This is going to be a post about abortion, so if you don’t want to read about it, go ahead and skip it. I won’t be offended. All this talk about Roe v. Wade and how many babies are killed every year is just making me so angry. I’m too close to the issue now.
You all know that I lost a baby a few months ago. It sucked. And it made me very sad. But I never told you about my experience with trying to resolve the dead/dying baby stuck in my uterus problem. Mostly because it, too, sucked, and made me both sad and angry.
You see, I live in Arizona. This is important because they recently passed a law prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. (Now, this hadn’t gone into effect back in November, but most abortion clinics in Phoenix have been following this rule for years.) The reasoning for this? That ‘women have enough time to make a decision before 20 weeks.’
You see, my baby had something really horribly wrong with it, but it took weeks to figure this out for sure. The first ultrasound I had was perfect. The second one was also perfect. In fact, the NT test was perfect. There would have been no indication whatsoever that anything was wrong if my doctor hadn’t done a blood test and seen just how out of whack my hormone levels were. The result? Until 15 weeks, we thought everything was great.
Then the testing (and stressing/worrying) began. They made us wait until 16 weeks for an amnio, because before that it carries a risk of club foot. (Yes, club foot, like it’s still 1955 around here.) So we waited until 16 weeks, but then they couldn’t do the amnio because there wasn’t enough fluid (yet another indicator that something is wrong, but not enough to know for sure.) They told us to wait two weeks and come back.
So at 18 weeks, I went back for another amnio. Still not enough fluid, and now the baby’s head is measuring big. Still not enough to be conclusive though. So we did the Harmony test. It takes 10 business days to get those results.
We go back at 19 weeks 5 days and are told that the Harmony test come back as inconclusive. This is not good. They did ultrasounds for hours and found cysts in the baby’s brain, missing chunks of cerebellum, a ridiculously huge hole in the heart, and problems with the kidneys. They took us into a tiny room and told us that the defects were ‘incompatible with life’ and that we could terminate now, or wait for the inevitable. It was possible that the baby could make it full term, but would be pretty much guaranteed to die within minutes or hours of birth if it even made it that far.
For the record, no one should ever have to hear that. Ever. It’s not fair, and it still feels like I was punched in the gut when I think about it.
So we made the decision to terminate. Because the way I saw it, my baby was suffering and wasn’t going to live and why should I make it suffer any longer than it absolutely has to? It’s not fair to either of us to have to go through all that.
And then the drama began. Because as I said, I was 19 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Oh, and it was the Monday before Thanksgiving. Not the best timing. You see, in Arizona, you have to consult with a doctor at least 24 hours prior to having an abortion. And most clinics won’t perform the procedure after 20 weeks. I had two days.
The doctor had referred us to a private clinic. I called, and they said they would see us the next morning. Oh, but they don’t take insurance and they would need $4000 up front to pay for the procedure. Um, I didn’t have $4000 to pay for an abortion. (Well, I should say that I wasn’t willing to pay $4000 for an abortion. Not when I had insurance that would cover such things.)
We spent the next several hours calling our insurance company and trying to get a referral somewhere that would accept our insurance. They wouldn’t provide names of abortion clinics. My doctor wouldn’t do the procedure. Finally, I called Planned Parenthood. Huzzah! They take my insurance, and they do abortions until 23 weeks - which is a good thing, because they don’t have an opening for the consult until the next Monday (when I would be 20 weeks 5 days).
I’m told that the consult will only take an hour or so and that I have to do an ultrasound first. My appointment is at 8 AM. The husband takes the morning off work so that he can go with me. During the ultrasound I’m supposed to hear the baby’s heart beat and see it on the screen before the consultation with the doctor. Lovely. I don’t mind too much because I’ve already been through a gazillion ultrasounds up to this point, but it still makes me mad that it’s required.
To get into the clinic, I had to park in a tiny parking lot surrounded by protestors. They yelled at me that ‘they could help’ and that I didn’t have to ‘murder my baby’ as I walked in the door. (I flipped them off and one asked ‘why are you so angry?’ I wanted to scream at them that they had no clue what I was going through and they should just shut up already.) Inside the doors, there were at least a dozen women, most of them looking shell-shocked and sad - avoiding eye contact. One was crying while her friend consoled her. Titanic was playing on a TV in the corner.
We waited in that room for 4 hours before they called my name for the ultrasound. Titanic ended and started again.
After the ultrasound (which was actually fine - the tech was very nice and understanding of our situation) we waited another 2 hours for the consult with the doctor. The husband was so late for work at the point, that I sent him off. I could get through this last part by myself.
Finally, the doctor called my name. He was this older black gentleman wearing a grey sweater. He had kind eyes. He told me that he had to have a conversation with me to make sure that I was ‘sane’ and to ask me a few state-mandated questions. He made me look at a picture of the ultrasound. He pointed out the baby’s head, arms, feet. I explained that we were terminating due to massive birth defects and he just nodded. Then the questions.
1. Are you doing this of your own free will? (Apparently they’re worried that people are being forced to have abortions?)
2. Are you doing this because of the race of the child? (REALLY?)
3. Are you doing this because of the sex of the child? (Again, REALLY???)
He asked me if I had any questions. I asked about how long the procedure would take, how long it would take to recover. He thanked me for making the process easy, whatever that means. (I think it means that I was clearly sane and didn’t cry.)
When I left the clinic, I was again barraged by the protestors outside. Here I am, having the worst day/week/month ever. Making THE hardest decision that I have ever had to make, that is quite literally breaking my heart, and these assholes have the nerve to yell at me and question my judgement? I cried the whole way home.
And then I have to read posts on Facebook from friends and their parents and listen to the news about how awful it is that babies die every year because of abortions, and all I can think about is how much pain and suffering that abortion prevented for me, my family, and my baby. And how dare they judge me or tell me that I can’t do that?
And while these same people rant and rave about their ‘right to bear arms’ and how the government is taking away all of their rights, I will sit in my corner and cry about my lost baby and be so thankful that the 20 week abortion ban hadn’t gone into effect when I was in that situation. And I’m so very angry about all the women who come after me who have to carry a dying baby to term just because some people think they have the right to legislate what a woman does with her body.
And I will support Planned Parenthood forever because they helped me when no one else would. Even if they did make me watch Titanic twice while I waited.