Monday, December 2, 2013


I've learned that it's a good idea to sit on these posts for a little while after I write them, and so that's what I've done here. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. I was listening to a bioethics lecture and I was so stirred by what he was saying that I had to stop it and sit down and write this. I haven't even finished listening to the lecture (haha), which is unusual for me. I try to go through things thoroughly before I put them up, but that day, I felt I'd heard all I needed to hear, or all I could bear to hear. I don't expect that people are going to believe what I've written here, I really don't. Not that it's a big deal (it never was to me), but I recognize now as an adult that it may seem strange. So, if you read this and think "Marg, you're full of it," that's fine, just keep in mind that I'm not asking you to believe me. I'm writing it for the person who's out there, who may want to take a look at it. In short, I'm recording it for anyone who may be interested, for research purposes or otherwise. Since writing this, I've struggled as well, with the obvious personal implications...(sigh). I'm sorry, but it's something I felt I needed to do, in light that we live in a culture where ethical lines are becoming more and more blurred. I think we don't realize how much our culture has been shaped by our spiritual foundations, and as those foundations are lost, we are seeing a regress to what went before, little girls abandoned, the disabled killed, as it is in many parts of the world to this day. It is out of concern for the least of these that I write this. Thanks. 

Well, maybe it's time (sigh). I was listening to this lecture earlier today and I had to stop it and unplug my laptop and sit down and begin to write. Seeing as how they were talking about such things as life and death, and who should have the right to live and who should not, and they were asking questions that perhaps I can help with, so maybe it's time I did. Yeah, I know I'm just an obscure Canadian blogger, and I don't really expect anyone to believe me anyway, even my friends (haha). Just the opposite, I would expect people to accuse me of having an agenda which I do, being pro-life, so I'll just get that out of the way. I have an agenda, I am pro-life, but that doesn't necessarily make my experience untrue. For the record, I'm a moderate pro-lifer, and am more interested in creating a pro-life culture and appealing to the conscience of the individual than necessarily enforcing laws, at least in the early stages of pregnancy. But here's that lecture, on bioethics, that brought to the fore of my mind what has been in the back of my mind for a very long time.

Even though I've considered myself pro-life for as long as I've been aware of the issue, I never really connected my earliest memories with my personal views. It's just maturity I guess, that in recent years I have begun to do so. When you begin to make connections in your mind, your experiences with things you hear, things you put together. I guess it happens that with time we would amalgamate our thoughts as we make sense of the world. But let me say again, I don't expect anyone to believe me here, I really don't. What I would hope is that, in the same way that there has been documentation of near death experiences, that there could be more study of early life experiences, and that subsequently such stories could collectively gain a respectability or add to our understanding, gradually with time. It's a charged issue with charged questions. Do people really want to know if children in utero feel pain? For anyone who's looking though, here's my story for that collection.

Where do you start, the end or the beginning? I've always had a very troubled relationship with my mother, whom I've been estranged from for years, since the birth of my own children, whom I felt the need to protect. Whenever I think, gosh, could I be wrong about my earliest memories, I think to myself, nope, don't think so, because they are perfectly consistent with the whole of the rest of my life experience. So, here goes nothing, but this is what I remember.

My earliest memories are of being in the womb. How on earth do I remember that? Why would I remember that? Nobody else seems to, or very few people. My personal theory on that is that I remember because the trauma of it somehow burned the memories into my mind. Honestly, I'm almost forty years old, and I don't know anymore if I'm really back there or not, or if I'm recalling a memory of a memory of a memory, if you follow my meaning. I believe I would have said otherwise, that I was back there, even throughout much of my twenties. But the experience of having my children, both the busyness and the sleeplessness as well as the maturation that goes with getting older and the passage of time have all been taxing on my memory, both short term and long term. I'm just not sure anymore, if I'm really back there or not. Some days I think I am, some days I'm not sure, but regardless, I began writing my early memories down when I was in my early twenties, and it's always remained the same in my mind. Here's the gist of what I remember.

I remember pink, a deep shade of pink, everywhere pink with thick pink claustrophobic walls. Did I mention pink? Did I mention boredom? I also remember being bored, very very bored, where time seemed to stand still, pardon the cliche, but waiting, and still more waiting. I remember voices, movement, doing nothing for what seemed like forever. She was walking now, and then stopped suddenly and was talking to someone. I remember listening intently, trying to understand the words but I couldn't hear the words clearly or I couldn't understand the words, not sure which it was, maybe a bit of both. One of the voices was my mother's voice, that I knew for sure, she was talking to somebody, and then it was over and the voices stopped. The other person left. She was moving again, doing something, but now without talking. More than anything else I remember the weight of my mother's emotions that surrounded me, pressed in on me, weighed on my being, my person, while I struggled inwardly to not be consumed. It was suffocating, the tension that I felt. I just wanted it to stop, the stress of her emotions and the overwhelming feeling that I had in response, of just wanting to be away from it. I tried to move, tried to stretch my limbs, tried to move my neck, my head, but there was nowhere to go. I couldn't move, while I waited, and waited...

and then I remember jolts, powerful jolts and eventually movement and a passageway followed by bright white institutional lighting, a hospital room. I've heard people say that newborns cannot see farther than their mother's face. I don't remember my mother's face or being held (or maybe I don't want to), but I remember the back of the doctor's head and white lab coat that I could see across the room, possibly six to eight feet away. He was cleaning instruments, there was a sense of accomplishment of something being done, finished or complete in the room. It was over. The lights were strong, bright, blaring white, the room was institutional but I didn't feel cold. The emotion that I felt more than anything was relief, that I was finally separated from her, physically separated from her at least, from the pressure that had weighed in on me so heavily. I was relieved, so relieved, and I remember thinking for a long time after that, that at least I was separated and couldn't feel her emotions anymore (sigh).

So, what do I think when I hear people discussing, whether a late term infant in utero or newly born, asking if they are self-aware, knowing that this is the question that in some people's minds, should determine whether they have a right to life (sigh)? I was the same person then that I am now. I'm not calculating this, it's the first thing that came to my mind when I asked myself that question. I was the same person that I am now. The emotions that I felt then are the emotions I still feel when I think of my mother today. Thank God I am out of that relationship, thank God I am on with my life. I'm sorry, normally I try to respect the privacy of others in my writing, unfortunately here I cannot, as our histories are so intertwined. But it's ironic isn't it, the whole abortion issue, how we try to separate something that cannot be separated, the most basic relationship of all, that of a mother and child, something that is, to something that isn't, something that cannot be, we tell ourselves, is how it is. Someone who is, to something that isn't: and my broken memories of a non-existent relationship that offer answers to questions, that many would prefer to ignore, even in light of new beginnings.

Thanks for listening, take care,

Margaret Harvey

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