Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How I Became Pro Life

I wasn’t always. I was heavily influenced by 70’ and 80’s pop culture. In fact I don’t really ever recall hearing any voices apposed to the ME culture as it was sometimes called. Perhaps an occasional group demonstrating somewhere with pro life placards, and God's Grace in my soul, but nothing in the media and no one I knew was pro life. My conversion to a pro life stance began with my first miscarriage.

Hubby and I were living in LA at the time and weren’t yet married. I was hesitant about getting married, after all very few folks bothered with it and my parents had finally gotten a divorce that year after a couple of decades of a really poor marriage, so from my perspective marriage was dicey at best. I wanted the baby of course, but we would consider marriage at some point in the future, and in the back of my mind I was thinking if at all.

Hubby had a different take on the situation. His proposal of marriage was not the most romantic I suppose. It went something like this. “If I’m good enough to have a child with I’m good enough to marry and if I’m not then I’m out of here.” I could see some merit in the boy’s argument. That was seventeen years ago last August and he claims that’s the last argument he’s ever won. I’m pretty sure that’s an exaggeration.

We were broke and I didn’t have insurance so I went to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy. To their credit I only recall them asking if the pregnancy was a good thing. When I said yes, they simply directed me to get prenatal vitamins and left it at that. I had no idea that Planned Parenthood was an abortion mill. I bought into the image they cultivate as an organization supporting families.

I remember taking the big blue Santa Monica bus back to our apartment in stunned amazement. The world had shifted. I was going to be a Mommy. There was a new person growing inside me!!! We were quite sure it was a girl and we named her Katherine Ann.

I had a wedding to plan in a few short weeks and of course I had a new person growing in me so I was quite busy. We set a date in December and I found all the stuff needed like a dress that would expand as necessary, although I was determined to get down the aisle before I was really showing, so I was under the gun.

In November I started spotting and then cramping pretty badly. Without insurance my only option for health care was through LA County, so downtown we went. The place was packed and we spent all day there. They confirmed I had lost the pregnancy and told me to bring in the fetus once it was expelled. That happened in a Wienerschnitzel bathroom in Pasadena. The whole experience of losing the pregnancy was surreal. Fishing my little girl, my baby out of a Wienerschinitzel toilet, well I just don’t have words for the experience. There was no way I was simply going to flush her down, and they did tell me to bring her in, maybe they could tell me why I had lost her. So I fished her out and wrapped her in a paper towel. The mind plays odd tricks with things that are simply to horrible to comprehend and losing a child is one of those things. I remember thinking that I needed to keep her warm and that she needed to be covered and paper towel was the only thing on hand. Yes, the mind plays tricks when it’s on overload.

I took her into the hospital and handed her over as they requested. How I wish we had been in a place in our lives where we could have given her a funeral like Abigail’s family gave their son, but we were not. No, I handed her over to the hospital hoping for information.

What I got was people who at every appointment looked at my chart and said. “Oh, you’ve had an abortion”, no, I would correct them, I had a miscarriage. “Oh”, they said, “It’s notated on the chart the same way.” Well it’s not the same I was thinking each time, I wanted my baby, I wanted her very much. When I asked about the results of examining the fetus they seamed perplexed as to why I asked. I never did get any information and I got the impression that no testing was done at all and that she got flushed after all. That was very, very hard. I remember walking down a sidewalk toward the parking lot feeling like the earth had stopped rotating. It was like time had stood still, and again the whole world had shifted.

Driving home down Santa Monica Blvd. I remember passing by crowds at the bus stops and wondering why all of those folks got to live, but my baby did not. Hubby told me I needed to get off that line of thinking quick or I would drive myself nuts. So I did, and life has continued on as it always does, but it’s not the same. It will never be the same. Seventeen years later as I write about Katie tears stream down my face like it was yesterday. The pain never ends, it’s just something you live with, a sorrow that pierces the heart, and may continue to do so until the day I get to meet her face to face.

I wonder about her and her two siblings. What will they look like, will they have blond hair like their aunts and cousins, our dark like ours, will it be thick and curly like Hubby’s side or just wavy like mine. Will they be athletic like their Dad, and my Dad, will they have a goofy side like their Dad or be more bookish like Mom.

I realize that most women who lose pregnancies either through miscarriage or abortion go on to successfully carry to term. I have not. It has made me acutely aware of the pain of the loss of a child. Knowing this pain, knowing how it lingers, year after year as milestones are passed and yet not celebrated, I can’t imagine compounding the pain by having made the choice to end your child’s life. And that’s how I became pro life.

Lord have mercy.

13 comments:

Thomas said...

Glad to run into another Michigan blogger.

Thomas said...

LOL, I just saw that you just commented on my blog!

The answer to your question is yes, and I am one county north of you (the Blade article in your archives indicates your hometown).

Catherine Shaffer said...

I saw your comment on Et Tu and came over to say hello. I was intrigued by your mention of living in Michigan and trying to adopt through the foster care system. Coincidentally, we began the process of adopting through the foster care system, and also recently that "didn't work out." Basically, it seemed that no one was ever going to do our home study because there were too many people in line ahead of us. I would have emailed you, but couldn't find a link.

Anne Marie said...

Hi Catherine:

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I don't quite have the whole blogging thing figured out yet. I don't have a blog only e-mail and I don't want to put my actual e-mail on my profile because I already get a bunch of spam everyday so I'm worried about adding to that.

With regards to foster adoption we have gotten exactly no where. We have a home study. We are even liscensed as Foster parents in order to be able to take a placement of kids who may become available. The upshot of all that, nothing.

Every single group of kids, and there have been about 5 of them, they have called us about we have said yes to and every single time the courts have sent the kids back to their birth families. We have gotten no where, and the stories of these kids are heartbreaking. I've even spent time trying to track down information about kids in other states. And still nothing.

In case your not familiar with Heidi @ Mommy Monsters Inc. http://mommymonsters.blogspot.com/ she is involved with foster adoption and may have some good resources/ info for you.

Let me know how every thing turns out.

Chris Arsenault said...

Anne Marie - have you attended a Rachel's Vineyard retreat? They tend to the healing of women and men who have suffered the loss of their young children through abortion, however I believe they also encourage women who've lost their children through natural miscarriages.

http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

May God show His purposes in your loss and heal you.

Anne Marie said...

I'm familiar with Rachel's Vineyard, but it seams to be a ministry exclusivly to post abortive women. I don't see miscarriage referenced in any of their materials.

Chris Arsenault said...

Hi Anne Marie,

Go to this page:

http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/qa/search-questions.aspx

and type in "miscarriage" and click on the Go! button. You'll find references to questions re: miscarriage answered by Rachel's Vineyard experts. The question asked by Christine Ann I believe has a solid answer.

Here's the last paragraph of that answer:

I think it would be very beneficial for you to participate in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Other women who have had miscarriages have participated in the retreats. There is a retreat coming up in April in the greater Cincinnati area. The person to contact is Peggy Feirstine at 513-588-0080 or at pfeirstine@cinci.rr.com. Remember, you do not have to go through this alone. There is help for your healing process.

I recently learned from my mother that I had lost two siblings to miscarriage. That explained the emotional toll on my family that I never understood growing up. My mother refused to share this info for 45 years!

adoro said...

Your story just breaks my heart, and I'm so sorry for your loss. Even through your words, I can't even begin to fathom th experience.

It's one of those times that makes one ask...why does God allow such awful suffering? Yet, your answer is there, albeing it doesn't make your loss less painful. God sent you that dear child to help you see something special..the value of the life of an unborn child. Now, because of your loss, there are likely many more children who will live. In the end, little Katie is a hero, and so are you.

God bless you!

Anne Marie said...

Chris Arsenault: I will consider a Rachel's Vineyard weekend. Thanks for the info.

Adoro: Thank you for your kind words.

Abigail said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing a bit of Katie's life & death with the world.
That part about wrapping the baby in paper towels went right to my heart. I had similar feeling. I broke down in serious tears in the Pathology lab because I was so afraid the staff wouldn't give us back what we termed "a body" and what they termed "medical waste."

What a powerful little saint! She got her hesitant Mom to overcome her fears of divorce and end up "hitched" to her Dad! What a grace-filled and all too brief life. I know that there is not a day that you don't miss her & her siblings. You and your husband will be in our prayers at the Papal Mass.

Many thanks again for writing the "hard stuff" on your blog. I know that some mom in the midst of a miscarriage will read your words in the future and find some peace.

On other fronts, I could use your prayers. A good friend of mine, who unfortunately is not a baptized, is considering I.V.F.

Anne Marie said...

Abigail:

Thank you for your prayers, for your post about your son's funeral, and for understanding and compassion.

I will include your friend who's considering IVF in my rosary intentions. It really is a horrifying destructive procedure, but like many evils it is cloaked in the image of something beneficial bringing babies into the world. I feel the Holy Spirit bubbling up a lot to say on the topic so I think I will be posting on IVF quite a bit as time goes on.

Jenny said...

Anne Marie,

What a beautiful, beautiful account of motherly love. How blessed are those three souls who are priviledged to have you as their earthly mother for all eternity. Your story is so heartbreakingly, honestly real...

A friend of mine recently lost her son, Dominic, to a miscarriage, and was tremendously helped by this unique organization called "Elizabeth Ministries:" http://www.elizabethministry.com/ They have a really awesome mission.

Thank you for sharing Katie with us.

Anne Marie said...

Jenny:

Thank you for the info on Elizabeth Ministries. I will check them out. I jumped on their web site really quick and was immediately stuck by this line on their home page.

"Following the example of Mary and Elizabeth,we visit and share the sacredness of life!"

I love the second joyful mystery, it’s my favorite. Maybe this is the place for me.