Thursday, July 14, 2016

the truth about 2nd trimester abortions

There are a lot of misconceptions that I hear about abortion that aren't based on fact. At this point in my journey, I feel a sense of responsibility to set the record straight. I want to share some personal details about my own 2nd trimester abortion to help shed light on what really happens, even if it's difficult to talk about. I guess you could say I'm tired of listening to arguments based off of inaccurate information.

I think we as a society have a very graphic image in our minds of what abortion means, what it looks like and who gets them. We generalize and make assumptions. This, of course, is due to the propaganda that's been fed to us our entire lives from politicians, religious leaders and the media. It was the only perception I had about abortion until I experienced it myself, first-hand.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear about something. I'm not pretending that an abortion is sunshine and happiness for anyone involved, because it's not. No one wants to have an abortion. Losing Grace was the single worst experience of my entire life. But the process itself, and the choices and care we received, were not.

I do not claim to be an expert, but I can at least speak from experience. My experience. This may be difficult for some to read, but I also think it's important to read. Form your own opinions. Don't let someone without any knowledge or experience on the subject convince you their word is truth.

Here are some of the common arguments I've heard, specifically in relation to the 20 week ban that legislators are currently pushing all over the country. (The 20 week ban would make it illegal for an abortion to happen after 20 weeks gestation, which would affect many women like me who learn about their poor prenatal diagnosis later in pregnancy).

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There's only 1 way to have an abortion.

I was given two choices to end my pregnancy: 1) I could be induced and labor and deliver (L&D), which would allow me to deliver my daughter stillborn or 2) I could have a dilatation and evacuation (D&E), which is a procedure where they surgically remove the baby from my uterus.

I chose to have a D&E for a few reasons. 1) My doctor told me that a D&E came with *slightly* less risk in terms of complications, and at that point, I feared statistics given I was already the 1 in 950. 2) I have such vivid, beautiful memories of my son's delivery that I selfishly didn't want those tarnished with the tragic loss of my daughter. I'm not sure if this will make any sense, but in my mind, I felt it was best for me to mentally separate the two: D&E = sad. L&D = happy. 3) L&D couldn't be as scheduled as a D&E. I had limited time in Chicago since we were forced to travel out of state. If I chose L&D, the labor itself may have taken days.

D&E is what James and I chose -- it's by no means the "right" choice. I personally know many women who have chosen L&D and they have beautiful pictures and memories with their stillborn babies. It's a personal decision, and I think both have pros and cons.

The baby feels pain.

I think this is the #1 argument I hear, particularly about 2nd trimester abortions. This was something I talked to our doctor about extensively, because as Grace's mother, I didn't want my daughter to feel an ounce of pain. In fact, I remember telling our doctor that I didn't care what pain I would endure as long as she felt nothing.

At our hospital, if I had chosen to L&D, the doctor would have given my daughter a shot to stop her heart before the delivery process. She would have died in the warmth of my womb hours before delivery.

With a D&E, our hospital didn't offer the shot. Instead, the baby was put under full anesthesia at the same time I was put under full anesthesia. My doctor described it to me as -- you feel no pain and she feels no pain. I know some other hospitals offer the shot to stop the heart before a D&E, it just depends on where you go. 

Grace and I were both asleep under full anestheia and could not feel anything during the D&E. I woke up an hour later in a recovery room and she woke up in heaven.

Even with the hospital taking extra measures to protect our daughter from pain, it's important to note that there are also numerous medical studies that have proven babies cannot feel pain until after 24 weeks gestation (due to the development of the nervous system).

The baby's body parts are sold for profit.

We were given a few options on what we could do with Grace after she passed, none of which involved selling anything. We could donate her body to medical research, we could have her cremated with the other babies in the hospital (in which they have a nice memorial at the hospital to visit), or we could arrange to have her privately cremated at a funeral home. We chose to privately cremate her so we could bring her home to Tennessee. A hospital social worker was assigned to us and helped with the logistics.

Grace was transferred to a local funeral home and cremated, and now rests in an urn on James's bedside table. I find so much comfort knowing we have her with us, always.

We were also given the option to capture our daughter's footprints, which we opted for. I'm grateful to our doctor for taking the extra time during surgery to do that for us.

Abortion is a risky procedure. 

I was very concerned that a D&E at 18 weeks 3 days pregnant was going to cause complications with future pregnancies. I shared these concerns at length during our pre-surgery consultation and my doctor told me that an abortion is less risky to a mother than full-term delivery. That was a very eye-opening fact for me.

One of the facts that was stated during the recent Surpreme Court case was that an abortion carries less risk than a colonoscopy. Also surprising given the TRAP laws currently in play.

These were the options given to us and the decisions we chose to make. To be honest, I was surprised with how much say we had in the entire process. I cannot speak for other women's experiences, but given mine, these statements do not apply. Therefore, they cannot be generalized as "fact".

I have to add that the staff at our hospital in Chicago treated us with the utmost respect and kindness. I will forever be grateful to that team for getting me through some of the toughest days of my life. 

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Before I received my anesthesia, the last thing I remember in the operating room was my doctor standing over me with her hands holding mine. She squeezed my hands tight and whispered in my ear, "You are doing the right thing for your daughter."

Then everything went black. 




2 comments:

  1. You're so strong, Had! Love you!

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  2. I have no words. I couldn't imagine being put in those situations. My heart goes out to you and the family.

    ReplyDelete