Hey there Paul Ryan with your smug little grin…fuck you! I understand that abortion is a touchy subject with women experiencing infertility, but if you are not pro-choice, you’ll probably want to unfollow me right now…or else read on and see if my words make sense to you now.
It’s taken me a day to process how I am feeling about the 20 week abortion ban, the Pain Capable Pseudoscience Bullshittery Act, call it what you will. I’d sworn off talking publicly about the second trimester abortion I had on April 7, 2015 because it caused me so much pain — no, I didn’t mind being called a murderer or being compared to Casey Anthony, but apparently it made my friends uncomfortable and Geoff and I experienced a great deal of alienation from even our most liberal friends. It’s been over two years since we decided to terminate our first, meticulously planned and much wanted pregnancy due to our daughter Molly’s fatal chromosomal defects and I am still nearly incapacitated with grief, sorrow, and loneliness. We loved Molly more than anything; she was the product of our love for each other.
I did not choose to abort for shits and giggles. I did not choose termination because we didn’t want our baby, because we were irresponsible. It was not a nbd situation…it nearly destroyed us. And incidentally, we didn’t walk into a rundown clinic past protesters with me visibly pregnant because we didn’t want a disabled child…but I might have (that wasn’t our situation, but had it been I may have chosen to terminate nonetheless…I can’t say).
Since I was 36 when we conceived Molly, my obstetrician recommended having early genetic screening done at 12 weeks gestation because at my age there is an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities. We opted to have the Nuchal Translucency scan and we did so without much foresight. I didn’t anticipate bad news, we were arranging to move into a bigger apartment and let me tell you, as a disabled Medicare patient, had I known how much money our out of pocket expense for this scan would end up costing us, I would have skipped it. The level 2 ultrasound showed a 10 mm cystic hygroma and the beginning stages of hydrops fetalis. We were told a perinatologist was driving down to Olympia from Tacoma just to speak to us. After much ado, we were advised to have a CVS done to check for chromosomal abnormalities and we would have done that had they not informed us that our only chance to have this test would be to get to Seattle in 45 minutes…it takes 1.5 hours to get to Seattle! Remarkably, we were told these defects may very well go away on their own (we now know this was nothing but false hope). We opted to wait until 16 weeks to have the gold standard test, the amniocentesis (the clock’s ticking down).
I had 4 weeks to wait, 4 weeks to bond with my unborn child. Every day, I listened to her heart beat on my at-home fetal Doppler. For 4 weeks I prayed Molly would be okay.
At 16 weeks and change, we went back to our perinatologist. Level 2 ultrasound showed the large cystic hygroma had grown, and Molly had developed full on hydrops, fluid around her and inside her that left no room for growth, no room for organs like her lungs to develop. She had a severe heart defect, along with a huge list of additionally defects. They could not perform the amnio and suggested we try again in 2 weeks (tick tock).
We opted then to terminate and did so at 18 weeks and change. Our hospital is Catholic, our local clinic did not perform second trimester abortions. We drove to a shabby building in Tacoma, where I met the kindest people in the world. The grief counselor and the doctor performing the dilation and evacuation procedure (which is a 2 day process so brutal and painful I still wake sweating from nightmares about it) held my hands. I’d been administered Valium and anesthesia, both of which cross the placenta, and if she’d been able to feel pain (real science says she could not have)…she would have no awareness when they stopped her heart. I asked them when it would start…they told me it was over. “I am so sorry,” the doctor said softly. They were still holding my hands…I was moved to tears at their compassion at the darkest time of my life.
I came in under 20 weeks. Any more setbacks, a couple moments of very human indecision…the Republican party would love to see me jailed. Geoff and I were both privileged enough to have been raised in solid families. Our value systems would not have allowed us to keep Molly, who, had she survived to viability, would have been born without the ability to draw a single breath. She would have died in front of us and it would have destroyed us all. We could not in good conscience have let that happen to her, to us. My own physical health was at risk as well… mothers with hydrops babies can develop Mirror Syndrome, where fluid builds up in her own body and can threaten her life.
On my road to healing, I have met many other women that have endured the same as Geoff and I, and worse. We are not monsters–we are making painful decisions with our healthcare providers, decisions about our bodies, our families that are well thought out and emotionally devastating. And I’m angry, really fucking angry that at our time of greatest need our rights are being chipped away by who? These fucking clowns that have no fucking clue what it’s like to have a and deal with the responsibility of carrying a child? These are women’s basic rights…it was my basic right to make the most painful decision I’ve ever been faced with in my life to do the best thing for myself, my baby, and my family. You fucking right-wing nut job Representatives have no business in my body or personal affairs.
And don’t even start in with the thinking I’m an exception. I am proudly pro-abortion even though I myself can’t seem to have the healthy baby I’ve always wanted. I believe that the existence and availability of the abortion procedure is fundamental to allowing women true autonomy over their bodies and thus equal rights in society. Anf if you think you can protect the rights of women in my situation without protecting all women, you have another think coming. Facebook informed me yesterday that it’s been 37 weeks since I last updated my status…almost enough time to carry a baby to term. I return to you in outrage over this blatant attack on reproductive freedom. Please…support abortion rights for women, support organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL and support women like me retain a say in the decisions we make for our own health, well-being, and families.