Abortion Story: Gilbert, AZ
Submitted to Abort73 by a 36-year-old woman on August 31, 2017.
I have a teenage stepson, a 9-year-old son with level 1 Autism and sensory processing disorder, and a 1-year-old that seems to be Bamm-Bamm, Dennis the Menace, and The Hulk all wrapped into one. I had bad pregnancies with both of my boys. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum with both, and pre-eclampsia with the youngest. I initially went into labor at 24 weeks, but I refused to go to the hospital.
I'm the breadwinner. My family couldn't afford for me to be on bed rest, and I had been ordered to bed rest with the first one. So I continually glossed over my own symptoms throughout the pregnancy. I went to my OB appointments alone so that hubby couldn't tell on me for how bad things were really going. When I finally checked into the hospital to give birth, my blood pressure was 163/110. “Start the magnesium drip, lay on your side, relax, we need to stop your labor, you're going to have a stroke or seizure if we don't bring your blood pressure down.” So I lay on my side with the IV in my arm and my oldest sister, a reverend and grievance counselor, petting my hair as she sang and chanted me off to sleep.
The next day I was told it was too dangerous for me to deliver vaginally. They were having trouble keeping my blood pressure down, and losing me was a real possibility, so I had the c-section; my second one. I very much wanted to VBAC, but pregnancy and I don't get along, and a natural delivery was not in the cards for me. When it was all done, my OB looked straight at my husband and said, “Now don't ever do this again.”
Fast forward just over a year. I've been on disability for the kidney issues I came out of the last pregnancy with, and also spent four months unemployed. I was about to start a new job, my dream job. My husband and I have always been keenly aware of my cycle. He came and asked me if I was supposed to "start" soon, and I told him I needed to look at the calendar and shooed him away. I knew as soon as he asked that I was late. I didn't want to know. I didn't give him an answer that evening, and let it fester in my mind for about a week. When I couldn't wait any longer I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work, it was a Tuesday, and purchased a home pregnancy test. I didn't even wait to get home, but took the test in the grocery store bathroom. Sure enough, in less than one minute, it showed that I was pregnant. Would you like to know what a fool I am? I immediately named her.
The previous weekend my Autistic son had told me he wanted a sister as I was tucking him in for the night. As soon as that test came up positive I just knew it was a girl, and I named her Elayne Aviendah. I went home with mixed feelings, wondering how I would tell my husband. In the end I simply told him we needed to talk in our room, and just said it. "We're pregnant again." I never expected the response I got. "Oh no. I can't lose you." For all of my usual analytical thinking, nothing that happened with my previous pregnancy, or the advice of my OB at the end of my last delivery, had run through my mind up until this point. That was when the struggle began.
It took weeks for me to make the decision. At first I was incredibly angry and resentful toward my husband. To him, this was not our baby girl. To him, this was simply the thing that was going to kill his wife. How do you resent someone for loving you so much that they can't stand the thought of losing you? Then the medical reality got driven home. You see, I have an approximate 80-85% chance of ending up with either full blown eclampsia, or HELLP syndrome due to my history of chronic hypertension and pre-eclampsia. This carries with it the same percentage chance that I will have a stroke and die. I also had about an 80-85% chance of delivering a stillborn by 24 weeks. If the baby somehow made it past that point, and lived to full term, assuming I would be alive to deliver said baby, I had about an 85-90% chance of having a baby with severe neurological, cardiac and pulmonary deficits. We're talking like cerebral palsy with additional complications in other systems. Why? Because my particular set of medical issues pretty much guaranteed that my body would be starving and suffocating the baby throughout the pregnancy. It's called IntraUterine Restricted Growth (IURG), and meant that this special needs baby would probably also come out weighing less than five pounds; another hurdle to overcome just for this baby to live.
So here I was, realizing that the decision I truly had to make was this: Do I risk my life to possibly give birth to a stillborn? Do I risk my life to possibly give birth to another special needs child when we already have one? Do I risk my life, only to die and leave my husband to raise three boys alone with his high-school education and lack of childcare resources? Even worse, do I risk my life, and die, to leave him with FOUR kids, TWO of whom are special needs? Where is the good part of this equation? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? What the hell is the good choice? I always said I was publicly pro-choice, but personally pro-life because I just couldn't do that. I just couldn't. I just couldn't. I just couldn’t, but I had to. So I chose life. I chose to live for the sake of my family. I chose to be here for my boys and for my husband. This is the most painful decision I have ever made in my life.
I took the pills to induce the miscarriage, and passed my baby girl, fully intact, at home with my husband on December 2nd of 2016. I went completely numb for over a week, and then had a complete nervous breakdown. I went right back to being angry and resentful to my husband, who took it like a champ for almost a week before he pressured me to sit down and talk it out. It has been three months, and the wound of giving up on my baby girl to preserve my own life still weighs heavily on me every day. I still have days where I cannot stop crying. In my mind, I know I made the right choice. In my heart, I just want to hold my baby girl.
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Date: August 31, 2017