I'll be the first to tell you that I did not enjoy being pregnant. As much as both of my two children were very much wanted and planned, I was not quite 'planning' on just how uncomfortable I would be or how difficult those pregnancies would be on my body. But that's how it goes -- some women love being pregnant and well, some like me, do not.
In addition to the "normal" discomfort and ailments that came with being pregnant like nausea -- like getting sick on yourself on the way to work nausea -- and frequent urination -- like have extra underwear in your drawer at work frequent urination -- for both of my pregnancies I had to deal with a blood clotting disorder that required me to take daily injections of blood thinners.
Since I have factor V Leiden genetic clotting disorder, pregnancy can cause blood clots and in order to prevent a clot in my body, especially my placenta, I needed to give myself an injection every day in my belly from the moment a pregnancy was detected through three months post-partum. With a history of blood clots, these shots prevented me from developing another clot that could threaten my life and the life of my baby.
Aside from the frequent pain and bruising that came with giving myself daily shots in the belly, this life-saving regime also came with a steep price tag. While eventually reimbursed by my insurance company, my husband and I had to front $900 a month to pay for a 30-day supply of these injections. Like most couples, we didn't have an extra $900 laying around every month and were forced to use credit cards and juggle money to cover the up-front costs.
Needless to say, this extra physical and financial stress was difficult but necessary to prevent a life-threatening clot for me or my unborn child. Since it had taken us a year to get pregnant with our first child, we were grateful to finally be expecting and were committed to do whatever it took to make sure our baby and I were healthy and thriving. Even though I was enduring a very uncomfortable and difficult pregnancy, knowing that I'd eventually be welcoming my baby girl to the world gave me comfort and strength to "suck it up" and make sure she had a healthy start.
Fortunately my pregnancy progressed as it should and at my routine 20-week ultrasound appointment, the doctor confirmed that our baby was strong and healthy and everything looked great. The doctor told me that in another 20 weeks, I could expect to meet my healthy baby girl. Sadly, not all women are greeted with such wonderful and positive news following their 20-week ultrasound.
The incredibly tragic and harsh reality is that some women come to find out at their 20 week ultrasound that something is terribly wrong with their pregnancy. In some cases, it's at this ultrasound appointment that women discover their unborn child has a serious health complication that won't allow them to survive outside the womb.
If a doctor had told me at my 20 week ultrasound appointment that my baby had a serious complication and she wasn't going to survive, it would have crushed me. I would have been devastated and angry and so incredibly sad. I had wanted her so badly and my heart would have broken knowing that my dream of her would not be coming true. Yet it's what could have potentially come next that would have been the hardest part.
Because Republican legislative leaders and Governor Scott Walker were compelled to ignore the health care community and insisted on passing a 20 week abortion ban based on "junk science" and their own political agendas, I would have been forced to carry a complicated pregnancy to term even if my baby had no chance of survival. Because doctors in Wisconsin are now banned from providing pregnant women in these situations with evidence-based care and compassionate options, I would be forced to endure:
- 20 more weeks of increased risk of a potentially fatal blood clot
- 20 more weeks of nausea
- 20 more weeks of back pain
- 20 more weeks of swelling
- 20 more weeks of continued daily injections that caused bruising (including 4 more months of continued900 monthly charges for the injections)
- 20 more weeks of people asking me when the baby is due
- 20 more weeks of wearing maternity clothes
- 20 more weeks of people asking me if it's a boy or a girl
- 20 more weeks of people asking where I'm registered for my shower
- 20 more weeks of insomnia
- 20 more weeks of frequent trips to the bathroom
- 20 more weeks of my milk getting ready to come in
And for what? I wouldn't have my baby girl at the end of those 20 weeks. I wouldn't be looking forward to picking which outfit to take her home from the hospital in. I wouldn't be getting ready to welcome visitors ready to meet my daughter. There would be no baby -- no child to raise -- no addition to our family.
For so many reasons I find it incredibly insulting that our elected leaders would have made this decision for me. I find it unconscionable that despite medical evidence, my doctor would have been prevented from helping me find the best options for me and my family. Who are they to tell me and my doctor what to do in these complex and heartbreaking situations? What gives them any right to force me to continue a pregnancy that has gone tragically wrong?
I'm so incredibly grateful that as hard as my pregnancy was, at the end of it, I had my little baby girl to hold, to love, and to raise. I consider myself blessed that a second pregnancy, while difficult, resulted in a beautiful baby boy. I now have two wonderful children and I appreciate just how lucky I am. Because my time being pregnant was far from joyful and honestly difficult, we've decided that two kids is enough for us and we are taking necessary precautions not to get pregnant again.
As I hear more women tell their heart-rending stories of their wanted pregnancies going terribly wrong, I mourn for them and I dread the prolonged physical and emotional difficulties they may face because legislators prioritize their political agendas over the needs of women and advice from medical experts.
Shame on these legislators for unnecessarily forcing women to continue these pregnancies. Finding out that the child you've dreamed of will not survive is hard enough. It's monstrous to command a woman to needlessly endure additional weeks of a doomed pregnancy.