Catching sight of the child saved from abortion behind the Christmas tree

Some Christmases ago I had been doing a lot of entertaining in my old flat. As a confirmed introvert I was happy to find I had a morning to myself and so I nipped out into the frosty air and skipped in and out of the central London museums which were bedecked in beautifully classic decorations and lights. Much as I'd had a very happy Christmas with friends spoiling me, that day I was a bit down; very hurt by a professional snub I'd received, dissatisfied with my career prospects and feeling I'd worked so hard and yet felt like an irrelevancy. 

I popped into a crowded café, decorated in red lights and silver tinsel, a plump Christmas tree in the middle with an antique porcelain fairy on top with a wig of yellow curls. To the left of the tree, I saw a small child with glossy dark-haired locks of deepest ebony. Coming around the tree I had a clearer look at his face and saw a familiar face in his face, and familiar eyes in his twinkling eyes. He gave me a big smile, this stranger who was trying to place him. Could it be - was he - then I came further round the tree and saw his mother sitting next to him. I knew her. She was busy fussing with a tiny baby in her lap and I remembered how I had first met her when she was pregnant with the son who sat next to her...

Ellen had wandered into a Catholic Church one day and for perhaps the first time in her life she offered up a prayer in distressed desperation. She got talking to an elderly Irish lady who arranged to put Ellen in touch with me. I have never met the holy woman who put us in touch; she just knew someone who knew me. At the time of our first meeting when we met up for tea and biscuits Ellen was several months pregnant and planning an abortion. She told me she was not in a steady relationship. She and the father of the baby were, if you'll forgive the nasty euphemism, 'friends with benefits'.

They were both highly intelligent with prestigious careers and together they fulfilled the other's craving for intellectual stimulation. Ellen and her fellow were very alike in that they didn't want emotional attachments to each other and each in their own way were in a pattern of seeking out lovers on the basis of their high intellectual ability. She described that she was 'a clone' of his previous romantic interests.  But this kind of life left her feeling empty and ashamed, it was satisfying base urges, but not satisfying her heart's longings for a loving marriage and children.

The father of the child was certain he wanted her to have an abortion to save him embarrassment. In his long past he had gotten other women pregnant, some had aborted the babies, a few others had kept the baby and this rankled him that he had made a troop of single mothers who followed him for support. It bothered him that he had become 'that man', the type man who has never committed to a woman and who is the type loathed in the column inches of conservative newspapers. So when Ellen dithered about having an abortion, he became cold and vindictive, even childishly so refusing to give her back something of great value she had loaned him. One day she was showing me one of his nastily worded texts and I looked at her and let slip a giggle, and soon we were both giggling at its pomposity.

Ellen was moving through her 30s at a fast clip and she wondered if this baby would be the only baby she would ever conceive and if aborting this baby would damage her fertility to the point which would make conceiving another baby impossible.

But she was still very much at risk of having an abortion. The pressure from every single person close to her was often crushing and nearly broke her will. She kept meeting up with me though, saying she enjoyed my conversation and intrigued I was able to rebut pro-abortion mendacious claims that abortion has no negative impact on fertility. 
My wide forehead gives me hope I could audition for a Mars Attacks remake

She thought I was more clever than I actually am, and used to make jokes about my wide forehead being wide enough to accommodate my over-active brain. I may have been a young 20 something at the time but I'd helped several hundred women in crisis pregnancy and was well-versed. Something that stopped her going ahead for the abortion at one stage was that she and I agreed that time waits for no man and even if aborting the baby did not take a toll on her fertility, the passage of time could well mean that in the years to come she would not be able to have a baby simply because her fertile years had passed.

In prayer, I asked Our Lord for the grace of knowledge; what precisely was I to do or say? The answer came. While I had not given her a hard sell on piety, the turning point came, as it so often does, when I asked her if she would do me one favour and one favour only. Would she start calling the baby by a specific saint's name? I had an intuition the baby would be a boy and so she agreed to call him a saint's name that speaks of courageousness and strength. As I had done so many, many times before I asked the saint to intercede especially for the child already named in his honour. On doing this, she gave her will to keeping the baby.

One final threat came. She thought about having a late-term abortion because she worried the baby was badly disabled and that she would not cope on her own. No words of mine were having any influence but I entrusted her once again to the saint I had set guarding the baby, and miraculously all thoughts of having a last minute late term abortion vanished from her mind. 

In the latter part of her pregnancy, she had a dramatic conversion and decided to leave atheism and her old life of 'hooking up' and the pretense of sophisticated promiscuity behind her. The baby came into the world and got the saint's name. Ellen was too generous when she said, "you're my son's mother, too. He would not be alive were it not for you."

A natural parting of the ways came though, Ellen moved on and met a very academic guy (I think his forehead is even wider than mine) and they tied the knot.

That day in the height of the Christmas season when I saw her in the café, we exchanged friendly glances, and her glossy-haired little boy enjoyed the attention of my stare. When I saw her husband set down a tray heaped with cakes and tea, I skipped out of the café, not lingering in case my staring at them would provoke questions from her husband; if she introduced me she would have to explain how she knew me and that she had thought of aborting her son, and this was not a good idea, especially as they were celebrating their newborn's first Christmas. Also, her husband knew her after her conversion to Christ and would not recognise the woman she was before.

Thankfully, her little boy looked on me as a stranger. He will never know I named him or pushed for him to be baptised a Catholic. He doesn't know that after his birth his mother said to me, "you saved his life". And on the day I saw him smiling from ear to ear, I was filled with a very complete peace that he does not know me. Most beautifully, her stable marriage which welcomes children mitigates against the danger of abortion.

I believe success in such pro-life advocacy is often judged on how irrelevant someone like me, the pro-lifer may become. When a young woman chooses against abortion, has a conversion, gives herself to Christ and enters a marriage founded on Christ, she has no further use of the person who swayed her from going for an abortion. I had merely been an instrument and after I had been of use I was glad to be redundant. On that harsh winter's day it made me more accepting of my feelings of irrelevancy. I will, however carry the image of the child's smiling face in my heart forever

*I have her permission to relay the story in the way I just did. Ellen is not her real name, I choose it in recognition of a nun who prayed much for this mother and baby, and whose name before entering religious life was Ellen.

This post is tagged under Mary O'Regan Soul Story 


  1. Beautiful story. It's worth it to be there for the women in problem pregnancies.

  2. A wonderful story. I keep asking the Lord to help me to find people that I can help (in any way, but especially spiritually) but they seem to evade me.


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