Owning Our Darkest Moment
I am sharing my story with the world, and therefore I must have the courage to tell all of my story. Even the most horrible, gut-wrenching moments that I try not to ever think about because the hurt is so great. The pain will never go away, but I am learning to live with it.
By telling this part of my story, I will own it, and I will continue to move forward.
This story, is all about Baby 3. Baby 3 will forever be etched in my mind, my heart and my soul. There is no going back. This will haunt me forever.
Baby 3 is our only baby that had a name (I am not sharing that with you, I will keep that just for my husband and I, and the actual name won’t change the story so don’t fret). I knew it was a little girl, I just knew. We had picked our favourite girl name, and I decided to start calling her by it very early on. I talked to her. I loved her. I prayed for her (which is a more then a bit odd because I’m not particularly religious). I lived for her. Every single thing I did, I did for this little girl.
At 6 weeks 1 day, she had a fetal heart rate, but it was only at 81. And, since this was our third miscarriage and second time with a low fetal heart rate, we knew what this meant. There was no kidding ourselves, we knew she would not be able to survive. She never grew beyond 6 weeks 1 day. At our weekly ultrasounds, we determined that her fetal heart rate continued to drop, slowly, ever so slowly. But her fetal heart rate, the marker of life, would not go away. This little baby girl, simply wouldn’t die. She would, it was inevitable, but this little girl, she was a fighter. She fought hard to hold on. She fought so hard.
All the while, I tried to have hope. I knew it wouldn’t work, but maybe, just maybe we’d have a miracle. I kept living a healthy lifestyle to the best of my ability. When I didn’t want to eat, my husband would force me to, just in case. I tried not to be consumed with depression and sorrow. I tried to survive. I tried to continue on. I worked a few days a week. I cried. We worried. We waited.
At what should have been 13 weeks, she was still holding on. For nearly 7 weeks, this little girl held on. This little girl, had all the fight in the world, but she didn’t have a chance. She wouldn’t survive.
I ended up with developing a septic infection – a situation known as a septic miscarriage. One of the rarest complications that can occur to anyone at any point during a pregnancy. There is rarely warning, and it is almost always fatal to the baby and sometimes mother as well. I saw green discharge, I knew something was wrong. A quick text to a good friend who happens to be an OBGYN (although, not the one I see regularly, but the one I have access to 24/7), and I went straight to the hospital. The infection was in its early stages, it was just starting, and my life was not yet in danger, but we were told you could go to bed tonight feeling okay, and tomorrow you may not wake up and will be in the emergency room fighting for your life. Your baby will not survive no matter what you do, but neither will you if you don’t terminate and terminate as soon as possible.
We learned something about our medical system that day, if your life is not at immediate risk (which mine was not, but was in imminent danger), the only way to terminate is to go to an abortion clinic. Even though the medical advice is that you need to have this done as soon as possible, there is no alternative based on our current medical system protocols.
Given the dire circumstances we were in, the OBGYN got us an appointment with the abortion clinic that very day and surgery was scheduled for the next morning.
So that afternoon, we found ourselves sitting in an abortion clinic. The first thing I noticed was the setup of the room – everything was in lock-down mode, with security doors and windows separating staff from patients and potential aggressors. The room was cold and uninviting. Having never thought about what an abortion clinic’s waiting room would look like, I guess this made sense. Anyways, we met with an amazing councilor to discuss our situation. I guess, they usually see one or two couples like us a year. I held myself together. My husband was doing okay. We were surprisingly doing okay. In hindsight, I think we were both in shock. How in the span of a few hours, did we end up in this position? We had come to accept that at some point our baby would die, but how did it turn into this? How did my life become at great risk? How is it that we are at an abortion clinic? We know she won’t live, but how do we actually force her to die? How are we actually going to do this? How did we end up here?
We went home that night, my husband didn’t take his eyes off me. We both knew that at any moment, I could go into septic shock and my husband would lose both the dying baby and his wife. I don’t know how he dealt with this fear. I don’t know how we made it through that night, but somehow, just like everything else, we made it through.
And the next morning, we left the house early to get to the abortion clinic. There was no changing our minds, we knew what we had to do.
I was the first procedure of the day and we had to have an ultrasound done first (standard procedure). The student ultrasound tech refused to let my husband in the room, I simply and bluntly demanded that he be there, as this is our family. She obliged (not that she had a choice as far as I was concerned). The teaching ultrasound tech just wandered in and out of the room without even having the decency to introduce himself, or shut the door behind him (and really, why not show the entire hospital the vagina each time he opened the door?) Then, to add to everything, the radiologist refused to go over our results with us (which had been normal practice at every other ultrasound we had in all of our pregnancies). He clearly didn’t understand that this was the most wanted baby in the world, but I had to know that the fetal heart rate was still declining (which in hindsight, I don’t know why I needed to know, it couldn’t have changed anything). I forced the issue, and demanded he speak to me. I deserved this much. We just had to know. (We were treated so poorly by the ultrasound process, I actually put in a complaint a few weeks later). Regardless of the hell that was that ultrasound, we learned that our little baby was still hanging in there – fetal heart rate at 52, still measuring 6 weeks 1 day.
We walked down the hallway, back into the abortion clinic to wait. I looked around the waiting room and saw multiple couples sitting there, choosing to sit there. Choosing to end the life of their unborn and unwanted child. Most were couples. Some were presumably daughters with their mothers. Almost no-one was under the age of 30, as I ignorantly had assumed that most abortions are done for teenage girls – this evidently is not the case, at least not on this day. I broke down. I completely and utterly broke down. They gave us a different room to sit and wait. I couldn’t look at these people, not at that moment. The wait felt like an eternity, but I guess it was only a few minutes. The councilor came back to speak to us, and more than anything just sat with us. She/we knew there was no alternative for us. We just cried.
As I had already had a D&C before with baby 2, I knew the procedure. I went with the nurse, my husband had to keep waiting. The doctors, nurses and counseling staff were amazing. It was over in an instant. Our little baby girl was gone, being set off for genetic testing to see if they could figure out what was killing her and had killed our other little babies (they couldn’t, but they did confirm, assuming they tested the babies tissue and not my tissue, that she was in fact a little girl).
I took a 4 more days off work, and then returned back to my normal 70+ hour crazy stressful work weeks. Somehow, we picked ourselves up. We continued on. We survived.
I know now, just as we did then, waiting for the septic infection to turn into septic shock and therefore sacrificing my life would not have saved our little baby girl. I would have given up my life in a second if it meant she could have survived, but that’s just not how life works. Sacrificing my life would have only resulted in one more unnecessary death. The loss of a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. No-one would have gained anything.
It has taken me months to write this, and will probably take me a few weeks (or more) to share it. So, why am I sharing it? My husband actually doesn’t want me to post it out there on the internet – not because we don’t own this part of our story. We do. We absolutely do. We know what our decision was, and we know that we’d make the same decision again. His reluctance to share this is that there is a rather substantial possibility that someone is going to say something really hurtful to me. And you know what, I’m okay with that. Say whatever you want, but know that this part of my story, is the absolute hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. It is the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I believe the worst moment of any parents life is to choose to end their child’s life, and we’ve made that decision. We will live with the consequences of that decision for the rest of our lives. And, as I said the day of the procedure, we cannot be and will not be ashamed of this decision. Today, almost a year later, we firmly believe it was the right decision and we would make the same decision again if we were in that same position again.
Note, I’ve always been pro-choice, I firmly believe that this is a personal decision between a mother and a father. This choice is there’s to make, and safe options should be made available to all women choosing abortion. I am thankful I live in a country where a women has this right and safe options are available.
After this experience, all our other miscarriage experiences, and our decision to investigate adoption, I am actually even stronger in my pro-choice believes. I firmly believe that the vast majority of individuals choosing abortions are not making this decision lightly. Everyone making this decision, knows the life altering results of said decision. The counseling that is provided at an abortion clinic is phenomenal, and people choosing abortion are not able to just walk in and be done with it. And, just like some people choose not to adopt, but instead to choose a childfree life, some people choose not to have children to put up for adoption. Life is made up by our decisions, and as far as I’m concerned everyone has the right to make the decision that is best for them and all parties involved.
I also want to warn everyone women out there:
Septic miscarriages are very serious.
If you are pregnant at any stage and you see green discharge, seek medical attention immediately.
Do not take this situation lightly.
Early detection literally saved my life.