I'm an "old timer" at my clinic. I've been there long enough to have days where I run out to my car after an 8-hour shift and scream and rant on my way home and wonder why I'm doing what I do when it can be so thankless and so frustrating. And I've been there long enough for some of my newer co-workers to ask how and why I do it for as long as I have, and why I don't have plans to leave. And without hesitation, I answer, "The patients."
Of course I'm there for the patients. Without women in dire straits with unwanted pregnancies and the unstable lives that go hand in hand, and without the women who will only remain pleased with their lives as long as children aren't involved, I would just be a receptionist someplace. But it's more than that. It's what the clients give to me and what I can give to them and my constant wonder at how women connect with one another.
It's as simple as the woman at her wellness appointment recently, who called to me, "Hey, lady! Good to see you! I was looking for you," recalling our lighthearted counseling session before her abortion months ago. It's also about the woman who didn't crack a smile during her whole tragic appointment, but woulnd't stop clutching my hand when I saw her out to her car.
I've had a client seek me out at her follow-up appointment to give me a hug and tell me that despite her initial misgivings about her abortion, she's doing better than ever and has a renewed passion for her medical assistant school courses. Another client told me about how her abortion was a turning point instead of a struggle, and then she invited me to her birthday party (I politely declined). When my first interaction with a client was handling her phone call about her insurance coverage (post-abortion), her main concern was that I would have time to take it easy and take care of myself that night, since I was doing "so much" for her. More than one client has told me with a tearful smile that God will bless me for the work I do, which is a far cry from what the protestors want me to believe. One client called me an angel. I've managed to get through to the most hostile clients, who end up revealing the heartbreaking circumstances that made them put their guards up. And then they latch onto me and don't let go. Another counselee embraced her revelation that she was giving herself her life back, and mentioned changing her life plan to be more social-justice oriented. And you know, I've even helped women to equip themselves to continue the pregnancies that they so desire. One of those women told me, "If only people knew that an abortion clinic helped me to keep my baby."
If only people knew how diverse and wonderful women who have abortions are. I almost wrote, "how diverse abortion clients are," but each woman's identity is so much more than that one isolated event. Some are in crisis, some do use abortion as birth control (and that is fine), and some are as matter-of-fact as can be about the quick, safe medical procedure. And I am privileged to be a part of their lives for a day at the clinic, and that's why it isn't just my job, but my career.