Lisa’s 140 Days of Light

Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not a particularly religious person. I have faith and I believe in a higher power, but I don’t necessarily agree with the teachings or the tenets of the Catholic Church (in which I was raised). One of the most well-known beliefs of the Christian faith, of course, is their stance on abortion. In other words, you’re supposed to be staunchly “pro-life”, regardless of the circumstances; you’re supposed to believe in saving the life of the child, virtually no matter the cost. As a mother, I personally am pro-life, but that only applies to my own life. As far as every other woman on Earth is concerned, I am pro-choice: I believe that all babies should be given a chance at life, but I also feel that every woman should be able to decide for themselves whether to keep the children they carry.

And then there’s an impossible situation, such as the one that my dear friend Lisa found herself in several years ago. There’s no way I could ever imagine myself in her shoes. I don’t know what I would have done in her situation, nor does that matter. What matters is that Lisa did what she felt was best for her life and the lives of her unborn children.

To give you a bit of backstory, Lisa and her husband faced several years of infertility and miscarriage before finally becoming pregnant with triplets through IVF treatment. Yay, right?! Soon afterward, they discovered that one of their three embryos had split in two, thus providing them with identical twin boys to go along with their unaffected fraternal twin girls in the womb. Then, the unthinkable happened — one of their boys began to swell and to experience constant, unbearable pain in the womb, and because the twin boys shared a blood supply, both of them were doomed. Lisa and her husband were forced to make what was easily the most difficult decision of their lives: to allow a team of doctors to perform a reduction on the boys in order to save the lives of the girls, or to do nothing and lose all four babies.

What would you do?

Lisa, after several “second opinions”, much research, and a great deal of prayer, went through with the reduction. She calls the period in which she carried her twin boys her “140 Days of Light”. Today, her 5-year-old twin daughters are beautiful and healthy, and she also has a 3-year-old son named Ben. Her family is full and happy, and they live a life of thankfulness and joy.

So why am I writing about this now? Well, that’s simple. Lisa and her family recently began attending services with a congregation; she was looking forward to enrolling her three children in the youth programs, and to making forever friends with other families. All was well until she spotted a flyer posted in the church advertising a peaceful protest of abortion and family planning clinics that the church was calling “40 Days of Light”. Lisa, having been through a very difficult situation, took issue with the protest and wrote a letter to the congregation’s priest, detailing her story and urging him to reconsider. Not only did he refuse to answer her letter, he stared her down the next time they ran into each other. I would hardly call that setting a good example for one’s congregation! For someone who preaches compassion, I’m hard-pressed to claim that he showed even an inkling of it to Lisa…and I can only hope that other priests out there actually practice what they preach. It simply wasn’t fair for her to be regarded as she was after reading her story. I think that, if Lisa came face to face with Jesus himself, he’d probably cry with her and hug her and tell her that God simply realized He had a different purpose for her boys. I’m very interested to know what this priest and his congregation would do if they found themselves in her shoes. Though I can’t speak from experience — this is Lisa’s story, after all, and not mine — I believe that I would do exactly what she did. I think it would be better to end the obvious suffering of one unborn child and deal with the infinite sadness of his passing (as well as his twin brother, who would not be able to survive without him), knowing that doing so would preserve the lives of the two unborn girls…but that’s just me. Does the reduction mean she loves her sons any less than her daughters? Absolutely not. She was faced with a difficult choice and did what she felt she had to do.

Lisa is a dear friend of mine, and I love and support her in her decision. We’ve been friends since before this happened, and I followed along as she went through this terrible process. I always cared about and admired her, but those sentiments deepened a hundredfold after this happened. With her permission, I am sharing her story with you. I am doing this with the hope that it will touch one of you, and that you will share it with your friends, and they will share it with theirs, and so on. The world needs to know this story; it’s that simple. Sharing it and spreading the word is how we can show our love, compassion, and support to Lisa. Click on this link to read Lisa’s letter in its entirety, and then share the link. Share it on Facebook. Tweet it. Email it. Share your thoughts with me in the comments and I will be sure to pass them along to Lisa. (But please, keep them respectful — I will remove any comment that isn’t!)

Spread the word. Spread the light!

A few of Lisa’s and my blogger friends also wrote posts about Lisa’s 140 Days of Light! Click here to read Lauren’s post, and here to read Bernadette’s!

  • It’s a shame that her priest couldn’t be more compassionate to her situation. I can understand their wanting to move forward with their protest, but that doesn’t mean shunning a member of your congregation. Your church is supposed to be your family, I hope that she can find another family that will be accepting of her.

  • charnoff_mark@hotmail.com

    This is a big reason why i don’t advocate organized religion. She was given a choice that no parent should ever have to make and she chose to save two lives. No one needs to fault her for choice. Furthermore it is no ones business except her and her husband, I am Jewish and was raised religious; but I also read a lot of the new testament as well. Bottom line is no one is closer to G-d than anyone else. No one has the right to tell you how G-d will feel. Humans were given the ability to reason so we have the ability to make decisions and choices.
    I believe G-d is probably more upset with humans thats lack compassion and understanding than those who “sin”

  • readathomemama

    Thank you for your support! I absolutely agree with you. It seems like so many congregations present the whole “we welcome you with open arms” message until they find out that something has happened in your life that falls outside the range of their beliefs. This particular priest’s handling of the situation was FAR from ideal and absolutely sending a terrible message to the rest of his congregation!

  • readathomemama

    Well said! And I completely agree with you.!

  • Dani

    And this is one of my problems with organized religion (any of them, not just Catholicism). When I went to the church to meet with the priest for Lily’s christening he called her a MISTAKE. Sorry, but my daughter isn’t a mistake by any means. She was a very happy surprise that came into my life when my family was going through an intense period of mourning. I tend to be of the mind that God knew we needed happiness and love and sent her to us to fill a void.

  • readathomemama

    No baby is a mistake. A surprise, maybe, but never a mistake. If the parents of that child failed to use protection (or if they did and their protection failed) it’s reasonable for them to see those things are errors, but that negativity should never be transferred onto the child. It is never the child’s “fault” that they were conceived, carried, and delivered. I truly despise that there are clergymen who feel it’s okay to vocalize these kinds of thoughts. There are so many problems with religious institutions’ beliefs and practices these days, it’s no wonder so many people are walking away. They claim to be compassionate but their actions don’t reflect that in the slightest. Fortunately, not every Christian/Catholic/religious person in general is like that. There is love and compassion to be found.

    And I love how you look at Lily as a blessing! She certainly is, and beautiful to boot!

  • Thank you for sharing Lisa’s story. I can’t even imagine having to make such a decision. She and her husband faced a tough challenge together and compassion from others is the least we can do.