“My One Pound Boys Could Fit in the Palm of My Hands” — A Mother’s Witness Against Abortion
A friend of mine, Deaconess Kim Schave, shared powerful words recently on a discussion forum where the topic of abortion had come up. She had the courage to speak up, and out, in defense of the unborn and then shared her own, agonizingly painful, but beautifully powerful, account of her twin sons, born prematurely. She gave me permission to share her comments here. The photo is a picture of the grave of her two sons.
“For anyone who is interested, allow me to share how I moved from being a pro-choice feminist to the woman I am today.
“I grew up outside the church, finally convinced my parents to begin attending an ALC church close to our home where my mother had attended as a kid. I was baptized and confirmed at the age of 18. My parents and I attended off and on until I graduated and left for Army basic training later that year. It was nice to know I was in the club if I happened to die, basically. I grew up somehow believing in God and being taught about Jesus on the occasion that I went to church with friends or a VBS at a local church. I remember one time deciding with a friend that we’d memorize the Lord’s Prayer together from the little Gideon Bible we acquired from somewhere. She wasn’t a church-goer either. Those were my only experiences with God as a kid.
“Both before and after my baptism I participated in helping friends make decisions to get abortions. At that age, the world is ending if you don’t solve your immediate problem . . . you certainly can’t see that this too, shall pass. My particular circle of friends at certain times didn’t have parents they felt they could trust or pastors to turn to for wise counsel. There was still actually shame in the 80’s for being known as sexually active, which isn’t exactly the case these days in most secular circles. Abortion was fine in my mind, what difference did it really make, it’s just a blob of tissue that gets vacuumed out in a procedure simpler than having your tonsils taken out, right? More power to any woman who wants to exercise her right to choose what’s best for her body.
“Fast forward about eight years to 1995 when I was blessed to be carrying the future left and right guards for The Ohio State University as my husband and I would so lovingly joke. It was totally out of the blue; twins do not run in either of our families. Twin boys were on the way, and my husband couldn’t be more proud as a dad. The big items were purchased, the nursery was ready, we hadn’t quite gotten to the point that we had showers scheduled, yet out of the blue at work one day I started feeling rather ill and subsequently lost a lot of fluid. I was 24 weeks’ into my pregnancy, we had known for only about 2 weeks we were expecting twins, and the dream all came crashing down in just one day. I met my doctor at Christ Hospital (I cherish this hospital name yet today), then was transferred by ambulance to the nearest research hospital for an emergency C-section . . . it was too late to stop labor. I found much comfort in the Biblical number of 7 on that July 7, 1995, day.
“The only recourse for a mother at that point is to beg and plead with God to save her children. I think I bargained in every way I could think of with him while I was still conscious on the operating room table. I offered to dedicate them both to His service if God would allow them to live (I’m guessing the readings at church that week must have been based on 1 Samuel and were fresh in my mind, I don’t know). In the end, He would not grant that (or so it seemed at the time).
“My one pound boys who could fit in the palm of our hands, named Joshua and Zachary, lived for one day. My husband has better recall than I do of all that happened in those 24 hours. I tried to get down to the NICU once and ended up throwing up all over; I never made it back to see them. Today I think it’s because God was protecting me from the memories I’d still have today of how fragile they must have looked hooked up to all the equipment. My perfectly formed little blessings each had 10 perfect little fingers, 10 perfect little toes, handsome little faces, quite a bit of hair, and were simply created perfect in every way. I wanted these little babies more than anything in the world, and for whatever reason, God said “no.” To say I was a little angry with Him would be an understatement! Our faithful pastor baptized the boys in my husband’s presence in their little incubators; I was not able to witness it, but I cling to the assurance of this gift nonetheless.
“When it was time to take them off life-support, they were lovingly swaddled and brought to us so we could say good-bye. I had to that point never seen anything in my life as precious as those little bundles. We had about an hour or so to check out their little fingers and toes before we knew it was time to say good-bye. There is a discoloration that takes place when the oxygen levels decrease as babies die, and that point had come. Their tiny little noses started bleeding, and I’ll never forget wiping them with the greatest amount of love a mother can muster. My favorite scene in the Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ” movie is when Mary is wiping up her son’s precious blood from the ground with a stark white piece of cloth. His blood was simply not fit to be left there. From the perspective of a mother, this just cannot be described, only experienced.
“In the weeks following, after my father-in-law took down the nursery before I came home, after the tombstone and burial plot were picked out, after the graveside service, after the negotiating of final hospital bills, my pastor kept me focused on a very loving Father who allowed His own Son die to for my sake. This Father had the power to stop the abuse His own son would endure, but He loved us so much that He chose not to stop it. Oh, that pastors in all church bodies, especially the ELCA as this pastor was, would recognize the gift of Life. He had lost his own child to cancer and knew all too well what we were experiencing. Losing a child certainly gives you perspective on how much our society has come to devalue life. Right around the time of my loss, the newspapers were awash in the story of Susan Smith drowning her children. The unfairness of it all . . . one kills her sons while I want nothing more than for mine to live.
“But wait, what about those years I didn’t really seem to care so much about the lives I had so easily told my friends not to concern themselves with? I had some tough lessons to learn in those months and years following my loss, but despite the harshness of those lessons, God was there at every turn with the assurance that only comes through His Word, and for every deceitful whisper I’d hear from Satan, God’s Word came through all the more loudly.
“THIS is why I’m an ardent defender of the unborn. For another person to have to go through what I did to learn this lesson, well, I just wouldn’t wish it on anyone. For generations of women, men and children who haven’t been taught how precious the gift of Life is, I dedicate my remaining years to try to help others come to understand it.
“In the end, God did allow my sons to live. They live eternally with a loving Jesus because of God’s gift of grace through the waters of Holy Baptism. My insistence on helping others view Life with the same regard that I have come to have is my way of dedicating their lives to something important, I suppose. They did not live nor die in vain if I am able to help one mother save the life of her own baby (and also save her from a lifetime of pain). This is why I’m not afraid to call abortion a sin. This is why I am pro-baby, pro-mother and pro-father (and ultimately, pro-God).”
Deaconess Kim Schave, M.A., C.P.A.