Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why I Stand with Wendy



I try not to get very political on this blog but something incredible happened in Austin, Texas this week and it recharged a lot of old emotions in me.

Over 3 years ago, Tim and I went in for an ultrasound and at week 16, we were told that our baby had no heartbeat. After spending 45 silent minutes waiting for the doctor to come in and tell us more, staring at a frozen silhouette of the first baby we made on the state-of-the-art flat screen monitor, we were told that our baby's organs hadn't pulled inside its body at the right time. The doctor, of course, told us that it was nothing that could have been prevented and that these things just seem to happen at random. He encouraged us that we could have a healthy pregnancy in the future. And he told us that our baby was a girl.

We drove home and had to achingly tell our family and friends that plans for the future were over. At 16 weeks, nearly everyone in our lives knew.

The doctor that performed our ultrasound would normally have been the one to perform the necessary D&C (dilation and curettage in doctor-speak; abortion in plain-speak) but he was leaving town the next day. He recommended another doctor that he trusted. This was a Thursday and the recommended doctor made an appointment for us on Saturday.

I lived for 2 days knowing that a dead baby was inside of me and I wanted nothing more than for it to be out. I wanted the mourning to begin so that we could move forward.

The night before our appointment, the doctor called to explain to me what my morning would look like and what I could expect. He explained the procedure in simple terms with a heavy Polish accent and asked me if I had any questions. He told me that family members and friends were welcome to come and support us. And at the end he told me that his office was an abortion clinic so I could expect protesters outside. He told me to let someone else drive so that I could recline my seat and not look at them. He told me to keep driving and don't worry. He told me they had no idea why I was there and their opinions didn't matter.

I got off the phone with him and in telling my mom and Tim this, I collapsed in tears for the millionth time in 24 hours. Now after all of this I have to drive by protesters? Unbelievable.

The next morning, we arrived in a fog, I followed the doctor's instructions for driving up, and we were greeted by friends and family, including my dad who had flown in from California. We filled out paperwork and the doctor came out to speak with my family and answer any questions. When I was ready, he led me back to the room where he would take my baby out of me.

He was kind, gentle, comforting, and reassuring. He told me that I should be encouraged that my body knows how to hold and grow a baby and that he was certain I would be a great mom someday. He grabbed a warm blanket and as the anesthesia started to take effect, he told me that when I woke up, I would be in little or no pain.

He was right. The physical pain was minimal if anything. The grief and heartache would take years to dull.




As Wendy Davis stood in our state Capitol attempting a filibuster to stop strict abortion legislation, I thought about our ultrasound at 16 weeks. What if our baby had held on until week 20 - the last time we had an ultrasound with Eddy - and the doctor had seen the abnormality then? What if, after seeing our baby's organs on the outside, he had told us that our baby had no chance of survival? What if we were faced with the choice to schedule an abortion while our baby's feeble heart was still beating? As awful as our situation was, I know it is much worse for other parents.

We met up with old friends a few years ago and, staring at my giant Eddy-belly, they told us that they had been expecting a baby not long before and after routine blood work, they were told that their baby had a chromosomal abnormality and had no chance of survival in or out of the womb. They were faced with that choice: Do I hold on to this baby and let my body decide when it's time or do I start the grieving process now?

I had no words for them except to say I was sorry. What else can you say? It's a situation I wouldn't wish on anyone.




Had this legislation passed, that doctor's office would certainly have to close. Months after our encounter with him - after some of the sludge had drained from my brain - I sent him a thank you note. Something I never in my life thought I'd do: send a thank you note to an abortion doctor. I told him that, although I hope we never crossed paths under the same circumstances again, that I was thankful that he was in my life for that day and that I appreciated the thankless work he does.

I am so tired of the terminology pro-life and pro-choice. Shouldn't we all be pro-choice, meaning we all have the right to choose? To say that you are pro-life implies that people that disagree with you are anti-life and I am certainly not. I have treasured every one of Eddy's heartbeats and would never compromise that. But I do think that, in their most tender and vulnerable time, a mother should be given the choice. I cannot, and do not want to, imagine the mental health implications of knowing your baby won't survive and being left with limited options. As terrible as those days were for me, and as much as I never want to relive them, I am thankful that I had a safe place to be where me and my family were cared for.

Our state Capitol was filled with men and women supporting Wendy Davis and her efforts on Tuesday. I don't think a single one of them was a baby-killer. I believe that they were parents that would drive hundreds of miles and fly thousands to support their children, friends that would clear your house of all evidence of a pregnancy while you are at an abortion clinic, co-workers that silently hugged and cried, husbands that have shared their darkest hour with their wife but know that their pain is but a fraction, women that have spent years praying for a healthy heartbeat to grow inside of them, women that go through all of this alone, people that have talked to God everyday and asked Why? and are still waiting for an answer.





Can you disagree with me? Absolutely. Shouldn't every issue have two sides? But for goodness sake, please be respectful and please think a bit outside of yourself for a moment.



Photo courtesy of Jesus Moreno







31 comments:

  1. Your words just took my breath away. I hung on every one of them. Thank you for sharing your story. Bravo.

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    1. Thank you, Rebekah. That means a lot. Really.

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  2. I saw this on a friends wall on FB... You made me cry. I had a similar situation... Thank you for your bravery and courage for sharing your story

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    1. Thank you, Shani, and I'm so sorry you felt this pain.

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  3. Thanks for sharing, Kacie. Powerful. The strength of women never ceases to amaze me. Glad to have you in our ranks. ; )

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    1. thank you, danielle. it feels pretty great that this charge is all coming from our hometown.

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  4. So beautifully written. After reading, I wished that I had been somewhere a bit more private as I cried uncontrollably for ten minutes. It hit so close to home. Your outlook is so positive and I cannot thank you enough for sharing!

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    1. thank you for your kind words, kristin. women tend to hold this pain in silence and it's powerful to know that others support you and understand.

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  5. lisa (raymond) fouxJune 27, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    We don't know each other... I went to elementary school and high school with Tim. We're aren't in touch, but via our Facebook connection, I've been fortunate to come across your lovely blog. Your have such a beautiful outlook on family, motherhood, pregnancy and womanhood in general. I am not a mommy yet, but believe me - if and when I'm blessed enough for that time to come, know that I will be revisiting your words for encouragement and inspiration.
    Thank you for bring brave enough to share this story. And thank you for putting your beautifully eloquent and refreshingly honest perspective out there for the world to enjoy and reflect upon. I'm sure we'll never meet, but wanted you to know that your blog reaches further than you may realize.

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  6. I am so, so sorry for your loss. Thanks so much for sharing your story here. It´s a wonderful post and reading about this is so necessary nowadays.

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  7. your words are so powerful. moved me to tears. bravo.

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  8. Oh Kacie. I'm crying and my heart is aching for your loss. I just lost a baby myself, much earlier then you had, but the hurt is just so big, and so hard, I don't know how to type it out but I know you know what I mean. I couldn't imagine getting as far as 16 weeks before having that happen :( Thank you for sharing your story & putting yourself out there - knowing that others out there can go through these heartwrenching experiences and go on to have healthy pregnancies gives me hope xo

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    1. i'm so sorry. it's a pain unlike anything and although it dulled with time, it certainly stuck with me. know that this motherhood machine is one that usually works just fine - but it is definitely hard when it doesn't.

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  9. Hi...I just followed a link off of twitter to this piece - very, very powerful. I am a woman who has never wanted children and this broke my heart. If only they knew...

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  10. Wow. Speechless. I remember when this happened but I never knew the details until now. I support abortion as I believe it's a woman's right to choose, but never had I thought of it this way. I'm in tears. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. your dr sent you to an abortion clinic for a d&c is the most ridiculous thing EVER! I had a d&e in a hospital monitored by a dr & many nurses. My friends had d&c in a HOSPITAL covered by insurance! This bill was to make things safer, read it and understand it!

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    1. again, thank you for your opinion and i'm so sorry for what you went through. at no point did i feel misled or unsafe, in fact i felt just the opposite. i have read the bill and am aware that the clinic i was at would close.

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  12. I am a man. I have no children. I am not married. I have supported a woman's right to choose since I was old enough to understand that there were people who didn't. In high school, I volunteered at Planned Parenthood as an escort. I was the gangly kid responsible for making sure that women and their families got from their car to the clinic without too much harassment from the ever present people-at-the-gates. I learned on the first day that many women were going to the clinic for many reasons, most having nothing to do with abortion. But they weren't treated that way by the protesters. Indiscriminate judgment, fear, hatred. The desperation went both ways. The protesters, afraid that if they didn't scream and offer a handbill then the devil wins, and the clinic patrons, afraid they would be shamed or worse for picking up birth control or condoms. I never knew who was going in for what. I didn't care. The people I escorted were making decisions about their life, their health, their well-being. They were making easy decisions, or life altering ones. But they were making them. I stand with Wendy because she stands with me. And you. And I stand with you as you stand with me. No one has the right to make the kind of decision that you had to make for you. It is yours. Your heartbreak breaks my heart. Thank you for sharing your story, and sharing it so beautifully. I'm sorry for your loss.

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    1. i'm not sure if you'll check this site for a response but i want to put this out there in case. your perspective is so important. thank you for showing me something new and for your amazing work. you helped many women through a very difficult time.

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  13. Kacie - Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I can't imagine the amount of courage it took for you to come up with the words, beautiful words at that. You are such an inspiration to me in motherhood and life!

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    1. thank you, priscilla. right back at ya. motherhood makes some mighty women.

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  14. In January I chose to have an abortion. My baby girl was diagnosed with diffuse edema and heterotaxy in utero at 10 weeks. We waited, hoping for the best and dreading the worst for week after week and ultrasound after ultrasound. The doctors said the edema could resolve on its own or it could tax the heart so greatly that the baby would die. Edema is swelling, diffuse edema means swelling all over, which typically means that the heart isn't pumping efficiently. Heterotaxy is when your organs are on the wrong side of your body and can range from harmless to mortal. At 12 weeks we went in for another ultrasound and a CVS, where they clip out a portion of your placenta to test for genetic abnormalities. At this point we traveled to my family's home in Texas for a two week Christmas vacation. I put on a happy face and told no one what we were going though as I didn't know what the outcome would be. Would my baby survive another day? Did she pass away already? Would I be forced to decide to terminate or not?

    No genetic abnormality was found, but that just left more questions. This test told me she was a girl. I named her right away, in utero over Christmas and by myself. I never told my husband her sex; I didn’t want to break his heart anymore.

    After two weeks of the worst vacation ever, we went back to the doctor for another ultrasound. At 14 weeks the edema had cleared, but the heterotaxy was more complicated, the heart was clearly abnormal. The heart was still too small to see exactly what was wrong, but all the possibilities were bad. Some were worse than others, most had the newborn baby having several heart surgeries as she probably wouldn't survive outside the womb. Some had the baby dying in utero. Some had her lasting up to 5 years old if she could survive all the heart surgeries. And she could be a miracle, some babies beat the odds. She would never be normal, that was clear, but she was already special. The doctors wanted to schedule an echocardiogram at 18 weeks, the heart MAY be big enough to see exactly what was wrong, but maybe not. I did a monumental amount of research on all the possibilities and their mortality rates. No one could answer the important question. Could by baby survive and be healthy? Or would I be just prolonging her suffering and be subjecting her to terrible surgeries just on a hope and prayer? I read heartbreaking stories of other mothers that had to make this choice. I talked over everything with my husband. But in the end it was my decision to make. In some moments I wished someone else could have made that decision for me. But I knew that I was the only one that could make this life or death decision for my baby girl. In the end I looked at my current family. I am blessed to have a happy healthy two year old boy and a husband that loves us with all his heart. I had to weigh the soon to be troubled life of my baby girl against the things that that certainly troubled, and possibly short, life would do to the happiness and well-being of my current little family. Would my son grow up with a swapping single parent as one of us would want to stay at the hospital with his sister? Would he have to bear losing his sister at five years old after a lifetime of hospitals? Would one of us have to quit our jobs to stay with his sister? Would we have to sell our house as we couldn't afford it with only one income? Would we have to move to a cheaper state? How much of his college fund would go to hospital bills? How much of his happiness would be lost to heart wrenching surgeries and hospital stays? Should I wait 3 more weeks to see the cardiologist to see if they could give her any better odds? There was no easy choice. At 15 weeks I had my abortion at a hospital. It is the worst decision of my life, but I made it in with the best information I had and I know it was the best decision for my family. I thank you for standing with Wendy. And I thank you for standing with me. I stand with you too. Someday I will tell my family, they do not stand with us, they would not approve.

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    1. i'm not sure if you will check back here for a response but i want to say thank you so much for sharing your story. my heart absolutely aches for the pain you endured and for living for weeks without answers. you are a powerful force and your family is so very lucky to have you at the helm. i know the pain is still with you but i know you can also take comfort in your family. many blessings.

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  15. Tears, I am filled with tears. I don't even know how to begin to write my story. I was 14 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. At 13 weeks everything was fine, at 14 there was no heartbeat. This was discovered on a routine scan. But because the hospital I was at is a Catholic hospital they told me to go home and let the body expel the baby naturally. I went home and for three days I cried and grieved. I got sicker and sicker. Finally my partner convinced me to get out of bed and see our fertility specialist. She discovered somehow the baby was turning toxic inside of me. I had to then have an abortion which I may or may not have also had to have my uterus removed. Lucky for me I not only got to save my uterus, I was saved from any judgement of protesters as I had the surgery done at a private hospital.
    Pro-life? I would have given anything for that little girl to have life. But I am definitely pro-choice as not only did an abortion save my uterus, it probably saved my life.
    I too stand with any Wendy as each and every woman should have the right to make choices about her baby.

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  16. Poignant. Powerful. Surely you shared with Wendy...
    Honored to have met you and dancing Eddie last night decked out in his "Oh Grow Up" mama case tshirt. Jo Ann

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  17. Oopsie! Eddy* Jo Ann

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  18. I am in tears. I can't imagine what that was like for you or your family. In 2010 I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks and had to have a D&C. It was very hard to make that decision, but like you.. I just wanted to start grieving and I still felt pregnant and it hurt me so bad to know that my sweet baby had already passed away. Luckily we did it a the hospital which is where my Doctor's office was, so I didn't have to deal with any protestors. I went to Planned Parenthood when I was in college for birth control and people didn't know why I was there, but they would yell things at me and accuse me of being things I wasn't. I am glad you shared this. -Amanda from Princess of the Panhandle

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