April maintained several anniversaries for me. The anniversary of an unrealized due date, the anniversary of an ended pregnancy, the anniversary of my birth4 0 years ago this year. All three of these dates gave me pause to reflect on the choices Ive stimulated.
Choice. The word seems big-hearted and comes up often lately. When faced with my strong-willed 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Ive learned to give him only two options or else Id lose my mind. On a larger scale, Im considering leaving a career Ive pursued for over two decades and whether or not to add to our family. Such options are par for the course as we develop and enter brand-new periods in our lives.
But more significantly, Ive been thinking about the right to choose in the discussion about abortion, which is not only threatened for the purposes of the Trump administration, but also often misunderstood. The nuances that can go into making a choice to end teenage pregnancies are often unseen, unspoken, and never casual.
Unfortunately, my husband and I were faced with this selection. Twice. We aborted two extremely wanted maternities. To throw it bluntly, Ive had two abortions.
And as our government tries to strip us of our reproductive privileges, I am reminded how luck I am to have the financial means and to live in a state where constitutions didnt prevent me from the choices I stimulated. My abortions left me heartbroken, changed, and grief-strickenthat is indisputable. But everyone should be granted those options. Those are options Id still shape today.
. . .
Itd be easy to peg me as your typical pro-choice exponent. I grew up in a liberal household. Feminism was at the core of my progressive private Los Angeles high school education. I went to a super hippie-dippy college where points were for eggs , not people. But while I was taught to think critically about various views, I was primarily surrounded by politically and socially like-minded men. To be honest, I never questioned whether I was pro-choice. I just was.
Photo via World Cant Wait/ Flickr ( CC-BY)
And then I visited a Body Worlds exhibit. This particular show featured skeletal muscles, nervous systems, and healthy and diseased organs to demonstrate the complexities involved in the human body. It also included a wall of 42 embryo and fetuses preserved in a glass suit.
These embryos and fetuses were humanized by Body Worlds . I watched their kind and I watched their potential. I watched them as life.( Not so dissimilarly as I watched the flesh that I no longer ate when I became a vegetarian 10 years prior .) I remember very clearly, standing over a nine-week embryo in a glass suit was of the view that I believed in selection, but couldnt suppose making such a choice.
Fast forward 10 years.
I became pregnant in the summer of 2011. In September, I ran in for the routine 13 -week NT scan, the ultrasound that assesses your babys hazard of having chromosomal abnormalities. That day, we found out that our babys nuchal fold thickness was outside of the normal scope.
We sat with the genetic counselor as we made our histories( nothing outside of the ordinary) and was given a primer on statistics and chromosomes and karyotypes and various frightening circumstances. At that phase, we are continuing didnt know exactly what it all entail for our child.
As we drove residence, my husband, through his stifled rips, said to me, We cant think of it as a newborn. I remember seeming aggressively defensive at my husbands actuality. I had looked at medical doctors screen and watched a figure. I had looked at my belly and watched it swollen. Of track, it was a baby. That was never a few questions for me.
Test ensues confirmed that our newborn had a significant fortune of having certain kinds of severe abnormality that is able fatal or would likely induce him to suffer. We consulted physicians, get second sentiments, and abode more testing. We were candidly, although not casually, should like to inform physicians to discontinue and then try again. And at 14 weeks, thats what we did. We stimulated our selection.
I mourned, I processed, I sat on the sofa in therapy and tried to find meaning in my own experience. I planted a letter in an olive tree that I had written to our son, clarifying to him why we stimulated our decision, and that it was ultimately a decision made out of love.
I became pregnant again, at the beginning of 2012. This babys due date was precisely 1 year when we are aborted the previous pregnancy. I received consolation in that kind of synchronicity.
But of course, when I went to my routine 13 -week NT scan, I was still anxious.
As I lay on the quiz bunk, facing a flatscreen monitor with just my epithet and my estimated due date, the technician asked me, Would you like me to turn the monitor off after you prove the information is correct?
She was asking if I wanted to see my newborn. Without pause, I told her to leave it on. I did not take my eyes off him. Here was my newborn alive and living inside of me.
Soon, though, my husband and I would be faced with the same godawful, painful decision that we had stimulated just a few months ago.
This time around, my babys NT scan showed that his nuchal fold thickness measured twice the normal size, putting their own lives at even more hazard than our first. My spouse and I searched for a medical justification or any scientific data that could dedicate us an understanding to the reasons why this happened to us not formerly, but twice. I scoured medical journal articles and reached what felt like the conclusion of its internet looking for affirmations that I could carry my newborn to word and not feel like I was putting my child at a significantly abnormal great risk by bringing him into the world.
We sat with the facts of the case, the data, the expert sentiments as well as second and third and fourth sentiments. I had a CVS, a microarray, a full attorney on recessive testing. We had ultrasounds with experts at both Cedars-Sinai and UCLA. We reached out to various genetic and prenatal and neonatal experts. We stimulated it our job to find an answer.
Despite the extensive experiment on my maternities and all of the tests, every doctor we watched was at a loss to explain why this developed with our babies twice and couldnt “re coming” with anything beyond compassionately said today it was two strokes of bad luck.
We stimulated our selection. Again.
. . .
I think about what our tale would have looked like under different circumstances. In another state. With abortion regulations. With fewer entails. Fewer resources. What that trajectory could have looked like in a parallel universe. And it makes me is understood that while others might not agree with our choiceand I surely can understand why some do notit was our selection to shape , not our governments. It was philosophical, it was personal, and “its been” ours.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a billin March that would ban all abortions based on genetic abnormalities. In other terms, Oklahoma legislators is argued that the agonizing selection that my husband and I made as a pair, both days, “shouldve been” theirs to shape. Theyd get to make this selection for us even though they would do nothing to support the aftermath of that decision: put aside funding for his medical care, holding our hands while he underwent a lifetime of therapies, alleviating our pain if he died not long after birth.
In Kentucky, there is only one abortion clinic left in the state. One in 40,400 square miles, and the governor just tried to close it. In that scenario, I think about the big-picture trajectory again: If my husband and I lived in Kentucky and we didnt got a car or have the funds to get to the closest clinic and subsequently had a child with severe and costly life threatening medical issuesa child whom may or may not ought to have even able to survive after being bornwhere would we all be now?
But in what could be the most damaging legislation committed my situation, the Texas Senate just passed two obscenely restrictive invoices: One outlawing dilation and removal( D& E) procedures, the safest and most effective abortion procedure for women in the second largest trimester and what physicians used to terminate my second pregnancy; and the other called the wrongful birth bill that would make it legally OK for physicians to lie to their patients about fetal abnormalities so they dont get an abortion. Yes, physicians could shape the choice to withhold my babys health issues from my husband and me, while we went on in ignorance, unable to have a selection in the future of our family.
The list of laws and states and circumstances that impede selection goes on and on.
Photo via Shutterstock
While it may seem like what the Republican Party wants to do first and foremost with such restrictive legislation is prevent women from get abortions, that motive is merely secondary. Many studies demonstrate that females arent going to stop choosing to have abortions under strict lawstheyll find other, unsafe means to terminate their maternities that could set their own lives in danger. At its core, these constitutions are about controlling women and perpetuating thoughts of reproach and guilt for shaping options over their own bodies.
Women have long lived with additional burdens of reproach; nonetheless, we have persisted. We do not shut down after shaping the choice to have an abortion. We do not go through with the procedureand never seem again. I have never felt so much pain, exasperation, sadness, grief, and disarray as I did after choosing to end my maternities.
Worse than the pain I felt in their absence, though, would have been not getting to shape that selection at all. And to illuminate: I understand why others would not shape the same selection. But being forced into a life based on a medical doctor whim or a legislators personal ideology, being robbed of shaping best available personal selection for their own families, would have been a pain I could not endure.
. . .
After that 13 -week appointment, I decided to make the most of each day with my son while he was still in my figure. We went to the beach. I evidenced him the ocean and the sand. We eat Indian meat, Italian meat, Mexican food, Mediterranean food. I read to him. I talked to him. I sang to him. I wrote him notes daily. We listened to a lot of Florence and the Machine. I clarified everything that was happening to us as best as I could, as we went into each ultrasound appointment.
After considering and reconsidering all of the information we had collected over five weeks, we made the decision to go in for a D& E the previous day my 35 th birthday. He was 18 weeks. I woke up on my birthday longing for him and missing him awfully.
While my husband and I mourned together, I felt curiously alone in my own experience. Simply set, there was a literal voidinside of me. Unlike my husband, I had pregnancy weight gain and pain and cramping and bleed and hormonal climate swings that were constant visceral reminders of my newborn whose life we chose to end. And so I took the pain pills prescribed with wine each night as I watched countless occurrences of TLCs What Not to Wear to escape all the pain that was too hard to feel.
Because he was a baby, my newborn, we had him cremated. Until we came up with the right smudge to place his ashes, I carried him around with me. Some might think it weird or dark or sick, but I couldnt fathom leaving him residence alone, and so he came with me in my handbag to my appointments, my errands, and my work. We eventually received his spot.
My husband and I eventually tried again seven a few months later. I promptly became pregnant and made birth to our son in August 2013.
I would be lying if I mentioned I did not often recognize his two brothers when I look at him. All three are part of my fabricour son is here because of them. And the working day, I plan on telling him about his brothers and our passage. A passage and a family we wouldnt have without choice.