Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Loss Follow Up

Hi, Jennifer,

I'm not sure if you'll remember me or if you're still the genetic counselor there. I terminated a pregnancy due to Trisomy 18 in September of 2011. I had follow up genetic testing with a subsequent pregnancy, William, born in July of 2012. He was conceived 6 weeks after our loss, and now that he's almost 3, I'm just taking some time to grieve.

This might be weird but I'm sure you get a lot of weird questions… You answered so many of my questions then, and I'm realizing there were some that I didn't ask.

I think a lot about my abortion. Unfortunately. I wouldn't have made a different decision, but the experience itself.  I was just beyond 14 weeks by the time I terminated. I had a D&E at BWH. I wished then,  as I do now, that my experience could have been different.

I read that termination via induced L&D is sometimes offered after 14 weeks. So I also realize that would be way more expensive but curious if it is actually ever offered as an option?

You had referred me to an online support group. I have recently reconnected there and am thankful for that group. Many of the women have foot prints. Or were able to scatter ashes. You know what I mean. But, do you know what they do with the babies, at Brigham and Women's? The doctor definitely didn't know why I was there. The big pregnant intake person hadn't understood either. What do they do with the contents of the red plastic box?

I understand that her body wasn't a body that she could have lived in. I know it would have been difficult, but could I have been awake? Could I have placed my hand on her skin?

Thank you, Jennifer. I know this is a tough email and I'm sorry for dumping it on you, but I have to answer some of these questions and come to peace with their answers. I have to do this so that I can have this life with my wonderful little boys. I can no longer spend whole days with this grief.

Thank you again, and best wishes.

Jacqui Morton

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I vote for life.

This is an important read on misogyny and reproductive justice. 

I honestly don't believe most anti-choice folks are full of hate. I just think they're terribly confused about where life actually is happening. Like for example, last week, on my way to pick up my kids, a car scooted in front of me - without even the friendly wave of acknowledgement. I was at first reminded of my own sad experience, by her bumper stickers. I started to cry as I slowed behind them: "CHOOSE LIFE" and "I VOTE FOR LIFE," side by side, evil eyes above her license plate. And then, as quickly as the bumper stickers had ruined my day, they were gone. She sped up and flew through a red light in a school zone. 

Later that day, I saw that the Governor of Kansas, in a photo with four women standing behind him, also made a decision to disregard the lives around him, signing a bill that will make the safest procedure for second term abortion illegal. WTF? Sad as that is, many Republican governors around the country would like to do the same. And then there is the scary elephant in 2016, when many people will vote against reproductive rights and compassionate care for women and families. 

Many people that will vote differently than me will mention, fairly, that they have to make the choice that makes the most sense for them and their family - and that they can't vote based on one issue. I get it, and I make choices that are best for my family.  I'm not ashamed to say I vote for choice. See, I'm sorry if that means I seem oblivious to other issues. I'm really not. 

But my abortion was a D&E at 14 weeks, just into the second trimester. The ultrasound appointment that turned into the appointment for diagnostic testing (via CVS) could not happen before 11 weeks, then full results take a week -- and after learned my baby had Trisomy 18, and determined that I had to let go, I waited over a week for an appointment, even in Massachusetts. It was the saddest day of my life and while I didn't get to hold my baby, it was over quickly. I didn't have to explain to my toddler that I would be at the hospital for an undetermined amount of time, in labor, to deliver my baby into a life that would have been sad for us all. 

Women that have later term abortions are likely having them for similar reasons -- devastating abnormalities found later in pregnancy, or a complication that could  jeopardize life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 1.4 percent of all terminations take place at 21 weeks or beyond. And if you're suddenly faced with this kind of diagnosis, you're feeling traumatized and scared and you are grieving. You are living the most painful moments of your life. 

For me, it's easier to write about this than it is to talk about it, probably because it makes people so uncomfortable. The technical term is dilation and evacuation. The anti-choicers refer to it as dismemberment abortion, formerly known as partial birth abortion.What they don't tell you is that the D&E has been found in medical studies to be the best way to care for that mother. 

The anti-choice friends will tell you, you are going to feel sad. But what they don't tell you is this: People will support you and your choice. People will love you and that you can still love yourself. You can even talk about it. 

The anti choice folks don't tell you that when the mother is anesthetized for the procedure, the fetus is anesthetized. In some cases, an injection is given prior to stop the heart. We must know, there is indeed peace.  I'm thankful to know this, but I have to tell you, it would have been nice to hear it then. It would have been amazing to have support then, in those most painful moments of my life. I'm grateful to have found a community of people who have shared sad experiences. It is this community that I can turn to, when suddenly, between deadlines and before preschool pick up, I find myself wondering, what did the hospital do with her remains? Could I have asked? Why didn't I ask?  

I wish the anti-choice folks could see the love in the world, here, where we all live together. It would be amazing to create space in our society for this "procedure" in a way that honors a family's experience and emotions, and helps them memorialize and process a great loss. Instead of making this an issue on which to build a political platform, we could serve families, and provide counseling - not the kind of counseling anti-choicers normally talk about, but rather the kind of counseling women need in a time like that -- grief counseling. 

It would be amazing to just tune out all of the political noise, to be honest. But, it's hard, too. I'm going to stay away from politics on Facebook! And, to that lady in the speeding red car: do know that I will vote for life in 2016. I vote for my life. My family's lives. Here, in this world, where my heart beats.