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Woman's New Life Clinic


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Workers in the Vineyard: A Day in the Life of a WNLC Counselor

Originally printed in the Fall 2017 Newsletter

At 8:00 a.m. the day begins at Woman’s New Life Center’s Metairie office.* Elizabeth Wilson, one of the staff counselors, anticipates her first scheduled client of the day. She knows from this client’s prior phone call that she is abortion-minded.

The door opens, signaled with a chime. Amber arrives for her appointment.

Elizabeth greets her with a smile and invites her into her office. Amber sinks into one of the plush, oversized chairs in Elizabeth’s office. Over the course of the next hour, Elizabeth listens as Amber reveals the details of her situation and the reasons she feels that having a baby right now is impossible. Amber feels stuck, that abortion is her only option.

Elizabeth understands that Amber, like most of her clients, is in crisis and consequently not thinking rationally about her desire to terminate her pregnancy. She listens, and then helps her to refocus and find a place of calmness. As the fog of crisis lightens, Amber begins to see that she does indeed have other options than procuring an abortion. Elizabeth then prepares her to receive the medical services available to her. Just as Amber is beginning to meet with the nurse, the door chimes again.

 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15

Another young girl enters. Her unsure eyes survey the waiting room. Elizabeth greets her, again with a smile. After a brief introduction, Elizabeth learns that this girl, Rachel, is also abortion-minded.

In fact, Rachel believes she has entered an abortion clinic. Elizabeth explains this is not something provided here but assures her that this is a place where she can receive the support she deserves. She invites her to stay, offering to her the free professional counseling and other services available to help her sort through this time of confusion. Rachel hesitates but accepts her invitation for counseling. They step into the counseling office where Elizabeth then starts over with the process of moving from a state of crisis to calmness.

The phone rings—another young woman struggling with the crisis of her unplanned pregnancy. Both Elizabeth and the staff nurse are with clients currently. Thankfully on this day a volunteer is helping answer the phones. She is trained in what to say when someone calls looking for help with her unplanned pregnancy.

Elizabeth’s meeting with Rachel goes into its second hour. Throughout this time she has been assessing her needs and listening. What are her concerns? Her fears? Why is her situation such that she believes she cannot—or does not want to—continue with this pregnancy? Rachel reaches for a tissue from the box next to her seat. These conversations can become quite emotional.

Elizabeth helps her to see that she should take some time to relax and take a break from the weight of the decision regarding her pregnancy. In doing so, she can regain a sense of who she is and what she values apart from the crisis she is currently experiencing. For now she can focus on taking safe steps, such as making a doctor’s appointment to monitor her health and talking with her support system.

Meanwhile Amber, who is still with the nurse, sees her baby on the ultrasound for the first time. The baby, not even an inch long, is visibly alive and active, jumping about as if he knows his mother sees him. She does see him, and something in her heart stirs.

Elizabeth’s session with Rachel draws to a close. She encourages Rachel to meet with her again. Rachel’s face displays her struggle, yet with the slightest glimmer of an awakened hope. She has established a trusting relationship with a counselor, a haven amidst her current turmoil. She remains quiet but stands to leave. Elizabeth gives her one of her business cards and further explains to her that it is in her best interest to return for support. Rachel gives a slight nod and then exits.

Heavy with the reality of her previous client’s situation, Elizabeth steps into the chapel for a moment. She grieves for the mother whose crisis is not over. She offers a prayer for help for this woman who is struggling and sees abortion as the only way out.

Elizabeth returns to her office to resume her meeting with Amber who now holds her baby’s ultrasound photos. She helps Amber sort through the necessary steps in prenatal care and connects her with resources to alleviate some of the stress of her living situation. They schedule another meeting for the following week, and Amber leaves, still nervous but also hopeful and excited.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Elizabeth takes a few minutes to complete her clinical notes and then breaks for lunch, which she takes with an ear always open for the chime of the door announcing an unexpected walk-in.

After lunch, Elizabeth’s 1:00 appointment arrives. Jenna plops into her usual chair in Elizabeth’s office. She looks tired, but at peace, and gently hugs her round belly. She is happy to be meeting her baby in a few months, but her relationship with her baby’s father is complicated. Choosing life for her child was one thing. Now she must deal with the messy aspects of her reality.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

She continues to meet with Elizabeth weekly to address the issues that led her to the crisis which had brought her to her first appointment. Together, they identify goals for her healing and develop a plan for treatment. These meetings with Elizabeth empower Jenna. She struggles but is doing the work necessary for her own healing.

“You inspire me,” Elizabeth tells her. And she means it. Jenna and so many other women who enter these doors are profoundly heroic.

Once her meeting with Jenna ends, Elizabeth reviews her list of clients with whom she needs to follow-up. She knows following up with a client can have a significant impact. She refers to her notes and remembers what each client is going through. She calls one client with whom she met last February and counseled for both her unplanned pregnancy as well as an abusive relationship.

She then calls another with whom she has only met once but has spoken to on several occasions. She and her baby are doing well now.

“What was impossible for me before is no longer impossible,” she tells Elizabeth. These affirmations are rare gems, welcomed evidence of the Lord’s hand in Elizabeth’s work and in this ministry.

As she hangs up the phone, the door chimes once again. Another young woman walks in.
“Hablas español?” she inquires.

Neither Elizabeth, the nurse, nor the volunteer speak Spanish, so Elizabeth calls the translator while the nurse motions for her to have a seat. Today, the translator is able to come in to the office. Once she arrives, they proceed with the same process of offering her counseling as well as a pregnancy test and ultrasound. They learn that her name is Sena and she is new to the area. She wants to keep her baby, but she has no idea where to start to receive the care she needs duringher pregnancy. With the help of the translator, Elizabeth helps her sort through the confusion and connects her to the appropriate resources. With the compassion and warmth of both Elizabeth’s and the translator’s demeanors, Sena’s anxiety subsides. Finally, she feels heard. She even begins to smile.

By the time Sena leaves, the clock reads just after 4:00. Elizabeth spends the remaining minutes wrapping up more clinical notes before the office closes at 4:30. Even with only four clients, it has been a full and long day.

Because of You

Because of you, Elizabeth as well as the rest of the counselors and nurses are able to be present to these women in need. They have, since WNLC’s start in 2001, saved the lives of over 2,000 babies and their mothers and fathers from abortion. They are the workers in the vineyard helping to build a culture of life one Amber, one Rachel, one Jenna, one Sena at a time—because of you. 

 

*Since the original printing of this story in the Fall 2017 Newsletter, WNLC has moved from its Metairie office to its current location on Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans.

Hope Woman’s Clinic has merged with Woman’s New Life Center to become Woman’s New Life Clinic. We’re thrilled to offer unplanned pregnancy and reproductive health services under one brand name that more effectively communicates all of what we have for women in our community.