20 years old, 25 weeks along

by Anonymous

May 26, 2023

I turned 20 less than a month before I found out I was pregnant. I had just gotten home from college, ready to start the summer, and excited to see my family who had been dealing with their own issues throughout the past month. In that past month, my mom had had a cerebrospinal fluid leak, landing her in the hospital for a week straight, and my grandpa had died. Needless to say, it was a difficult time for our family.


Anyway, the night I came home, my mom invited me to go to CVS with her to get some shower oil, and I gleefully accepted. While we were there, my mom suggested I get a pregnancy test, not one of the $5 ones, but a digital one, just to be sure. The next morning, as soon as I got up, I took the test with my mom by my side helping me. To my surprise, it came up positive. My mom was gracious in how she responded, and all she asked was what I wanted to do. She, herself, had had me at 16, so the space for judgment was not exactly large, and I felt appreciative of that. I scheduled myself for an appointment at Planned Parenthood, thinking I could just get the medical abortion, and it would be no biggie.


Unfortunately, that’s not how it went. A few days after we found out the situation, I got a call from my grandma berating me about my pregnancy, insisting I would be kicked out of my home and that I would be on my own. Keep in mind, I’m someone who struggles with depression, PTSD and suicidal ideation, so being told that was not exactly what I needed to hear. My grandma also happens to be fresh-off-the-boat, violently Roman Catholic Italian. Naturally, the conversation (if you could call that barrage of abuse a conversation) shifted towards the soul of my baby. She informed me that based on her conversations with priests, the soul enters a fetus at 4-6 months gestation, which will come into play later. After a massive argument between myself and her, she got on the phone with my dad and urged him to get me an appointment for an ultrasound at the hospital. Little did I know, that appointment would be pivotal in how the rest of this story played out.


I managed to get scheduled for the next day, by some small miracle, and so we set off to get the ultrasound. Rather than finding the gestational age to be between the 2-3 month window I thought might be possible, they instead told me that I was 25 weeks along, which put me past the legal gestational age to get an abortion in my home state of Connecticut. Because of that, I was offered two options: go to DC, or go to the Bronx. New York was obviously the easy choice, due to its proximity, and the fact that the hospital in DC would have charged me to the tune of $10,000 for the care I needed, no insurance accepted, made that decision for me. Luckily, I was able to get scheduled for all of my appointments in the Bronx relatively easily, and all seemed well in the world.


Now, I have always been a maternal person. I have a three year old sister who I am extremely close with, and see as my own daughter. I even work at a summer camp every year because I just can’t get enough of children. So, as the week carried on and I waited for my appointments, I also couldn’t help but feel some combination of fear and elation every time I felt the baby kick or move around inside me. Maybe that elation was selfish, but for someone who only ever wanted to be a mom, that was heaven.


However, I knew I had to be steadfast in my decision. While I was at school, I was drinking and smoking weed as college kids do, and I knew that I couldn’t justify bringing a child into the world under those circumstances. Beyond that, I still haven’t graduated, and three months was not going to be enough to prepare for a child. So, although I began to feel love and trust between myself and my baby, I knew I still had to let it go.


That brings us to my first appointment, which was this past Wednesday. I made my way to the Bronx with my dad on the train, and all was going well. I made it a little late, due to traffic, but I made it nonetheless. They took me into the examination room and did another ultrasound to confirm the gestational age, which they found lined up with what I was told at the previous hospital. I was then taken downstairs to have another ultrasound, during which I asked to see my baby and know the gender. It was a boy, and I still have the pictures. Next, I should probably mention that I have a terrible fear of needles, and the next part of the process was an amniocentesis procedure which would stop the baby’s heart. Coincidentally, when they did that, I felt my own heart shatter to a million pieces. Gone were the days of feeling him kick me, or dance to music, or swim around when he liked the food I was eating. Now, I began to feel completely and utterly alone.


My second appointment was where things started to get a little crazy. I again made my way to the Bronx, accompanied by my dad, and everything was going smoothly. That day was the day I was to get cervical dilators put in, and I handled the procedural part of that like a champ. However, I was also informed that my water had broken during the insertion process, and, as time progressed, I began to feel so much pain that my vision became blurred. I couldn’t eat or drink, all I wanted was to go home and lie down. But, of course, that was not to be. Instead, I had to make my way to another floor of the hospital for my pre-op information I needed for the next day. I had my blood drawn, which terrified me, but beyond that everything seemed at least somewhat okay.


On my way out, though, I suddenly felt a gush of fluid running down my pants, and I knew that my water had actually broken. Now, I was not prepared for this possibility coming from home, and I had no change of clothes for myself. At the same time, the nurse handling my pre-op began to freak out, and brought me upstairs to the labor and delivery floor. There, they said that if I wasn’t having contractions, there was nothing they could do, but they did manage to provide me with something to change into, which I am still grateful for. However, that didn’t stop me from leaking, and I carried on through the rest of my day wearing paper scrubs, a camisole, and a white sweatshirt tied around my waist, which within minutes of sitting down was completely and obviously soiled. I was humiliated. I felt like all eyes were on me, and all I wanted was to be invisible at that moment. I sucked it up and again took the train from New York back home, where I tried to get to bed early so I could make my 8 AM procedure scheduled for the next day.


After sleeping peacefully for a few hours, I suddenly jolted awake at 1 AM with a horrible pain in my abdomen. I was told that contractions were possible, but I had no idea what they felt like. However, I knew that whatever I was feeling was probably worth telling my parents about, in case they were contractions. After I woke them up, we spent some time trying to figure out what this pain was that I was feeling. We came to the conclusion that they likely were contractions, and we followed the doctor’s advice to head to the nearest emergency room. When we arrived, the waiting room was empty, and me and my dad were the only people at intake. I explained my situation, and was unfortunately turned away. So, we came home and resolved to simply leave earlier so that I might be able to be seen earlier. We departed via train at 5 AM, me already being in labor for four hours by this point. I was miserable for those two hours, vomiting publicly and painfully since I had nothing in my stomach (I was not allowed to eat or drink past midnight due to the procedure).


By the time we made it to the hospital and the ambulatory surgery floor, I was in complete agony. I cried and begged for someone to help me, because I was in so much pain and I couldn’t continue sitting and waiting. They did end up letting me in, but I still needed to do my skin prep and change for the procedure, which for me was an added difficulty since I was so weak from the pain. I was freezing in the bathroom, my dad facing the wall as I wiped down my skin as instructed, and every movement felt like a herculean effort. I was then taken to change into hospital gowns and socks, as well as a hair net. Again, this simple task felt like the end of the world to me.


For the next hour or so, I remained in the pre-op room with my dad, my labor only getting worse, and begging for an IV, at the very least. Instead, I was told I needed more blood drawn to determine if I would need a blood transfusion, which pushed me over the edge. As the phlebotomist did her thing, I wailed and cried, not only from the labor pains or the pain of getting my blood drawn, but from the fear of all that was happening to me. Immediately after that blood draw, I was put into a wheelchair since I couldn’t walk by myself from the contractions, as they had intensified and gotten much closer together, and was taken into another room to wait for my procedure. I laid there for I don’t know how long, groaning in pain and struggling to get comfortable. My care team arrived, and finally brought me into the operating room. I was put to sleep, and the procedure carried on normally.


Afterward, I woke up, not even realizing what was going on, and I struggled to make all of the machines attached to me understand that I was breathing, since my respiratory rate and blood pressure were so low. Then, the cramping began. It wasn’t as bad as the contractions, but I still couldn’t get myself to eat more than a bite of a sandwich or drink more than a single cup of water, which I still drank very, very slowly. I was again in agony, and I feared that that would be my situation for the rest of the day. Luckily, this time I was not made to sit and cry for long, and I was given some Tylenol for the pain, which worked like a charm. I slept amazingly on the way back home.


Writing this now, though, I have kind of let it set in what happened, what my choice was, and how I feel about it. Honestly, I still don’t feel good about it. All I can think is how if I only knew that my baby was there I could have prepared for him, and I know in my heart that I really would have tried for him. I feel pain not only from the trauma of going through the procedure and everything preceding it, but from the loss of my baby and the loss of my ability to make another choice. I know I did the right thing, given the circumstances, but I wish I could have changed the circumstances for him, not the other way around. I know I can’t beat myself up about it, and that someday I will find peace, but, for right now, I miss him immensely, and I am saddened by the thought that there may come a day that I don’t anymore.









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