Thursday, August 6, 2015

Let's not mince words

I had an abortion.


In telling Celine's story on this blog, I have avoided the word.  "We had to say goodbye."  "I spared her suffering."  "She is gone."

True as all of these statements are, I see now - so starkly- how crucial it is that I speak with unflinching honesty. 

If I lived in another state, maybe just a few states south or west... well, in my second trimester at 14 weeks pregnant, there's a good chance that I would have been sent to a Planned Parenthood clinic.  I could well have been asked to fill out a form to donate her tissue to science.  And use that form to try to find some glimmer of purpose in the hell of our experience.  Western doctors have largely failed me in my quest to control my fertility.... but western medicine diagnosed my daughter, and western medical research could potentially unlock the answers necessary to protect other babies from her fate.

My personal abortion story is marked by questions, and handwringing and agony.  The nights leading up to my decision to have an abortion were sleepless nights.  I laid awake, my head aching with unanswerable questions as tears flowed down my face.

Would she suffer?  Would she be in pain?  Would her infancy be spent on a morphine drip?  Would she survive?  If she survived, would she be able to eat?  Would she be able to breathe?  Would her heart work?  Would she need open heart surgery?  Would she ever make it home?  What if she died?  What if she died in pain?  Would we end up in medical bankruptcy? Would we lose our house?  If we couldn't pay our mortgage, where would we live?  What would Niblet's life look like?  Who would watch Niblet?  Who would help her with her homework?  How exactly does one parent their healthy child when their infant is hooked up to a NICU ventilator?  Who would pick her up from school? Would we have to move and change school districts?  Would my marriage survive?  Would my husband have to quit his job?  Would I have to quit my job?  Would Niblet have to watch her sister in pain?

The list is endless.  Just conjuring it up, takes me to a place and time that I do not like to visit often.  My heart is racing now, a vestige of PTSD.

I think I have made it abundantly clear that my decision was not made lightly. 

And yet, with a racing heart full of grief, I have no regrets. 

None.  We made the best decision we could, in the worst circumstances imaginable.  My husband and I hugged our daughter tight and silently vowed to appreciate every fucking day we get on this earth to breathe the same air as her. 

Anonymous as I am out here in the ether, I have many readers.  From around the world.  Some, in my shoes, might make the same choice I did.  Others might not.  Some might view my decision as mercy.  Others might view it as murder.  Some might breathe a sigh of relief when they realize that I have survived this nightmare, because they see that they too will survive.  Others might pray for my soul.

Without going to deep into the wonky facts (i.e., that only 3% of the work done by Planned Parenthood are abortions, and that due to the Hyde Amendment none of those abortions receive a dime of taxpayer federal funding), I think about the women who walk into those clinics for abortions.  Those women carry their own thoughts.  They may or may not have endured the sleepless nights I described.  Maybe their thoughts raced with the devastation of a poor prenatal diagnosis.  Maybe they didn't. 

It doesn't matter.  It is not for me to judge.  It is not for any of us to judge what thoughts swirl through the head of a woman who has to cross the threshold of a clinic through the shouts of protestors.  At 8 weeks.  Or 14.  Or 24.

Family planning is under attack.  Private medical decisions are under attack.  Women  - our bodies, our lives - are under attack.

My baby's name was Celine.  I thought the universe was finally granting me a pass to bring her to me after years of losses and surgeries.   But as deeply as I longed for her, I couldn't bring her into this world.  I chose to put the dice down, I just couldn't roll them on her life.  I chose my own grief instead.  I chose an abortion.

I think of her.  I miss her.  She would be nearly four months old right now.  But I have no regrets.

6 comments:

  1. This is so exactly the situation so many of have faced and the feelings we feel. I have been open about the fact that I had an abortion, but I live in an area where this is not the damned decision it is in other places. I was 1 days shy of 19 weeks, I had the procedure in the hospital. I was treated with care, with dignity, with respect. I felt the sadness from the medical staff. All things being equal, it was not as horrible a day as it could have been. I wish everyone in our shoes had this experience.

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    1. I do too. It sickens me that women who are facing the devastation of losing their babies are treated so horribly.

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  2. This is so powerful and so well written. I have been in your shoes- asked to induce a pregnancy at 18 weeks that my body was already rejecting, knowing my baby girl would die. The other option was going home and "waiting it out" knowing I would go into labor in my bathroom, most likely. I was scared. Both options led to my daughter's death. Only one was "easier and quicker." I was not strong enough to go home and do it alone. I regret that. BUT, I also know what I chose. And like you, I forgive myself.

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    1. It's not a question of strength. You are incredibly strong. I believe with every fiber of my being that *WE* as mothers - our health and mental well being - deserve the same protection as our babies. In my view you have nothing to forgive. Quite the contrary, the universe owes *you* a gold star.

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  3. So poignant and heartfelt. Your post made me cry, as I remembered all the heartache you have been though. You made the most unselfish decision a mother could ever make. You chose to spare Celine a life of pain that you now have to endure emotionally. Huge virtual hugs my friend.

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    1. Thank you so much, it means a lot to me. Huge hugs to you. I am counting down to your next FET.

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