Monday, February 27, 2017

A Hard Anniversary

Warning: This post is about pregnancy loss. If you need to pass this one up, I completely understand. I'll catch you the next time.

Seven years ago we lost a baby.

It's best to just be blunt about it. This sort of thing isn't usually talked about or shared much because it's difficult and ugly and raw. But it happens to so many women. You actually know someone who has had a miscarriage (a horrible word) even if they have never told you about it. At least one in four women lose a baby. Think about that for a moment, one in four. That's your mom, your wife and two female friends. It's a very common occurrence. And it's not just a female experience either. When you and your partner enter into a pregnancy together, the partner feels the loss as well. Now that's not to infer that the experience is the same, but the grief, that's universal. Loss is never easy to take.

For us, it happened early in our pregnancy. We were still in the first trimester. We never knew the gender of our child. We would never know the person they were to become. What quickly became true for us, was that we were not going to have a baby that year. I felt so betrayed by my body. How could it do something like this? I felt responsible, that somehow I had done something to cause this loss. I miscarried the baby; even our language suggests I was at fault. I knew that wasn't true, but without an explanation, without answers of some kind (which most of us never get) I needed to find something to blame. But that's what's insidious about the loss of a baby you have never known: there is no reason. There is no answer. There is just loss. And emptiness. And grief.

It comes up at various times for me, as grief is bound to do. Always around my birthday (my due date) and every time I watch Tangled (those lanterns!) It gets easier to deal with as time has passed, but I never fully trust my body anymore. I've had two more kids since our loss, but even that hasn't put to rest my mistrust and doubt. I suppose that's just a side effect for me that will linger.

I wanted to share this story for a couple of reasons. First, it's that time again, the time around which we discovered our child was gone. And it's my reality around this time of year, every year, to be reminded of it. Secondly, I share this because I find myself in a political position that seems contrary to this experience at first blush. I am an ardent supporter of the right for a woman to choose if she will terminate a pregnancy or choose to go full term. As much as I grieve our lost child, I need you to know that I do not take pregnancy or bringing life into the world lightly. It's a daunting and sacred task. And it is fraught with peril. So very many things can happen, not the least of which is losing the life of the mother.

To be clear, I would like there to be fewer and fewer abortions. I don't think it's a good solution for everyone, or even most women. But I also feel strongly that a woman needs to be allowed to choose what is best for herself. Because believe me, she is going to have to live with that decision for a very long time no matter what she decides. And there will be consequences no matter which path she takes. Just like my grief has stayed with me, and just like the angst of raising my kids is ever present, the decisions a woman makes durning pregnancy are far reaching.

I'll share a little more later about the day I saw the red line of abortion clearly, and I knew whether I would be able to cross it if the circumstances were raised. But for today, it's enough to remember this lost love one. For those of you who have experienced such loss, know that when I think of our loss, I send up a prayer for others who are suffering and for those who have suffered. We're in an exclusive club. I know your pain. And I support your need to grieve in whatever way you need to. And for those of you who have never experienced such grief, please realize that someone near you has. Maybe just today, on this anniversary of a lost life, we can be a little kinder to those around us. Believe me, it makes a difference.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Once Upon A Time There Was A Girl Named Amy

It's been a month since I have been home from the Women's March on Washington. I've been very busy with almost daily civic action, calling my local and federal representatives, becoming educated on issues and bills, trying to listen with intention to those whose opinions are quite different from mine. It's overwhelming at times, and it can be exhausting. There's no question about it, we have so much work to do. If our nation is to be hold the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then there is so much more to do.

Something I keep coming back to, part of the work that I believe has to be done, is the need to be honest about our stories. If I don't know what you are struggling with, or why you feel afraid, angry or disappointed, I won't understand you or your needs. And there is a distinct lack of knowing one another right now. I'm not talking about knowing which SNL sketch you find funny or which team you root for on the weekends. I'm talking about understanding what makes you afraid of immigrants; what scares you about the vanishing middle class; what keeps you from voting; what makes you want to run for the hills or hide under the covers; what keeps you up in the middle of the night. I want to know why this country feels so divided when I trust we are all trying to make this a better place. I believe in the power of information and I want to know your story too.

So, in an effort to peel back the mask on my life, I plan to share my stories here. It may happen a little at a time, or it may just flood out. I'm not sure. But the stories need to be told, and I hold on to much hope in telling them; I hope that we all have the ears to hear them. I hope that, if you have a different experience than mine, you will be able to catch a glimpse of what it looks like from my window. I don't intend to change hearts or minds, but I do hope that you have the generosity to see it. And if by some miracle, your story feels similar to mine, then I hope to remind you that you are not alone. It is true that everyone we meet is fighting a battle of some sort. You might not see it. They may never feel brave enough to tell you. But we are all fighting for something. I hope my stories will give voice to some who just may not be able to tell their own.

So let the bravery begin. And please, know that I am all about dignity and respect. Trolls will be blocked. You've been warned. Truth seekers and the curious will find my reality (the good and the bad), one blog post at a time. Welcome friends. Let's get to know one another.