This past weekend was a tough one for me. I sat in front of the television watching the Women’s March on Washington with tears streaming. My children sat with me, asking questions as they came up. Some questions were easier to answer than others.
Ten years ago, I carried two beautiful girls in my womb but knew I would only have the privilege of raising one. The baby that was going to die was the one that made herself known almost every second of every day; she kicked and shoved her twin constantly. Abigail moved as if trying to fit a lifetime of big sister pestering into just a few short months.
When our family doctor used the words “inconsistent with life” I just stared at him. I couldn’t think. My vision dimmed and all I could do was focus on trying to breathe — trying to stay upright.
I listened but had to rely on my husband for words and memory.
I thanked the doctor as we left the room, forcing a smile as if I was leaving with a prescription for the common cold. My strength held me up until we reached the office’s front doors and my husband reached for my hand. That small kindness weakened my resolve and my knees buckled.
Fortunately, my husband’s strong arms kept me standing as they have in so many moments since.
Weeks later, a new doctor from our high-risk pregnancy team carefully introduced me to another term I had to grapple with: selective abortion.
The doctor explained that Abigail’s condition could prove problematic for her sister who, at that time, was being monitored for only minor anomalies. While more testing was done, we had to start comparing the potential complications of carrying both babies to term with the potential complications of selectively aborting our dying child.
My hands rarely left my belly – I wanted the immeasurable power of a mother’s love to change what was happening inside my body. I wanted to wake up and feel the glorious terror I had felt immediately after finding out we were pregnant with twins. So desperately, I wanted to go back in time to the conversations I’d had with my husband about finances and how our son would handle two new siblings. I yearned for the relative simplicity of weeks gone by.
Selective abortion. The term smothered me — a blanket of what ifs and loss so heavy I couldn’t catch my breath.
Abortion is a contentious issue at the best of times, so we didn’t tell many what we were going through because we didn’t want personal views on the morality of abortion to weigh on what we ultimately had to decide was best for our family.
After more testing, the decision was taken out of our hands. The procedure was too dangerous to attempt because of how Abigail was presenting.
We had been forced to grapple with life and death, but, as painful as it was, the decision had been ours alone. Morally and legally, we could decide what was right for our family.
This past Saturday, my daughter asked me to change the channel from the news coverage of the march. I told her I wasn’t ready to turn it off, that it felt too important.
I said she could leave the room if she wanted, but she stayed. And, I cried.
I looked at my little girl and tried to put into words why I was so emotional. Each time I tried to speak a stifled sob would choke my words back. Even when my son held my hand for comfort and strength, I couldn’t describe what I was feeling.
When I look at my daughter I see the battles I didn’t think she’d have to wage.
I see her sitting in a room with a doctor telling her news that will shatter her, and I see that loss forever dimming her light.
I worry about her not having a choice in that moment. In any moment.
The thought of my daughter’s rights to her body being compromised cuts me deeper, more painfully, than the scalpel that brought my girls into this world.
I’ve seen many posts questioning the motives of the Women’s March on Washington – questioning the necessity of such resistance. In these pieces, too often the marcher’s stories are silenced and their courage negated as commenters label them whiny liberals, libtards, ugly bitches, or crybabies.
That’s why I’m raising my voice and telling my story.
I am inspired and motivated by everyone who attended the marches worldwide. There are so many layers and complexities to the issues people marched for on Saturday — this is only my story, but I am here and I am paying attention. I will continue to learn, read, and listen. I will do better and I will no longer be complacent.