Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Acts and Omissions

It turns out I have a friend who is a social conservative, fiscal liberal. I didn't know those exist? We were able to have a somewhat normal discussion about why abortions should not be allowed (the friend agreed to rape, incest and life/health of the mother exceptions, which is how we got to talking about it*), but later that day and the next day I had a hard time reconciling the fact that I was friends with something who was judging me. Not really, personally. I didn't tell my story. But I felt like there is nothing but judgment when you decide to substitute your decision for someone else's. I think that's actually the definition of being judgmental. A few more days passed and I was fine and we can still be friends. I'm pretty sure.

Last weekend there was a dinner party for my horse trainer who turned 50 the weekend before. I was talking to a friend who is late in pregnancy with a baby boy who used to have a twin. When she posted on Facebook that one of the twins had died, that's what she said. He died. She told me the other night that he had anencephaly and they decided to terminate. It came at great risk to the other baby, but continuing with the pregnancy as it was would have come at great risk to her. The doctors predicted that he would have lived eight hours at most. As we were talking I was the one fighting back tears. I mean crying. It all started because of the story of our broodmare giving birth to a stillborn foal, whose body was malformed. The mare foaled right after another mare whose baby lived, and apparently she showed signs of longing and jealousy. One day the mare didn't come when called, and the woman who took care of her thought she might have died. Like of a broken heart. And I remember this story from years ago and I was so sad about it, imaging what it might have been like. For a horse! And then it happened to me. And I turned to my friend as I was then crying and said, "I thought that was sad but then it happened to us." She didn't cry but she opened up and asked me if I had gotten therapy. "Probably not enough," I said. I didn't even know I felt that way. It was strange to see her so composed, so much closer to her loss, while I cried more than, you know, I may have wanted to. When I asked if my mascara was running, she said no and that she had already checked. Maybe she wasn't as sad about her loss as I was about mine. It's hard to believe that, but we are all different and emotions affect us all differently. She has an older child. The other twin is doing well. But it was interesting to also hear how the loss affects the older child, and how my friend was struggling to explain it all to a 4-year-old, especially without the use of God books. We agreed to write a book. I don't know how to tell an older child that her little brother died before he was born, but some day I want to figure out a way to tell my younger children about their big brother who died.

And what do we say? What is part of that story? And what, if anything, is left out? It's because of people like my first friend that people like me and my second friend don't tell a significant part of our story when we tell people that we had a baby...but he died.

I will never tell Friend 1 that I had an abortion because my baby had cystic fibrosis. It's her opinion that when you sign on to have a baby, you just "figure out" anything and everything that comes along with that, no matter the quality of life issues, the financial issues, the effects on every other relationship you have in your life. She's confident in this position because she can imagine life with a child in a wheelchair, and it doesn't seem that bad to her. I just wish I had had the presence of mind to say, quite kindly, that you don't really know what you would do in a certain situation until you are actually in that situation. Because there are a 1,000 other scenarios that she did not imagine. And if you can't know what you would do, how can you possibly know what someone else should do?

I am sad, and frustrated, and angry, that part of my story is stifled. I agonized over my decision, and agonized over the loss of my baby and the life I wanted with him. So few people truly understand this. And the ones who don't...it's like, you can't tell them.

*Is incest not rape? Because if it isn't, then allowing an abortion in cases of incest is an acknowledgment that we don't want to have babies with birth defects, right? And if prohibiting abortion is about protecting the innocent life of the baby, then it is not morally justifiable to allow abortion for rape. And is anyone actually opposed to abortions where the mother will die if she doesn't get one? It would be interesting for someone opposed to abortion to make a Darwinist argument in that case, no?


  1. That story about the horse broke my heart. Just knowing that there is no support for the poor horse. Anyway, I have never heard of a social conservative/ fiscal liberal, odd.
    I told my most conservative friends about our abortion. They were really supportive- which was not hugely surprising. It just felt awful telling this lie about losing the baby. They had a miscarriage so I felt like questions would come up "how did you find the baby had passed?" and I just couldn't lie. I had a feeling they would be understanding though. Our diagnosis was almost certainly fatal in the very short term though- that seems to make people more accepting. Which is baffling.
    Anyway- I'm rambling. I really wanted to comment on the last bit- the incest part. I have ALWAYS thought about the same issue regarding intentional incest. Isn't that the ultimate "you should have kept your whore legs closed- especially with your brother- and now you're being punished with a child with severe defects"? situation (and I hate when people draw a connection to sinful parents and non-ideal children (misbehaved, physically or mentally handicapped).
    Last thought- There are days when I wouldn't have cried at that story and days when I would have sobbed. I don't know that any reaction at any single point in time is a reflection on how well someone is dealing.

  2. I also wonder about what to tell my children about their older sibling, how do I explain the termination to them, never mind other random people. I find it so difficult to tell others because my diagnosis was not fatal, but those who I have told have been mostly supportive. Only 1 person I told has withdrawn from me (I wasn't that close to her anyway). I can never be sure of people's reaction, though, so it's a story I don't share freely. That story about the horse is so sad, and I'm sure things like that happen in nature all the time.