In the Trenches With a Pro-Life, Pregnant Heart

A woman online recently told me that she was pro-life until she had a crisis pregnancy. Then she became pro-abortion because the position allowed her to kill the baby and get rid of the uncomfortableness of losing the baby's father and being a single mom. What could I say? Life's tough. I'm sorry that your boyfriend is such an a** that he required you to kill your child in order to earn his "love." It wasn't really what I said but there wasn't much else at all I had the energy in me to say.

I was pregnant when that communication occurred and too tired to keep up the dialogue with her. She didn't want to discuss it anyway. She just wanted me to know that she suffered uniquely and was justified in her suffering. "Until you have been in a crisis pregnancy, you just won't get it."

I turned off the computer and shuffled to the couch where I had no further thoughts of her. The only thing going through my mind was "Help me, Jesus" and the overwhelming desire to not be pregnant. Hello Baby... don't worry... mama loves you and you're safe. I just wish heartily that storks really did bring babies. I wish I could hit fast forward. Or sleep for a few months. 

After having a surprisingly smooth first trimester, I have been knocked flat by the second. I don't mean to say that the first was easy. It was just waaay better than it usually is. This is my 8th time through the first trimester of pregnancy (I lost my 6th just as I was turning that corner) and generally, I spend that time clutching my pillow in misery. I have been on phenargan and zofran, neither of which really solve the problem and sometimes add to it. I have spent quite a bit of time curled up on various floors, reluctant to finish my journey across the house... if I can recall where I intend to go in the first place. I also suffer from a condition called ptyalism which is rare and embarrassing and not particularly treatable. (I once tried a medication to solve that but it was not nice.) If I can manage the nausea, I can somewhat manage the ptyalism but it sticks around for a long time regardless.

My dietary changes have made a huge difference in this pregnancy and the most notable difference is that I have been able to function through the misery. I am more present to my children. I am able to sit on the couch and be miserable instead of in bed. That makes quite a difference in family life!

At any rate, I have been eagerly looking forward to part two of this pregnancy thinking that perhaps week 14 would bring wonderful energy and sprightliness (yes, I dream big). With Little Cub, I was on medication through 5 months and never had an energy burst. Never through the entire 9 months. I felt better through the first trimester this time than any time during that 9 months. So you can see why this 14 week slump is a big disappointment... I thought it would get even better.

I've googled until my eyes grow fuzzy and have come up with possibilities: 1) hormone surge. This is likely. Baby is growing. 2) dehydration (or something close to it). I don't seem to be able to stomach beverages. I'm trying but the very act of sipping a drink causing my stomach to revolt. I have been trying to get fluids through food but to be honest, I don't think it's enough. 3) anemia. I've never had it before and I've felt a lot worse so this seems unlikely.

I've been sleeping for at least 12 hours a day and have difficulty waking up fully. This nearly resulted in disaster last week as I nearly burnt the house down trying to do more than I felt capable of doing. (Imagine the irony of a fire chief's wife burning the house down!) The tile floor in the bathroom is sometimes so inviting that I could lay down on it and nap if only it wouldn't scare the dickens out of other members of the household who would surely find me. Severe headaches that come and go. Increased nausea. Zero energy. Zero. I would love to try to exercise but I'm afraid to use up my reserves. I've missed mass more times than I care to count.

I want my second trimester honeymoon. Now. Still, this is better than last time and I am grateful. And I'm offering up this struggle in solidarity with the unborn who are targeted for abortion and their mothers who feel compelled by some suffering to choose to end the life of their children.

Pro-choice women will often attack pro-life women with the accusation that "you have never been in my shoes." This is generally true. But I have been in my shoes and I admit that one of the only things more challenging than natural labor is pregnancy. All nine months of it. Jesus, help me. That's my constant prayer. It rolls through my mind as I tend to my duties and often tumbles out of my mouth as I go about the house. "What'd you say, Mommy?" Oh, just talking to Jesus. 

My Jesus, I don't know how I can do this for another day. I simply do not know how I can. And the thought of not having a child in my womb and a body that reacts so bizarrely to the child's presence is like the thought of water to one stranded in the desert. What a relief it would be in those moments to have an empty womb! But to throw away a child to spare myself some suffering? That isn't an option.

I am not pro-life because it is easy for me to embrace life. I am pro-life because I believe that the unborn child is a person whose rights are equal to mine and for whom I am called to love and sacrifice. Because I am open to life, I am open to love in whatever form the good Lord chooses to give it. And as every Christian knows, the greatest expression of love is found in the image of God made man... hanging upon a tree. Who am I to throw life and love away? I have no right to such a thing and I can think of no justification in light of the Cross of Christ.

During each pregnancy, I end up with some weird solution to the constant drooling of ptyalism. With one child it was cucumbers. Another it was rotisserie chickens. Another was plain popcorn... vats of it. This time, it's apples. All day long. I never want to see another apple again. Yesterday, I consumed eight apples which is really not very nice. And in between thoughts like ugh!...I keep thinking won't this be a funny story someday to tell to this child? 

I was reading back on this blog through posts written during my last pregnancy and stumbled upon a suffering moment. I read and remembered. And I was consoled by the reminder that all suffering will end through Christ Jesus... sooner or later....

"After Mass, we were visiting with our community and priests as we always do and enjoying light conversation. Father turned to me suddenly and asked if I had received. When I confirmed that I had not he asked if I would like to. I was stunned. I looked to my husband because I couldn't think of what to say. He knows my burden and answered for me. Such a small act of thoughtfulness from both of them brought consolation they cannot imagine. I still could not receive but I felt strongly that I was surrounded by those who wanted to make sure I was taken care of. Even a small, small word carries a burden for a moment and makes a difference. They do not know what that moment meant. They didn't see me weeping in the baby room or hear the desperate prayers of my heart.

How many walk in pain for weeks, months or years with no one who takes the time to notice? How many lost opportunities have we had to lift another's weight even for the briefest time with a word or act of generosity?  I'm writing this down here hoping not to forget this lesson when my moment of misery has passed.

And if I ever have an intense suffering that will not pass, I pray that I will be able to cling to the hope of heaven as I cling to the hope of seeing the face of this child."

(excerpt from What if it Never Ends: Clinging to Hope)
Posted on January 22, 2013 and filed under "pregnancy".