I woke up this morning with one thought in my mind: I have to puke. It's the same thought every morning, and has been for the past few weeks. I'm 9 weeks pregnant, and consistent nausea, repressed appetite, and general exhaustion is just part of it. No big deal. Because as soon as I stepped out of the bathroom, my husband was waiting for me with a water bottle, teddy grams, and offered me a back rub. I had friends to text to let them know I was offering up my sickness for their various ministries and families. I had co-workers who knew I may be a few minutes late as I tried to recover. I had family letting me know they could drop whatever they were doing to help at a moment's notice. When we shared the news of our pregnancy with families, friends, co-workers, students, and social media followers, we were met with excitement, joy, love, prayers, and many baby name suggestions (mostly from teenagers). Never in my life have I felt so supported and encouraged as when I shared the news of Baby McGrady.
Now the size of a cherry, Baby McGrady is officially a fetus at 9 weeks. His or her kidneys, liver, brain, and lungs are functioning. The head is huge, the little tail is gone, and baby's fingers and toes are webbed as his or her little heart beats steadily at 134 beats per minute. This baby is the realest thing I've ever experienced, the most love I've ever had toward another living creature, the sickest I have ever been and the crummiest I've ever felt, and yet...these are also the happiest days of my life so far. I have no doubt that the joy and peace overflowing in our lives is because of the people surrounding us, reveling in our joy with us and supporting us every step of the way.
But I also know that there are women today who will find out they are pregnant, suffer with morning sickness, or tend to a crying baby without any support. They will hold a pregnancy test and have no one who will rejoice in the miracle growing inside them. They will puke in a bathroom without anyone waiting for them on the other side with a kind word and tender back rub. They will work three jobs to make ends meet to support they baby they chose to keep and wonder if it was a good decision to have chosen life so many months before.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people are gathering in Washington D.C. to march down the Mall, past the Capitol, and to the steps of the Supreme Court to announce that all life - from a tiny fetus in the womb to the murderer on death row to the elderly person with dementia - is sacred. Old and young alike will carry signs proclaiming "Life is very good" and "All life is sacred" while they sing songs, pray rosaries, snap pictures, and chant their unwavering belief that the atrocities of this culture of death should be stopped. They will gather in droves, having ridden buses through the night, to stand up for a Truth Dr. Seuss captured perfectly: that a person is a person, no matter how small. They will Tweet and Instagram their adventures, they will snapchat the people they meet who believe what they believe, and they will give a bold witness that the pro-life movement is the strongest it has ever been.
Every year a hashtag is used - #WhyWeMarch - to articulate and share why people gather by the thousands, in the cold, to proudly proclaim that we are the pro-life generation. We march because life is precious. We march because life is valuable. We march and sing and pray and rejoice because life is good. Life is a gift, and it is worth living and worth protecting.
But every year, as we march and proclaim and share what we believe, and diligently work to change the legislation that allows the culture of death to perpetuate, a thought crosses my mind...
We march each year to make a bold and necessary statement, but are we living the march every day thereafter?
Do we stand for precious, valuable, good, gifted life every day of the year?
Are we pro-life when we're off the bus and not wearing matching hoodies and hats in D.C.?
Are we pro-life when the sign isn't held high to be broadcast on EWTN?
Are we pro-life when the young woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and needs financial support and assistance to find medical care?
Are we pro-life when the single parent is raising a child on their own, working two jobs, and going to school to try to better themselves to support their family?
Are we pro-life when the local counseling center needs diapers, formula, baby clothes, and cribs to provide to moms and dads that can't afford to care for the child they chose to not abort?
Are we pro-life when the cameras are off, the march is over, and the hashtag isn't trending anymore?
We march for the babies that are wanted and unwanted. We march for the babies that are planned and unplanned. We march for the children who deserve a chance to live in this world and change it for the better. We march for the mothers and fathers who are excited and scared. We march for the children who want to meet their siblings. We march for the world to see that we care, enough to brave the cold and discomfort, about the least among us. And we march so that we live these principles and values even when this march is over.
We march because we are pro-life - all the time. We march because we know life is sacred, every day of the year. We march because it is worth taking a stand and making a statement that proves we are pro-life all day, every day, no matter what.
We march today so that we can be the people tomorrow that help the woman who is alone in her pregnancy, to aid the father who wants to meet his child, to support the family struggling to make ends meet, and to shift the culture back to one that values, defends, and protects life.
We march one day each year to give us the resolve and determination to protect life every other day we are not marching. We march because we can so that we are prepared to do what we must to truly be the pro-life generation.