It’s been a while since I have posted and I was really debating with whether or not I should publicly speak about why I have been absent. I have decided after much deliberation that I would write and tell my story in hopes of it helping other women. However you feel about abortion, and it’s a touchy subject I know, I just ask that you keep an open mind. I never wanted to or thought that I would have been in these shoes, but that is life right? So here it goes… (this is a long post BTW)
January 2019 I had a shoot with my fav photog Stefanie to announce my pregnancy to the world. I love sharing my life with you guys, so I was excited to announce the big news and what better way that with some mom-to-be photos. I was only 2 or 3 months in, so I was still awaiting genetic testing results after my first ultrasound to make the announcement as per the request of my husband. I was respectful of his wishes but couldn’t help, but spill the news to those closest to me. Could you blame me? I was finally going to be a mom , and I couldn’t hold in the excitement.
I went in for my first ultrasound 14 weeks pregnant, hoping to find out the sex of the baby finally. I had all these cute ideas for the announcement planned… if it was a girl I was going to dye my hair pink for the announcement and blue if it were a boy.
I went to the ultrasound with my mother, and we anxiously waited for hours to be seen til finally my name was called. The doctor was silent during the procedure, but my OB had warned me that he wasn’t the chattiest fellow, so I thought nothing of it. He kept zooming in and clicking and taking pictures, and I just layed back while my mom took videos of the whole encounter. It was so neat to see my little baby for the first time, and I asked him if we could find out the sex. He didn’t answer, but he asked the nurse to call in someone to the room. A lady in in white lab coat entered and the two looked over the pictures together and exchanged words, but I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying.
He introduced this lady in the white lab coat as the genetic specialist to my mother and I and continued, “The baby has fluid in the neck and brain. This is abnormal and you will need further genetic testing. “
I was shocked to say the least, but I instantly was overcome with sadness. I got this eerie feeling that something was wrong with my baby. The genetic specialist called my mother and I into her office and closed the door. I couldn’t help but cry, I didn’t know what to think, but I knew this wasn’t going to be what I wanted to hear.
She explained to me that they suspected my baby had a genetic abnormality and that I was to choose how I would like to proceed with further testing. Confused by all the options she presented, I eventually came to the conclusion that getting an amniocentesis that day would be the fastest way to get results. Amniocentesis? WTF is that? I had the same question. It is a procedure that involves extracting amniotic fluid from the stomach through a long needle to be tested for genetic abnormalities. It was as uncomfortable as it sounds, but I would do anything, and I wasn’t scared, I had to know.
I waited two long days before receiving the call from the genetic specialist. The baby was diagnosed with turner’s syndrome, a rare condition with no known cause, where the baby girl is missing an x chromosome. The fluid in the brain and in the neck measured 11mm where in a normal baby it usually measures 2 or 3 mm. She informed met that most babies with this condition don’t typically make it to live births, which would have explained the spotting I was experiencing that is usually an early sign of miscarriage.
The Dr. also informed me she had water in the brain as well known as hydrocephalus a condition in which cerebrospinal fluid occurs in the brain, which could mean brain damage if the baby could make it to full term. I was heartbroken. All of the planning and excitement of being a mom to a healthy baby was now gone. I hung up the phone and researched the condition.
After researching and crying for days I was now faced with the most brutal of truths. I met with my OB, and discussed my options. After much deliberation and research, the only option I felt that I had was to terminate the pregnancy. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, this condition only affects 1 in 2000, a less than 1% chance. I can’t tell you the agony, guilt and pain I felt when I realized what I must do. I scheduled my abortion appointment and now had to live with the impending doom for the next week.
It was surreal, and not one minute passed without me thinking about my baby. I would shower and cry to see my belly growing knowing I couldn’t hold my baby ever. I went to therapy 2 times a week that week , and canceled my week at work to cope with the loss of my baby. I then had to tell friends and family who were all excited for me, that I was losing my baby, that she was not well and would likely not make it to birth.
I went into chat rooms and on message boards to get any information or help on this issue from other people in this situation. I think this helped me the most, reading the stories of other families and how they handled the news. It was nice to know that I wasn’t alone, and that many other people made the same decision as me and were able to have healthy babies after.
Since I was now 15 weeks and 5 days, my procedure was a two day process. The first day of the procedure, my gf took me to the clinic and I can’t recommend it enough to bring a friend who is positive, fun but also understanding of your grief. My friend Sarai couldn’t have been a more perfect candidate, and I am so lucky to have her in my life. They don’t let you bring anyone into the back room, so they have to stay and busy themselves in the waiting room. I went in the back room where they did an ultrasound, blood prick to the finger, and collected the money for the procedure. I paid $850 because they didn’t take my insurance.
I was told Planned Parenthood is cheaper, but less of an experience, kind of like assembly line vibes, so I opted for a place a friend suggested where she had a second trimester abortion as well. A lot of clinics offer 1st trimester abortions, but not 2nd, so you have to call around. Hospitals and high end clinics charge more obviously, but my insurance sucks, so this was the best option for me for cost reasons.
After the payment was collected I was taken into the waiting room to await the “insertion” of sticks that dilate you over the next 24 hours. Waiting was so emotional for me, never did I think that I would ever be getting an abortion.
I am not pro-life necessarily, I just could never do it personally and live with myself. No judgement here, I understand not everyone can support a child or wants one, and I respect that, but I don’t think abortion should be used as a means of birth control. Just my opinion, I welcome all perspectives with peace and understanding.
I was on the brink of insanity, internally, sitting waiting in these various rooms. In my mind, my whole life was crashing around me yet somehow, on the outside, I managed to remain calm and collected browsing though magazines and trying to stay strong.
The nurse called my name, and took me to get undressed and into a gown. I couldn’t help but try to be nice and cheerful to the nurse even though I was dying inside. Once I was dressed, I was escorted into the operating room. They strapped my legs into the stirrups, locking them into place, then tilt the bed upside down… it feels like a torture chamber (not to scare you). I began breathing as if I were in a pilates class, nice deep breaths in and out, nice and calm.
The doctor was nice enough to explain what she is doing the whole time, “There’s my finger, and the speculum, big push, and lots of pressure, pinching. You’re doing so good.” I appreciate this, but it still doesn’t soften the blow. It is very uncomfortable, so I start breathing heavier and hoping it will be over soon. Once she is done, I burst into tears, I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. The doctor and nurse were nice enough to give me a minute, and a tissue. I hobbled into the dressing room to get changed, where I was glad to finally be alone to cry freely. It wouldn’t stop, I felt like I might pass out. There was no turning back, I lost my baby.
I got dressed and looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “I am a wreck, but hell I gotta get out of here for the next girl. “ I wander out and find the lobby. I open the door and to my surprise, there is a full room of strangers silently staring at me as I exited the procedure room. I am sure I looked as awful as iI felt, and I thought, “Gosh I hope I wasn’t scaring anyone!”
I found Sarai, and the look on her face was complete shock. I don’t think many people have seen me like this in my life, but I knew I could trust her, and I began crying in her arms. Anyone who says I made this choice, doesn’t know me. I had no choice, and it was pure agony to go through with terminating my pregnancy.
We went to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions and I told my friend, “I am just going to drop them off, I’ll be right back.”. About 30 minutes later she comes looking for me. I had almost fainted in the CVS from pain or nerves, I am not really sure but when my friend found me in the corner curled up talking with a random drug addict looking green in the corner, she was concerned to say the least. It just kind of snuck up on me, and I thought I could do a simple thing like drop off a paper, but was I wrong! I would recommend having a friend do this step for you, don’t be like me, and pretend you’re fine.
Sarai drove us home where we ate, took naps, and read magazines she brought for me. It was so nice to have a friend with me all day to busy my mind and take care of me, can’t stress this enough! I took the antibiotics they gave me and the Tylenol with codeine. There was cramping, and it was more severe right after the procedure. It just feels like you have period cramps and they put gauze up there so it feels kinda funny like you have a giant tampon up there.
My girl friend V came over later that night so we could get up and go to my early appointment. If you are going to a clinic as I did, they are packed, so getting the apt first thing in the morning will keep you from waiting in the waiting room for hours because they get behind. Both of my appointments were at 8am, I had read that these types of clinics get really backed up so I would recommend getting the first apt of the day to make the process go as quickly as possible. They tell you not to eat or drink anything 8 hours before your appointment since you have to go under general anesthesia. I would recommend drinking tons of water the day before because I woke up the next morning extremely thirsty but you can’t even have water, so that was a bit of a challenge.
I was seen right away which was nice because I just wanted to get this over with. The nurse began by taking my vital signs and asked me what birth control option I would like to receive. I think this is a really great thing for the clinic to push, because I have never believed in using abortion as a form of birth control, and it’s a great way to stress the importance of it as means of prevention. I just asked to go back on the pill since it had worked for me for 16 years, and I intentionally got pregnant with my husband after trying for 9 months. She asked me why I was having the abortion, I told her that the baby had turner’s syndrome and hydrocephalus. She said, “Awe, I am sorry! Well, you’ll get pregnant again, don’t worry.”
She escorted me to the back waiting room where I would wait to be summoned for the surgery. The tv was blasting, but all I could hear was the girl 5 chairs down from me, quietly crying to herself while texting. I wanted to console her, I could feel her pain, , but I couldn’t. This was a private matter, and I instead put in my ear buds and listened to a podcast interview of Robert Greene.
The subject matter being discussed was ironically life and death, and how during even the most painful experiences, that we can appreciate how lucky we are to be alive. He spoke about what a small chance it was for everything to have happened up to this point to even give us existance. He went on to say, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Although, cliché I was very moved by this concept and it helped me to cope with the position that I was forced into at this very moment. I thought, “There must be a reason I am listening to this now…” And right then the nurse called my name.
I walked back to the same dressing room and the cheery nurse gave me instructions and asked how I was. I smiled and replied, “I am doing fine.” I closed the door and changed into my ensemble and came out ready for the big moment. I was not fine btw.
Another nurse saw me standing aimlessly and said, “ You can wait and someone will be with you. “ I sat and thought to myself, “but I am ready, I don’t want to wait. “ This whole process was a mind game. With me trying to trick myself into positive thinking and not crying to be strong. I was trying to keep myself together all week since I found out about this procedure and now I had to wait to go in? I started breathing slowly and tried to meditate. I was thinking of all the positive affirmations I had looked up from miscarriage support sites. I repeated to myself, “Calm is a superpower.” and “I am strong.” Finally, the smiling nurse came to escort me into the operation room.
It was the same room as yesterday, but now it was dressed with sheets and instruments set along the tables and so many people all in one little space. I felt the anxiety seeping into my false sense of mental stability. I lay down as they strapped me into the stir-ups again. The Dr. introduced herself and asked me about my plan for birth control yet again. I repeated, “I’m just going to go back on the pill.”
She denied my so-called “plan” due to the fact that I had a history of migraines and furthermore told me that she could implant me with an IUD. I said I didn’t want the IUD, that I wanted a pill, but she persisted that the IUD would be that best option for me. I then told her that the pill had worked for me, and I intentionally got pregnant, but my baby had genetic abnormalities and that was why I was getting the abortion and that I was hoping to get pregnant soon again. She told me I could have the IUD taken out whenever I wanted, and at this point, I was becoming irritated. Why ask what my plan of birth control is if you’re going to try to shove this IUD down my throat? I politely declined and followed through on my request for a pill form of birth control. I am not sure why they push the IUD on people, but I was not leaving with that thing in me! They really need to ease up, and let people make a choice of their own method of birth control.
After the Dr. finally agreed to write me a prescription for a low hormone pill, she proceeded to introduce me to the anesthesiologist. I was nice and smiled and thanked her for being my nurse, she informed me that I would notice is taste in my mouth and that I would be fully asleep for the procedure. She poked me with the needle and I began to relax on the table and stare up to the white ceiling speckled with holes, and just as I was going under I began to weep.
I woke up cry in the recovery room, and I could hear people all around me. Nurses pushing beds with other girls in blue gowns to their assigned curtained areas. I was overwhelmed with sadness and I couldn’t stop crying. My baby was gone and I will miss her. I couldn’t stop these thoughts or the tears from streaming down my face. A nurse came by and asked me if I was in pain, which I kind of was, but not really. I didn’t want to explain why I was crying so I just shook my head yes.
She told me the medicine in my IV drip, pitocin, would start to kick in and help with the cramping. She helped me up and told me to rub my belly, that it would help. I began rubbing my belly, but I wasn’t really in much pain and now I am touching where my baby used to be, where I used to rub to feel close to her and I just lost it. Another nurse came by and told me to stop crying, that it would not help with the bleeding. I tried to control myself and cry in secret, like I always have.
The girl next to me heard me crying, and was nice enough to try to talk to me. “Are you ok in there? Its, okay, just be strong.”. I could hear her interacting with the nurses, and she sounded so nice and happy. There was almost a sense of relief in her voice to my perception, but then again, maybe she’s just better at hiding her emotions than me. Maybe she’s just stronger than me, but I am sure every person in each of those beds had a different mindset than the other that day. I really wished I could be like her, and sweet and easy going patient, who all the nurses seems to take a liking to. I felt like the negative nancy in the corner, and I felt like apologizing, but I knew it was ok to be sad, and it was impossible to conceal.
After 30 minutes the nurse came over and put me in a pad and underwear and helped me to my feet. I went back into the dressing room and put my clothes on as quickly as I could. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough and on with my life. I walked out the same door again into the lobby and found my girlfriend’s gaze. She could tell I was fucked up, not like from drugs, but in a state of mind. We hurried out past the protesting old woman outside, and got the hell home.
Once home I took Tylenol with codeine they prescribed me and ate some food and went back to sleep. I was there for a total of about 2 and a half hours, but it felt like forever. It was finally over, and luckily my friend stayed by me the whole day. I couldn’t imagine being alone for either of these days. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am to have had such a great support group around me.
Reflecting back on my experience, I am grateful to have my health and for the advancements in medicine to have been able to make this choice. Even though it was the day from hell, so would have miscarrying at any point or having a stillborn or baby with beyond imaginable suffering from brain damage and organ failure. I am grateful to all my friends and family who were there to support me through the hardest day of my life. I just hope that me sharing my experience helps someone in the same predicament. With so much doubt, guilt and conflicting views on abortion, it really isn’t an easy decision.
I also was inspired to write my story because there was so little information about the abortion experience or choosing to end a pregnancy after receiving a diagnosis of Turner’s syndrome for the fetus. Yes, you can google and find medical articles, but not much from a person’s point of view. I can only speak on my experience, but I felt very alone, and reading chat boards from real women really helped me. So, I hope this helps someone out there.
If you are reading this, and you feel alone or uncertain, just know that I am here for you. If you have any questions or just want to talk, I would love to offer an ear or shoulder. You are not alone, and I am sorry. Here is my email: Ashleigh@ashleighmariecolor.com if you want to chat.