Sunday, January 22, 2012

the sanctity of things that wil never be

sometimes the bitter irony of life is almost enough to choke on completely. today is "sanctity of life sunday" (a day of action for those who are "pro-life"). today i am miscarrying my baby.

i have never been strongly in either the "pro life" or "pro choice" camp. they both seem poorly named, to me. neither side seems to even see, let alone grasp, the complexities of the issues. i've always believed something along the lines of life beginning when the pregnancy stops being called an "embryo" and starts being called a "fetus". and i don't believe that terminating a pregnancy is always wrong, but i think it sometimes is. beyond that, i'm not sure.

what i am sure of is that even though my pregnancy was only in the embryo stage, even though there was no heartbeat yet (technically it wasn't even an embryo because the cells were faulty...just a tiny clump of tissue that couldn't become anything more), even though i can only refer to it as an it, it was still my baby. i only knew it existed for a week, and i was so immensely in love with it for that week. i know that it was something precious and beautiful, perhaps sacred. i know that i miss it. i miss the possibility of it, and the hope, and the excitement, and the plans. i miss what we could have been as a family of four.

knowing the depths of the ache that is in my heart today makes me feel for women who are in the position to make an impossible choice. it is so very hard to lose a baby randomly to miscarriage. i think it would be harder still to have to choose to lose it.

losing the dream that was my baby today doesn't really change my views about abortion. if anything, it further complicates things. i try to console myself with the science of it, and the fact that it was only a few hundred cells - which my head truly does believe. but my heart yells "but it was a few hundred cells that i loved, and that i would have jumped in front of a train for". so maybe the "choice" camp is medically right, and it's not a baby at all, but maybe god's heart still hurts like this every time. and maybe the "life" camp would get further in talking about the sanctity of life if they mourned with the mothers who choose to end pregnancies, rather than calling them monsters and denying their grief.

because maybe a tiny clump of tissue is sacred whether it will become a baby or not, is alive or not, simply because it is part of the beautiful and complicated world that we are all a part of and connected to. maybe we all should be more concerned with the sanctity of life on the grand scale, not just with its tiny complexities. maybe instead of sermons and rallies about the sanctity of one facet of life, we should spend a lot more time thinking and talking about, and acting in accord with, the sanctity of god...which might mean loving mothers who make hard choices as much as we love bundles of cells or fetuses or babies.

a lot of the "sanctity of life" posts i've seen today have only made the loss of my baby feel cheap. like the dream of life that i lost is being coopted by a cause. no one else gets to say if my baby was alive or not, real or not, sacred or not, because no one else carried it and loved it. and if i feel that way, having lost my baby in an "acceptable" way, i know that it must be much worse for those mothers who have lost their babies in "unacceptable" ways. it seems counterintuitive that i would feel more solidarity with them than with those who believe that life starts at conception. i think i simply feel close now to anyone who has lost a baby, no matter how or why. do the how's and why's really matter to grief? i think anyone who truly valued the sanctity of life would grieve with all of us equally.

it feels good to write. i have gone back and forth over whether to post this...because not a lot of people even knew i was pregnant, and because it is a level of intimacy that i usually reserve for my real/non-blog life, and because my heart is so raw that it is hard to breathe. but i'm going to post this because i believe so strongly in the sanctity of life on the whole, and that grief must be spoken and honored. and mostly because i do not want anyone else or any cause or side to speak for my baby and my loss. i'm the only voice it will ever have, and it deserved to be known and talked about, even though - and because - it was only a few hundred cells that will never be.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to you and Tony, Betsy. I can only imagine the pain of losing someone you never got to know. <3 I know some things are better shared in real life/non-blog land, but know that you're loved all the way here in California.

  2. This is an incredibly powerful post.
    I am so deeply sorry for your loss.
    And yes, that baby is honored here.
    Love from,