By MB Beacom
[This is Part 2 of an essay on miscarriage. Be sure to read Part 1, “Mourning the loss of a child through miscarriage” if you missed it.]
Not everyone responded enthusiastically when Father spoke about prenatal life and loss at that university hospital those many years ago. There was some uncomfortable mumbling and stirring in the audience. And two nurses abruptly rose and walked out of the auditorium. They might have been paged back onto duty for all I knew, yet, one of them seemed to glare at me in my spot near the door as she was leaving. A call a few weeks later confirmed that the two had left angry and upset at the mention of recognizing the humanity of an aborted child. The woman who called was one of those two nurses, and she told me they had walked out, uneasy with the subject.
She had found my phone number through our parish office, and she had something she wanted to say to me.
“ Two weeks ago when I went to that talk I was assisting with elective abortions,” she told me, in the sort of matter-of-fact way that one reports on a trip to the grocery store. And then she said, “ I put in for a transfer to Labor and Delivery.”
I have no verification that she was who she said she was. There was no name, and it wasn’t a lengthy conversation. She wasn’t even giving a reason for the change in her position. She merely ended the call with this:
“I thought you should know.”
During the following weeks, I had four acquaintances tell me about their abortions. Two were contrite, sorrowful over decisions made in youth and of fear. One was defiant and defensive of her right to abort. The last was conflicted, caught between the public, political answer, and the private grief. I don’t recall what I said to each of them. I hope it was, “ I’m sorry for your loss”. And, “God never stopped loving you.”
I’m glad the internet was in its infancy back then, and there was no social media. I’ve had many friends and acquaintances tell me about their abortions, or that they were considering having an abortion, over the years … only not so much recently. Sure, it’s probably because I’m no longer in my child bearing years and less relatable. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been all over social media, trying to win arguments, not so much winning souls. Here’s my confession: the internet has made me dumber. And probably more angry. And a little bit mean. Certainly less approachable to someone who might be wanting to examine their own grief over a child lost to abortion.
I can’t blame anyone but myself, so I tried extracting myself from social media late last year, trying to return only with light. It’s slow going and I have had some regressions. Time will tell how I manage in this battle with myself. But souls are not won with political jabs and “gotcha” moments. They are won , one at a time, with love. I have to turn off the news and turn on my listening, one person at a time.
Some 15 years after that talk at the university hospital, I experienced my first and only miscarriage. I wrote about it on a blog I had been writing for some years, writing now more intimately than I had ever before written, and feeling very vulnerable. A family member who openly disagreed with my political and pro-life views, saw the post and called me. He said,
“I’m so sorry for your loss”.
He wasn’t the only one to respond his way, but the only comments I received about how the miscarriage was “probably for the best” (I was 45 years old), or ignored altogether, were from people who were vocally pro-life. That was the end of my blog. I had seriously miscalculated the internet’s capacity for compassion. But it took me too long to learn I was (and likely am still) part of the problem. The consistency we seek in others, we must strive for ourselves.
One year in which I attended the March for Life, a young priest spoke at the youth rally. I forget the specifics, but he powerfully sent home the message that who we are as precious creations of God is written in our hearts. As pro-lifers, he said, that was THE message we had to give others. But first, he said, we had to know it ourselves.
Ascension Press’s “ Bible in a Year” podcast is trending #1 today as I write this. The most listened-to podcast, now, January 2021. That’s incredible, really. In what has been a contentious and sad and confusing 9 months, how hungry we are for the love story of our creation, and God’s fatherhood of us all. That’s not just for other people, that’s for us. We can’t offer that revelation to others until we know it, intimately for ourselves, so that’s where we start. Read the Bible. We need to stop making idols of our anger, our fear, our debating skills, and especially our political figures, and remember one thing:
God loves us. Universally, collectively, individually, intimately. So much.
I just wanted you to know.
[MB Beacom is a wife, mother of ten, grandmother of seven, and freelance writer. She writes from her home in central Iowa on matters of faith, family, eldercare, obstetrics, art and design, sometimes rural life, and rarely politics.]