:: The S.I.C.L.E. Cell ::

my view from the prison of a SICLE (Self-Imposed Child Loss Experience) due to debilitating maternal disease
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:: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 ::

I have just finished the 7-year project of writing a book on Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Now it is going through 3 editing stages and is zinging back and forth in snail mail, making the USPS a fortune. I have very little time to do the blog at this point which is why my entries have been so sporadic (and will continue to be so for a while). When the book has been published I can take human form again and stop living like Alice's white rabbit. Currently, there is just too much to oversee, and everything is due "yesterday".

That being said, I've been talking with a woman who made an adoption plan for her first child, raised her second child, and aborted her third child (for the financial sake of her second). She fell apart after the abortion which resulted in her temporarily losing custody of her second child. It's a very sad story, but she told me that she she would place (via adoption) "a hundred children before I would ever, ever abort again." Like so many, she had been under the impression that abortion would hurt less than adoption.


:: ashli 4:49 PM # ::
:: Thursday, April 24, 2003 ::

We held a press conference at the capitol today in order to put the pressure on Jim King to let the Women's Health and Safety Act go to vote in the senate. Women who had been physically maimed and emotionally injured by abortion drove several hours to attend and speak. Long story short, one member of the press showed up with a pad and pencil. We didn't even hold the conference; we just gave her copies of our individual stories. I've been semi-active for awhile, so my shock at the lack of concern for us is somewhat nonexistent. When I was nuts and advocated abortion I used to love to ask: "Where are 'pro-lifers' after the children are born?!" Now I know the answer is: a damn site more "there" than the "pro-choice" movement. Now I ask where the 'pro-choicers' are after the children are aborted.

I watched the women chatting from my seat across the room. Some newer, more hopeful grieving moms-turned activists were visibly disappointed. Looking at our crowd I was reminded of how little mainstream America cares about us. It made perfect sense. After all, if America cared about women, TRULY cared about women, there would be no abortion in the "land of the free".

The society that accepts abortion abandons us to knives and suction machines. They leave us to the long years and mountains of snotty tissues. They ignore our pain and offer us the grave.

I wanted to cry, not for myself, but for the collective sea of broken hearts the world refuses to acknowledge.
And they wonder why more women aren't talking.


:: ashli 3:20 AM # ::
:: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 ::

I got this note from a friend on Easter. I understood completely, and thought it was a perfect example of life in the SICLE Cell. It very much illustrates that while the actual abortion procedure may be over, the abortion-related loss never ends. Here's the note:

"One of my little girls pulled a big gold basket with a little bow out of my closet the other day. She played with it and left it in the family room. This morning while all 3 kids were sitting in the middle of the floor looting through their candy baskets, the empty gold basket stood out amidst the chaos, lonely and abandoned. It looked as though its owner had just ran out of the room for a moment, to go to the potty perhaps, and would be right back to join the others. But that child never came back. I pointed to it and nudged my husband. 'That one,' I said, 'belongs to the dead 7 year old.'

I had to get a cat... we 'needed' one, I thought. But after getting it, something was still missing. I started shopping for a dog, but it doesn't seem to matter how many bodies I put in this house. I still can't fill it."


:: ashli 7:59 PM # ::
:: Monday, April 21, 2003 ::

Yesterday I noticed that there were over 8,000 pages of online condolences for Laci Peterson's mother. I wonder what it's like to have your child murdered and then to receive sympathy and condolences. I wonder what it's like to be a furious, wounded mom whose own country is also collectively infuriated by the killer.

At the time of my child's death there were no condolences. In fact, large factions of society view my child's killer as something of a hero BECAUSE he kills children like mine.

Laci's mom's mourning is considered appropriate while mine is somehow "political".

I wonder what it's like to have your sorrow so easily validated... to not have to fight tooth and nail for the right to be angry and the right to grieve your murdered child.


:: ashli 11:15 AM # ::
:: Saturday, April 19, 2003 ::

Several women involved in the WHSA affair have SICLEs. Their stories are heartbreaking:

AFTER aborting her child, "Cindy" was accidentally confronted with the sonogram the abortionist performed prior to the abortion. She was horrified to make out the shapes of two perfectly formed little bodies; she had been pregnant with twins. She attempted suicide, and the loss of her twins still haunts her years later.

"Beth" had five children and a new boyfriend who seemed to be a dream. He begged her for a baby because he didn't have any children of his own. A baby she gave him, but nearly 5 months into the pregnancy, he left her for another woman. Distraught, Beth sought to end the pregnancy. At the abortion business they gave her some type of pharmaceutical that would cause her to "miscarry". Like the Baez woman, she was supposed to come in the next morning where the baby would be born still. Instead, she describes cramping at the hotel and the warm, wet "gush" she felt before looking down and seeing her dead child "all balled up between [her] legs". It is incredibly new for her; she is still counting the weeks of her ghost pregnancy. She would be 40 weeks along this week. The full term, yet she is empty. One moment, under the microscope, she amazes all by seemingly being unaffected. The next moment, when she's not being ogled, she falls apart while eating dinner and weeps uncontrollably in a restaurant. Her deep, sorrowful moaning cuts through the clinking of dishes and mindless chatter as it searches for a child who cannot be found. We find we have something in common: abortionist James Scott Pendergraft. It becomes our immediate bond; we both feel raped and destroyed by this man. Privately we make fun of his physical appearance because we hate him and it's the only "ammunition" we have.

After aborting her child, "Philomena" was shocked to discover that her child's body had not been removed. She miscarried the baby three days later. Again she became pregnant, again she aborted, again the physician, a new physician (the OB who delivered her when she was born), missed the baby's body. She hemorrhaged and had to have an emergency hysterectomy. She will never have living children of her own.

All of us in one room. So much pain concentrated in one space. It is suffocating.


:: ashli 10:13 AM # ::
:: Friday, April 18, 2003 ::

Senate President Jim King pulled a fast one on us. The Women's Health and Safety Act passed twice in the House and looked like it might just make it into law. However, Thursday, when everyone was leaving the Capitol for the three-day Easter weekend (and no one was around to protest) Senator Jim King withdrew the bill from the Senate subcommittee hearings, so it may be a done deal.

Those of us who agonized emotionally and spent time, effort and money to come and testify feel thoroughly violated.


:: ashli 9:45 AM # ::
:: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 ::

Just a quick update re: the Women's Health and Safety Act here in Florida. It barely passed yesterday (7-6), and there's another round next week on Monday.

There's so much I want to blog about regarding this whole process, but I have very little time presently. It's frustrating.

I plan to blog about these things in the near future:

*the other women who came to testify in round one: their stories
*what it is like to testify before the committee: the sins of the parent
*my impressions of the system: the genesis of law

It has been interesting, perplexing, infuriating, exhilerating, difficult, oppressive, liberating and worth it. Win or lose, it is always worth it.

I don't know what will happen on Monday. If it doesn't pass, that's it for the bill for this year I think. It's never fun to publicly appeal to people who don't care about you or your dead child, but I'm ready to get up, tell my bloody story to a majority of people who don't care, who mockingly view me as the "crybaby card" that "pro-lifers" are playing, and who will kill the bill. HOWEVER, I hope that the majority of the committee on that day, at that particular time, will be people who care to do the right thing. I hope the bill will pass, and that I will not feel too defeated if it doesn't. I hope that I will find comfort in doing what I am supposed to do no matter what the outcome is. I think that's a good summary prayer for the rest of my life.

Thank you for keeping all this in your hearts, minds and prayers.


:: ashli 11:51 AM # ::
:: Friday, April 11, 2003 ::

I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support re: the situation at the Florida House. We won the first round. It was quite an intriguing/amazing experience, one that I'm not really ready to talk about today. Maybe tomorrow.

Thank you for your patience.


:: ashli 12:15 PM # ::
:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::

This morning I was reading a book to my child called Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Simms Taback. It's a wonderful little story about making the most of what you have... even if you have nothing.

The book starts with Joseph and his long overcoat. It is tattered and old and so he tailors it into a shorter jacket. When that is worn he makes a vest. When the vest is worn he makes a scarf. When the scarf is worn he makes a tie. When the tie is worn he makes a handkerchief. When the handkerchief is worn he makes a button. Eventually, the button pops off and is lost forever. So Joseph sits down and writes a book about his overcoat proving that even nothing is something to work with.

I had never read this story before and started weeping at the last line. It caught me off guard. "Why is this making me cry?" I puzzled. And then I thought about my own book.

I'm making what I can of my life after losing someone I tried to hold onto for so long. Nothing is left of my first child. And so much can come from that.


:: ashli 2:30 PM # ::
:: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 ::

I spent the weekend at med school in the bowels of the library trudging through scads of medical journal articles and doling out wads of cash on Medline abstract copies and article lists. (Forget Pubmed; Medline is God's gift to med students and obsessed, grieving moms.) After roughly 8 hours of a very amusing scavenger hunt, I began to realize that the project (a book I am writing on HG) is swiftly coming to completion. This book is a bond I have with my lost child. It is fluid and alive. It is griefwork like the blessing of perpetually tending a grave. I don't have a grave to weed-only this book, and it's almost over. I should be happy at the potential for helping others, and I am. But right before I left the library, I very nearly cried. The completion of this work is one more thing about my child that I have to say goodbye to. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye... it is misery.

My modem is out, and the book is coming to a close, so I am going to be very distracted for the next couple of weeks. My posts may suffer, but I will eventually return full force. Hopefully.

This Thursday I am going before the Florida House testifying for the Women's Health and Safety Act (basically says second trimester abortion facilities should have at least as many safety requirements as a veterinary hospital and should go one better and be as safe as human surgical/ambulatory clinics). Please keep me (and the other woman who is testifying) in your thoughts and prayers. Thank God it's the House and not the Senate, but there will be a Q&A session, and as soon as the blood hits the water a few carnivores will be eyeing us hungrily for dessert. You know how it is.


:: ashli 1:30 PM # ::
:: Friday, April 04, 2003 ::

This is the last in the series of personal journal entries during the immediate months following my abortion-related child loss. I thought this was going to be an easy way to get through a week's worth of blogging, but it actually turned out to be kind of painful and embarrassing. Baring this much of my personal experience has been like showing up to the grocery store in my underwear.

I never believed in the term "nervous breakdown" but if I had to describe what I initially went through (after the abortion-related loss), I'd say I definately broke down.

About 8 months later I remember (quite vividly) staring out the window of my room and thinking I might like to plant something in the yard. And then I realized, that such a thought indicated that I cared about planting something. It was the first earthly thing that concerned me since the loss. Slowly the color bled back into a black and white world. It was exactly like that scene in "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (70's movie) where the girl sneaks off to the bathroom to burn herself with cigarettes for the umpteenth time. She presses a glowing ember into her flesh and for the first time in a long time she flinches. It is a celebratory moment, because she realizes she is starting to feel again.

Before I got to that moment of feeling again, I had to weather those 8 months. It was a terrible period during which I thought about suicide constantly. At one point, I could feel myself drawing to a close and I wrote a letter in case I didn't have time or interest when the actual moment came:

Dear all,
This is one of those cliche suicide notes. If you are reading it, then I have made my exit. I have tried to go on without my child and with the terrible irony of killing the one I love. Each day is an unbearable hell. Grief eats me alive. Life means nothing to me without my child. I tried to stay alive for you, but I only exhausted everyone and reminded you of your pain. I don't feel my husband can go on with his life with me around. He is in agony over the loss and it's all I can talk about. I truly WANT to be with our baby. What I have become can not be changed. I am the mother of a murdered child; my child was murdered by me. Where do you go from there? I don't want to continue. The pain is too much.
April 1997

:: ashli 10:04 AM # ::

Sorry I missed Monday's blog. Technical difficulties. This should have been Monday's entry:

(Before the suicide note, I had taken to writing the baby. It was my way of praying my love up to him/her.)

Dearest Tennessee,
     It's morning.  Always the hardest time.  Faced with another day without you.  Gotta think of things to do to stay alive...
     I keep thinking about being in the clinic with you and how simple it would have been to avoid the tragedy of your death.  You know I woke up.  For just a minute... I woke up.  I remember them taking you from me.  I wish I didn't remember, but I do.  If I hit a telephone pole and lived would I at least have brain damage?  Could I forget who I am or that I had you disemboweled?  If I broke my brain that would fix me.  But then I wouldn't remember you or the music of your heartbeat when we were hospitalized that time.  I was sick, but you were safe.  I could have died for all they cared.  You or me or us for all they cared. 
     It would have been better to go where you are, to be with you.  That's what mothers do.  They don't give up.  Love never leaves anyone behind.  I left you.  I left you...

:: ashli 8:56 AM # ::
:: Thursday, April 03, 2003 ::

i'll never see your tiny hands
or the card
they would have colored
on mother's day
i'll never kiss you
or even touch
or miss you
as you run next door
to play
i'll never worry
about how to feed you
or clothe you
or teach you
the right things to say
but oh how i love you
how i want you and need you
and how
i threw your life away.

:: ashli 8:24 AM # ::
:: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 ::

we came home
without you
kept your picture
in a drawer
took you off the mirror
and the roster
of life
others said we had the right
but since you've been gone
everything's wrong...
before you even
took a breath
i took your life
and gave you death
and "health"
this way
is nothing good.

:: ashli 7:16 PM # ::
:: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 ::

This week I'm going to sneak into an old diary I kept for a few weeks after I aborted my child. The entries range from poems, letters and even a suicide note just in case I exited in haste. I thought it might help to write things down, but it didn't, so it wasn't something I maintained for very long. Today we'll start with a poem that was written less than two months after the death of my child. At this point I should have still been pregnant. (I would have been around 22 weeks.) Like so many, I kept count. Like so many, I was in utter despair.

child of mine

I want to join you
see you safely here
take it back
and since I can't
I want to join you.
Pills on the nightstand
I could put them in my hand
wield that Awful sword again
and throw my starving arms around you
tiny child
life I spent.


:: ashli 9:18 AM # ::

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