Something Worth Voting For
I’m not one to talk politics. At home with my husband we talk about issues, candidates and elections, but publicly, socially, it’s not something I talk or post about much. We all have our opinions and we’re all entitled to our own, but on one issue, I cannot, will not keep quiet. Especially now. Especially with an election coming up. And most importantly, especially since I met Willow.
On September 23, 2016 I was 30 weeks pregnant. With two little girls already, we were ecstatic about welcoming another to our family in early December. We had a busy fall planned, and the last 10 weeks leading up to our third daughter’s birth were going to be packed full. I would catch glimpses of articles suggesting to finish preparing your baby’s nursery in your second trimester, and I was hoping that I would at least be started on hers by Thanksgiving.
On September 23, I spent the day working, then did a quick photoshoot in the evening, and finished the night off by going to my little brothers’ homecoming football game. I was feeling great, had enjoyed the day, and loved spending the evening with my husband, girls and my mom as we watched the Pirates play one of their best games of the season. We decided to leave at halftime to get the girls to bed, and on the way to the car, my mom commented on my slow pregnant waddle. I just laughed – it was as fast as I could go. A few steps later, my water broke.
I was in disbelief. It had been my easiest pregnancy yet, and I had been feeling great. I was the girl the doctors joked would never go into labor naturally – with both of my other girls, I had been induced, never having even started to dilate. I had no warning signs of preterm labor. There were no contractions or cramping. Yet, there I was in the high school parking lot with soaking jeans. When we realized it was not just amniotic fluid, but blood, too – and a lot of it – my super chill husband started to panic (in my previous two births, I had hemorrhaged both times and was already anemic this time). Thankfully, we were only 10 minutes from the hospital.
After multiple ultrasounds, an ambulance transport, steroids, antibiotics, and too many needles to count, five days later bed rest ended as we were rushed in for an emergency c-section when our little princess took a turn for the worst and needed to come out right away.
Not long later, Willow Emersyn came into the world, 30 weeks and four days gestation. She was a teensy 3 pounds 12 ounces, but she was beautiful and perfectly formed. Because of complications in surgery, other than a quick glance, I didn’t get to see my beautiful girl until late the following night. Weak, in pain, and so dizzy I could barely sit up in my wheel chair, I remember holding her tiny form, marveling over how beautiful she was…and how perfectly formed she was, even so early. She was small, she was scrawny, but she was a baby in every way. She cried when they put the feeding tube in. She felt discomfort. She cried when they poked her tiny heel to draw blood for labs. She felt pain. She relaxed against my skin and gave a tiny precious sigh when they laid her against my chest. She felt comfort. She had 10 perfect little toes, and 10 long little fingers.
I remember in the stillness of those midnight moments, as I held my baby girl for the first time, as her monitors beeped and her oxygen tubes pumped air into her small, immature lungs, as the NICU nurse sat a few feet away, watching over us in a motherly way (Even after three blood transfusions, I think they were a little worried about me holding my fragile baby. And rightfully so. It was all I could do to stay upright in the wheelchair.), I remember having the stunning realization that my baby was not a baby in the eyes of millions of people in this country. To them, my beloved, precious little girl would be seen as nothing more than tissue. They believed she couldn’t feel pain, and should be kept or discarded as the mother saw fit.
Over our next several days and weeks in the NICU, I met mothers and nurses who had given birth to or taken care of babies that had been born as early as 23 or 24 weeks gestation. Brave, resilient little babies who had fought hard to live and are now functioning as beautiful, healthy children. Everyone we met, even back home, seemed to have a story about themselves, a friend, or a family member who had a preemie – tiny babies who grew into thriving adults. One sweet woman told my husband about her 24 week preemie who is now 6 feet tall and doing great in college. And each and every mother, each and every nurse was talking about a baby…a baby, not tissue. Living, breathing babies who fought so hard each and every single day to live – they wanted to live!
I believe that as humans, we have certain God-given rights. I believe that as Americans, the government serves to protect and uphold those rights. For every American. I believe women have the right to choose what happens to and with their own bodies. Absolutely. I support that right. However, I also believe that life begins at conception, and that after conception, that life too has rights. God-given rights – a right to live, a right to be safe. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, right up until the time that her choices endanger the safety or life of another living being. She can chose to abstain from sexual activity. She can chose to take preventative measures if she is sexually active. ** She can chose adoption. But choosing to end someone else’s life is not a choice I believe should be left up to a woman, or any other person. That is called murder. And choices like that, are choices the government exists to protect against.
I don’t vote based on party. I vote based on principles, on conscience, and on similar beliefs on important issues. Looking in the face of my sweet daughter, I cannot vote for anyone who believes that she, and millions of other babies like her, are tissue, incapable of feeling pain, undeserving of the basic, God-given right of life. I cannot vote for anyone who would find it acceptable to tear her limbs from her body one at a time or crush her skull. Her or any other baby. To see a child that many in this country would consider tissue, and see how absolutely human they are, I cannot comprehend the atrocity and horror of the current death toll of babies in the US – literally ripped from their mother’s wombs, without thought to the pain inflicted on them, or the basic human rights being stolen from them.
If you cannot support a candidate this year, if you feel like there are only bad choices, I beseech you to vote anyway. Vote for something that you can believe in – vote for life! Vote for those who will champion the cause of the unborn, the innocent, the unprotected.
So many lives have been lost so that we can vote – they were lost keeping this country a democracy, giving us the right to vote in our representatives in government, a right to have people representing us that believe the same way we do. Voting is our responsibility as Americans. There is certainly not a candidate in this election that is without sin (or any past election, for that matter!). There won’t ever be a candidate that we will agree with on every matter, both personal and social. But there are literally millions of babies who have been aborted, and millions more who will be if we do nothing. Surely, life is something worth voting for. Surely, murder is something worth stopping.
So, if you can’t get behind either candidate this election, get behind issues. Get behind someone who thinks the same way about things that are most important to you on a social scale. Get behind the innocent, and cast a vote for life!
Tomorrow I will be casting my vote for Willow, and for all the other “tissue” out there who fight so hard and want so badly to live. Please, please, please, join me.
**(I do understand that pregnancy sometimes results from rape. And to those women who have dealt with that, I’m so sorry. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live through an attack of that nature, much less have a pregnancy that is a result of it. However, I do know that two wrongs don’t make a right. At the point that a pregnancy is discovered, there is a beautiful choice that emerges – you can choose to keep the victim count at one, instead of making it two. You can choose light instead of darkness, life instead of death!)