Sitting on Floors and Crying

Jun, 24, 2022

My Abortion Story

A blighted ovum, one of six pregnancies I lost. I had severe cramps, and started feeling very heavy bleeding with large clots come out. I had a very large clot, the size of the palm of my hand, on my underwear. It looked strange, so I touched it. It had a very hard surface, but felt like balloon inside. I got more curious, scratched off the cover and found this. The intact sac.

As I sat on a hot, weathered deck, I realized that it was the second time in less than a week that I had found myself so tired that I opted for the comfort of the floor, and so broken that I couldn’t control my tears.

I’m sure, well certain, I’ve cried while strewn on floors before. One of my formative memories as a little girl was clinging to my dad’s legs as he shook me off like some unwelcome bug stuck to his pants. He was in a hurry, rushing to get into a taxi cab to the airport as my grandma yelled profanities at him, and I begged for him to stay or to take me with him.  Like the bug that I felt I was, I was crushed. I curled up on the sidewalk, certain of my worthlessness.  I cried and cried on the hot sidewalk of a humid San Juan afternoon. Or that other time, where after being used as a receptacle of anger by a fellow soldier, I laid on the dirt floor of a dusty tent in Iraq blaming myself for it, my tears creating a puddle of mud under my cheeks. 

At least these past two episodes weren’t exactly my fault, I attempted to convince myself of. This most recent episode is certainly not my fault, and is most certainly aggravated by Texas legislation, the fascist Supreme Court and white supremacy’s hate for women. 

After five early miscarriages, I was so so hopeful this sixth pregnancy would finally be it, I would finally have my rainbow baby. If you’ve ever been in this club of recurrent miscarriages, you know that every minute of every day is full of anxiety. I spent all day stressing about possible spotting, checking my underwear for blood every time I used the restroom, obsessing over any tiny cramp I felt. I researched all possible symptoms of miscarriages. I paid for out of pocket ultrasounds to verify that the fetus was still there, and had a healthy heartbeat. I even went to the ER during vacation because I was spotting all day, spent 6 hours there, just to be told that everything looked great.  After 7 weeks I started to allow myself to feel hopeful. I had crossed the timeframe of when I had had all of my previous miscarriages. I started imagining being a new mom again, my youngest was 10, so yes, this would all be new!  I even downloaded a baby app and started browsing and marveling at all the new products that didn’t exist 10 years ago. I read about all the updated safety measures, such as safe sleep and rear facing car seats until baby is 2.  I even started planning a chromosome reveal party (trying to have fun while still being conscious that gender could be anything. Making it a rainbow theme!) I thought about all I know now, as a mom of two boys, and how that would only help me with my third.  I thought about being able to give my fiancée the gift of fatherhood and how amazing he would be as a father. I thought about this child being able to grow up with his two parents who love and respect each other, and his 2 older brothers that had been wishing and asking for him for some time now.  I thought about finally having my childhood dream of a big family. I was so happy and hopeful, only for it to come crashing down. 

At 10 weeks we opted for the NIPT (prenatal genetic testing) to check for chromosomal abnormalities. Results would be in in about 10 days.  During this time I obsessed over this test, read all the information and scientific research I could find. The percentages. The odds. The diseases. What would certain disorders look like on a sonogram.  The wait was unbearable, so when I saw a call from my OB while I was shopping at HEB, I parked my shopping cart out of the way, and hastily answered it.  She asked if this was a good time to talk, I could detect bad news on her voice, and no, it wasn’t a good time to talk. I was standing in the dairy aisle, buying heavy cream for a baked lobster Mac and cheese I would still cook over tears later that night. I remember her tone, I remember “Positive for Trisomy 18”, “I’m so sorry dear”, “We are here for you and whatever decision you want to make”, “Schedule you for a CVS”.  I grabbed the heavy cream I was looking for before the world was a sad place, and rushed through self checkout so I could get to my car and cry. And scream. And feel the overwhelming, crushing pain on my chest that still hurts when I think of this moment. 

Our little Blue

I made the lobster Mac and cheese that evening. I think it was good. I know I was not. The next few weeks were me trying to survive. Going through the motions of work and life. I had an appointment with Maternal Fetal Medicine, OBs that are highly trained and specialized on high risk pregnancies. They looked at the sonogram. Baby looked great, he was even jumping around, it even looked like he was looking straight at the screen waving his hands. And at that moment I could only cry, my fiancée, who had held it together all this time also broke down, what should’ve been happy tears, were heartbroken tears. What should’ve been my future healthy baby, was not. 

I had the CVS to confirm the findings a couple of weeks later.  This procedure consists of a doctor inserting a long needle through your stomach to reach your placenta and aspirating a small sample of liquid from it. It was very painful. The doctor had to reposition the giant needle a second time. It hurt. A lot.  Preliminary results would take 2-3 days and final, decisive results, 2-3 weeks. The doctors advised me that if it was positive and I wanted to terminate, I should schedule the termination appointment now. That the handful of clinics that still perform abortions in Texas were overwhelmed and appointments were being scheduled weeks out. That I was close to 17 weeks and after that I wouldn’t be able to terminate. I was confused. I asked my OB doctors why couldn’t they just do it, just like they had done before when I had to have a D&C for a previous missed miscarriage. They explained that due to Texas laws, abortions cannot be performed by OBs in hospitals and must only be performed in specific abortion clinics by doctors that have been allowed to do this. I was so angry and frustrated. 

For the first time ever I was glad my boys were away with their dad for the summer. I didn’t have to be stoic for them. I could just be sad. Even though I was also anxious and depressed, I still had some hope. Our little blueberry, the size of it when we told the kids about our pregnancy, had looked perfect in all the sonograms, including with the high risk maternal fetal medicine OBs, so maybe he was going to be healthy and ok. I also obsessively researched the odds of false positives with perfect sonograms and I was still holding out hope. According my geneticist, I had 19% chance that my little blueberry would be ok. And I held on to that hope so fiercely. 

I scheduled my initial appointment at the abortion clinic, hoping I wouldn’t need it.  I learned that another requirement of Texas law was that I had to have two appointments, first a consultation where they would have to perform a sonogram, have me listen to the heartbeat, and offer literature on alternatives to abortion. And then the second appointment for the procedure itself. And there had to be 24 hours between appointments. 

Two days later the preliminary CVS results came back and they were still positive for trisomy 18. All genes showed it. It was over. Any trace of hope I had, destroyed. The final results would take some more time, but these preliminary results would be enough for us to make a decision on termination, the doctor said. 

A couple of weeks after the results, my fiancée was rear ended at high speed while he was stationary and waiting for roadside assistance for his truck.  I was supposed to go pick him up after roadside assistance got his truck. But over an hour passed and he never called me back. I called him and texted him and didn’t get a reply, which was strange to me because he always replies right away. So I thought maybe his phone had died. As I was gathering the boys to go to the location he had sent me via a Pin to my phone, I kept trying to call to see if he would answer.  Finally the phone stopped ringing and a woman answered the phone, ambulance sirens blasting in the background. My heart dropped. Due to COVID and the unvaccinated, I spent days sitting and laying down on a cold ER floor, because the ICU and regular patient rooms were full of COVID patients and there was no space for him. I spent days crying because I was so scared of what might happen to him. Crying because I was carrying a baby that would never be. Crying because bad things come in threes and I was scared of what that third one might be.

My makeshift bed in the ER room floor next to Kahron’s bed.

After his discharge, while he was still bedridden, I had to go to my termination appointment. My best friend had to take me. There were protesters when we drove in, they yelled about me going to hell, making the wrong choice and being a murderer of babies as I walked to the clinic alone, due to COVID guidelines and my fiancée not being able to be there anyways. Once inside they informed me it would take about 4-5 hours. Most of it is waiting for your turn. They called my name two hours later, and gave me a first round of medications. There was no space inside for me to sit, so I sat outside on the deck. Trying not to think about what was happening. Crying, and trying to hide my tears and not breakdown like my heart was. About an hour later I got another round of meds, but I was feeling very dizzy and nauseous and they let me go inside to their recovery room, which was about the size of a large living room with about seven recliners. After about two more hours it was my turn for the procedure. The staff was supportive. They understood that this was a pregnancy that was very much wanted and loved. I opted for their heavier IV sedation, which makes you dizzy, but you’re still awake and can feel what’s happening inside of you. I verified that they knew I wanted a memorial (handprints and/or footprints) and wanted the remains sent to a funeral home I had already chosen for cremation. It all happened in like 20 minutes, there was tugging and digging and pulling. And then it was over. I was no longer pregnant. And we vowed for it to never happen again, so that meant my dreams of a big family were dashed. I would never be pregnant again.

Six hours later my friend picked me back up and took me home. I slept and cried most of the day and night. 

At this point I guess I’m trying to heal, while trying to live while trying to process, while still being mom, and a professional and all the other things modern women have to be all at once. I’m angry that I had to go through this process mostly alone. Through no fault of his own, my husband had to fight for his life and focus on recovering and his own pain, both physical and mental. All caused by a careless driver who is denying what he did and lying about the whole situation. I’m angry at the new heartbeat laws being put in place everywhere, I’m angry at the Supreme Court, I’m angry at people who are not pro-choice, I’m angry at their ignorance and willful stupidity, and all of this just reinforces my decision to not attempt another pregnancy. I’m sad for women who will inevitably be in my position, those who have blighted ovums, who have embryos that die inside of them and their body just hangs on them, putting them at risk of infection and death, at women who have babies that have so many abnormalities that they would die right after birth. My heart breaks. None of these people drafting these laws knows what it’s like to carry an embryo, or a fetus that is dying inside of you. No one knows the pain of having to make a decision on whether or not to let this future baby suffer and feel pain.  Their nerves and synapses don’t begin to work until about 23-26 weeks. So up until then, fetuses don’t feel pain. I read something somewhere about how making this decision is an act of selflessness. How we opt to end the fetus’ life before they feel any pain and how making this decision to terminate is so much harder than deciding to play the losing lottery of keeping them inside you and hoping for the best, knowing they will be in pain and will die.  At the end of the day it’s a deeply personal and terribly hard decision to have to make. And families, but ultimately women, should be able to make that choice without political or religious agendas interfering.  Not only are these laws a gross invasion of our autonomy, but they are inhumane. I shouldn’t have had to sit on a hot deck, dizzy and nauseated, waiting hours for a procedure where I would be awake and feel what was happening. It was cruel and traumatic. 

Blue is now part of our lives forever. His cremated remains sit on my nightstand. The little stuffed animal, with a recording of his heartbeat, sits on my dresser. My mom believes he is in heaven. My oldest son chooses to believe that his soul went back into the universe and he became a star. I don’t know what to believe, but I do know that he is not hurting or suffering. 

July 3, 2022

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