I’d Be Dead

essay, non-fiction 7 Comments »

It’s about balance.

Just over 20 years ago, I married Mike, whose wife had died very young and very suddenly. Mike and Susan had two young children when Susan died.  Michael was then 8 and Mary was then 4.  Having lost a parent at a very young age myself, I speak with authority on knowing how devastating this loss is…young children who experience a parent’s death are catapulted out of childhood into a strange kind of adulthood in the body of a child.  No longer is there the youthful comfort zone of “that can’t happen to my mom or my dad.”  That door is slammed early and forever.

I eventually adopted Michael and Mary and love them with all my heart and am extremely honored to have been the woman who was chosen to pick up the parenting after Susan died. I also knew Susan and understood how very much she adored her two children, how she wouldn’t have left this earth at if all possible.

Three years after marrying a family, and life moving forward again for Mike, Michael and Mary, I became pregnant.  I jumped up and down as I watched the pregnancy stick show positive.  And at the same time, anxiety shot through my nervous system as I’d miscarried twice before.  This time I made it past the first trimester, a huge relief for both Mike and me.  Then I shared with Michael and Mary that a new baby, either a new brother or new sister was on their way.  We were all happy and excited.

Late in the middle of the night, in my 14th week of pregnancy, excruciating pain in my lower abdomen woke me and paralyzed me.  Our neighbor, Jan, came to our home to drive me down and out of the mountains to the hospital in town.  Mike stayed home with the children.

Once in the emergency room and after the nurse removed the blood pressure cuff, she loudly called out the blood pressure reading 62/58. Suddenly everything moved in a rapid-fire rush.  Two different techs inserted I.V. lines for fluid and nurses and doctors were prodding, running ultra sounds and talking to me, asking me to count, to say my name, say where I was, etc.  All the questions confused me as I felt very conscious, in pain, but very conscious. I kept repeating that I was pregnant and didn’t want to lose the baby.  Jan, looked at me and whispered that she had to call my husband, that he needed to be there…then I began to get frightened.

By the time Mike arrived at the hospital I’d been through several tests, one of which showed that I was bleeding to death internally ~ definitive reason unknown.   The look on Mike’s face is a look I will never forget…he whispered, “We can try again.”  I went into emergency surgery knowing I may lose my much wanted pregnancy.

As it turned out, I was not only carrying a pregnancy in my uterus, but I also had been carrying a pregnancy in my fallopian tube, otherwise known as an ectopic pregnancy.  The ectopic pregnancy caused my fallopian tube to burst, the cause for bleeding out internally.

I am blessed that I carried the pregnancy in my uterus full term.  I was very saddened to learn that nothing could be done to save the life of the ectopic pregnancy: leaving the ectopic pregnancy inside me would have killed me and the pregnancy in my uterus.

Now Roe v Wade and legalized abortions are in question.  In some circles on the right, “there is no exception for abortion in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother.”  In fairness, one can  find plenty of articles stating that many people, including pro-life draw the line in circumstances when the life of the mother is at risk.  One can also  find a plethora of articles supporting “the no circumstances for abortion” view held by many in the pro-life movement.  Further, one can also find dozens of articles where the life of the mother consideration, the case of rape or incest are simply omitted, leaving these situations unclear at best.

Then there is H.R.212 Sanctity of Human Life Act – Declares that: (1) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human and is the person’s paramount and most fundamental right; (2) each human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and (3) Congress, each state, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have the authority to protect all human lives.  If the law goes down the road that life begins with fertilization, it stands that abortion in any case equates to murder.  I don’t think this risk, though some may believe this risk is small, is worth the ramifications.

In my case, if H.R. 212 Sanctity of Human Life Act had been voted into law, not only would I not be alive, nor my unborn son, but my two older children would have lost a second mother and my husband would have been widowed twice.  You may argue that it didn’t happen that way for me (for which I am very grateful).  Rest assured, I have not been the only woman standing in those shoes and guaranteed, someone you know, friends,  sisters, daughters, granddaughters and other mothers will find themselves in similar circumstances in the future.  And if the future brings in three conservative Supreme Court Justices in the next four years, those who experienced what I did, may not have the choice of life for themselves.

Do we want to turn back the hands of time and prevent women who have been “legitimately” raped, or who have been the victims of incest or the women who have life threatening pregnancies have no choice?

I know that tensions run high during political campaigns.  For many of us, things which we hold dear, are at stake.  Therefore a great lot of us take the campaigns and that for which they stand very personally.  At the same time, I think that some people are very quick to judge others.  Some are very fast held to their beliefs without thought.  Now of course this is my opinion.  But sometimes I think that people aren’t thinking issues through.

And finally, what business is it of the government (or anyone else but the woman, her family and God) on whether a woman takes control of her body?  Think, please think….Don’t let there be three new conservative supreme court justices take us back to the days of coat hangers and knitting needles.  What is it that is said about judge not?

This is one of the reasons that I think sharing our stories with one another is powerful.  Powerful enough that we might possibly be capable of compassionate understanding.  No. It doesn’t always mean that we will agree, but it may shed insight and possibly, just possibly, may let someone see an issue from a different point of view, see some balance.

There are many reasons I am voting for President Barack Obama. His concern for women’s reproductive rights and, thereby women’s healthcare, are only two.

Note: I’ve written this piece from my heart. If you choose to respond, please do so through your heart.  Any hate speak or hate-filled responses will be deleted. Hate is part of our divisiveness and I want nothing to do with hate.

In peace,

nannette rogers kennedy
October 2012

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