The Irony is Heartbreaking

The following column was written for this week's edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald. It's not up on the website. I'm not sure why. and I'm not sure if it will be in the print version. I seem to have a difficult time grasping the nuance of writing op/ed pieces without offering a clear opinion. So, this might have been too partisan. Or, it might be that the Herald website is running a little behind this week. But time is growing short!  My point with this piece is to reflect upon the last eight months of watching the culture of death gather momentum while lying still and trying to save just one baby. Please pass it along.

Back in February, my children rudely asked a woman we know how she had cast her ballot in the Virginia primary. She named a candidate who is adamantly pro-choice. They were horrified. “How can you vote for someone who is for abortion?” one of them blurted indignantly.

“I’m more concerned with the people who are already alive than the ones who aren’t yet,” came the steady reply.

I’m ashamed to admit that an uncomfortable silence settled over the room. We were stunned and I was too intimidated by the context of the conversation to say anything more. I still regret that.

Within a few weeks of that conversation, I learned I was pregnant. I had a raging case of the flu at that time. As I fought to keep my fever down in order to protect the tiny being growing within me, I was very much aware that my baby was alive and I wanted her to stay that way.

As the flu subsided, hyperemesis set in. Now, the goal was to control vomiting and stay hydrated in order to protect the baby. I got a glimpse of her via sonogram. I was eight weeks pregnant and we could see her heart beat steadily and surely—a perfect little person who only needed time to grow.

Just as the hyperemesis began to wane, I had another sonogram. There we discovered that the placenta, the organ created by God for each pregnancy to nourish the baby, was in the wrong place and its location threatened both the baby and me. At that sonogram, we also saw her wave her arms and touch her feet to her head. And we clearly saw that she is a girl. But that placenta was troubling. Thus began the odyssey of frequent sonograms and very careful management of a high risk pregnancy. A whole team of doctors was called into to guard the life of this baby—a baby who was already very much a part of our family. A baby with a name we remembered constantly in family prayers. A baby who squirmed and wiggled and kicked and delighted her siblings with her gymnastics. A baby who could have been legally aborted.

And so this pregnancy has progressed. It began early in the election season and has unfolded rather dramatically, a parallel story to the drama in our nation. I lie here on my side now, day after day, counting every precious kick, taking care not to turn the wrong way or sneeze without protecting my belly. Just one life—just one precious child—has a whole army of people working hard to protect her very existence, while out there in the world thousands of people throng at campaign events for a man who has said he wouldn’t want his daughters punished with a baby. In the years since our country legalized abortion, nearly 50 million tiny lives have been ended. While I lie here and pray that my baby is healthy and is born well, I watch in horror as throngs of people cheer a man who would make abortion even more accessible.

I want to show them the latest sonogram. The one where you can see the tiny hairs on her head. The one that always calls to mind those words from Matthew: Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father:  but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

What treasures women are privileged to hold within them! What creatures of infinite value! Our Lord tells us to fear not. He values us and He values the tiny baby whose wisps of hair can be seen and counted by us well before she is born. Who knows the plans He had for those 50 million babies? And who knows the plans He had for their mothers, plans for their good and the good of their souls? There is a man out there being likened to a Messiah. He promises to allow harm to come to the babies. From my horizontal perspective, here in this bed, the irony is heartbreaking.