Sunday, May 1, 2011
Today is the International Babylost Mother's Day and I knew I would probably write something... I never know quite how my posts here will be received but this one is one that I have thought about for some time- and I have felt little nudges here and there to write about it- so I prayed about it and I am hoping that in some way you will open your heart to the story that I am going to share. Sit with it. You may not agree with my words but please read them.
When I was pregnant with my last child, the doctors and nurses would ask questions for filling out my chart. I would explain that I had been pregnant 5 times, had two losses and that the baby I was carrying would be (God-willing) my fourth living child (he was). These numbers could get confusing, so I would go into greater detail about Andrew being stillborn at 39 weeks, and losing E in my first trimester and having a D & C. On one occasion, the doctor was trying to get it straight and said to me, "So you had a twin pregnancy with one stillborn which equaled one living child, then two more living children, one abortion and then this pregnancy."
"Um what?? Abortion??"
I didn't realize that that was indeed the procedure that I had. It didn't matter that my baby was technically gone on my medical chart is says: Pregnancies: 5. Abortions: 1.
Lately I have seen and heard a lot of messages about abortion and pro-life. One of my favorite quotes (By Dr. Seuss) is "A person's a person no matter how small." I have never referred to my children as embryos or fetuses. If you have been reading for a while you know how I have a strong relationship with God, I am a Christian and yet sometimes the actions of other Christians make me sigh and make me want to run and hide.
I have seen bumper stickers that say when the heart starts beating, I have heard of the horrific things that happen during an abortion. I wonder what purpose those things serve. I wonder if they have changed the minds of someone with a healthy pregnancy facing such choices- and still it all makes me cringe when I see it- and it's usually because of her.
There are many people in this world who have changed me- sometimes it is just a story that sticks with me- one that I can't shake- and every time I hear someone say the word abortion I do not think of that doctor who wrote it on my chart- I think of her.
She had a stillborn just like me. It was her first pregnancy after years of infertility. He died while she was in labor and she knew it but she labored still- he was a large baby- nearly 10 pounds- and she labored still. She labored for many hours and at last held her son. A son she had dreamed about. She held his lifeless body on his birthday, Christmas Day and said goodbye. She and her husband went home alone.
She was older and wanted so much to be a mother that they tried again and after some time finally got pregnant. This was it! It was finally her turn! And then she went to that 20 week ultrasound- the one where 'normal' parents go to see cute pictures of their babies- learn the gender. She went to that 20 week ultrasound where people like us hold our breath wondering what horrible news could possibly await us.
For most of us- bad news does not happen twice and I do want to stress that so many of my friends who have had a loss have gone on to have healthy full-term babies (myself included 3x over)- but that was not to be her story. She learned at that 20 week ultrasound that again she would labor and deliver a dead baby. For the ultrasound showed that something had gone terribly wrong in her child's development. His brain did not develop. It was not there. In short he had no brain.
And after the shock she was faced with a decision- she could continue the pregnancy (as I know some moms have) or she could end it. After as many days as she possibly wait, she chose the latter. She cried when she spoke of it. She cried that she had to make that decision but she said she couldn't do it again. She could not labor again and deliver a dead baby. Not again. Her body could perhaps survive it- but her heart (broken again) could clearly not and as I write this I wonder how she is surviving today...
Looking at her, I felt so much sadness. I couldn't imagine having to make such a choice- and if faced with it and in her shoes I don't know what I would do. She was grieving so much and I could feel the weight in the room and felt helpless to lift it from her shoulders. All I could think was that they were ok. They were whole now- that she would see them again.
Her shoulders slumped as she spoke of her church. The church that had turned their back on her. For she had had an abortion. And though she needed their comfort they could not give it to her. While she hated that she had to make that decision, she stood by it still- for no one knew her pain- I clearly didn't and I was not about to judge her for it. I will not judge her still.
And that is why when I drive behind those bumper stickers and open those emails about life I get a lump in my throat and it is hard to swallow. I haven't talked to her in years but I wonder what she thinks when she sees them- if somehow it brings it all back- though then again it is something that never does leave us... our children.
So please- the next time you forward something on or think about slapping a bumper sticker on your car think about her- and others who have made that choice with a heavy heart- with a heart that wanted a baby more than anything-
The problem is until you've walked in her shoes... you won't know. So please don't judge. Just be. Be supportive. Be kind. Be loving. For that is how you share God. Embrace those who are hurting and listen- for their story just may teach you something. Perhaps we as Christians should not judge but offer support and love and offer another way- For even that word "Abortion"- that was something that brought her so much pain- from the loss of a baby who was already gone, to the loss of a church community that was so supportive during her first loss and to the loss possibly of faith...
This world used to be so black and white for me... and as each year passes it becomes a little more gray. I try to make sense of it and sometimes the pieces just don't fit together- at least not as neatly as they did in my youth- before I knew. Before I knew her.
Thinking of you who made that choice with a heavy heart- and those who went and delivered still. There is no easy choice- but you are all mother's and I remember you on this- your own Mother's Day. Thank you for sharing your stories with me- with others- for they change us- make us pause- change us hopefully for the better.