Like everyone else across the country, I have watched the drama unfold and the debates rage since New York State announced its Reproductive Health Act last month.
I’ve seen stories of those who have had to endure the life-changing decision of terminating a wanted pregnancy. Although I applaud their willingness to share, I don’t need to read them, because I know the story well.
Last week marks six years since my husband and I said goodbye to our daughter, our first child who was deeply loved and wanted. Because of chromosomal abnormalities that left her with several organ deficiencies, including missing a piece of her heart, we were told that should she survive birth, her quality of life would be extremely poor. Not wanting her to suffer, we terminated at just past 20 weeks into my pregnancy.
I’ve spent the time since telling my story over and over again, hoping to help those who, like me, felt alone. It seems logical then to share my opinion about it (and incase it isn’t clear, I wholly support this type of legislation) and to add my voice to all of the others.
But this is the first time I’m sharing publicly on this topic, and the reason I haven’t jumped into the discussion is simple:
It hurts to think about the child I lost. It hurts to think about the decision we made, not because I regret it (I don’t) but because it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
It’s been a surreal experience watching this unfold, watching people argue back and forth most of whom have no experience with a late-term loss. Part of me wants to jump into the middle of it and just scream.
A big part of me, though, just wants to retreat.
I started writing this post last week and then stopped. I couldn’t finish it because I couldn’t manage to form my rambling thoughts into something cohesive. I’ve been thinking about it for days, trying to figure out what exactly I want to say and to make sense of the snippets of notes I’ve jotted down.
In thinking about this for the last week and a half, I’ve alternated between sadness and anger. Sad that reproductive rights are even a debate. Angry that people feel they can judge others’ decisions. And then I realized that the greatest problem I have with any of this might be the attempt to strip away the emotion and treat a termination as a black and white decision.
A word I’ve seen used a lot in these discussions is choice. But let’s be real: no one – I repeat, no one – chooses to be in a position where they must decide if their child lives or dies.
I was in such a state of grief and shock that my memories of those few months before and after my loss are a blur. I not only lost a child, but I also lost my faith. I almost lost my marriage. I lost any sense of fairness. I certainly lost hope.
No one chooses these things.
At that point, it’s not about choice – it’s about survival. And sometimes, even years later, it still is. In those moments, it’s sometimes just best to take a big step back from the commotion, clear your head, and be at peace.