I didn’t even want my abortion.
My Abortion: The Baby I Wanted to Keep
TW: Graphic – Miscarriage, Pregnancy Loss, Abortion
I had an unwanted abortion at age 20 in Midland, Texas.
I had been married for 2 years when I found myself pregnant. I was scared, but Ross and I were pretty excited. I was in college full time at Midland College and UTPB, and I was also doing massage part time. I had just celebrated my birthday a few days before I got that positive pregnancy test.
I felt like I needed to call everyone to let them know and had to endure a few humiliating phone calls where my family told me they were disappointed I was throwing my life away and that I was too young. They said they supported me, but it was obvious that no one was happy for me.
Despite the disappointment of my family, Ross and I thought we were ready to really start a family together.
Less than a week later, while I was in my A&P night class at Midland College, I began feeling like I had horrible gas pain. I had to excuse myself from class to go sit on the toilet for a while, but no relief came. I called my OB/Gyn’s after hours line and the nurse told me to take Tylenol. She said if something bad was happening with the baby, there wasn’t really anything they could do for me anyway.
I ended up going home after class and getting ready for bed. I went to sleep when Ross got home from work around 10:15PM because I felt so bad. A few hours later, I woke up in a pool of my own blood. Horrified, I got up from our air mattress, freaking out, and ran to the bathroom.
Over the next several hours, I passed a lot of blood and tissue. I saved some of the tissue, thinking that maybe my doctor would need it for testing or something. I had no idea. I was terrified. Looking back, I think I hemorrhaged as the amount of blood I lost was a LOT and the actual amount was obvious since it was on an air mattress and just pooled there. I called my OB’s office again, and they said it sounded like I had lost the baby and that they couldn’t do anything for me. I asked if they needed the tissue I had saved, and the person almost sounded like she was laughing, amused that I would ask, and she told me that they don’t do testing on fetal tissue, so to just dispose of it. My heart broke again. No one cared. No one could help. No one wanted to help.
I insisted that they see me to do “something”, so they scheduled for me to come in and have a blood test to test my hcg to confirm the loss.
For the initial test, they explained that they were going to be checking my hcg levels. They said they would have me back about a week later to make sure they were dropping or at zero to show that the miscarriage was complete.
This began a long journey of 6 weeks of blood testing. In fact, I even spent part of Valentine’s Day at the OB getting a blood test. My first test showed me at a little over 200 hcg. That was a number that indicated that I still had enough tissue to be detectable, but it wasn’t high enough for me to still have a chance at a viable pregnancy for as far along as I was supposed to have been.
I went back later that week, and my numbers actually had spiked just a little. Of course, my first thought was that maybe, just maybe, my little baby was somehow still in there. This dream was dashed by a quick Google search, and my doctor called me later to confirm that hcg rising so slowly in one week this early in a pregnancy was just not indicative of a viable pregnancy. He told me to come back and get tested a few days later.
I tested again, and my hcg levels were still in the 200s. By this time, I had miscarried over a week previously, with a substantial amount of bleeding then and I continued to bleed every day.
As my numbers simply weren’t changing as they should be from test to test, my OB decided to send me in for an ultrasound. He said he was worried that I possibly had an ectopic pregnancy, which is obviously very dangerous. I was sent to one of those freestanding imagining places where I received a vaginal ultrasound, my first ever. If you’ve had one of these, you know how uncomfortable and vulnerable they make you feel, and I was also terrified of what we would find. Because it was at a freestanding clinic and the results had to be sent to my doctor, the technician just looked at me sadly and told me my doctor would call with the results within a few days. Those were scary times for me and for Ross. I wish she could have just told me SOMETHING.
A while later, I received a call telling me that absolutely nothing was visible on the ultrasound. This was good news, because it meant that I did not have a hidden, ectopic pregnancy that was elevating the hcg numbers and that I was not in danger. Typically, your hcg level needs to be at least 1-2,000 for anything to show on an ultrasound.
While we were relieved that I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy, my OB told me that this did limit my options. To completely ridy body of the hcg, I only had a few options. He told me that I seemed fine to continue naturally miscarrying for now, but he wanted to continue monitoring my HCG to make sure it did, in fact go down.
He said that with numbers this low and the pregnancy undetectable in the ultrasound, I would not be a candidate for a D&C to remove the tissue because he would be going in blindly and it could potentially do more harm than good. We decided to monitor my blood for another month, three times a week.
For a total of 6 weeks, I went into that office to have multiple blood tests, and at no time did my numbers drop below 200. I was still bleeding like I was having a period. I begged my doctor for something. As much as I hated it, I asked if I was a candidate for the abortion pill. He told me that I was not, but that he could give me a shot of methotrexate to help my body to absorb the cells do I could stop bleeding. He was worried that I was becoming anemic and that I was risking getting a uterine infection the longer we let this go on. I agreed to the shot, and we set up my appointment for this treatment.
I was given the shot and told to take a pain reliever if I needed it and they set me up with another blood draw appointment for a few days later.
That night, my husband and I went to go see The Passion of the Christ and during the movie, I started doubling over in pain. I had no idea that I was going to hurt like that from the shot, and could not believe how much I was hurting. I’m embarrassed to admit that seeing Jesus tortured in the scenes of the movie weren’t having a big impact on me as I was going through horrendous physical pain of my own.
Afterward, we decided to go eat dinner at Cotton Patch. Ross asked if I was sure, since I was in so much pain, but I told him I was sure it would get better and to just go eat. Within a few minutes of ordering, the pain was so bad that I felt like I couldn’t move at all. I made Ross rush to the store to get me some Ibuprofen after calling the after hours number of my OB and being told to take 800mg and to use a Thermacare heat wrap or a heating pad on my stomach or back for relief. Ross left me in that booth since I could move, grabbed the medicine and Thermacare wrap, and came back. I sat there, in tears, waiting for some relief. Once everything kicked in, I was able to get up and leave to go home. It was the worst pain.
I had been crying ever since my miscarriage had begun. I was mentally ready to be over it weeks ago, but my body just wouldn’t cooperate. It was taking over my life. My schooling was suffering, but I had some amazing teachers and professors that were so accommodating. I was becoming depressed. Now, with this shot, all of the heartache came flooding back as the physical pain overtook me. I was a complete mess. My life was very, very dark for a few months there.
Finally, my blood test revealed that I was not pregnant. FINALLY.
It took several months for my cycles to come back to normal, but the doctor said that 3 months after that shot, we could try again. I was excited when that time came, but then I got a UTI and had to take care of that. However, it wasn’t long until I found myself pregnant again.
My OB’s office was a little nicer this time, allowing me to have an ultrasound very early on to confirm the pregnancy and find the heartbeat. What a sweet relief it was to see Grace on that screen and to see her heart beating away. I will tell you, though, that I never had a single day of any pregnancy after my miscarriage that I felt safe and secure in the viability of that little life. I lived in fear during all 5 of my kids’ pregnancies, every single day, that I would lose them. Peace was unattainable.
Halfway through my pregnancy with my first living child, I switched from my OB to a team of midwives at a birth center. I was told to retrieve my medical records from my doctor, so I put in the request. The office manager called me back and said that if I got my records, I would no longer be able to use their practice again now or in the future. I (fake) bravely told her that was fine, and they allowed the midwives to have a copy of my folder. There were a lot of conveniently placed post it notes over things in my cart before they made copies, but I wasn’t ready for what my midwives we’re about to ask me.
“So…… You had an abortion last year?” I was horrified. Tears welled up in my eyes. I explained that I had had a miscarriage, and I gave them an abridged version of the story. That’s when the head midwife put my medical history from my OB’s file in front of me, and I saw a handwritten note in my chart that said, “Patient received an elective abortion.” I felt gutted.
A typical miscarriage goes on your chart as spontaneous abortion, but because I had to use medical measures to finally rid my body of the tiny amount of fetal tissue that would not go away on its own…..because I took a medically-suggested shot to ensure that I wouldn’t get a uterine infection….. because my body likes to hang on to pregnancy and was unable to let go of the little bit of fetal tissue that I had left after SIX WEEKS of bleeding every single day and blood tests and an ultrasound to confirm my pregnancy status…..tissue that was absolutely not a viable little life, no matter how many times we prayed about it and checked….because of all of that, even though it was NOT what I wanted and broke my heart and hurt my body……On paper, it said that I had elected to abort my first baby.
My abortion is considered a medical abortion, and mine was one of 66,033 performed in the year 2004*.
I am a pro-life woman who has received an unwanted abortion in my lifetime. It was not because I didn’t want my baby. It wasn’t because I was young and dumb. I was scared and sad and so disappointed that it was my only option. I would have done anything to have kept my child. I am thankful that I was able to legally receive this procedure and even more thankful that I was able to go on to have 5 amazing, healthy children.
Many women have incomplete miscarriages each year and turn to their care providers for help. Many others have ectopic pregnancies. There are numerous other situations that even the strongest pro-life people wouldn’t consider a “real” abortion. Who decides, though?
Currently, apparently, the politicians.
I have heard of local care providers refusing to perform abortions like mine due to fear of litigation. Can you imagine? You don’t have to, because it’s reality RIGHT NOW.
Language is important. Politicians cannot possibly understand many situations the way a doctor and their patient can. Abortion is not a black and white issue.
I know I am not alone.