Wednesday, 28 November 2012


I don't know of many things more comforting than Thanksgiving. I love the rituals of the holiday, the emphasis on gratitude, and, of course, the food. I firmly believe in comfort food, and I think we might need some to get through this post.

Turkey is star of most Thanksgiving tables. That means that fridges across America are stuffed full of leftover turkey after the big meal, and there are only so many turkey sandwiches you can eat (no matter how good they are). This year, when everyone had eaten enough turkey to last until next November, I put the leftovers into one of the best comfort foods of the fall: a pie.

I love savoury pies.  There's something so comforting about a nice, hot crust that crumbles open under your fork to reveal the steaming, gravy stuffed interior.  I love the way all the flavours mix together, so that all of the ingredients blend into a new identity.

I followed these tips for making the crust.  For the filling, I chopped up an onion and some garlic and started sauteeing them in a pan.  Almost immediately, I tossed in diced potato, carrot, and celery.  When those had started to soften, I added the chopped up turkey leftovers.  Then I added turkey stock and a pinch of flour. I also seasoned it with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and sage.  I let it gently simmer until the gravy thickened up and everything looked soft and the house smelled like Thanksgiving again.  Then I let the mixture cool before filling the crust.  Since everyone was turkeyed out in my house, I wrapped the pie up in foil and put it in the freezer for a rainy day.  It's great to have pre-prepared comfort food on hand, and pies freeze really well.

This week has been one of those weeks where you just want to stay under the covers most mornings, but, unfortunately, the alarm still goes off, and, even if it didn't, the kids won't let you sleep in.  Unable to just hide, sitting down for a few minutes with some comfort food would definitely be therapeutic.
Lately it seems like I have encountered the topic of abortion a lot.  It is always a hot topic in politics, and fiercely debated when elections roll around, and it seems to have been a common conversation at work lately as well.  Working in an educational setting, I often hear strong viewpoints from students, or need to moderate discussions.  I don't want to go into all of the details, but I had to speak with a student who was incredibly judgemental about abortions.  She dismissed any circumstances, and considered it always completely unjustifiable and evil.  At one point, she told me that I didn't know what I was talking about, and that my opinion was invalid.  Obviously, this conversation was firmly ended, and she was invited to either calm down or leave the classroom. 
However, her comment stayed with me.  Later that day, I related the situation to another faculty member in the department.  She commented that unless someone is in that situation, they have no right to judge.  That comment stayed with me, too, and I mulled them over for days.
When I had my ectopic pregnancy, it was the single most heart-wrenching experience of my life.  At the time, I did not relate it to abortions.  That word was strictly avoided by the medical staff, as were the words "termination" and "baby" (or any related phrase humanizing the pregnancy).  This week, though, I finally made the connection.
I know what it feels like to walk into a room pregnant, and to know that when you leave, you are going to be empty, and you are never going to forgive yourself. 
I know what it feels like to sign a paper giving a medical team permission to kill your baby.
I know what it feels like to be left feeling hollow, to feel the loss of life so keenly that a part of you has died, and to know that most people don't even realize that something is wrong, and that--in the minds of most people--the baby you are mourning never even existed.
I know what it is like to wonder, to imagine, to wish, and to daydream.  I know what it's like to notice every birthday they should have had, and to think about every milestone they missed.  I know what it's like to mourn missing first Christmases, first words, and first steps. 
I know what it feels like to have had a baby that was never born.  I know what it's like to hesitate every time--every single time--that someone asks how many children you have, because you don't want to explain something so personal and sacred and emotional to random people, but you also don't want to simply leave out the one who is missing. 
Did I have an abortion?
This is the entry in the dictionary:


[uh-bawr-shuh n] Show IPA
Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.
Also called spontaneous abortion. miscarriage ( def 1 ) .
an immature and nonviable fetus.
abortus ( def 2b ) .
I don't want to spark more arguments about abortion.  Arguments aren't helping anyone.
This week, I have developed a new level of compassion for everyone related to the issue of abortion.
I would have given anything and done anything to save my tiny baby.  I was given a 0% chance of survival if I did not have the emergency surgery.  My baby was given a 0% chance of survival.  I know this.  Logically, I understand that I had no choice. Emotionally, it is something I will have to live with forever.  I still mourn for and miss him.  There are still days when it is harder than others, or when--for whatever reason--he dominates my thoughts.  There are still nights when I get into bed and have to just let myself cry for him.
Everyone's circumstances are different, and I do not claim to understand all of the reasons people have abortions, or all of the results.  I do know, though, that I would not wish this kind of grief on anyone.  I know that my heart breaks for anyone who has ever felt anything like what my husband and I have, and continue to, experience. 
 I know that if someone wanted to make a difference in my life, condemning me would not help.  I imagine that for other women facing a decision about abortion, or who are living with the results of it, they need support and comfort, not judgement. 
This is why I started off with comfort food, because abortion is an issue without a lot of comfort.

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