Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Life before

I used to be pro choice.

I donated money to planned parenthood. I voted pro choice as a matter of course. In fact, it was a litmus test for candidates. I sneered at the right wing christians and accused them of being willing to sacrifice poor, disadvantaged mothers in exchange for an 8 week fetus. I believed all the arguments about 'quality of life' and women's rights, and, of all things, privacy.

Then, one night, while making love with my husband, I became powerfully aware that a life was becoming inside me. The next day, at a meeting at work, I felt a little hiccup in my womb and knew, just knew, that I was, in fact, pregnant. Clearly this was not a physical 'knowing'. No one can really know, after 12 hours, that they are pregnant. But I knew as surely as anything I have ever known that at that moment, life had taken root.

For the first trimester, I tried to hide my condition at work. I would show up in the morning and eat a whole bagel, with cream cheese, at my desk and follow it with a coke chaser for the nausea. I spend my day looking perilously green. When, at 12 weeks, I finally admitted that I was pregnant, everyone laughed because they had known it all along.

There was another woman at work who was further along than I was. She was due when I was around 3 months. One day I went into work and heard the terrible news. She had given birth to a little girl who had no trachea. The baby lived for just a few moments before dying in her parent's arms. We were all devestated. I was particularly devestated, in that way that all pregnant women are when they hear of such a thing.

A week later, my doctor proposed a standard series of tests to determine the health of our fetus. Nguyen and I asked to think it over. We went out to lunch at the Four Seasons in Cranston, and over Hunan Chicken, discussed our feelings. I told him that I believed that my friend's daughter deserved to live those few seconds. That it was not up to us to decide what value a life has. That I was prepared to open myself to loving this baby, no matter what the outcome. That I would never, under any circumstances, abort the fetus. So what was the point of knowing? What was the point of testing for things we would have no control over anyway? Nguyen agreed completely. At the time, his brother was dying of cancer and Nguyen was painfully aware of how precious life was. We sat and cried together at the table. We told the doctor that we did not want any prenatal testing. We made a concious decision to leave it all in God's hands.

And so we did.

That moment, the moment of making love with my husband, the moment I knew that I was pregnant, was one of the holiest and most miraculous moments of my life. It felt as though some switch got flipped. Some great, cosmic, machinery was engaging and I could sense just a tiny bit of the whole. I could see just a miniscule hint of the big picture.

Of the power of life.

That moment changed everything.


e-Mom said...

This is a wonderful story! What an amazing miracle childbirth is. And how you knew you were pregnant. Life is so precious and such a gift. When I had cervical cancer (early in our marriage), I faced the possibility of never being able to give birth. You can believe I count the blessings of bearing two normal, healthy kids!

Nancy said...

What a beautiful story Rachel. Life is precious.

Bad Alice said...

Ah, I had a similar experience when I became pregant. Up until the moment I knew I had been ardently pro-choice. While I was in the doctor's office I looked at the poster of how the child develops, and I read the information about the importance of prenatal vitamins and avoiding certain hazards, and I thought what a contradiction. If we want the child it has worth; if we don't it doesn't. I never looked at abortion the same way again.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

e-mom, thank God you were able to go on and have children. What a blessing!

Nancy, life IS precious!

Alice, I began to get an inkling of the bizarre contradictions when I would talk to women who had given up wine, asperin, cough medicine and even coffee during their pregnancy, but intended to take narcotics during labor. Huh? I think it just points to the fact that we so easily compartmentalize things.

I was inspired to google "pro life liberal" and was grateful to discover that I am NOT the only liberal lifer! LOL.