands – but there are other hard situations, too. People need to know there are older women like me who are afraid of having a baby for other reasons.”

Five years ago, Tonya almost died giving birth to her third child.

“I have dangerously high blood pressure,” Tonya explains. “My daughter was born at 28 weeks and had all kinds of complications. It was terrifying! When it was all over and I was stable, the doctor took my hand, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Tonya, you CANNOT do this again! Do you understand me? If you have another baby, YOU. WILL. DIE. I believed him. Why wouldn’t I?”

“When I found out I was pregnant again, I was mortified,” Tonya says, tearing up. “We had been so careful. I never dreamed I could be pregnant, even when I started missing cycles. I figured I was premenopausal or something. My doctor did, too. I was seriously ill at the time with pneumonia that wouldn’t go away. I had so many prescription meds in my system. When I finally discovered I was pregnant, I panicked. All I could think was, ‘What have I done?’”

With three children at home, one of them still very young, Tonya felt she had a choice to make. “I believed the doctor who said I would die if I had another baby,” Tonya explains. “I felt like if I went ahead with the pregnancy, I would be taking my children’s mother away from them. It didn’t matter what I chose, it just felt wrong. It was awful!” Wiping tears, Tonya adds, “I switched to autopilot and tried not to feel anything so I could go through with what I thought I had to do.”

Before she could schedule an abortion, Tonya needed to know how far along her pregnancy was. Unable to get an appointment with her doctor quickly, Tonya turned to Hope Pregnancy Center in Ardmore. “They got me in the next day,” Tonya says, “and verified I was ten weeks along. They spent time with me, talked with me, made sure I knew that I was not in this alone, but I felt compelled to protect my kids, so I scheduled a termination anyway.”

“One evening, my husband came home and said, ‘We can’t do this. We just can’t. What would we miss if we do?’ I didn’t argue. I was still scared, but I told him, ‘Okay, if this is how you feel, I won’t go against you. We’re in this together.’”

Over the next few months, Tonya got the specialized medical help she needed from the knowledgeable doctors and nurses at OU and the emotional help she needed from the compassionate volunteers at Hope Pregnancy Center.

I hesitated to go to Hope at first. Religion and spirituality are very private matters for me. I was afraid I would get sermons or told how horrible I was, but there wasn’t any. Sally, the Hope volunteer, was always very compassionate and calm. She helped me see the baby was a gift from God.

She said, “You can relax and let God take care of it.” It was the first time I realized I didn’t have to be in control. I didn’t have to blame myself anymore or live in fear. I might have been at fault for my actions before, but from that moment on, I could do the right things – everything you’re supposed to do when you’re pregnant – and then give it to God and let Him decide how it would go.”

Once again, Tonya gave birth at 28 weeks. There were complications, as she spent 45 days in the hospital with her precious baby boy.

Tonya and baby

“When I look at him,” Tonya continues, taking a moment to compose herself, “I’m just so…grateful! He’s wonderful. He’s three now, and when I think about what we almost missed out on…well, it makes me sad. Very sad. My son was meant to be here! I’m so thankful for a husband who had the courage to speak up and who was willing to do everything else so I could just focus on staying healthy and having a healthy baby. I’m thankful for doctors who know what they’re doing, and I’m thankful for the ladies at Hope, who were willing to reach out to a hysterical and embarrassed middle-aged mom, help her process her thoughts and feelings, and love her through her fear. If I hadn’t walked through the doors of Hope, I really don’t think I would have gone through with the pregnancy. Fear is a powerful thing, but thankfully, love is stronger.”