On February 3, 2015, I had an abortion.
Almost five years ago, after three 1st trimester miscarriages, I was diagnosed with thrombophilia. MTHFR Factor V Leiden. It’s a genetic mutation that causes blood clots and miscarriages, among other complications.
As a result I was prescribed Heparin injections, twice a day, in my stomach to sustain both my life and my son’s during my fourth and finally successful pregnancy. In addition to dangerous blood clots, Thrombophilia also increases my risk for gestational high blood pressure. My blood pressure began to elevate to dangerous levels around week seven of my pregnancy. So I took blood pressure medication to regulate it and took my blood pressure every morning in addition to my twice-daily Heparin injections.
At week 38, my blood pressure was 178/105. I had preeclampsia. If I hadn’t taken my Labetalol that morning, I would have most likely had a stroke in my doctor’s waiting room. I was checked into the hospital and injected with magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures, which is like main-lining Tabasco, if you’ve never had the pleasure. I had an emergency cesarean and at 4:12 pm, my son arrived.
That brings us to 2015. I had just turned 40. Because of my condition, carrying another child to term is entirely out of the question. At 40 with MTHFR mutations, I’m at much greater risk of stroke and any child I’d carry would be at much greater risk of congenital defects, autism, and ADHD. I am the main breadwinner in our house. If I had to go on disability because of any other pregnancy complications, we would be ruined financially.
Needless to say, when I found out I was pregnant on New Year’s Day, I was shocked, because we’d used protection, and terrified, because of what this could mean for my health.
My blood pressure crept up to 135/95 at less than 4 weeks pregnant. It was consistently 110/70 before this. By six weeks my blood pressure had escalated to 165/98. In my doctor’s words, as he prescribed me some Labetalol, “I don’t want you to stroke out.” The new prescription lowered it to a more manageable 150/90.
Bonus complication: I developed an incredibly painful six-centimeter Hemorrhagic ovarian cyst on my right ovary that slowly filled with blood and had me doubled over in pain. I couldn’t play with my son. I could barely move without narcotic pain relief.
So, if you’re keeping track: at six weeks two days pregnant I was now taking Labetalol to keep me from “stroking out”, Percocet to keep me functional through the unbelievable pain of my cyst, low-dose aspirin to keep larger clots at bay and, then had to add Diclegis to put a dent into the debilitating nausea that kept me bed ridden most of week six.
Was my life in eminent danger because of my pregnancy? No.
Did I know without a shadow of doubt that this pregnancy would result in my death or disability? Yes.
I couldn’t play with my son, let alone take care of him on my own. I could barely get dressed for work, let alone give it my all 45 hours a week. Debilitating fatigue, chronic pain, continual high blood pressure, headaches, and nausea zapped my strength and my body began to feel like it was quite literally failing me. I was dying. I say that not to be melodramatic. I say that because that is the only way to describe how it felt.
So I made my choice. I called the clinic and went to through the State of Louisiana’s mandatory “counseling”. I read the detailed explanation of all the possible, if extremely improbable, complications that could arise from an abortion. I should note that when the surgeon was going to sever my uterus in two to cut my son out, I received no such documentation. When my son was intubated for his adenoidectomy, I received no such documentation. But for a procedure that carries a less that 0.25% chance of something going wrong when done by a licensed and trained medical professional, the State of Louisiana’s “care and consideration” for my being fully “informed” was, frankly, insulting to my intelligence.
I especially did not appreciate the questionnaire that made me verify that I was not being coerced into having this procedure against my will; that I was properly counseled on the alternatives; that I had been described the development of the fetus inside me by the ultrasound technician; and the final question asking if the father was married that notably lacked the most obvious follow-up question: are you married to the him? I filled that part in.
The doctor who performed my procedure was kind, professional, and highly skilled. It was over in a matter of minutes. My blood pressure was 160/94 when I went into the clinic that morning. It was 130/83 when I left and 117/75 by dinnertime. I felt alive again. I felt like I was brought to the brink of death and returned to health.
I am alive and healthy today because I could terminate the pregnancy that was slowly draining away my life. I am not ashamed having had an abortion. I endured months of pain and fear to bring our son into this world and there is nothing that I will not do to make sure that I am alive and healthy to see that wonderful little human being grow up.