Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ok. Part III (the rest of the story)*

...moving right along.

So, we were married, bought a nice little house in Scottsdale, and now all I wanted was a baby to make the picture complete. Wanted one real bad. I'd met my soulmate, I knew I was in a very safe, secure place, and I wanted a new life and a new family of my own - mostly to make up for the craziness I grew up with.

One thing my husband told me early on in our engagement was that before he met me, he'd pretty much decided he was going to remain a bachelor (some bad hurt feelings in his past), or if he did stumble and get married, he certainly did not want children because of the "bad state" of things in the world. (Being from a big family also played into it, but he is reluctant to admit it.) But then, he said, he looked me in the eye on one of our nearly-non-verbal, excruciatingly uncomfortable early dates, as I was trying desperately to entertain him with some amusing story, and it struck him, full force, that he wanted to see his - our - children looking back at him through those same big brown, laughing eyes (awwww!). [Aside: Incidentally, he has yet to attain that...we have two - and likely a third - hazel-eyed little beasts. The boy is still changing from baby blue-grey to his big boy color, but his shade's just like the older two as babies.]

So I thought it was a sure thing. Time to get to work. And then he said no. He wanted to wait, enjoy being a newlywed couple for a year or two, and then get to work. But, as I pointed out, I had taken the semester off from the Masters program to get married, and wanted to go to law school. If we waited for all of that, I'd be close to 30, and too OLD to be a mom (snort!). He stood firm, and wanted to know which contraceptive method I thought would be best. Our first serious philosophical difference. Not that I had any problem (then) with contraception, but it did not fit in to my plans for marriage, at least not at that point. I had clear ideas of having 4 properly spaced, adorable children. (More than that, well, ya gotta figure one's always running free, because the parents have no more hands!). We argued, I was crushed and turned inward and away, wondering if I was being selfish. After about a month of impasse, I got a puppy - my first golden retard - to love instead. I refused to use any birth control, or to have him do so (more out of sheer stubbornness than any particular moral or religious conviction), so we decided to try NFP. It didn't work. I got the puppy and probably got pregnant the same day. :)

Five weeks into the pregnancy, I got up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain, feeling like my abdomen was being torn apart from the inside. My husband was snoring away. I crawled to the bathroom, sure that I was going to find myself in the midst of a miscarriage, but needing to know for sure before I called for him. Incredibly, no signs of it. But the pain got worse and worse, until I couldn't stop shaking, and sweat was exuding from every pore on my body - from my scalp to my fingertips and even the tops of my toes. I was going into shock, and finally, I realized I was crying. Then my husband was there, white-faced and terrified. As a military firefighter, he had been a certified EMT for years and immediately knew I was in trouble. He assessed me as best he could, picked me up out of the pool I was laying in (it was like a crime scene outline of me, but drawn in my own sweat! Eeew!), wrapped me in a blanket, put me in the car, and we flew to the hospital - no time for an ambulance. I was on the verge of passing out...until the ER docs introduced me to my first Foley catheter...and then all I remember is that there was a blur of tests, tubes, wires and electrodes sticking out of every limb, several docs and nurses chattering on the other side of the curtain about potential diagnoses, and then a bossy, foul mouthed specialist of some sort coming in and asking if anyone had bothered to do an ultrasound yet to check on the baby. "No, there's a 2-hour wait to get her up to radiology." She started yelling at everyone - "WTF are you doing with this patient, looking for a 4th to play bridge? She needs answers!" - and no, they were NOT sending me off to radiology when you can find out what you need to know from here. Just like that, she ordered the ER's ultrasound machine brought to the bedside. (I'm lolling about, hovering on the edge of consciousness, in horrible pain but thinking "Yeah! DUH! What she said!").

Then the "virago" from the other side of the curtain swept in...a tiny, delicate, beautiful little lady with a long curly ponytail, smiling a sweet and calming smile... and she started patting my hand and arm, wiping my face and neck with cool cloths to make sure I was alert, all the while talking gently and quietly to me about the pregnancy, how she was sure it was fine, and that the debate was about my appendix, kidney stones, a ruptured ovarian cyst, or - highly doubtful - an ectopic pregnancy. So she wanted to do the ultrasound right then and there. Within a minute, I saw my first miracle. At 5 weeks, there was just a tiny little white strand on the screen, fluttering madly. I looked at the ekg monitor and saw my own heartbeat. Then I looked at the screen again and saw a much faster little ekg racing along and knew that it was the "flutter" that belonged to that tiny little white creature who, while attached to me, was running a separate little operation of [her] own. I looked at the doc, she grinned and said "Well, looks like you've got a perfect little 5-weeker in there! God is great!" and she left. The tears just slid down my face. And despite not knowing whatever else was going on with me, I felt this great, overwhelming calm wash over me. The ferociously cussing - yet cherubic - doc was right. God is great. I was not losing this baby. I saw that little life, it was part of me, and [she] was alive. Not an embryo, not a fetus, but a tiny, mighty little heart was beating ferociously deep inside and a foot or so beneath mine.

This was it - my final conversion. I lay there, crying without a sound for awhile, thinking back on my wild years, my liberal arts education and resultant liberal political thinking, my sliding-scale morality ("I'd never have an abortion, but I'd never tell anyone else they can't, it's their body, it's an embryo, not a person," etc.), my anger at a God, who I'd been told all my life I was not good enough for by a number of really awful people, and all of the contrariness in my thinking that sprang from that - poor priests who misled me and likely so many others, my wretched post-Catholic upbringing with divorced parents who'd acted like alley cats in heat all through the 70's to the exclusion of providing any moral guidance to 4 adrift kids, my nasty new holier-than-the-pope-let-alone thou inlaw(s)...and yet in that moment, I managed to forgive most of what I'd been raised on, and determined to make my own life better through studying all of these issues of faith, culture, and morality as I waited for this new life to come into the world. A nurse came in to check on me and slipped something into the IV to make me sleep. Later on that day, still no diagnosis other than a strange amount of fluid in the abdomen, I was sent home. On to my new life. Waiting to meet the life who very likely saved my eternal life.

About 8 months later, just before our first anniversary, little miss 13-going-on-35 arrived - as beautiful and well-mannered a baby as I'd ever dreamed she'd be. I looked at my beloved a few days after we brought her home and asked him if he was glad that we'd been surprised with this little one despite his wishes...and he asked me if I minded being married to the stupidest man alive. We're coming up on 15 years this spring.

I have told this story several times over the years to people who ask me why I am so adamantly against abortion. If just one other person, hearing it, could understand, and maybe even experience that moment as I did - that absolute truth and the peace that came along with it - and pass it along to another...and if it changed just one heart and mind, saved one life, I'd feel like my life's work was done. Whatever my professional life has been or holds in store, it is nothing compared to the possibility of persuading just one person that life is beautiful, that each life is precious and has dignity, that yes, tiny little strands on a screen are persons developing, growing, adn waiting to meet you with their sassy attitudes and hazel eyes....I will never, ever give up the fight. And if you are reading this, I hope you feel the same.


(*There could be a "Part IV" one of these days, but this is the pivotal point that I wanted to share.)

7 comments:

the mother of this lot said...

Oh, thank God, a happy ending! I was getting quite panicky in the middle there! Beautiful sentiments, beautifully expressed. I hope there is a Part 4!

Angela M. said...

Wow!

Kelly said...

What an amazing story!

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Beautiful story. Spookily similar to my own in lots of areas- accept it took to child No4 before I started really getting my act together.

God bless

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Beautiful story. Spookily similar to my own in lots of areas- accept it took to child No4 before I started really getting my act together.

God bless

DigiHairshirt said...

EXCELLENT! What a beautiful story, Kit!

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Great witness..