Does Life Give You A Choice?
Hardness or Harness -A Poem
My passion she –
She chose her Way
Hardness or Harness-A story
My baby might not live she whispers; hollow calm lands on my stunned disbelief.
I’m staring at nothing, holding my breath mind goes blank. It’s about the phone. How did I get a call here?
This is a clinic. I’m at a clinic for my pre-natal. No one is that interested in my baby or my check up. It’s just us now. Who would call here for me or care how my check up went? When I walked out of the exam room, The nurse blankly informs me I have a phone call. Before I can protest, some confusion, she qualifies.
You are Jessica LeBaron right?
She leads me to the front desk. Confused shock has me when the receptionist staring at the file cabinet hands me the phone.
I didn’t give anyone this number.
Shock didn’t know which to choose, Eva’s unexpected voice and those words. What do they mean? How did I get any call at a midwives’ office.
Eva knows I would be at a clinic on Ben White. That’s it. She is seeing her doctor today too. We were going to talk about our maternity checkups when we got home. Our random appointments ended up being on the same day. This serendipity delights us. Not as much as finding our we are due within the same two weeks though. We thought of riding together to our appointments, but it hadn’t worked out. Our appointments were at almost the same time like our babies, at opposite ends of town.
We were room mates after I got separated, till she got married. We are best friends. We are having babies together. We are excited. We both laugh a lot-till now.
I lose control of my jaw.
Did you hear what I said: My baby isn’t going to live.
She is quiet till I grasp and gasp.
Oh, Eva! I whisper into the receiver.
My baby is not going to live, she repeats with stunned emotion.
Oh. All I can do is sigh.
I’m calling you first because I know you would understand. Would you come over?
Yes, I’ll be right over. I’ll be right there.
We hang up.
I turn around and rush back to the midwife.
Please help me! My throat clenches tears in my eyes. My friend. She just found out her baby may not live. What do I do? How do I help her?
I don’t feel like I can do her any good.
They tell me how to just be there, to listen and allow her to grieve. I can help then, I figure.
We were going to meet at my apartment. But I go to hers, now. She is on the couch wrapped up in her arms staring into space. She turns and stares at me. Just stares. We stare at each other. The emotional territory was to expansive and explosive to enter. Everything is numb and blank and hurt.
I’m going to a specialist for another sonogram. The doctor is sure of what he sees, or doesn’t see, but he sent me to a specialist. I can’t believe he knows what he is talking about.
I need to calm down. I need to call mom and dad. I still have to tell Jon. How do I tell Jon? I can’t tell Jon!
Jon is out-of-town for another few weeks on in-between job training for the new one. Eva’s parents live in Arizona. She asked me to come. We go to the second appointment together. It’s scheduled around my classes. It was the quickest appointment she could get. Either way I was going.
Five happy moms smile contented almost cooing rubbing their bellies or reading baby magazines in the comfortable deep cushions of the waiting room. I try to do none of those things. We only glance at each other, hoping not to convey despair to the blessed. We don’t talk or leaf through baby magazines or act blessed however. We fidget till we are called back into the brightly lit sonogram room.
The sonogram technician had a softness about her gentle way. Eva lies on the table. I sit in the chair next to her. After she introduces herself and settles Eva she squeezes warmed gel into Eva’s hand then waits for her to rub it around her belly with hopeful stokes. Eva wanted to apply it herself. She places the ultra sound device on Eva’s belly. We all turn to the screen.
First we hear it. A familiar heartbeat. Everything good and normal so far! Eva sighs, fights back tears, stays calm.
We follow the image watching intently as the tech labels and describes the sonogram in a matter of fact way.
The amniotic fluid is very low. There is almost none.
This is the heart here. It’s located on the right side.
Here are the lungs. They under-developed.
Kidneys should be here. Pause.
All of this could be good or at least okay or remedial, we are hoping. We look at each other with another flashing spark of hope. Get some synthetic amniotic fluid inject it, no problem, or something like that.
So what is the problem then? So everything is really okay?!
Well, kidneys are not visible.
What does that mean?
I assume she will just keep on looking till she finds them.
I am not finding kidneys.
What does that mean?
Kidneys manufacture and filter the amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid gets breathed into the lungs. It is how lungs develop. There is not enough amniotic fluid to develop the lungs. Kidneys are not producing it. There is only one and it is small.
Can that be fixed? Can one be added or something? I could give one.
Even if we could fix that. This shows that the heart is on the right side instead of the left.
Lungs this small won’t catch up in time to breathe at birth, or ever.
Eva whimpers and hides her face.
This small kidney here. Too small to filter enough blood. No kidney visible here…
Stop stop! Stop it! Please stop telling me wrong things about my baby! Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me anymore. She breaks down sobbing shaking, just contained urgent wailing trapped in her not catching her breath.
Tech leans forward pats her and lets her cry.
I understand how hard this is for you. I am sorry.
When she recovers her voice after a while, the tech asked if we were ready to see what the doctor had to say. She Tech led us to the waiting doctor.
His gentleness let her fall apart, again.
She wept then cried out: Why? Why did this happen?
There is no reason. No cause that we know of.
So this just happened to my baby for no reason? She demands.
I’m sorry there is nothing I can do to make this easier, but yes. It’s sad that someone like you who really wants a baby doesn’t get one when I’ve seen babies survive a whole bottle of Drain-O, just fine.
We look at each other horrified.. How could someone not want a baby?
We know the stories, yet we are incredulous. Unfairness is deep.
When you are ready, we can talk about what you want to do next. Come back as soon as you are ready to consider what course of action you want to take.
This is a great loss for you. You and your husband must have been very excited about the arrival of your first child. Take a day. Come back in a day or two. After you talk to your husband, to discuss what you want to do. Be back within two days, I’ll see you whenever you come. He soft smiled warm reassurance then he got up and left.
Like what? What we can do, didn’t hit us till we got home.
Next appointment is about risks and options.
Should I go full term or terminate and start the healing process?
The child can’t breath. It will never breath. It won’t ever function or live. It will suffocate as soon as it’s born, if it doesn’t die during the stress of birth or even before then. It could die at any time.
You could decide to carry to term. If you decide to go full term you need to be seen every week in case the fetus expires and labor doesn’t start. That could lead to blood poisoning, a risk. Otherwise, you can go into labor at any time. There is no way to predict an outcome.
Then in the middle of bewildered not, letting go while not wanting to hold on, or prolong anguish, and wondering, he drops another bomb:
If you are going to choose to end it, he pauses with a sigh of frustration, you have three days to decide. In three days third trimester, anti-abortion laws come into effect. If you don’t choose to terminate in the next three days, after the three days, we can no longer assist you in termination. You must either go into labor, or your life be in danger for the pregnancy to be terminated.
I have to decide now?
You must decide, if you want to take action, yes, within three days. After that there is nothing we can do. Our hands are tied. The law is clear. No exceptions. No third trimester procedures. Third trimester starts in three days.
We sit on her couch staring into space and crying. Her crying makes me cry. I feel the loss of my son all over, plus her loss. By heart about bursts. It has been five years, but when I found out in the middle of getting divorced that I was pregnant, I considered not going through with it, just to be responsible to myself.
I’m in the middle of school with two kids to keep and figure out how to support without a partner. I’m still not able to describe what is going on, but the idea of losing a baby on accident or on purpose both add up the same in my feelings. The idea of adopting my baby out to someone else is unthinkable. We may have no stable future, but in the world I exist in now, I have no other choice. In about a week I love the baby as I knew I would. It would be stupid for me to put my heart up for adoption, or to end the relationship. Even if it’s not responsible to have a child without support, I surrender to being a single mother and feeling happy with Eva.
Her parents arrive. I go back to school grieving indignant, and remembering.
While I volunteered for Campus Crusade for Christ and attended the meetings that rallied Christians and got Bush elected in the early nineties I was into the anti-abortion campaign, especially no third trimester abortions. Now something is happening. It’s not black and white anymore.
I can’t just not be pregnant anymore just like that Eva steady wails! The kids at school…the other teachers..the girls they pat my tummy lined up on the way out of class.
If someone asks me if it’s a boy or a girl when I get back I don’t know what I’ll do. Everyone will ask.
Have you got a name yet Miss?
How are you Miss?
How is that baby?
I couldn’t keep explaining there is no baby, her voice cracks, for another three months…but it will be right here…
For three more months. I couldn’t work this way. I couldn’t explain it either. I will just bust out crying, for the next three months. I couldn’t work this way. I’d just be knowing the baby is not going to live or already dead. I don’t know what to do!
I could stay home and be with the baby. It’s to soon to make this choice. I wish Jon could come back and be here. He can’t take off till the end of the week. We have till tomorrow to decide.
Now, I’m in this government class writing a paper about laws. I have allot to say about how stupid this anti-abortion law is. It’s taking Eva to a whole new level of misery, like insult on injury.
My government teacher read only my outrage essays to the class while I skipped it. I went to the hospital with Eva to celebrate the sacred death and birth of her son. Jon couldn’t get back in time. The law couldn’t wait.
We were into our babies.
If she had not been into her baby there would be noting to cry about.
Abortion is like a break up with the baby when this relationship just isn’t working both ways, before you marry…When I’m just not into you.
A shaman woman I know, went into a sacred meditation to talk to the child when she discovered their relationship. She talked to it and listened. She acknowledged their relationship.
I’m thankful you like me she told him. It was a boy. You chose me to be your mother. So I am. Yet, it’s not a good time for me to be in this relationship. Would you try again later?
She got a “sure”.
Next day she started bleeding and thanked her child for honoring her choice.
Wonderful woman I know made their choices to not be mothers when they were not ready. That choice did not include being an oven to bake a child for nine months then give it to someone else.
The adoption choice works good for some people, which is cool.
Me? No way is my body gonna be forced to make a lonely baby whom I’m not attached to. No way would I choose to be sick for months, throw up constantly, gain forty lbs, go through labor delivery blood spouting major surgery that takes weeks to recover from, while everyone is wondering, family asking as I’m to wiped out to take care of myself, with no support just to give some one a baby for free.
Pretty dumb all around, if you ask me.
There is nothing wrong with adopting out. I’m personally not into it-at all.
It’s defiantly not the only valid response to birth-control malfunctions. There are as innumerable appropriate valid responses to unplanned pregnancy. As many as there are woman and situations.
The relationship between mother and child is what it is to me. I am in or I’m not. Just like any other relationship.
I can break up. A possible child need not force me.
Babies don’t force me to become their mother. Nor does a baby need to endure a horrible non-wanted toxic environment. It’s a crappy co-dependent relationship that way.
I choose if I want to invite a spirit into a body with my body, into my life. I choose if I want to help someone else by baking a baby for them. I am a free woman. I have lots of choices! Perhaps unborn spirits have choices we don’t know about.
Wouldn’t put it past them. I bet, babies would choose to be happy and mom be happy, too.
Or maybe babies are the selfish assholes?