Draw the Line

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Topics: Abortion, Pregnancy Care
Area of Life Affected: Finances, Physical Health

No In-Between

My boyfriend and I found out I was pregnant in the ER at 11 o’clock on a Friday night in mid-November. I had been suspecting a pregnancy for a few weeks at that point—my hormones were crazy, I was nauseous mid-day every day, I was exhausted no matter how much I slept, I was having recurrent UTIs, and for some reason, I was suddenly allergic to my earrings.

“I never thought that I would consent to end a pregnancy.”

We were both ecstatic when we found out. Although we hadn’t been trying per se, we were both happy to begin our family together, even if it was going to start earlier than we had planned. I spent the entire week in absolute bliss—I bought prenatal vitamins, started looking up ideas for the baby’s room on Pinterest, picked out surprise gifts to announce to our family in a few months, and of course, freaked out a little bit over whether or not we were ready to be parents.

I started feeling unwell around Thanksgiving day. I was tired, faint, and despite having done my best to eat all of the delicious food, I had little appetite. At one point I wandered off to the bathroom. This is when I noticed a few drops of bright red blood staining my underwear.

My immediate thoughts were incoherent; I felt only fear. I tried reassuring myself by remembering that it’s sometimes normal for a little bit of spotting during pregnancy.

But even at this point I felt something was wrong.

The next day, I woke up, still sick, and went on my 45-minute commute to the restaurant I work at in a nearby city. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I was sobbing uncontrollably. The steady dripping of blood had increased to the point that it had soaked through my pants.

I frantically called my mother, and she speculated that I was miscarrying. I cried all the way home. By the time I got there, I was quiet. There was nothing to say.

The next day, Saturday, the bleeding had slowed, but I had yet to pass any tissue. I was becoming steadily weaker. Sallower. I searched for any hope that I could still be pregnant, searched everywhere online. I had my first appointment scheduled for that Monday; my mother said that at least they could confirm whether or not I miscarried. But that was too far away.

We traveled back to the ER. “I’ve been bleeding. I haven’t passed any tissue. Is there any way the baby is okay?” Urine sample. Blood sample. Ultrasounds. I knew something was wrong. “Can you see anything?” “Is the baby okay?” I was informed that they couldn’t tell or show me for legal reasons. The fear intensified.

An hour later the doctor came in and told me that they had confirmed that my pregnancy was ectopic. The embryo had implanted itself into my fallopian tube, precariously close to my ovary, and the tube had ruptured. The bleeding I had been experiencing for the past three days was not a miscarriage. I had been bleeding internally, and that blood filled me to the point that it was beginning to leak.

The next 15 minutes were a blur. The OB who was going to perform the surgery came in to brief me and have me sign my consent. It was either surgery or bleeding out until I died. There was no in-between. The pregnancy could not be viable, and the fetus and I would both die if it wasn’t terminated.

I hardly heard his words, I was crying uncontrollably into the pillow on the examination table. Please just give me the anesthetic. I’m tired. I just want to go home.

I remember waking up and seeing shapes. My mother and boyfriend were in the room with me. I’m tired. I just want to go home. Sleep was a sweet release from all the sadness and hurt I was feeling.

I’ve always been pro-choice. I respect other women’s right to choose what happens to their body. I’ve personally always welcomed the idea of having children. I’m fortunate. I have a good support system of family and friends, and I am financially stable enough to support a child.

I never thought that I would have to give consent to end a pregnancy. But I recognize that some women don’t have the same dream of motherhood like I do. Some women don’t have the right social or financial support. Some women are just not in the right place when they find out about an unplanned pregnancy. It’s their life, and it should be their choice.

I’m lucky. I had a supportive medical team taking care of me before, during, and now after the surgery. My OB has been incredibly kind and careful to make sure I’m recovering well bodily and mentally. I was able to keep my fallopian tube, although we are still unsure how much damage was caused by the pregnancy and surgery. But I still have one good tube. I have good chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the future. I’m still alive.

Other women are not so lucky.

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