Sawyer’s Story – My Elective Late Term Abortion

by Nicole

August 17, 2022

I’ve had multiple abortions and one late term abortion. If it wasn’t for my amazing OB team, I may be dead.

Dead because I didn’t have an abortion.

Let that sink in for a second.

After 8 miscarriages and various abortions, my husband and I began trying again in May of 2014 and were optimistic when I got a positive test in July 2014.  My EDD was St. Patrick’s Day (3/17/15).  I moved through the pregnancy cautiously, not wanted to be let down yet again.  I had weekly ultrasounds and everything was progressing normally. I had a lot of morning sickness and I was never so thankful to be throwing up (probably the only time in my life I’d say something like that).  Still, I had a hard time accepting that nothing horrible would happen.

At my 18 week appointment, after a routine heartbeat check (perfect!), my OB even told me “Nicole, it’s okay to relax.  You’re 18 weeks!  You’re safe”.  That was Friday afternoon.  By Monday morning, everything changed.

Sunday evening, while sitting on the couch relaxing, my right arm started throbbing.  After I Googled (because, that’s what you do!), I quickly turned to my 49 best internet friends and asked their advice because I determined I had a blood clot.  They said that I had no symptoms other than the throbbing (no redness, swelling, hot to touch), but to head to the ER to check.  For once, my Googling symptoms turned out to be a blessing I ended up having a blood clot.  I was put on Lovenox (blood thinners) and sent to my OB’s for a follow up the next day.

We went in for the ultrasound and discovered that our baby boy’s amniotic fluid was not at a normal level.  We were rushed upstairs to the specialist that told us to rest and drink plenty of fluids and that we would recheck at 20 weeks.

Rest.  That was impossible.  It was that night I had my first panic attack.  Of course, I didn’t know what a panic attack was, and since some of the symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism (clot in lungs) were shortness of breath, dizziness, vomiting, rapid heart rate, etc.  we immediately called an ambulance and back to the ER I went.

For the next 2 weeks, I spent every other day at my OB’s getting ultrasounds and watching Sawyer’s fluid get lower and lower.  I was having 10+ panic attacks a day.  I was depressed.  I would not eat and was only drinking because it was my only hope his fluid would come up.  I could not get any kind of anxiety medicine because I was still pregnant, so with my OB’s blessing, Benedryl became my best friend.

At my 20 week ultrasound, we saw our sweet little one bouncing around and putting his little feet up for the Doppler.  We giggled and were smiling and hopeful…until the doctor came in.  Sawyer’s fluid was getting lower and lower and he only had one kidney, which was malformed.

We could not even process something that we had expected was happening for the past 2 weeks.  We were told we had very little options when it came to Sawyer and my own health.

I had a previous c-section with Emmett, so it was not an option.  They wouldn’t induce me because of my clotting disorder and the possibility of hemorrhaging.  And to top it off, they wouldn’t do anything for me medically, until Sawyer died in utero.  Which could go until 40 weeks.

40 weeks of mental pain, anguish and tears.  40 weeks of heartache and waiting and praying for your child to die so that you can move on.  40 weeks of feeling your baby kick and grow, while you are growing, only to know you will have to say goodbye immediately.  It broke me.  I couldn’t do it.

The laws in the state of Florida, as well as many other states, do not account for a woman’s mental well-being when it comes to pregnancy termination.  There are NO choices for women when it comes to these situations, where you know your baby has a zero chance of survival, but you can’t move forward until they legally die.

My doctor recommended a specialist out of my county that practiced compassionate care and would terminate my pregnancy in a private office setting.  To put it simply, he would perform a late term abortion (D&E) for me at 23 weeks.  This was the option my husband and I chose.  It’s one I struggle with to this day and one that lead me to a nervous breakdown and a night in the psych ward.  The guilt.  The stigma.  Everything that comes along with that decision.

The procedure was to be done over two days, as I was late into my pregnancy.  I first went down on Thursday afternoon, where I met with the counselors, had an ultrasound, met with the doctor (who was wonderfully and VERY highly regarded in the medical field) and signed my son’s life away.

I was taken back to a room (my husband had to wait in another area) and they inserted about 10 laminaria sticks into my cervix (which was extremely painful) and sent me on my way to get a pain prescription and to get some rest for the evening.

Rest.  It didn’t happen.  Instead, I took a few Xanax (which thankfully my wonderful OB prescribed after we decided on the decision), and had 5 panic attacks.  I spent the night lying on the bathroom floor, dry heaving and sobbing, feeling my baby kick like crazy.

The next day and procedure took forever.  I had to let misoprostol (2) dissolve which took about an hour.  Those (along with the laminaria, were to dialate me and start labor.  I started getting contractions and was taken back to the recovery room, where I spent some time with other women who were there for elective procedures.  I sobbed and hyperventilated through those contractions, knowing that there was no turning back and there hadn’t been since the afternoon before.

Eventually I was wheeled into the surgery room and was put out for the procedure.  Kind of.  It was at this moment we discovered my body processes anesthesia faster than most.

I woke up as they were removing him from my body and screamed louder than I ever have in my entire life.  It was so painful, both physically and mentally.  Immediately, I was put back to sleep again.  I woke up in recovery, empty, both physically and mentally.

We headed home and I stayed there for 3 weeks.  I ate an orange and a piece of bread every day.  I went to the hospital constantly for every twinge that could be related to my blood clotting disorder (which is what they believe caused all of my previous miscarriages).  I spent so much time in the ER and on medications that by February, my $2000+ per month Lovenox (thankfully, a $150 co-pay) were covered and free because I met all of my deductibles.

I tried to move on.  I put on a false smile and braved the real world again.  But inside, I was withdrawing and slowly getting worse.  They upped my anti-depressants and subbed Klonopin for the Xanax.  I saw a psychiatrist regularly. I was present for things but I wasn’t there.

I had a nervous breakdown after that that landed me in the psych ward.  It was, seriously like Girl Interrupted.  The nurses came into our room every 10 minutes at night for checks.  One girl paced the hall constantly.  There were privileges that you could earn.  I wanted out immediately.

When I was released 24 hours later, I knew I needed to make some changes.  We had a lot going on in our personal lives.  After much discussion, my husband and I decided that I would go on medical leave from work and attend a partial hospitalization program at the same hospital I was admitted to a week before.  The program included time with therapists, group therapy and visits with a psychiatrist.

I have accepted Sawyer’s death and the choices we made for him and his well-being.  I feel alive again.  I can be happy and play soccer with my son in the yard, or joke around with my husband.  I am healing . Finally.

I say healing because you never “get over” something like this. My husband and I very much wanted our son. A late term abortion was not something we choose lightly but it was also something that was medically necessary for my life and for the comfort of Sawyer.

Abortion is a personal choice and is a grey area. You’ll never know what you’ll choose until you’re in that position.

Since 2014 I have counseled, spoke, supported and stood by friends, acquaintances, and strangers that have been given my name, who were going through similar situations. I’ve helped them know what to expect – what kind of pads to buy, what the meds they may receive, reactions they may have and signs to look for in relation to PPD.

Roe v. Wade being overturned has changed our world. But I’m still here and if you need me, or resources – reach out.

Please feel free to share my post and my story. My hope is will it will help others see its not all black and white.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!