I’m turning 43 this year. Yesterday I had a sonogram that confirmed I was no longer pregnant 3 weeks after taking pills to end it.
I remember sitting in the waiting room, filling out the patient form, and checking, Yes, I want to see the sonogram, and, Yes, I want to hear the heartbeat. The only choice I refused was for a sonogram picture to take home with me. I knew I didn’t need it. Instead, I worried about how I might feel listening to the rapid heartbeats of the life inside me. I would never know.
I was so happy and relieved when there was no heartbeat detected. I texted my husband and my friend: I wouldn’t need an abortion after all. My pregnancy ended on its own! I tried to explain to the sonogram technician and then the nurse. The confused looks on their faces finally opened the way for their words to penetrate my mind. At 5 weeks, I was so early in my pregnancy, the heart wasn’t there yet to create a heartbeat. This was my 6th pregnancy and I was still being surprised.
I planned my first pregnancy. 1 month after making the decision with my partner, I was pregnant. 41 weeks later, I gave birth to 9 lb boy who at 22″ was the longest baby in the nursery. 2 years later, I eagerly went to an ob to start prenatal care with my second pregnancy. I was 8 weeks pregnant. I had already told my parents and a close friend. I was so excited! But there was no heartbeat to be heard at that visit. I went home and cried and waited for the bleeding to start.
I was advised to keep trying. A few months after that I was pregnant again. This time, only my husband knew. (We had gotten married before our son turned 2.) We were having a little girl. 12 weeks into the pregnancy my new ob told me there was something unusual in my uterus. He was very reassuring, but wanted me to see a specialist. The sonogram at the specialist was so clear. She had one little leg in the air. I felt she knew I was looking and was giving me a special wave. She was also surrounded by a bubble.
The sonogram tech left and the specialist came in. I was still smiling until I saw his face. He told me he had never had a fetus survive to term with the degree of abnormalities visible in mine. He advised me to have an abortion. I was completely devastated. My ob told me miracles happen but that I’d have to make a decision before I reached 20 weeks, because after that, the state wouldn’t let me have an abortion.
I went a little crazy the following weeks. I cried, I ranted. If my daughter survived the pregnancy, she would need an immediate open heart surgery. If that was successful, she’d need 2 more. The thought of putting her through that destroyed me. Then there was my husband and son to consider. How would they manage? How would I? But I loved her so much and wanted to hold her in my arms. This decision was difficult enough -why did I have the added pressure of a deadline hanging over me??
As the weeks passed, my specialist visits became more and more grueling. She had stopped growing. I would never see her raise another limb. But I clinged on. I wanted that miracle. At my 20th week visit, there was no heartbeat. I was admitted to the hospital later that week. I laid in that hospital bed listening to other women give birth to crying babies while my body labored to deliver a dead one. Then my milk came in. No one had warned me about that. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, Lucy was less than 2 ounces. I have a picture of her in a box. Not even my mom has wanted to see that picture once I explained that Lucy looked nothing like a baby. Lucy still breaks my heart. But, the mind is merciful and I can no longer remember when I was pregnant with her nor the date I delivered her.
I was still grieving some months later when I become pregnant again for the 4th time. For a long time, I didn’t care what would happen. Then I told myself I didn’t care. Finally, I admitted that I did care. My second daughter was born perfectly healthy and happy.
I became pregnant again last year – years after I thought we were done with babies. There was about a week of frantic Should we have an abortion? How will we manage? When do we tell the kids? This is crazy -we’re too old?! I had another girl, she’s 7 months old, and she’s wonderful.
My husband had an appointment for a vasectomy this May. It would cost close to $900. Our insurance wouldn’t cover it, but would cover just about everything for me. I told him to cancel his appointment and that I would schedule for one with my ob-gyn. Earliest available was late August. While waiting for my appointment to get birth control pills, I became pregnant for the 6th time.
The decision to end this last pregnancy has not been difficult. I had a brief moment of sadness but that was it. When I left the clinic yesterday, there were 2 protesters holding signs. They can’t stop women from losing pregnancies they desperately want to hold onto, but they will castigated women for ending pregnancies they don’t want. I felt sorry for them.
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