Your Child's Life Mattered {what society is too confused to say}

It is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. When I first heard that I thought, “How cute. We have one month to talk out loud about something that eats parent’s souls all year long.” But then I remembered how just seven months ago, I never really thought about infant loss, or heard of a chromosome abnormality, or gave much attention to the fact that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And then a few weeks ago, I had this conversation with a somewhat familiar stranger that reminded me again why this conversation is so important. Reminded me why we should all be talking about this.

It is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. When I first heard that I thought, “How cute. We have one month to talk out loud about something that eats parent’s souls all year long.” But then I remembered how just seven months ago, I never really thought about infant loss, or heard of a chromosome abnormality, or gave much attention to the fact that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And then a few weeks ago, I had this conversation with a somewhat familiar stranger that reminded me again why this conversation is so important. Reminded me why we should all be talking about this.

The somewhat familiar stranger at the park was asking lots of questions.

Something I am usually grateful for when people find out we lost our baby. But this conversation took a turn I didn’t see coming.

She knew someone. A cousin maybe? Someone who was pregnant, and whose baby likely had a lethal chromosome abnormality. According to what the doctors could see, the baby would likely die before or shortly after birth.

“My cousin won’t get an amniocentesis test to check for chromosome abnormalities because there is a risk of miscarriage,” she said. I personally agreed.

“We also decided not to do the amniocentesis,” I said, “not just because of the risk, but because it wouldn’t make a difference for us. We wouldn’t have chosen to end our pregnancy anyways.”

“Yeah,” she said.

But then she paused for a moment and said, “You know, my cousin is getting older. This is her first pregnancy, so she might want to think about terminating it so that she could start things over more quickly.”

I didn’t really know how to respond. “But...that is her child,” was all I could think of to say.

She looked a little put off.

Like I must not understand. Like I wasn’t being sympathetic to her cousin’s circumstances. Like I must not have heard that she has a short window to try to have children, and this baby she was currently pregnant with was slowing her down. Like the choice to continue our pregnancy was fine for us because, as she said, “I’m still young and I have more time,” but it might be a better choice for her cousin to choose differently.

She never said it, but my mind wanted to connect the dots: So, if I was older, and was late in childbearing years, then would you think I should have aborted my baby? So that I could “start over faster?” Then it would have been okay?

But she was my child! Her life mattered!

Her comments bothered me.

They reminded me exactly why I think it’s “cute” we have a month of awareness about Pregnancy and Infant Loss: our society can’t decide at what point life has value.

How are we supposed to have a conversation about men and women mourning the loss of their child from miscarriage, when society says that a baby doesn’t have the right to life until at least twenty weeks gestation?

We live in a society who sees the value of life based on everything else besides the right to be born.

A society who says that the value of life is based on whether or not that life is wanted. Wanted by the people who were already given that right to be born.

A society who says that the value of life is based on whether or not they will be guaranteed a long, healthy life that lives up to their parents’ expectations.

A society who says that the value of life is based on all of the circumstances surrounding the baby, rather than the baby itself.

In her great article, “How Abortion Has Changed the Discussion of Miscarriage,” Becky Thompson writes,

After all, it is hard for a society to mourn the loss of WANTED unborn life when it is busy calling it “tissue” and discrediting its personhood. It is hard for a society to embrace a mourning mother for her loss of tissue when it is busy defending another mother’s right to dispose of it. But for a woman who prays ceaselessly for life to fill her womb, for a woman who has tried for years to finally have children of her own, for an expectant mother who suddenly finds herself frantically calling her OB after finding bright red blood…The “material” in her tummy is anything but tissue. It is life.

Four different times by four different doctors we were asked, “So what do you plan to do with your pregnancy?”

We sat in multiple doctors’ offices listening to them tell us about amniocentesis, not just so we could know what was wrong with our baby, but so we could decide whether or not we wanted to abort our baby. Whether or not we wanted to kill our child.

I couldn’t get mad at them.

It is policy for doctors to say those kinds of things. But it’s upsetting that this was made “policy” in the first place. It’s upsetting that one time, after stating that “We will not be getting an abortion, and anyways, I’m past 24 weeks,” the doctor replied, “Well, that doesn’t necessarily matter for babies with certain conditions.”

It’s upsetting that we were, as we were told, "in the minority for choosing to continue with pregnancy" when our daughter was given her death sentence at twenty weeks.

I’m not surprised. This makes me upset, but not surprised.

Whatever Christians have come to falsely believe about the United States of America, we are not living in the Promised Land. We are not living in a place where the majority of its people believe in the Bible. Believe in the value of life and in the Creator who made it.

I believe that being Pro-Life is so much more than just being Pro-Birth or Pro-Pregnancy. It means so much different than hateful picket signs or spewing arguments.

As Christ’s life and death proclaimed, being Pro-Life means putting someone else’s life before your own. It means valuing and caring for the life you are given, and the lives of those entrusted to you. It means looking around and loving your neighbor’s life as much as you love your own.

But if we can’t even agree that life begins when it actually begins, that it is important and precious and valuable right at that moment, then how can we begin to have a conversation where grieving parents are given proper respect for the life they loved and lost through miscarriage?

I don’t know.

But what I do know, and what I want you to hear from this small platform today, what I want to say during this month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness in this society of mixed messages to all those who have lost a baby, is exactly what our society is too confused to say:

Your child’s life mattered. No matter how long or short your child lived, your child’s life mattered.

I have had so many tell me, “I was heartbroken when we miscarried at 6 weeks {8 weeks, 13 weeks, etc.} But I can’t imagine losing a baby at 33 weeks like you.”

But sweet sisters and brothers, your child’s life mattered. No matter how long or short your child lived, your child’s life mattered. More weeks of pregnancy does not change that.

You loved your child. You were excited for your child. You were dreaming about your child. Even in the short time your child was with you, your child’s life mattered. Your child, and so heartbreakingly the loss of your child, has forever changed your life.

Your child’s life mattered.

Whether we realize it or not, the discussion of pregnancy loss is related to “a woman’s right to choose."

If we can't decide whose life has value, that every life has value, then it will be really hard to continue the conversation about Pregnancy and Infant Loss in a way that makes a difference.

I pray for light to pierce this darkness. I pray for society’s eyes to be opened from what it has been blind to for way too many years. I pray for our hearts to be filled with love for those whose are going through tough circumstances that we don’t understand.

And I pray that we can support everyone who chooses life and those who regret not, with Christ’s deepest love and grace.

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra