To say that I have difficult pregnancies is a gross understatement. I’ve been pregnant three times, twice with planned pregnancies, and once a total surprise. Through all three pregnancies I suffered a debilitating condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
Some people dismiss this as “morning sickness” or “all day sickness” and some women have mild cases and can remain fully functional through their pregnancies. I was not that lucky.
My first pregnancy, as most people reading this know, resulted in a missed miscarriage diagnosed at just over 10 weeks. The fetus stopped developing at a little over 7 weeks, just after I was hospitalized for malnutrition and dehydration. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had happen to me.
My second pregnancy, which had a much happier outcome, was just as hard. After 14 months of trying to get pregnant I was absolutely thrilled to see two lines on the test, but worried that I would go through the same trauma as before.
My second pregnancy can only be described as disastrous I literally would go days without being able to eat or keep down food (or even water) when I attempted to eat or drink. I was constantly worried about the potential damage being done to Avi both from the HG and the medications I had to take just to be somewhat functional. I would spend most of my days in bed or curled up by the toilet with my dogs worriedly hovering nearby.
But, I consider myself lucky. Not only did I have semi-descent insurance, which covered my Zofran, but I did not have to work. It was very apparent from day 1 that working would not be possible. I attempted to, but spent most of my shift hiding around the corner or in the bathroom throwing up.
I bled throughout my entire pregnancy. Not brown old blood, but both spotting and somewhat heavier bleeding of red, or new blood. I pulled muscles from violently throwing up and both my OB and my perinatologist/high-risk OB agreed that I needed to be induced both for my physical and mental wellbeing.
I came home from the hospital 33 lbs lighter than when I started my pregnancy. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.
I’m hesitant to put this next part in writing because I don’t want Ari to possibly read this when he is older and ever feel unloved or unwanted, but it’s important for understanding why I strongly support a woman’s right to choose.
Misha and I decided that it wasn’t worth risking HG again to have any more children. We were happy to have Avi and felt fortunate that he was healthy. I’d planned on getting an IUD as soon as I was done breastfeeding. That never happened.
When Avi was roughly 8 months old I started feeling sick. I spent 3 days randomly throwing up and decided to do a pregnancy test just for my own peace of mind. I was on birth control and breastfeeding, so it was unlikely that I would get pregnant, but due to a ruptured ovarian cyst I did. I was in disbelief.
I didn’t experience the joy of seeing two lines this time, instead I felt dread, which I still feel guilty about today. How on earth could I take care of Avi if I had HG again? Could I even handle going through it again? It was so early in the pregnancy and I already felt so sick. I didn’t know what to do.
I cried when I told Misha that I was pregnant. I cried when I told my mom. I cried when I told my friend, who had just had a baby herself, I cried when I was in the doctor’s office waiting to speak with my OB. I was so torn. And scared. What would this mean for Avi, the baby I had wanted so much, who was still a baby? What would this mean for me when I could barely handle my last two pregnancies?
Again, I consider myself lucky. I decided that despite not having family near me to help I had the resources to have another baby. I chose to have another baby. The hyperemesis came back, but it was slightly better than before. An additional medicine seemed to help, but it still wasn’t easy by any means.
Avi & I spent a lot of time in his room. Me sitting in a chair with a wastebasket nearby while he played. We also spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Him playing with toys and me with my head in the toilet. Luckily, Misha was able to work from home sometimes when I couldn’t pick myself up off the floor.
I knew if things got worse I could afford hire a nanny to help with Avi, but I felt so guilty. I felt like he was missing out on things like playing outside and trips to the zoo because I just couldn’t do it.
I had the same worries as before and many of the same complications. I cannot imagine what it would have been like if I weren’t so lucky. If we didn’t have the money that allows me to stay home. If I had to work. If I didn’t have the insurance plan I have. As it is, I spent thousands on my pregnancies. Between the dozens of ultrasounds, the frequent doctor visits, the medications (which in the last two months of my pregnancy with Ari weren’t covered for the full dose I required,) and the delivery it was literally thousands.
I love my kids with all my heart and I don’t regret having either of them, but not everyone is as lucky as I am and they should be given the choice to continue or not continue their pregnancy. They shouldn’t be shamed or have it be made unnecessarily complicated to have an abortion.
The Texas House of Representatives claims that HB2 will make women safer. They claim that most clinics will stay open. They claim that they are doing this for women, yet they were not open to a single amendment that would actually do that. Sadly, I expect that the Senate will do the same.
Rep Jodie Laubenberg is a disgrace to the position she holds. She mindlessly tabled every amendment with the support of the majority of the Representatives. This. Does. Not. Help. Women. Despite what the vile David Dewhurst wants (please look at the link to see his tweet and the map,) this will not stop abortion in Texas. Abortions are going to happen. It’s just a matter of when and how safe the women who chose to have one are. (If you say the women get what is coming to them when there are complications with abortion you can just bugger off right now.)
If a single clinic closes that’s one too many. As of now I believe a woman in Texas has access to 42 clinics around the state, but it still takes 4 days for her to have an abortion. She first must have the mandated ultrasound (I cannot find the report, but I read that abortions are only down 5% since that was passed) then wait 24 hours before taking her first dose of misoprostol, which will start the process. (I had to take this after the d&c I had for my miscarriage and it was a terrible experience.) She then comes back 48 hours later for her second dose. That means this is a 4 day process. Under these regulations even these medical abortions (as opposed to surgical abortions) must take place in an ambulatory surgical center.
Let’s say there is a woman living in west Texas, who has to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion. Do we really think she’s going to be able to not only afford the increased price (estimated at $1200) but afford to take time off from work? This is going to cause abortions later in pregnancies, or possibly mothers in need of government assistance once the babies are born. If you were wondering, the House shot down any increases in assistance as well. Oh, and don’t get me started on tabling an amendment about sex education.
I’m not naïve. I do not expect that my story (or any of the others heard during the sessions) will make people change their position. I don’t expect anyone reading this to suddenly become pro-choice. I do however, hope that people will realize that they shouldn’t judge others for their choices.
Please understand that not everyone had the same opportunities you do. Not everyone has the same beliefs you do. And I cannot imagine anyone making this decision lightly or why anyone would try to take this choice away from them.
Great post, Season. I agree, after having a complicated miscarriage a couple of months ago, that everyone has the right to choose (I thought this before as well). No one makes the choice to abort a pregnancy lightly for medical or personal reasons, and people who think women do are as misogynistic as they come.
Thanks, CS. I hesitated posting this, but I felt like I needed to say it.