Time Warp Tuesday: Fear and the Publish Button

I am a very candid person. I’ve always come on strong and I learned a long time ago that I’m no good at toning it down. I speak my mind and I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Generally my attitude is, if you don’t like me, that’s fine. Sometimes I don’t even like myself very much so I get it.  (I also wish I knew when to just shut the fuck up. I really do.)

My blog is probably the only place in the world where I’m even more honest that I am normally. I tackle issues here that I would rarely, if ever, bring up in the real world. I avoid about these topics with most people not because I’m embarrassed about them, or worried about what others will think, but because I’ve found, through experience, that most people don’t want to talk about them with me. No matter how passionate you are about something, if people around you don’t want to engage you in that conversation, it’s a very hard conversation to have. So I just keep that part of my life to myself until I get home and can write about it on my blog.

A blog is an amazing thing because it is by you and for you. At least my blog is like that (as are the blogs that I read). I created this space with a singularly selfish goal in mind, to work through my own shit. And even though I’ve picked up a few readers along the way, in the end this blog remains a place for me – to reflect, to process, to make sense of things. If other people stumble across it and find it useful or – be still my heart – well written and entertaining, all the better. It’s very rewarding to know that my writing is interesting to other people. But in the end, I write for me.

Of course sometimes writing for me involves writing to connect with people. So there are times when I think very carefully about what I’m going to write. This blog is as much a window into myself as it is a portal to other intelligent, like-minded women. While I try to remain ever faithful to myself I do sometimes worry about offending those who read me. Most of the time this preoccupation only inspires me to look longer and harder at what I think or how I feel; worry about how my opinion might come across actually makes me investigate that belief further and in the end I usually feel even more secure in my point of view. In the end, I would never not post something just because it’s controversial but I might not post something if the chance of it hurting someone is greater than the chance of it helping someone, even if that someone is me.

I have written my fair share of controversial posts and while I’ve regretted the way I’ve presented some of my topics (ahem, thought on being a SAHM post, I’m looking at you) I’ve never regretted putting my feelings out there. In fact, every time I’ve felt I’ve made a mistake in the way I posed an opinion I’ve learned more about myself, and my beliefs, than I ever have when posting something I might deem as “safe”.

In my 2+ years of publishing this blog there has really only been one post I was fearful of publishing. This post sat in the back of mind, unwritten, for months before I finally had the courage to get it down. I always knew I would write it but wasn’t sure how or when. Looking back I realize I was probably as scared to put my thoughts down on paper as I was to press publish. The whole topic had caused me incredible grief and I was somewhat loathe to revisit it. In the end it was the difficulty of the topic, and the lengths I went to make sense of it for myself, that drove me to I write the piece. I did so as a final step for myself, to see my thoughts on the subject written in black and white and to help others who might find themselves in my position, trying to reconcile two seemingly irreconcilable beliefs.

The resulting post was called Why I’m Still Pro Choice and worked through how I rectified my belief that my ectopic pregnancy was a real loss with my belief that women should maintain their reproductive right to an abortion. This possible conflict in thinking had always caused me anxiety but I was never forced to deal with it until a close friend chose to terminate her own pregnancy. Her decision forced me to come to terms with my own beliefs and with the help of some wonderfully supportive friends in the blogging world I finally came to a place of piece on the subject.

I was nervous to publish that post. I was scared that by doing so I would somehow be undermining the losses of so many of my friends who read my blog. There are few things I fight for on my blog as passionately as the validation of pregnancy loss and the thought that I might be negating that with my post was terrifying. In the end though, I knew that I had to press publish. The whole ordeal had caused me so much grief and I so would have appreciated reading someone else’s thoughts on the matter when I was struggling with it myself. I put it out there because I felt it was an important topic, especially in our community, and it deserved to be broached.

In the end I was pleasantly surprised by the comments of my fellow bloggers. Shockingly not one person posted an anti-abortion/pro-life tirade on that post. Every single response (and I got more on that post than perhaps any other) was thoughtful and courageous. By putting my experience out there I was able to hear how others handled it as well. I was finally getting the perspective I so longed for in the throes of my own emotional struggle. It was a very rewarding experience.

I never realized until writing thing post that my most nerve-wracking publishing experience turned out to be the most rewarding. I’ll have to remember that next time my pointer is hovering above the publish button.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Why I’m Still Pro-Choice

I want to start this post by saying that I have no desire or intention of starting a pro-life vs. pro-choice debate on my blog. I am writing this post because this was an important issue in my life that required many months of careful consideration and soul searching for me to resolve. I hope that my journey might help other women who feel similarly torn between their need for their miscarriage to be recognized as a loss and their belief in a woman’s right to choose.

I have been considering writing this post for a very long time. A very long time. I knew I needed to write it as soon as I came to a place of peace about this issue. I knew I needed to write it because I walked a long road of reconciliation to accommodate the feelings surrounding my loss with my pro-choice stance. At the same time, I was scared to put myself out there on such a hot button topic because I’m not interested in pro-lifers trying to convert or attack me (though I am interested in hearing their thoughts on this issue). Really I want to share my perspective in case it can help someone facing a similar dilemma. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to actually write the post until someone posted this article on Prompt-ly. I guess it made me want to defend the fact that my miscarriage didn’t weaken my belief in a woman’s right to choose, though I wondered, for a time, if it would.

I have always been pro-choice but the reality is that for many years I didn’t think much about what that meant for me. I didn’t start having sex until I was 24 years old so abortion was something I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t have to consider for a long time. From the moment I determined I was pro-choice (and I can’t remember when that was) I never faltered in my insistence that I would always support a woman’s right to choose. I also never faltered in my belief that I, personally, would probably never elect to have an abortion.

Unless, of course, I were raped or a pregnancy put my health in grave danger or some other unforeseen tragedy became my reality. These (and many more possibilities I’m sure I can’t even fathom) are the reasons I am, and always will be, pro-choice. I can’t imagine taking the option of terminating a pregnancy away from a woman when I have no understanding of that woman’s circumstances. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

I have always been sensitive to pregnancy loss. My mother lost a daughter (my younger sister) in the NICU and then three pregnancies, all stillborn boys. I honored miscarriages as real, very significant losses even before I suffered my own. Then I had my ectopic and my world came crashing down around me; I realized knowing that a loss is significant and experiencing that loss for yourself are very different things. Suddenly I was struck with the reality that my loss, at a mere 6.5 weeks, was utterly devastating. It was the loss a child, my child. If I felt I had lost a child at 6.5 weeks, how could I support women terminating pregnancies much later than that?

I didn’t ask myself that question right away. In fact, I didn’t ask myself that for a long time. A hint of it flittered in and out of my consciousness but I choose to push it aside. I knew I could never tell a women what to do with her body. The thought that I might have to reconcile my sense of loss so early in a pregnancy with my support of a woman’s right to choose to terminate her own pregnancy was something I just wasn’t willing or able to consider

Then something happened that forced me to face the issue. A close friend called me to announce that she was having an abortion. While I won’t recount the details of her situation, I will say that it had a profound effect on me. I assumed that if my friend could make this choice for herself, she could never validate my own loss. And if that were true, did my support of other women making similar choices also dishonor the tragedy I felt I’d endured?

These were very difficult questions I felt incapable of answering on my own. I judged my suffering incomprehensible to my IRL friends and I couldn’t explain my inner turmoil on my blog without betraying a confidant’s trust. In desperation I emailed a few select bloggers I’d befriended and with their help I started walking a path to resolution.

My wise, caring friends helped me see that while there might not be physical differences between the pregnancy I’d lost and the one my friend terminated, they represented very distinct things to each of us. The pregnancy I lost was a potential child, one that was planned and hoped for. One that was loved. For my friend, pregnancy was a biological inevitability, the improbable result of failed birth control. It was not wanted and it was not loved. In fact, it was a problem to be dealt with. That distinction meant a lot.

The other important differentiation was choice. My friend was able to make a choice and I was not. I had no choice. My pregnancy, if allowed to progress would actually have harmed me as it was wedged in my fallopian tube. My pregnancy never had a chance of becoming the baby I so longed for. Being denied the choice of whether my pregnancy would continue further distinguished my loss from my friend’s.

That is the other thing I realized: I viewed my friend’s termination as a loss. I was sad to not meet the child her pregnancy would have produced. I mourned the passing of that would-be person. As a woman who tried for many, many months to achieve a healthy pregnancy, who has followed women on journeys much longer and more painful in search of the same, I believe every pregnancy is a miracle. I know that for many pregnancy is not biological inevitability, but something elusive, to be cherished once it’s attained. And I do believe every beating heart, no matter its size, is wondrous to behold.

I also understand that sometimes not even the greatest of gifts can be accepted. Sometimes a new life cannot be. For so many reasons women may not be able to embrace that possibility. And while I can imagine some of those reasons, I’m gratefully ignorant of others. I’m also ignorant of the emotional turmoil that I’m sure surrounds every decision to terminate a pregnancy. The reality is it doesn’t matter why someone makes that choice or how that choice affects her, what’s important is that she has that choice to make.

It was the fact that I wasn’t given a choice that made my loss so difficult. I wanted to nurture the potential for life inside of me but it was forced out against my will. I was robbed of my choice and it was devastating. I would never rob another woman of her choice when I might not fully appreciate the consequences of being denied such an alternative.

Would that this were a perfect world. Would that all women who so desperately want to get pregnant could, and all women who would hope not to, don’t. Would that it were so, but it is not and it never will be. In the absence of this perfect world I can only hope that we would honor the choice of the women fortunate enough to have it while respecting the anguish of the women who grievously do not.