Did you know that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, in common parlance)? Me neither, until I received an email from a creative writing studio here in Chicago, where I had taken a one-day “get yourself started” class a month or so ago. Of course, after filling pages with writing during the hours in the class, I hadn’t really written again since. I managed to follow step #1: put a paper and pen in a convenient, uncluttered location, ready to write. At least, it stayed there and uncluttered for a day, maybe two, before my work papers took over. To be honest, I’m not even sure where that notebook ended up at this point.
When my wife told me of a writing accountability group to which she belongs, I signed up. I affiliated myself with my last university (it’s geared towards professors engaged in academic writing), and thus, here I am on day two, plugging away on a new blog post (I wrote by hand yesterday, and I did the full 30 minutes in 15-min increments!). Since I’m here by obligation, though (okay, that’s disingenuous – I did sign up because I ultimately wanted to write more), I don’t really know what to write about today. And since I just wasted so much of your time explaining why I’m even writing at all, I’ll save the actual very good and relevant story of my friend’s baby loss – and her turning to me, and how I was able to provide some support – for another day. Look at me, promising another day of writing!
Today, if you’re bothering to stick with me, I’ll tell you a bit about how I’m feeling today. It’s November 8, 2016. The US is on the precipice of a very unusual and important national election, one in which one candidate claimed women “ripped babies out of them” at 9 months pregnant. I can’t even begin to tell you how horrifying that statement was, how harmful to women suffering the very real loss of their children in the third trimester. Of how, because I am part of so many loss mom groups, it meant that woman after woman shared their horrifying, tragic story of having to choose to deliver in the third trimester because if they did not, they would die, or because their baby was “incompatible with life.”
In fact, the friend who came to me had just that trauma – a fatal diagnosis, a burgeoning health crisis, a choice between delivery and the hopes of seeing her daughter alive, albeit briefly, or carrying until her daughter became stillborn inside of her, daily putting her own health and life at risk. How dare anyone vilify and even criminalize women and men who have to make these choices, every day? These are people choosing life, ironically – choosing a life of as little suffering as possible for their precious children. Choosing their own life. They have enough grief without public figures saying they should be punished, and graphically commenting, with derision, on what is for most the saddest and most heartbreaking thing they will ever go through in their lives.
I hate that he is even one of our choices. I hate that people have such a narrow concept of pro-life (and even of abortion, though that’s not even the topic here, despite his attempt to conflate the two). I hate that families making the hardest choices are being used as political fodder to stir up anger and hatred. We deserve so much better. We need to be so much better. Tonight, we will find out if we are, in fact, so much better than this. Please vote, Americans. The world is counting on you.