As you may know, I am on a radiology rotation.
A few weeks ago, I decided it was time I go see some ultrasound imaging. Other aspects of imaging are more comfortable for me (especially Nuc Med for obvious reasons), but ultrasound is my black box, so I figured learning is good. So, I am doing ultrasound at the hospital where I usually work. Lots of livers and thyroids and kidneys.
Then, up on the screen pops up a perfect looking 8 week embryo. Cool, I think to myself, that might be my kid in another four weeks.
I then remembered that all of the obstetrical ultrasounds are generally done at the children’s hospital unless there is someone in emerg. I asked why this ultrasound was done at the hospital we were at.
Its for the TPU replied the fellow.
Termination of pregnancy unit.
My heart sank.
He said I could leave if I wanted to. But really, this is part of my learning. Part of life in a hospital and in this world.
I watched him read four ultrasounds of perfect little embryos between 6 and 11 weeks all with heartbeats and the works. Perfect little embryos that might have otherwise grown up, although it is tough to say for sure because bad stuff happens.
I went home and cried to Patrick because it seemed so sad and so unfair that these babies had to die when maybe they wouldn’t. It seemed so unfair that so many women want babies so badly and yet here are people who for whatever reason or circumstance don’t or can’t want their own.
Just over a week later, after losing my own baby, Elim, I sat in that department again.
Yet again, I saw babies getting their photo taken to confirm that they were indeed alive (because the procedure is different if they are alive or dead). I saw one person who had terminated pregnancies 6 times.
I had an overwhelming urge to go in and yell at these people. To tell them that I am here, working and trying to piece together what is left of my sanity because my baby died before it would have even been very visible on an ultrasound. That I really wanted that baby. That it isn’t fair that they get to choose, but I can’t. To ask a big huge why.
But, I didn’t.
Because that isn’t fair of me (or very professional).
Their baby dying, my baby dying, really, it is all a loss. Those kids are all with God now. They all had potential. They all died because they were made in a fallen world full of brokenness.
That mom may mourn the loss of her child like I do. Everybody grieves differently. Maybe not now, but maybe later. I have heard of the struggles of moms who make that decision. And maybe she won’t. I can’t put myself entirely in her shoes.
We aren’t very good at putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. We are, however, really good at trying to point out other people’s wrongs.
I’m not here to have the pro-choice or pro-life debate. In fact, I don’t want to hear it because it is often hurtful, overdone and narrowminded on both sides of the coin. Sin is sin. Death is death. Pain and anguish are universal. We have free will. That is all on that.
I read this blog post from The Lewis Note called “Why Miscarriage Matters When You’re Pro-Life.” It was strangely timely based on the adventures of the last few weeks. Check it out.
I read this post the night after my second day in the ultrasound department when I was really struggling with the value of life and how we see it as a society.
It rocked my world. Because it is so true, especially in a Christian context, but I am sure it works for others as well.
I have already experienced both the good and the bad sides of this post. Some people are really nice. Other people aren’t. And some nice people say stupid stuff (I sure do).
Thinking on how I responded to people who lost kids at the same point, I think I had empathy and sympathy for both. I think I did place more value on the aborted baby. I also think I had more sympathy for that child’s mother because there was action and potential.
Looking at scans, it is the same. Already dead babies are already dead, so in a way, it seemed less sad than about to babies about to die.
That isn’t necessarily fair of me.
Both an electively aborted baby and a spontaneously aborted baby were both alive at one point and had potential and value.
And then, there is our approach to the mothers and fathers.
Don’t forget the fathers. Many people do.
Everyone needs love. It doesn’t matter how voluntary a loss was, it doesn’t matter how old the child was (although this does often impact they way people can grieve and what is considered “acceptable”). You need people willing to live the grief with you. To sit it out with you because that is what you might need, even when it is uncomfortable (just like sitting through scans that are upsetting helps us to learn and grow in a different way).
If you claim to care about a person, to care about life, then you should stand by the mourning no matter what they are mourning and no matter how long that what was alive. If you want some practical suggestions and examples, check out that post. I am the first person to admit that I tend to project my feelings on others, so if I think something would weird me out, I tend to avoid doing that for someone else or letting someone do it for me. I’ve learned that I am often wrong and my assumptions were totally incorrect. If you aren’t sure how to help or love someone where they are at, ask.
I guess I’m learning more than I anticipated on this radiology rotation.