Saturday, March 18, 2006

A hope, not a promise

Mr K just left to go see his parents and get his dad to sign an application for an official death certificate for his (Mr K's) grandmother. Mr K had already dropped off said application in person a couple of weeks ago, but the government of Ontario lost it somehow. Yee ha.

The certificate is necessary because Mr K is applying for Irish citizenship, to which he is entitled because his grandmother came from Ireland. If he gets the Irish passport before our little sprog comes, the sprog gets Irish citizenship as well. So time is of the essence. You wouldn't believe how much paperwork is involved in this process: the Irish embassy wants official copies of just about every document you can think of.

So I'm alone for the weekend.

I've made tentative plans with K. to do some shopping this afternoon, after I get to the gym. I talked to her more than an hour ago and said I'd see her in two hours, after I'd finished working out. Here I still am in the house. Sigh. I'm going for dinner tonight with K., her husband M., other K., her husband J., and I don't know who else. So at least I've made arrangements not to sit around sulking by myself for two days.

I've been reading a lot about abortion lately, and I've just been seething about the arrogance and misogyny that is gaining control in the country of my birth. I'm so horrified by what's happened in South Dakota: of course the abortion ban is a challenge to the Supreme Court, but how many women (and children!) are going to suffer while this piece of trash legislation wends its way through the judicial system?

Bitch PhD writes so well on this topic; every time I read something she has to say about it, I find myself nodding in agreement. But the piece of writing I found yesterday is particularly resonant for me right now. I've been feeling oddly disconnected from my emotions about this being growing inside me. Gretchen Voss's story of having to make the agonizing decision to end her pregnancy at 18 weeks after discovering her baby had hideous genetic defects struck such a chord. Near the end of the article, as she describes her second pregnancy, she writes this:

Way too nervous to sleep on that frigid morning this past November, I snuggled my bloated belly up to my husband and curled into a little question mark. Sixteen weeks pregnant, today we would finally have our full-fetal ultrasound, finding out whether our baby was developing normally. Given what happened the last time, I had every reason to be nervous.

The last four months had been a sort of emotional no man's land where the baby was concerned. While we were elated to be pregnant again, we were also terrified. It was hard to become fully attached to this pregnancy, knowing that it could be taken away from us. Instead of shopping for layettes, we were consulting genetic counselors. We now knew all too well that pregnancy was a hope, not a promise.

"Emotional no-man's land." "Hard to become fully attached." Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. I wept as I read this. I weep now as I type this.

My gut knows just how devastating it is to lose a pregnancy, and even at the time of my little miscarriage at seven weeks I knew that it would be so much worse if I'd had to make the decision to end it myself. When I see all these efforts to take away the right to make that decision, to force women to bear children they don't want or can't support, children who might be horribly damaged or even already dead, I am enraged.

I once saw someone argue that the biggest advance in medicine for women was pain relief in childbirth. No. No, no, no. The biggest advance is the right to control when or even whether we bear children at all. Pregnancy is exhausting, disfiguring, sometimes disabling, even life-threatening. It is dangerous. No one who does not want to endure it should have to.

When a pregnancy is not a hope but a sentence, something has gone terribly wrong.

1 comment:

Ealasaid said...

This is an incredibly beautiful post. I followed a link here from Bitch, PhD, and am struck by your writing. Thank you for posting this.