By Kayla Benfield
Somewhere in our corner of the world is a beautiful little newborn baby boy named Zion. He’s a tiny thing; when I spoke with his mom and dad, he was only three weeks old. But there is no doubt that he is someone special. Zion’s parents, Raven and Martel, are a sweet couple. When asked how they met, they laugh together as they tell their love story. When Martel talks about Raven, his voice is full of respect for her. They speak gently with each other as they tell me their story.
The beginning was difficult. Before she knew she was pregnant she found herself so sick she ended up in the emergency room. It was there that she first found out about little Zion - she was six weeks pregnant, overwhelmed, and scared.
Her voice softens as she recalls this memory. “I was scared—I didn’t know what to do. What was going to be my next step? How was I going to tell my parents? I didn’t know if I wanted to keep him.” Martel chimes in with his own thoughts, saying, “I wasn’t expecting a child…we weren’t sure if we were going to keep him or not. But I’m glad we did.”
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, commonly referred to as morning sickness, effects more than fifty percent of pregnant women. The name is misleading; symptoms occur day or night and can be debilitating to women in their first trimester of pregnancy.
Unfortunately Raven was one of these women, and found herself too sick to continue school shortly after she found out about her pregnancy. The physical and emotional weight of those first few weeks took their toll and she began to feel like she couldn’t continue the pregnancy. It was then that she made a call to Planned Parenthood to schedule an abortion. Planned Parenthood referred her to XYZ* Women’s Center, an abortion clinic in Detroit.
But God intervened.
By some miracle, the receptionist at the abortion clinic that day did not schedule her for an abortion appointment. Instead, she did something unheard of - she told Raven to call Another Way Pregnancy Center. To this day we don’t know why, or how. But we are so thankful she did.
Instead of sitting in an abortion clinic that day, Raven and Martel found themselves at AWPC waiting for an ultrasound. She was miserably sick and didn’t actually want to go in, but Martel encouraged her to come. She was agitated and annoyed, feeling nauseous and miserable as she waited for her appointment time. Why am I here if my mind is already made up?
Eventually one of our ultrasound technicians, Christine, walked her back for an ultrasound. Raven and Martel saw their child on the screen and her mind began to change. They talked with Christine for a long time - about pregnancy sickness, abortion procedures, fetal development. Christine encouraged her about her sickness, telling her that it would most likely subside in the next few weeks. But it was the tiny heartbeat of their son that kept coming back to the new parents.
Hearing Martel talk about that appointment, it’s clear to see the love and hope he had for his little boy. “I thought to myself, what would it be if we take our own child’s life away? Knowing he might be someone great one day! Let’s give it a chance and find out how to keep him. Once we went to AWPC and talked to Christine, she put everything into perspective. If God didn’t want this child here, he wouldn’t be here.”
For Raven, the kind words and seeing her sweet child on the ultrasound was all it took to realize she wanted to keep her baby. She left the appointment firm in her conviction, and was able to talk to her parents and convince them that she had made the right choice.
Shortly after their first appointment, Raven and Martel joined the Earn While You Learn program, working with volunteers Chris and Lilly. Raven started feeling better around the halfway point in her pregnancy and started going to prenatal appointments.
They speak with gratitude in their voice as they talk about their experience with EWYL. Raven says, “It’s so helpful. You learn so much. And it’s really calming—we just take time out to talk about what’s going on. It’s a beautiful program.”
When Martel talks about the Men’s Program, he mentions how he learned to be a father. “I learned a lot from Chris, how to be the right father for my kid. It’s encouraging to have someone sit down and listen, to motivate me - he made feel like I could do this, to not doubt myself, and to believe that I could be a good father.”
Throughout our conversation, Raven’s voice is tired but content. It beams as she tells me how special and unique her little boy is. I ask her what she would say to a woman who finds herself in the same position one day.
“It’s going to be hard. But at the end of it all—when you meet your baby, when you hear that first cry—it’s all worth it. I promise it’s worth it.”
* Name withheld to protect the worker.
This story was adapted from our December 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here.