A year ago I found myself in another pregnancy center observing their ultrasound program.
The nurse was so wonderful to all of her clients. One client in particular got to my heart. She had come to the center for an ultrasound. She was a young woman, had a 3-month-old baby, and, yes, she was pregnant again. She wasn’t happy. She didn’t know how she would be able to take care of another baby, and she didn’t really know if she wanted to. The discouragement was all over her face and her body language showed it, as well. I ached a little for her, too.
She was invited by the nurse to get up on the exam table. The nurse put the gel on her tummy and began moving the ultrasound probe around her lower abdomen. An image popped up on the screen, and there was a very tiny dark sac with a tiny whitish body that had a very fast heartbeat! What a moment for this burdened mom. She smiled that motherly smile, and in that smile, her face was transformed.
Did her problems go away? No. Did her life suddenly become easier? No. Was she thrilled to be having a second baby this soon? No. So what changed?
Seeing her baby helped her realize that another little person was depending on her. It was no longer a question of “How can I do this?,” but a resolve of “I must do this, and I will.”
After the ultrasound, the nurse gently asked “Are you OK?”
“I know you can do this,” said the nurse,“but do you think you’ll be able to do this?”
Then a slow nod followed by eye contact with the nurse. In her eyes I saw determination. She picked up her 3-month-old and held him close. I knew what she was facing, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I’m thankful she had the chance to see the importance of being engaged in spite of the difficulty she was facing. A life depended on that.
At the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center, we will begin offering ultrasound services on May 3. We will then be considered a “medical clinic,” because we will be providing medical services (pregnancy testing and obstetrical ultrasounds) under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician. Our medical director is Dr. Carole Nasralla. Dr. Nasralla is a family practice physician. Our nurse manager is Elizabeth Miller, RN.
The center will host an “ultrasound training event,” April 19-22. We are looking for pregnant women who are six to 28 weeks pregnant and are willing to receive a free ultrasound in order to provide training for our medical staff. If you would like to talk with our nurse manager about this, please call the center at 264-5963, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The center’s business hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Why are we doing this? Offering early ultrasounds provides many things for pregnant women. First, it answers the basic question, “Am I really pregnant?” Seeing a pregnancy at six weeks on the ultrasound is a tremendous educational opportunity. A pregnant woman realizes that her baby is not a “blob of cells,” but is alive and has a beating heart. The nurse can explain that her baby is making over 100,000 new brain cells a minute at this stage, and substances such as alcohol, tobacco and other toxins can affect that cell-making process. The opportunity to see her baby within can strongly impact her self-care choices.
Another important area of concern is the choice of abortion. Having facilitated several support groups for women who have had abortions and regret their choices, I have heard many women say, “I just did not know it was a baby … I thought it was just tissue at that point,” referring to the first trimester when most abortions are performed. A woman seeing an early ultrasound now has complete information as to the truth of what is happening inside of her. Many women who are planning to have abortions are surprised when they see their ultrasounds. Many women will change their minds when they realize how developed the fetus is, even at this young age.
The Pregnancy Support Center opened in 1999 and offers compassionate and practical help, along with free pregnancy tests and one-on-one support. We provide abortion recovery support groups for women who have issues dealing with past abortions. In 2009, the center introduced our “Earn While You Learn” program, which offers extensive prenatal and parenting classes and allows clients to “earn” items like diapers, wipes, baby clothing and furniture, etc. In late 2009, the center began a Men’s Program that offers support to men who are dads or may be facing the possibility of becoming a dad. Programs for men include curricula specifically for them, as well as participation in the same prenatal and parenting classes as their wives or partners. In 2009, the center introduced Diamond Standard success development classes, which provide valuable information, skills and resources to help emerging adults discover the psycho-social keys to whole-person health and building a successful future. Later this year we will begin offering childbirth education classes. These classes are currently unavailable in Archuleta County, and many of our clients cannot drive to Durango for classes.
At the center, we strive to provide comprehensive support to women and men as they face the challenges of pregnancy and parenting. The best gift we give them is a listening ear, kindness and friendship. Our ultrasound program is a continuation of our compassionate care. Be looking for information on our “Grand Reopening” this spring.