By Dave Andrusko
Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday. The weather is altogether different than it was in 1983; it is relatively warm outside and the ground is free of snow.
Emily is a special education teacher and an extraordinary young woman, as kind and as welcoming as she is loving and generous. My wife and I are blessed as are her younger two sisters, her brother, his wife and their child.
All of my children’s birthdays now recall for me a song that came out a number of years ago titled, “I knew I loved you [before I met you].” As originally performed, it had nothing to do with the birth of children, although I thought that was a natural link.
But, as if it were a gift special delivered to me, a year or so later when the song was “covered” by another artist, in the accompanying music video the dad addressed these tender lyrics to his newborn child.
The chorus goes like this:
“I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life.”
I married later in life and didn’t have a clue–a hint, even–about the hundred ways becoming a father would change me. The impact was reminiscent of one of those science fiction flicks where the guy is jolted/injected/irradiated.
The scientists subsequently scan his body and discover that the electrons in every molecule in his body have been reoriented. He has been, in a word, transformed.
In this case the transformation has been all for the good. If the journey to becoming the kind of man I ought to be is a thousand miles long, I’ve still barely left the starting gate. But thanks to my four children (and now my first grandchild), I am at least pointed in the right direction.
Years ago I wrote about the day Em was born. In those ancient times, there was no e-mail, only the United States Post Office. To my surprise there came as many letters in response as any single piece I’ve ever written in National Right to Life News.
I wrote about how we lived in Northern Virginia and how two days before Em was born in 1983 the area suffered through a major snowstorm for which it was wholly unprepared.
Worried that Lisa was already overdue, I devoted much of the next 24 hours to digging out a long, wide path for our car. Early the next morning, it was time.
In all the 31 years we’ve lived out here, the roads have never been worse. In places they were virtually impassable. We had a trip of 20 miles to the hospital. I drove carefully over icy roads strewn with potholes.
What I remembered most clearly, and which evoked the most reader response, was a comment Lisa made to me between contractions as we crept down Highway 395: “I don’t know how any woman does this alone.”
This insight could be taken in a dozen different ways. Let me discuss just one.
America suffers through the agonies of 1.2 million abortions each year for reasons we have explored hundreds, if not thousands of times. But the primary cause is not, I would argue, a misbegotten strain of feminism that mistakes child sacrifice with liberation, or 1970s’ demagoguery about “over population,” or the corruption of the noble profession of medicine by the misguided, or even the whole-hearted support for abortion on demand that now seems to be a part of the national Democratic Party’s DNA.
All these play a role, as does, of course, ordinary human frailty. But in my judgment the greatest contributor, the paramount reason we take the lives of more than one in every four babies conceived in this nation, is that too many men fail too many women too often in their hour of greatest need.
That is why, in so many instances, it borders on the obscene to talk about women “choosing” abortion. Because the men in their lives–husbands or boyfriends (and, perhaps, worst of all, their fathers)–have deserted them, these frightened, abandoned, and desperate girls and women can see no way out.
Everything and everyone seems to be part of a conspiracy to send the same message, sometimes in a whisper, more often in loud, menacing tones: “You need to get rid of it, now!”
That is why we must be there, to assure them that someone does care about both mother AND child, and that there IS another way, a better way.
But we have another role. We must be available to council, fortify, and support the men in these women’s lives. We must help them as they struggle to live up to their moral obligations, not only to the woman, but also to their unborn child. I have long suspected that this is one of the great challenges our Movement faces, and one to which we need to give greater emphasis.
As the parents of four wonderful adult children and one two-year-old grandchild, my wife and I have been fortunate never to find ourselves in that panic-stricken situation so many parents find themselves in. That does not mean, however, that I am unfamiliar with crisis pregnancies. Between acquaintances, friends, and family, I am well acquainted with the sheer soul-eviscerating panic that so often accompanies an unplanned pregnancy. And, of course, my children are no strangers to having friends announce they are unexpectedly pregnant.
With that in mind I would like to conclude with the hope that the following thought somehow, someday, might make its way into the life of a man whose girlfriend or wife is in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. It is neither profound, nor original, only true.
“Be there for her. Be there for yourself. Be there for your unborn child. Be a man.
“Whatever challenges you face, and they could be considerable, in the long run you will never regret standing up for life.”