‘Heartbeat on the monitor’ spoke in a crisis pregnancy


Last summer, in the middle of a global pandemic, Brenda Jackson found out she was pregnant and didn’t think she was in a position to have another baby but found a ministry that lovingly offered help and encouragement.

“I already had a daughter and felt I was not in a position to have another baby,” Jackson said. “I was upset.”

Unmarried and unsure of her options, Jackson turned to the Center for Pregnancy Choices in Fondren, an organization that for three decades has worked with women offering alternatives to abortion. 

The CPC is ministerial in nature and not political, “offering help, hope and healing to women and families in a time of crisis in their lives, as well as in the following years,” their mission states.

Betty Hodge works with clients at the CPC. She said that in 2020 they saw about 262 women for medical care and have served an estimated 23,000 women since their founding in 1988.

The center first saw Jackson in June or July 2020. That next January, Jaxon Griffin was born three weeks early at 5 pounds, 14 ounces. For Jackson, her son has brought joy into their life.

“He has been doing good,” Jackson said. “He smiles a lot and is just my everything right now.”

CPC’s medical services include a variety of checkups, but the signature service is a free ultrasound showing women the life growing in their bellies.

“That is the biggest thing for me,” Jackson said. “I had taken an at-home test but the sonogram put it to rest the first time I saw that heartbeat on the monitor.”

In addition to their medical offerings, the CPC offers other services that include counseling for the mothers and connecting them to support groups. 

“When I went into the center the first thing they told me was that my feelings were valid, I was right to be scared but everything would be OK,” Jackson said.

She said that her 6-year-old daughter, Alivia Christian, has gotten involved as well.

“She loves to hold him,” Jackson said. “She wants to help out however she can and she is currently learning how to change his diaper.”

Current numbers collected by the Centers for Disease Control say that 3,005 abortions were recorded in Mississippi in 2018. 

Since Jackson has the lone abortion center in the state, all of those abortions occured in Jackson. 

Hodge said that their review of the best data suggests that roughly 60 babies are aborted every week in Jackson. 

She said they believe about one in seven pregnancies in the Jackson Tri-County area end in an abortion.

Of all the services the center offers their clients, Jackson said the most enduring resource has been the support group she built up along the way specifically through Embrace Grace. 

Embrace Grace is a weekly Bible study that ministers to women while they are pregnant. It is roughly a 12-week class with a baby shower at the end where they receive gifts such as diapers and strollers for their soon-to-be newborn.

Hodge said they work with about eight churches in the area and Jackson would drive to Pearl every week to meet with her group.

Drew Baum, minister of Local and Congregational Care at Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Ridgeland, said they recently finished an Embrace Grace class of three women. 

Baum said they have several church members who volunteer with the center and that he knew Hodge through a sports team their children were on. He said the church was happy to host the women and are considering hosting another round.

Jackson still keeps in touch with some of the ladies in her group who have formed a weekly prayer group. 

“God is still here and he loves me and my kids, and he will bless you even when a situation seems so terrible,” Jackson said.

Jackson remains unmarried, though she said the father remains in her son’s life. 

She lives in Flora and has lived in Madison County for most of her life. 

She is a 2010 graduate of Madison Central High School. Previously she worked at Mannsdale Elementary cafeteria but now spends all her effort on raising her children. 

She is looking into a career in cosmetology, which Hodge said the CPC would work on getting her some scholarship funds for classes.

The Center for Pregnancy Choices offers a variety of ways to volunteer and get involved. 

This weekend  Saturday, May 1 they will host their annual Life Walk at the Flowood Nature Park. 

Registration is the day of from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

For more information about CPC or how your church or group can get involved visit cpcmetrofriends.org or call (601) 487-1063.

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