BlogHer of the Week - Our first double-header: Her Bad Mother and Shaker Anonymous
By Elisa Camahort on March 30, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
This week is a first. Since we launched the BlogHer of the Week initiative at the beginning of the year, it is the first time we read two posts, each beautiful and compelling in its own right, which became essential reading when paired together.
These two bloggers likely don't know each other. They may have nothing at all in common except this: They each went through an unwanted pregnancy, and they each wrote a stunning post about the emotional fall-out from that experience. Not the political fall-out, although the political is not absent from their posts. But what they felt then; what they still feel now; what they think it means...and why it's important to share their stories.
Last week Shaker Anonymous guest-posted on Shakesville about her experience giving a child up for adoption: Breaking the Silence: On Living Pro-Lifers' Choice for Women. Yes, the blog post title and the blog are fundamentally political in nature, but the story Shaker Anonymous shares is searingly personal, even with a gulf of time between now...and then.
"I have given a baby up for adoption, and I have had an abortion, and while anecdotes are not evidence, I can assert that abortions may or may not cause depression - it certainly did not in me, apart from briefly mourning the path not taken - but adoption? That is an entirely different matter. I don't doubt that there are women who were fine after adoption, and there is emphatically nothing wrong with that or with them; but I want to point out that if we're going to have a seemingly neverending discussion about the sorrow and remorse caused by abortion, then it is about goddamn time that we hear from birth mothers too.
Believe me when I say that of the two choices, it was adoption that nearly destroyed me - and it never ends. The only comparison I have is the death of a loved one. The pain retreats, maybe fades, but it comes right back if I poke at it. Writing this has taken me nearly two weeks. Normally, I can write this amount in about thirty minutes, with bathroom breaks. I started to type, and stopped only to reread, then go wail into my pillow. There is no such thing as "over" with this."
Although Catherine from Her Bad Mother has written before about learning that her mother had given a child up for adoption before Catherine was born, this week she compared her mother's experience with her own unwanted pregnancy experience in: Abortion Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry. Like Shaker Anonymous, she takes us deep inside her experience, and deep inside her heart:
But it is not so simple. It is not nearly so simple. For I know that the primary reason I am able to compartmentalize my own, quiet struggle is because it is entirely my own, and it is entirely my own because of the nature of the choice that I made. My child does not wander this earth, living another life. My child - and it is such a mental and emotional wank to even use these terms - was never born. My child never became my child. He/she/it was embryo, barely fetus, not a child. I did not have a child; I had a pregnancy. And then I didn't.
(And yet. Even as I say that - "I did not have a child; I had a pregnancy" - I want to take it back. I'm a mother. I've had a very early term miscarriage. I very nearly lost Emilia to miscarriage. I know the terror of losing or fearing to lose that embryo, that not-quite-fetus, that not-child who is loved none the less for his or her unformedness. I would never have said - could never have said - of the embryo-that-became-Emilia, this is just a pregnancy, there is no child here. For even though she was not yet child, she was the cellular embodiment of my wish that she become a child, that she become my child. In the absence of that wish... is it just cells that remain? I don't know. I do not know...)
There's always a lot of talk about how the Internet can be a scary place, especially for women. Or there's talk that hot-button discussions around certain subjects can't happen without name-calling, without retreating to our respective corners and vilifying those who disagree.
There's a lot of that, no doubt. But when Shaker Anonymous and Her Bad Mother opened up their hearts and their past for us all to see...and discuss...and dissect, they also somehow opened the door to (mostly) respectful conversation and an outpouring of story-sharing.
Such as the many pro-choice and pro-life women commenting on Her Bad Mother's post with compassion, and yet also conviction.
Such as the many adoptees and children of adoptees and birth mothers telling their stories, some, perhaps, for the first time, on Shaker Anonymous's post.
Those conversations don't happen by accident. They happen when a blogger opens her heart...and opens our minds. Something that both Shaker Anonymous and Her Bad Mother did with generosity and, probably, a thick skin at the ready.
For their honesty and courage, we name Shaker Anonymous and Her Bad Mother the first-ever Joint BlogHers of the Week.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming!
For Elisa, Jory and Lisa
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