I worked on this blog yesterday for a long time. I was having a really hard time getting it to gel right. I had one point I wanted to make but I kept veering in to another point and I fought it over and over trying to get my thoughts to behave. I had reached the point where I realized they weren't going to and I was just going to have to mesh them together to get this out when I got news that stopped me in my tracks. Suddenly it was all too personal to move forward with, I put it aside and wasn't sure when I would pick it up again.
But the personal nature of it, along with the topic (topics?) of the blog now wouldn't let go and they added to each other so I came back to it today. Deleted most of what I wrote yesterday and started all over again. Knowing that I have a point to make and part of it will be personal, part of it will be political, not all of it will make sense to everyone, and I will have to cry at some point while I write. So knowing all of that I start again...
I titled this blog "We are all hypocrites..." I've touched on that theme a lot over the years, here and on my Facebook feed, and in conversations with people. We all hold beliefs that if we were to lay them side by side on a table would be opposite to each other. And yet somehow we hold on to them just the same. We believe things that don't work across situations. We hold one set of standards for one thing, and a different set for another. We don't like to be labeled while we label everyone around us. And sometimes we don't really believe what we say we believe.
Today we are going to talk about how we don't really believe what we say we believe, not when we start to break it down. Not when we have to realize that we are hypocrites about it. Not when we have to own every aspect of it.
Years ago a friend of mine had a miscarriage. She had been trying to get pregnant. She had two others after that one. Carrying a child wasn't easy for her. But this was the first one. We had been out hiking that day, both of our husbands were in the Navy and both out to sea so it was just us. We had hiked to a lighthouse, had a picnic, hiked back to the car. Good day. Long day. I dropped her off at her house and headed home. I lived about 40 minutes away and as I walked in the door of the house my phone was ringing. "I need you to come back. I think something is wrong with the baby." I made the return drive in about 25 minutes. Flew in to the house and found her in the bathroom. There was a lot of blood. After looking at what she had passed so far I made the call that we were headed to the hospital. After a blood test, two sets of ultrasounds and a somber visit by the OBGYN on call the news came down. The baby was gone. She needed to go in to surgery for a d and c and spend the night there.
We were 21 years old. Exhausted from a very long day. Starving, since neither of us had eaten since our picnic lunch and it was close to midnight. And completely at a loss on how to handle this. So we did the best we could. Which involved convincing the orderly to let me make ambulance noise when we pushed her around the hallways to various tests and when she went in to surgery. Wishing we had a camera with us because when the IV failed and blood backed out of the tubing and over her hand dripping off of one finger on to a puddle on the floor it was the best horror movie scene ever. Telling the nurse on duty that a Big Mac Meal after she came out of surgery was exactly what she needed and if she would play along an extra fried cherry pie might just end up at the nurse's station. And making any number of jokes to make the orderlies laugh and not feel so badly that they were there dealing with a young mother's miscarriage while her husband was out to sea and unable to be reached.
After I got her fed and settled in for the night (morning by that time) I went back out to her place to get clothes for the next day, feed the cat, and to clean up the bathroom. Hoping that we were with it enough when we left to close the bathroom door. I am really strong and good in a crisis but that would have pushed me over the edge I think. Thankfully we had. I got her clothes, took care of the cat then braced myself for the worse task at hand. I cleaned the bathroom. Wiped up the blood and took care of the clots that we had examined the night before. Which meant flushing them away. What else was there to do? We have no ceremony for this. We have no standard that we do when a woman miscarries. Maybe say we are sorry and better luck next time at best. At worst we tell them how it wasn't really anything anyway and it never really happened.
And here is where I am going to get harsher in my language, my thoughts and my tone so you can back out of this blog now if you would like...
We do more for a child's dead goldfish than we do for the loss of their potential sibling.
I wrote here about the bullshit hypocrisy in our abortion laws and now I'm going to touch on the same thing from the other side.
Even if you are staunchly pro-life, we don't really consider a miscarried child in the same category as the death of a newborn child. We just don't. If you really believe that life begins at the moment of conception then you need to follow through with a lot of things that you would find ridiculous. Things like investigating my friend and I after her miscarriage. Were we negligent? We hiked that day, we knew she was pregnant and we hiked anyway. Did that lead to the miscarriage? Was I an accessory to the death of her child because I knew she was pregnant and didn't make her stay home? How about an accessory after the fact because I went back to her place and cleaned everything up? Flushing away evidence as it were. There was never an investigation because that would be ridiculous. The hike didn't cause the miscarriage. She was fit enough to hike, doctors will tell you that unless you are high risk you can keep up the level of activity you always have had as long as you are comfortable. But there was never even an investigation to make sure. Not even after her third miscarry.
When I had a miscarriage when C was little there wasn't ever even a doctor involved. We had just started to accept that I was pregnant when I wasn't anymore. Pretty damn convenient, don't you think? I didn't want another child. I had been very vocal about the fact that I only wanted one child and now I was only going to have one. That's motive right? But it would be ridiculous for there to be an investigation because it was a miscarry. Not a newborn.
We don't make women show proof that they are not pregnant before letting them drink even though it's illegal to serve a minor alcohol. And if you are sharing a blood supply if you drink, they drink. We don't arrest pregnant women for smoking though we would if she taught her toddler how to smoke. We make suggestions for treatment during pregnancy but we don't mandate it because it's a woman's choice what she does. Right up until that child is born, then we can mandate things like no booze, no cigarettes, must see a doctor if they are ill. But before that? We don't. We allow an abundance of embryos to be created for people doing in vitro fertilization, and then we allow them to be put in a deep freeze indefinitely. If you believe that is a child, how are you okay with this being legal in any realm?
We don't investigate miscarriages like we do the death of a newborn.
We don't even mark the death as a significant life event deserving of a funeral.
Because we don't see it the same way.
No matter your stance, you just don't.
I am saddened when a friend miscarries. It hurts my heart. I feel badly for them and I wish I could do something to ease the loss of that dream that they had. But I have to be perfectly honest that it is nowhere near what I feel when someone loses a child. Because as anti-abortion, pro-pregnancy as I am, there is a difference.
I know it.
You know it.
We just don't like to admit it.
Because we are all hypocrites.