So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

02 June, 2009

Tiller in the Seventh Month

I mentioned that I'd been affected by the Tiller assassination today to the shrink.

She said, "Yeah, I was wondering how you were reacting to that."

Just great. One of my therapist's thoughts about the news was how I was dealing with it, and on her own dime to boot.

It's obvious, of course, that it would. I'm seven months pregnant. I have anxiety issues. (Secondary effect of my depressive disorder.) My primary criterion for dealing with my pregnancy (both in terms of medical care and everything else) has been minimising stress and meddling, with a particular eye to things that I know I can degenerate into obsessive circles of increasingly frantic worry over; I know how to manage my brain when I'm off my meds, after all, I've been doing it that way for most of my life.

It is completely normal in the course of a pregnancy to have worries about the health of the baby, to have moments of 'what if', to fret about whether things are okay. The baby wants to hang out pretty much exclusively on my right side; does that mean the cord is tangled up and making my uterus into a trap? Etc. And my anxiety and I, we've got a little routine for this: I listen to the fretfulness, I acknowledge it, I point out that there's nothing we can do about it right now, I set it aside, and I go do something else.

Before Sunday.

On Sunday, as I'm sure you well know, Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in his church. A man who specialised in care and comfort for third-trimester women in tragic circumstances. Who conducted the abortions with sufficient skill and empathy to provide grieving parents with an intact body to mourn and bury. Who had followed in his father's footsteps in feeling that this care was essential for women in need (his father had had a patient die after refusing to perform an abortion, and thereafter changed his practice), who had been one of three people in the United States who did it at all. [Added:] Who was known to provide that care even to people who could not afford to pay for it.

There is often a foot wedged against my bottommost right rib, an uncomfortable pressure, sometimes accompanied by a sequence of thumps.

I think of the woman in my childbirth preparation class who has as her mantra, "If it's kicking, you know it's alive." She is pregnant after a miscarriage, after all.

After Sunday, I rock and pray that that is good enough. Kicking means alive, right?

I read, and see people talking about babies eaten up with terminal cancer, ancephaly, various other syndromes, deformities, failures to develop, and I try not to jump and startle with every kick, every vibration of the skin of my abdomen, try to stifle the exaggerated startles of my PTSD and just repeat, "If it's kicking, you know it's alive."

I have friends who have lost children to miscarriages; who learned that their desired baby was a blighted ovum and had to work through the whiplash from 'nurturing life' to 'harboring death'. One of my [legal] husband's coworkers had a baby recently, a baby who lived for two hours after birth.

I have been carrying this life for seven months. It's kicking, right?

But the fear is there, the overwhelming fear, from reading about, thinking about, the women who carried their lives for seven months, eight months, nearly nine, and then learned that no, what they had nurtured, invested in, prepared for, perhaps named, was going to die. Maybe killing them on the way too, bleeding out or rot or toxins poisoning the system or any of the other horrible malfunctions of flesh.

And people write about Tiller, write about the care he gave to these stricken families, and sometimes to do that, they have to write about why his job was necessary.

And I cradle my belly and want to howl with the terror of it.

I want to crawl into a hospital and demand tests, poking, prodding, knock me out and put a fucking closed circuit TV in my belly if you have to, let me know that it will be okay. Let me know that it's enough. Let me know that it will be all right. Even though I made all these careful, cautious, informed choices, avoiding the medicalisation of pregnancy, facing this natural process with calm and serenity and all that good stuff, I want to throw it all away and beg someone, anyone, somewhere, to give me reassurances.

Because a man who helped women face the worst when the worst had to be faced was murdered by a terrorist.

Who has certainly achieved a fine terrorist goal: one terrified woman. And with me, probably many others.

I talked about it so rationally, reasonably, with the shrink, noting in the abstract that it was setting off my anxiety, that I really ought to go to some effort to address that, remember my vitamins, all that good sane stuff.

I left her office, fractured, and my liege said that I looked completely exhausted. Yes.

And I had talked about it, which meant the walls around the roiling mass of terrified were breached, and the entire trip home I sniffled and fought back tears, trying to hold on a little longer without falling apart. Couldn't fall apart. Couldn't make a scene. Couldn't ... show ... fear.

I closed the kitchen door, a soft scrape into solitude, and when I was alone I howled like a terrified animal, howled and screamed and spat bile and let the tears roll down my cheeks. Only in solitude, because it was too much to show even my husbands.


Anonymous said...

I have a safer vantage point, and watching this unfold is still awful.

After reading up on Tiller, I find myself most appalled by how perfectly this illustrates the way the anti-abortion movement has knowingly spread lies about third-trimester abortions, aware at the top that in doing so they were harming already-devastated women and the people who cared for them.

How they managed to make people see someone who cared for the sick and heartsick as a murderer instead of a hero.

Alex said...

*hugs* if you want 'em.

I'm sorry this is so awful (both in general and specifically for you).

Cereus Sphinx said...


If you could use them.

"I will let fear pass through me and turn my inner eye to see it's path"

A little of the litany against fear if that helps.

Suzanne said...

I love you so very much dearest flame. I love the little one kicking your rib.

*gathers up the love in my wings and wills it east*

Thank you for writing this.

belledame222 said...

((KIya and little foot))

Aqua, of the Questioners said...

*hugs* In sympathy.

Janet said...

Even with a highly medically-invasive pregnancy with many complications.... "if it's kicking it must be alive" was all too common a thought for me.

And even so...even after everything, even after having my child in my arms, after fearing for his life and my life and wondering what the future holds for my son...I wish people would get over trying to decide how other women deal with their bodies and their lives, because if they'd seen what I have, I can't fathom how they'd think it's any of their business, much less worth killing over.

Deoridhe said...

(( Kiya & little foot & husbands ))

Daisy Deadhead said...

Good God, girlfriend, I could never have read that shit when I was pregnant, and I don't even have depression or anxiety or any of that stuff. DO NOT READ IT, is the best advice I could give, but too late. (I couldn't even watch "Demon Seed"--which when non-pregnant, is a simply dopey-ass scifi movie... when pregnant, it becomes a terrifying raped-by-androids story...)

Anonymous said...

I cried, too. I have been pregnant 7 times. One abortion, 3 spontaneous abortions (misscarriages) and 3 children. The last was against medical recommendation and I lived in terror something would go terribly wrong.

They can't admit women need Dr. Tiller and others like him because their angry sky god does a piss poor job at taking care of business.

Peeeeka-chu said...

*HUGHUG* When I was pregnant with both my kids, I had horrible nightmares about them, about Tim, about me, about everything going wrong. And I'm not prone to them. *HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUG*

Jenn said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I'm in early pregnancy and you have clearly articulated the way I have been feeling since I learned of Tiller's death.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I wish you the best for your pregnancy, and am ... 'glad' is the wrong word, but you know what I mean, that my writing on this helped you.