Five years ago today, Dave and I went to a lake near my parents's home. We lit a candle in memory of the baby that was due to be born that day but who we never met. May 10 is a day I will not forget. Today, it doesn't hurt the way it did that day. I know that God used that year of disappointment and waiting for good. But it does remind me of another day - the day in October when I went to the Women's Hospital in Winnipeg to have a D&C done. There was a young girl there and as I sat waiting to be called for surgery, I overheard a nurse asking her in a nearby closed office the question, "Are you sure?" It struck me as terribly unfair - that I wanted a child so desperately and couldn't and this girl was in a desperate situation and felt she had to end her child's life. Two women facing the same surgery with very different circumstances. I have deep respect for people who walk with women in their journeys of decision and pain.
Four years later, I too was given the opportunity to 'terminate my pregnancy'. (wow, those words sound so chilling to my soul now) A way out. Why carry a child who will die in the end anyway? Or live for a long time with a severe syndrome and health issues? Why put myself, my family, and a child through so much pain? What point is there to that? And to be honest, for a time I wished I could take it. The way ahead looked impossible. The possibilities of how this would change our life - our plans for the future - absolutely terrified me. Yet, I knew from the start that this option was closed to us.
Some people have asked why we chose the way they did. Others have secretly wondered. I have avoided tackling this question here on my blog until now - but perhaps now is the time. I do not want to debate the issue of abortion. I do want to share from our experience and as you read about or observe our journey, and perhaps meet Rachel yourself, I hope that you will at least come to appreciate our reasons. I even dare to hope that you will be able to see, along with us, the possibilities for Beauty and Hope, even in the midst of deep anguish.
Did our spiritual beliefs dictate our choice? Yes and No. I do believe the Bible tells me the truth when it says that God is our Creator, that all life is sacred, that He is the one who forms us in our mother's womb - we are known completely by him long before we are named by our parents. This has shaped my view of when life begins and how we are to honor that life. But on those first awful days, my thoughts and questions were not theologically abstract - they were intensely personal. The question that immediately came to mind and stayed there, was this. "How does one mourn a termination?"
If I took things into my own hands, I would always wonder if I made the wrong choice. I would always wonder what Rachel looked like, felt like in my arms. As a mother who already felt her moving in my womb, I knew in my heart that it would wound me deeply to know that I had ended my child's life. I have the comfort (even with the added pain) of knowing that I did what I could for my daughter, and that her days on this earth ran their course, as they were intended. At five months gestation, I had already formed a bond with the life growing in me, suffered morning sickness for three months, started to dream of who he/she might be. How would I mourn (and heal) when I could never know or share Rachel with you? I wanted her to be real in your eyes as well, as real as she was to me.
Also, if I take things into my own hands - I do not leave room for the possibility that God might heal her, or that Doctors (even with all their expertise) might be wrong. And I do not leave room for the beauty and the good that can only come from walking through the pain. Does this mean that I welcome suffering? NO!!! My natural inclination is to run as far away from it as possible. But the truth is, none of us can really insulate ourselves from suffering. I knew from that awful day, that either way I would experience deep grief for my child. I knew that there had to be a way to face the pain and the unknowns in our future. I know that for some of you this may sound like a foreign language but I am going to say anyway that ....The only way I know how to do this is to put my trust in Jesus, who also suffered for me. And his suffering was not without purpose. Because of his death, I have real life and Hope! I trust that our suffering too will not be in vain.