Staring into ‘93 snow, she sensed something wrong

Published 1:23 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

They call it the “Blizzard of ‘93.” It happened on March 12, 1993, and folks are remembering on social media. It got a mention on the news, too.

While it didn’t qualify as a blizzard in South Alabama, it did snow. That it snowed was amazing. That it snowed in March in the Deep South was pretty much a miracle.

Funny, how different my memories are when I remember that day. There was excitement about the white stuff falling from the sky. Adults became children anxious to get outside and play.

What I recall is standing at my sliding glass door looking at the winter wonderland that was my yard. I didn’t feel like venturing out. Heck, I barely felt like climbing out of bed.

In my head, I knew something was “off.” However, my heart kept rejecting that thought.

“I’m fine,” I told myself. “I’m just tired and that’s normal.”

My youngest child was a toddler and I thought about bundling her up and taking her out to experience her first snow. I didn’t have the energy so I held her at the door showing her the flakes clinging to the leaves of the big oak trees.

Interesting that a snow day brings back that time so clearly for me. On that day, I was barely three months pregnant. Being pregnant wasn’t a new experience for me, but this one felt different some how.

For one thing, I felt terrible, much more than I had with any of my other babies. It was not only a weird kind of all-day morning sickness, but also extreme fatigue. I drug myself through my days falling into bed exhausted at night.

I chalked it up to being older, working fulltime and having a toddler. Still something felt strange this time. I was anxious about feeling the first fluttering that would tell me the baby was beginning to move around.

What I didn’t know on that snowy March day was that something was terribly wrong with the pregnancy. I wouldn’t find that out until mid-July.

When I finally heard the words, “incompatible with life outside the womb,” all the anxiety I’d held inside crashed down on me as a nightmare came to life. I felt like I was standing outside myself watching it happen to someone else.

I just kept thinking, “This happens to other people, not me.” But it was, it did, happen to me.

I’ve shared this story before in a column. Talked about what it was like to live through a “medical termination,” a nicer way of describing a late-term abortion.

That something as simple as recollections of a spring snowfall triggers memories and feelings speak to how much that experience remains with me. And I know that’s true for women who walked that same path.

Abortion, especially late-term abortion, is a political hot potato. Both the right and the left toss it around during campaigning time.

I hope both sides know it’s more than a campaign issue for those who lived it. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. I want them to realize most pregnancies terminated after 20 weeks are because the fetus can’t live outside the mother or the mother won’t live if the pregnancy continues.

I want politicians, and those who think they know what’s right or wrong with abortion, to feel the pain, the deep loss that comes when something goes terribly wrong in a pregnancy. Mostly, I want them to see that a one-size-fits-all law that bands abortion is not the answer.

And I wish they could feel what I feel when I remember that day in March 1993 when I watched the snow and held tightly to the hope that my anxiety about my pregnancy was unwarranted.

My hope is we bring compassion to the discussion — think before we speak. I wish this because women like me have memories that surface at the most unexpected times and thoughtless, often uninformed, comments can bring them up.