Growing up in a small little town in South Dakota the word 'abortion' was never really talked about. The movie Dirty Dancing was my first exposure to the concept of abortion. It left a lasting impression of what an illegal abortion could be... a doctor in a back alley with a wire coat hanger.... frankly it scared the hell out of me. So I always sat perched upon the fence keeping my opinions and thoughts to myself. Abortion was something I didn't think I would personally do, but what right was it of mine to condemn a woman for making that choice. I wasn't walking in their shoes. It was a legal procedure in many states and with strict regulations, I thought at least it left a safer option for those who made that choice.
January 22 is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
I will never pretend to be the strong mom who knew without a shadow of doubt that she would carry her pregnancy to term. On January 22, I said no to my pregnancy. I consented to ending my pregnancy by induction. I laid in bed the night before, crying instead of sleeping. I was given my options: induce right away or let nature take its course. I was never pushed to make a decision one way or another. I was scared, confused, angry and selfish. Yes selfish. I couldn't bear feeling my child kick and wiggle around. It was a constant reminder of what I wouldn't have and there was no way I could face this reminder each and every day. Scott never pushed me into the decision, but he made it clear that it broke his heart to watch this pregnancy tear me apart.
Early that morning I called my OB. With a heavy heart, I sobbed as I told him that I wanted to be induced. My body was already showing signs of miscarriage and I didn't want the inevitable to drag out. Deep down I was not at peace with this decision but I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. He quietly said he understood my decision and that he hated to watch me go through this. This was his first pregnancy with an anencephaly diagnosis. He explained that the induction would be the same as when I had Spencer, and I would have to deliver vaginally and a c-section would not be an option. He needed to call the hospital and see what hospital policy and procedure was and if they had a spot open for an induction.
My phone rang about a half hour later. The hospital viewed an induction prior to 24 weeks as an abortion. This totally confused me. An abortion was about ending an unwanted pregnancy. An abortion was done in a clinic with tools and had people picketing outside...not in a hospital. They felt that at 24 weeks, any child born could be put on life support until it could survive on its own. I was at 20 weeks. My child could not survive and technically I would be ending its life by choice. Because this was uncharted territory for my doctor, he consulted another physician in his group. She reminded him that he needed to look past what he thought was 'emotionally fair' for me and to think about what was a medically sound decision. It was a gentle reminder to him that the uterus does not respond well to induction medication until the third trimester. Also, if the baby had other deformities (which we did not know because I chose to end the sono early) the placenta may not detach properly. Both of these could cause hemorrhage, rupture or irreparable scarring that would leave me unable to have more children.
As he explained this, several things ran though my mind. I didn't even think that the Catholic Church viewed early termination as abortion. And then what if something did happen to me? I couldn't leave behind a husband and son because of my own selfish wants. I was also replaying a conversation I had with my friend Michelle. "Jenny I will support your decision either way, but if you carry it out, you will get to hold and love this baby. You will get to say hello and goodbye no matter how brief they may be." I thought of our miscarriage a year ago. There was no closure then and my heart still ached over that loss. My child deserved a fighting chance.
I can't really explain what happened next. (My Aunt Margaret likes to say it was divine intervention.) It was like a switch was flipped somewhere deep inside of me. The tears stopped as I told my doctor that I couldn't put myself in that situation. I would carry out this pregnancy for as long as my body allowed. I didn't know how I would get through it, but I could accept it and would manage one way or another. Before we hung up, I remember saying there was a bigger picture that I just couldn't yet see.
On the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I was asked to make a decision to God. A decision on a commitment that started five months earlier with two pink lines. A commitment of unconditional love and acceptance of His will.