even though we do not advertise it, we are very open to patients' wishes to begin the pathway to spiritual resolution. we follow the patient's lead and requests. that means that if a woman or her partner asks to spend time alone with her pregnancy tissue after the abortion, we are very agreeable to the request, provide a private room and either stay with the them if they'd like the counselor to do so, or leave them alone if they prefer. the other day a patient asked me if she could do just that, have time alone after the abortion with the pregnancy. i entered the little room with her, made sure that she had what she needed including kleenex for tears and disposable gloves (although since it is her own tissue she does not have to use them) and then left her alone as she requested. i had already provided her with some spiritual healing information that could help her to get started if she wanted, or she could say her own prayers or blessings. i instructed her, as i always do, that i would wait outside the door and that she should open the door when she was finished and i would take her back to the recovery area. after about 10 minutes, she exited the private room. when she saw me, she threw her arms around me, hugged me and thanked me profusely. i know that her road to internal peace had begun. she did not want to have an abortion but knew that she and her husband could not take care of another child. she felt that she and god had moved to their own resolution, so the private prayer and goodbye was just for her, for her own heart.
immediately after her i was talking to another woman who described herself as a devout catholic, one who attends a catholic college where she goes to the chapel almost daily since she started there because, she said, she can only manage her heavy class load, young child, and job by daily prayer to god to give her the strength and courage to continue on each day. when she found herself pregnant, she first said that she decided to continue the pregnancy and raise the child, but soon realized that it was impossible, that she would have to quit school and then the loan payments would start, probably stopping her from ever completing her education. with heavy heart, she came in for her appointment. she too felt that her close relationship with god helped her to feel that, after confession, she would be able to go on with her life, that god would want her to complete her schooling so that she could raise the child that she struggles so much now to care for. her family is not able to help her much, either financially or with child care so the burden is pretty much hers. what she wanted was not closure between her and god which she felt she was on her way to finding, but rather that her pregnancy be sent to god. i told her that she could view her tissue and say whatever prayers over it that she chose, but she said no that was not what she needed. she then asked me if i would baptize the baby and i agreed to. another staff person and i went to a private room, turned down the lights, then said the prayers together. later i reported to the patient exactly what we had done. she, too, was so grateful. she took my hand and told me that it meant so much to her. it was a good day, bringing peace to the women and to their pregnancies.
even though i have been doing this work for a very long time, these situations never fail to move me. i feel honored that these women (and men) have chosen to share their deepest, most private feelings with me. and even though i have done both of these things before, i always retain the awareness of the potential life that these women have had to give up. they know that we will treat the pregnancy as sacred and respect it. because of that, i have experienced many treasured moments in my work. and many many women who are our patients have been able to put to words exactly what they perhaps have not been able to say elsewhere. it's part of why i treasure my job.