The Sorrow

A post by the Reverend Nancy Dunn on her blog, Wild Goose Beckons. In those moments, when the sorrow descends and rests upon your heart, your whole world changes and it will never be the same again. At least that was the way it was for me when I heard the words, "I'm sorry but there is no heartbeat. Your baby has died." The sorrow comes like a thief in the night stealing the joy from your life.

I've thought about that day a lot recently as politicians have recently discussed women's health issues in the news. Once again, abortion is a hot political topic. Once again, birth control is up for debate. Honestly, these are both issues I thought were decided a long time ago. Why must it come up again and again?

I thought about that day as I read about Michelle Duggar's recent miscarriage. The sorrow she is experiencing is immense. I cannot even begin to imagine living it out on TV with all the world to watch. All I wanted to do was hide, to bury myself deep under the blankets and not come out until I could forget. The problem is you can't forget. Even now, eight years later there are days where I remember the pain, the sorrow, and the dreams that were lost. Even now, with two healthy children who are the light of my lives, I will always remember what might have been.

The sorrow, the emotions, and the reality of life is what always angers me when politicians use issues like birth control and abortion to "win" votes. These are not clear-cut issues with right or wrong answers. The answers here are as varied as the stories of the women who tell them. Listen to my story and see how recent politicians' viewpoints would have impacted me.

It was 2004. My husband and I had been married for 4 years. After much discussion, we decided we would try to get pregnant. Well, there is no trying for me. I'm about as fertile as they come and it didn't take long for the line on  the stick to turn pink. Yes! I'm pregnant. We were very excited. But we didn't tell anyone in the beginning. We wanted to wait until we were through that tricky first trimester. Well, we did tell our boss, the senior pastor, because he was leaving on sabbatical. We thought it might be weird for him to come back and find me 6 months pregnant!

Soon, after much anxious waiting and hopeful planning, I went to the doctor for a 12 week check-up. Only, as I lay on that table, she got a concerned look on her face as she felt my belly. Then, she tried to find a heartbeat. Her eyes grew darker. I could tell something was wrong just by looking at her. She said, "Oh, it might be nothing but we need to get you scheduled for an ultrasound." Only, that would take 3 days. Three of the longest days of my life.

When my husband and I arrive for the ultrasound, the tech is all cheery. Until he reads my file. He starts the procedure and finds a small fetus. But, it's so small he can't see what is going on with it. He turns to me and says, "Hon, I'm gonna need you to go get undressed because I need to do a trans-vaginal on you." "I'm sorry, but could you explain to me what that is first," I say to him. So, he does. And, I cooperate. And, yes, it is very uncomfortable. I WANT to know what is going on with this baby, but, I can not fathom any good reason why a politician would make a woman have one of these invasive ultrasounds before she chooses to have an abortion.

The trans-vaginal ultrasound does it's job. It lets us know that I have indeed miscarried. My fetus stopped developing at 8 weeks. Here I am at 12 weeks carrying a baby that has no heartbeat. A baby I had hopes and dreams for. But, it is gone.

Yet, it's not gone. It's still there in my uterus. The medical term is a "missed miscarriage." No one knows how long I could have carried that non-developing fetus in me. It might have stayed there for months had I chosen to let it abort naturally. My doctor said we could stay the course for about a week and see what happens. Or, I could have a D & C that very day. The sooner it happened, the better for my uterus. The longer this baby stayed there the more likely I could develop a serious infection. But the choice was mine to make.

The choice was mine to make. Not some politician in Georgia who says I should carry a dead fetus full-term no matter what. The choice was mine. I was the one dealing with all of the emotions, all of the sorrow. I needed to end this pregnancy which had already ended itself. I needed to "clean house" and move on, at least physically. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I had a ways to go. But, it was my choice to make. So, I made it. On Friday, May 28, 2004, I had a medically necessary abortion because of a missed miscarriage. One of the saddest days of my life.

The sorrow that comes from losing a pregnancy can be overwhelming. The emotions each woman faces is very different. Different as each story. Different as each woman. The sorrow I have experienced this past month as I have read different politicians (both male and female) express definitive view points on this issue has almost overwhelmed me. And, I am angry. I am angry that many think issues like abortion are either black or white. It is not. Especially when stories like mine, an abortion that was not wanted but needed, becomes a part of the political foray.

I cannot tell you what to think or how to vote or what you should believe. I only want to tell you my story so you can understand that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to these politically divisive issues. Personally, I believe abortions should be avoided at all costs. But, to completely outlaw them will only make our world an even more tragic place to live. If you haven't watched Dirty Dancing in a while, you should! That movie has a lot more to say about abortion than it does dancing.

Many will say to me that I did not have an abortion. Yet, there are politicians out there today who want to make what I did illegal. How is that helping anyone? How is that helping our society? It's not. You see, that's a private decision that needs to be made between a person and her doctor. Plain and simple.

I believe our arguments over political issues like abortion and birth control sadden God. God knows we live in a crazy place. God knows there is sin in our world. God knows that we will make mistakes. What God really wants is for us to come together to talk about our differences. God wants us to respect each other. God wants us to love each other. God wants us to honor each other's opinions. God wants us to love our enemies. Because when we do, that's when the Kingdom of God is most present in our world. And, the sorrow that surrounds us all is replaced with a sense of peace.