Author’s Note: This is not my story, but the woman that reached out to me wishes to help break the stereotype around her ectopic pregnancy and subsequent termination of the fetus while remaining anonymous. She and I both hope that sharing this will mean that others will not be so afraid to seek help and comfort for their own stories. Also, for those who would judge her for this– you have no choice but to direct your hate and anger at me. I am happy to do this for her.
Take care. I love you all. -T
Today I found out I was pregnant.
It wasn’t the happy, pee-on-a-stick-and-wait-impatiently-for-that-blue-line-to-appear type of discovery. It wasn’t the nervously-surprise-your-husband-then-burst-into-happy-tears sort of day.
It was a I’ve-been-bleeding-for-three-weeks-and-went-to-the-doctor type of pregnancy.
For the record, those aren’t the good kind.
My doctor called it an ectopic pregnancy. Even the name of it sounded scarier than I want to admit. Not exactly uncommon– 1 in 60 pregnancies are ectopic, meaning a fertilized egg implants itself in the upper fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Not unheard of, but not normal, either. Usually the body absorbs the fertilized egg in these cases. Mine didn’t.
“Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous” my doctor told me. “In almost all cases, neither the baby or mother survive.” She’s trying to be gentle, but also stern. She wants me to know the severity of the situation. I listen carefully, stunned.
I think it was my Catholic upbringing that heard the word “almost” louder than the rest.
Almost. Almost means hope. Almost means there’s a chance of this baby surviving. Almost means that I have to do whatever I can to give little Grace a chance at a full and happy life. Almost means a lot.
How much is almost?
“Only .2% of ectopic pregnancies result in a live birth.”
.2%. Not two percent. But point two percent. That’s the chance my baby had of becoming a live, wriggly thing that I could love and hold. I only had a slightly higher chance of surviving, with or without Grace in my arms at the end of the day. Even surviving alone would mean I’d possibly never be able to conceive a second child. .2%? Was that worth my life? The life of every other child I might someday conceive? The ragged remains of my husband’s life? (oh, my poor husband. A man who simply stared into the middle distance while I told him everything. A Protestant rather than a Catholic, but who holds abortion up as one of life’s most tragic situations. I had never thought we’d be discussing this. It broke my heart to watch him).
.2%. That’s it. .2%.
How much was Grace’s life worth to me?
Today I got an abortion.
There was no knife involved. None of the horrible pictures that my mother had made me look at when I hit puberty. Just a needle and a drug that would keep my body from supporting the cells that had a .2% chance of becoming my little Grace. My husband held my hand. I don’t think I’d ever seen him cry before today. Only a few tears–hardly visible through my own. But I saw them. And in that moment, I loved him for supporting my decision in this– and hope that he will not love me less for having made it.
I never expected that my first child’s worth would be determined by statistics. I never expected that any percentage of success (.2% or not) would be too low when a baby’s life was on the line. But I never expected to be here, either.
I do not want to hear your sympathy or your screams of “baby killer.” You don’t know what this is like. You are not the one who will have to think about this decision every day for the rest of her life. You are not the one who had to measure the weight of unknown lives against a cluster of cells that were developing in my fallopian tube instead of my uterus. You are not the one who grew up knowing that abortion was wrong and who now must bite her tongue every time Planned Parenthood loses more funding, because I wouldn’t have been able to take this route without them. You don’t know.
But maybe you’ll try to learn. Because I decided not to remain silent.
I want to thank Tahani Nelson for sharing this story on her blog. I want to spread love and acceptance to every woman out there who ever finds herself in a situation she didn’t expect or who’s faced with a solution she never asked for. I love you. I feel for you. And I hope that you are braver than me. I hope you share your story and break this stigma surrounding our unborn without feeling like you need to hide your identity.
I love my baby. She didn’t even have a gender when I let that doctor inject me, but I named her Grace. I wanted the world for her, but could not give it to her. No one knows about her story. No one knows about what I’ve gone through. I’m afraid to even bring it up at Confessional and wonder how my eternal soul will fare for it. I don’t want to know how God will judge me– how any of you will judge me. And I can’t bring it up to any of you anyway. No one wants to hear.
Because today I had an abortion.