These last two weeks, as I have been struggling to deal with the ripped open pain of the baby no one remembered, I've been hurting. I've carried this pain pretty much alone - who to share it with?
But God has a way of redeeming. Of stepping in and working through our pain.
I work in a totally secular environment a few days a month. Usually only four, but this month I've been working a lot. I've spent a lot of time with the aides and nurses, and we talk. Saturday night was a crazy night at work. Totally crazy. But somewhere near midnight, we got all the old people settled in bed, and we were finishing up some small tasks and talking.
I don't know how the conversation came around to pregnancies, but it did. The nurse, who is younger than me was talking about how she doesn't think she will be a good mother and would not like to be pregnant. She's told me that before, but this night she went on to say, "It's not that I have never been pregnant before..." and she told me about the two times she was and the abortions she had.
Inside me, my jaw dropped. I know people do this, but the horror of it stood in my face. And I struggled to know how to respond.... if I say nothing, do I stand by silently? All the condemnation that I grew up with was there, but is that the best way? To simply say, "wow, I can't believe you would kill your baby!" That did not seem the best way.
I prayed desperately and listened quietly. Then she shared about the pain involved in the first proceedure -it had shocked her. I nodded, and told her that when I delivered my first daughter who had died at almost 19.5 weeks, that it was the hardest labor I went through. She listened and began talking some more. She knew the story of my ring, and she knew I mourned the loss of my daughter, so she asked a question. I shared how I was so upset that they threw her in the garbage without letting me see her. That got her upset like only a nurse can get, and she said, "Why did they do that?! Isn't that one of the first things we learn is to make sure the mother gets a chance to see a stillborn baby, to say goodbye, to have a photo if she wants?"
I told her that my baby was three days short of twenty weeks - the cut off to be a "legal" human being. That angered her. "Three days?! What is three days? She was still a baby!" she stormed.
We talked about the circumstances of that birth some more and how difficult it was for me to lose my baby. Then there was silence while we finished our task. After a few seconds, she said, "I know I only had an abortion because I wasn't ready to be a mother... I guess that is a really selfish reason to end a life, isn't it? But I just know I would make a horrible mother."
I looked up quietly at God right then and thanked Him for the gift of my daughter. In sharing her brief life, I was able to do what words of condemnation were not able to do - show with love to my friend that I believe in life before birth. And that message was heard and understood without pushing her away. My job is not to slam her with guilt and condemnation, but to show her the truth. Then I simply said, "well, you could always give one to me - I've always wanted more!" She laughed, and we went on.
Later on, she talked a little with me about feelings of guilt and also how she doesn't feel the guilt she thinks she should feel. I listened. When I left, she told me to get my ring fixed and bring it to show her, and that she was glad my husband had got a stone for her.
I left that night and drove home feeling sick. Sick at the thought of two babies killed by their mother. But interestingly, I did not feel angry at her. I thought I would in this situation. Instead, I felt a deep sorrow for her. For what she did not understand. For what she did. For the guilt, even so small, that she felt. For the pain she had grown up with that tells her she will be a failure as a mother. For the simple fact of two babies whose mother does not even mourn them.
But my eyes also filled with tears of ... of joy? of peace? Seeing the gift my daughter was.... walking through the valley of her death changed me. I have a depth I didn't have before. I've seen God use it to make me more able to connect to others, to comfort in pain, and tonight, to share the value of life in a way that was understood, without a "holier than you" condemnation. God had used the grief of these last weeks and redeemed it in a way I would not have expected.
The simple fact that my friend who has listened to my grief the last weeks over my first daughter, and sympathized with me could not both sympathize with me and deny that a child not born is not human. My sharing my pain brought her gently to the place where she knew that abortion was ending a life.
Would she do it again? I don't know. That is for God to deal with. I am only here in her life, sharing with her, living in front of her, and letting God talk through me. I pray she won't.
And on the way home, I told God to give those two babies of hers a hug from me. Tell them that there is someone who mourns them. They are not forgotten. Even their mother has not forgotten. She told me who each one's father was. "The second one was Adam's baby". I noticed that she referred to it as "Adam's baby" - baby... not a word someone who thinks it is "just a bump of tissue" says.
Pray for my friend.