Owning It

keep-calm-and-own-it-191

There’s been a recent movement on social media, you might have seen it – #shoutyourabortion. I read this story and it really resonated with me – probably because in February 2014 I was in a very similar situation. Not as far along (19 weeks instead of 22) and not the same diagnosis, but I too sat in that chair and was told during an anatomy scan that something was terribly, terribly wrong with my baby and I too chose to terminate my pregnancy. The morals of our stories are the same.

I appreciate the sentiment and the support for Planned Parenthood, but I am a little put off by the term #shoutyourabortion. To me, I would rather #ownmyabortion. Or #ownmyabortions in my case. Most of the time I use the terminology “terminated for medical reasons (TFMR)” to describe what I did, how I chose to end my three pregnancies. TFMR is a delicate way of stating I had an abortion. It’s a bit easier for some people to swallow, including myself. When I’m talking to people I would never, never say I had an abortion. I would say I terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons. I’m not ashamed, but I do worry about other people’s reactions. What will they say to me? What will they say behind my back? What will they think? Would they support my decision or would they, even knowing that my babies would never have survived and would have suffered if they even lived to be born, judge my choice and think less of me? Even though it is legal, and all my doctors agreed it was the safest option, there is still a stigma.

I have always been pro choice. At least since I was aware of the issue and what it meant to be pro choice. And, lucky me (please read sarcasm into that), not only have I talked the talk but now I’ve walked the walk. Did I have dreams as a little girl of having three abortions? Fuck no. I would do anything to change what happened and instead to be blessed with a healthy child. But I did what I had to do when I was put in awful, no good very bad situations. I’m glad I had the choice. I’m glad I had access to great doctors and great hospitals where I could safely and privately have the procedures.

When our first baby was diagnosed with a plethora of issues (kidney issues, slowing heartbeat, thick nuchal fold, etc.) our options were presented as terminating by D&E, terminating by being induced, or waiting for the baby to pass away naturally in utero. Although I did see a second doctor for a second opinion/confirmation of the diagnosis my OB made it very clear in that visit when the problems were discovered that it was highly unlikely the baby would survive and to start preparing myself and thinking of how I wanted to proceed. I estimate that it took me all of two minutes, maybe less, to decide that I would have the D&E (as long as I got a confirming second opinion, of course.). I was sad and emotional and terrified and confused about how this could happen to me. But one thing I was not confused about was that I had to choose between three ways out and having a D&E was the only option I could mentally stomach. I could not go on being pregnant all the while waiting for my child to die inside of me. I could not go to the hospital, get induced and go through labor knowing I was sentencing the baby to only a few minutes on earth in pain and suffering. I could not have that be my first experience with labor and I could not do that to an innocent baby. I was and still am terrified of labor, and I didn’t want to go through that and have labor be forever tainted. I knew that no matter what option I chose my baby would not survive and there would be no happy ending. Although The Husband was there and I asked him what he thought the fact is my mind was made up and I was going to have the D&E. He agreed and supported the decision 100%. So I made the choice that would make it easiest for me to keep on living my life. I was going to survive and my baby would not, no matter which choice I made, and I decided to make the choice that would be easiest for me. Mentally and physically.

Maybe that sounds selfish. I don’t think so but I understand how someone else with a different belief system might think it is selfish. Or how they could have made a completely different decision than I made. I get it and I respect that terminating is not the right decision for everyone. I would completely understand and support someone that would choose to carry until the baby passed naturally, or choose to be induced, and my hope is that people would show me the same understanding and respect and understand that those options were not right for me.

I also knew that a D&E was the quickest and safest option. Yes, it was more complicated at 19 weeks than it was at 12 weeks. But still safer than being induced, all of the doctors I saw were in agreement. Induction could have led to hours or days of pain before I gave birth. Or there could have been complications that developed due to labor or the drugs. The D&Es were quick (no longer than 30 min.) and there was hardly any recovery time. They were controlled by the doctor and her team and not by waiting for my body to react to drugs. The risks of induction, it seemed to me, were worse than the risks of the D&E.

My first two procedures were performed at a hospital in Boston, my third at a hospital south of Boston. I am lucky in that both are considered top hospitals in the state. I didn’t see other people in a waiting room waiting to terminate their own pregnancies; there were no picketers. I wasn’t in a strange clinic with people I hardly knew. In fact the staff at the second hospital, for my most recent procedure, were exceptionally kind and compassionate. At both hospitals the doctors and nurses were extremely professional and were also very cognizant of the fact that each of my pregnancies was wanted. They saw my tears and my fears. I wasn’t forced to see a final ultrasound, I wasn’t forced to travel hundreds of miles to find a clinic or wait any number of days. I did have to sign annoying paperwork that described the procedure and each of my options, but I didn’t read it. I didn’t need to read some politician’s description of what I was doing.

Yes, I had three abortions. I refer to them as my losses or terminations for medical reasons and not as abortions. I’m glad I had the choice. I regret being put in those awful situations but I don’t regret my decisions. My feeling is a loss is a loss; I don’t think much of the decisions I made but I do think every day of my babies and hope that they are together, somewhere.

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19 Responses to Owning It

  1. Mindy Lauren says:

    First off, I want to say how terribly, terrible sorry I am for your losses. I know how it feels to have to go through the pain of making those decisions, and I am truly sorry you had to make them three times. It’s is just not fair. Secondly- I’m glad you brought up the terminology of abortions and termination for medical reasons. I view abortion and TfMR very differently… Even though procedurally they are the same. I believe one is a choice for a unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, while the other is a heartbreaking decision because it is the best one for the much wanted and much loved child. I have toyed with writing a post on the topic, but you said it beautifully.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has mixed up thoughts and feelings about the abortion/TFMR terminology, when you’re right, procedurally it is the same. But it doesn’t feel like it’s the same. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This movement has been on my mind frequently in the last few weeks and I’m yet to write on it, there are so many thoughts in my mind. I also want to write on the #shoutmyadoption response that has come up, and I think thats partly why I’m struggling to write – I am so intimately involved in both.
    I have to say, I so appreciate your perspective today. I understand so much of what you’ve said. We were at 14weeks with our termination, but our baby had stopped growning much earlier but simply wouldn’t die as thy normally do in similar situations (sorry for being graphic, I’m just not sure how else to say it). And where I live my options were different then yours, i had to eiher wait for my septic infection to turn lethal for me or go to an abortion clinic. I firmly believe the fact that my procedure was at an abortion clinic in a lock down facility, surrounded by people who were making a much different type of decision has forever impacted my perception of our termination/abortion. I do not regret my decision, and I would make the same decision again if I had to.
    Anyways, thank you for sharing today and putting words to so many of my own feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, whenever you get around to writing on the topic I look forward to reading your thoughts. I’m glad you understood where I’m coming from with a lot of it. And, I understand what you mean about the baby hanging on and not dying – I often wonder why our babies kept surviving when they were so sick and why they didn’t miscarriage naturally. You always hear that when there are issues the body “knows” and miscarries. Well, not me!

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  3. You know, like you I’ve always been pro choice. Yet I sometimes think about how disturbed I was when I saw my diagnosis while pregnant with what ultimately became my first live birth (after my second loss): Recurrent spontaneous abortion. That diagnosis followed me through the 6 further losses I had after that first live birth. The term no longer disturbs me but I know it does others. Medically, every pregnancy that ends before viability is an abortion whether medically orchestrated (“TFMR”) or not (“spontaneous”). If women didn’t beat the stigma generated by moral righteousness the term would not be so disturbing. It all seems so irrelevant when choice in the true sense of the word had nothing to do with it. Apples and oranges. Or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember going to the hospital last year for bleeding, and when I was discharged the paperwork said “Threatened Abortion” and the ER doctor explaining to me why that way. Funny, it didn’t bother me too much then and I didn’t give it much thought – probably because when I left I was still pregnant and everything looked good and there was no explanation for the bleeding. Funny how sometimes the way you feel about something as simple as a word can change based entirely on your mindset and emotions any given day. Anyway, thanks for sharing. xxx.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know personally how much it probably took for you to write this. You are so brave & you have been through so much. And i agree, a loss is a loss 💔

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lyra211 says:

    Thank goodness for Massachusetts laws that let you make this horrific decision in the way that was right for you, and for top-notch doctors that carried it out with compassion and understanding. In a better world, you’d never have to be in this position in the first place, but in the world we live in, thank goodness you live where you do.

    And while I haven’t been where you’ve been, I have been through induced labor in the second trimester, and you absolutely made the right choice. Your worries about going through a traumatic first labor experience are insightful and well founded — I would not wish the experience of induced labor on anyone, particularly not another first-time mom. It’s horrific, both the protracted pain and blood and the knowledge that there’s no joy of meeting your living child at the end. I am so thankful that you had the option for the safer and less traumatic end to your pregnancies, and I think it’s important that stories like yours be told so that other people realize the profound importance of making these options available to all women.

    Sending giant hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, thank goodness for Mass. and the liberals! In the end they were decisions between me and my doctors and I firmly believe that’s the way it should be 100% of the time. I’m sorry you had such a sad experience during your induction and I hope that it doesn’t cloud what should be an exciting day for you when your baby arrives. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This post is powerful, beautiful and heartbreaking. I believe your babies are together. I’m sorry you had to make this choice three time, but I am grateful that you had the choice. Sending so much love your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just wanted to send my hugs and support your way! I’m sorry that we live in a world where people lack a basic sense of compassion and respect for others – sometimes people spend so much time focusing on a political agenda that they forget to focus on a more important agenda: loving others. My heart goes out to you – I so wish that all of our babies were here with us and that we didn’t have to say goodbye. I hope you are feeling some comfort and peace right now, even in the midst of heartbreak. XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your situation was (is) awful no matter how the termination is handled. I’m glad you, at least, had options and were able to choose what was right for you. No one should be allowed to judge your decision, only you know what was best for you at that moment and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
    Having had missed miscarriages every time, I always think of my losses as abortions. Even though the babies were already dead, I chose to help end it sooner and avoid more complications (infection). I too own my choices. I needed to regain some control over my body, to help with the healing. So did you (as I imagine it). Sending you love and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you hun. I’m glad I had the options too. I like what you said about regaining control – another point that I forgot to mention in my post was that, for me, making the choice was giving me some agency in a situation where I had no control over the diagnosis. I couldn’t choose to have my baby survive and be healthy but I could choose how to proceed.
      I am keeping you in my thoughts right now and I too wish you strength and peace during these next few days… Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You are so strong, your voice so powerful as you share your story. Amazing. ♡ to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Both sides of the story says:

    I too am prochoice. But I work in a field where I take care of many children that did survive the pregnancy despite the worse fears. While the parents seem happy with their choice, it is not pretty. If you or any of your readers would like a look into what life may have been like, please let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

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