“Please step back.” The anesthesiologist stretched his arm pushing back my ex-husband from taking another picture of my open womb. At 38 weeks, I went into premature labor, was rushed to the hospital, and underwent an emergency cesarean.
Awake and frozen from my shoulders down, I watched the eyes of the two doctors who worked to remove my daughter from my womb. I could see and smell blood on their hospital gowns. I decided to focus on their faces instead of their hands tugging and pulling diligently over my mid-section. The anesthesiologist calmed me by putting his hand on my shoulder during the surgery. I thought about putting myself under, but I wanted to be awake to see the birth of my baby.
These doctors knew me well because I was in their office at least once per month during my pregnancy. I lost count of how many ultrasounds I had. In Aug of that year, I had to come in once a week for an ultrasound. I was put on bed rest for the month and I remember asking the doctor if I could vacuum. If only I had taken a photograph of the look on his face!
“We’re almost there… almost there.” Dr. Wilson had a thick German accent. I didn’t like him too much during my office visits, but he grew on me, even as he was tugging at my insides. I trusted him. I knew he had the experience to handle my condition, and everything would be okay.
During those few seconds before my life would be altered forever, I noticed the worrisome look on Dr. Russell’s face and my heart rate increased. All of a sudden the room turned quiet. Those five seconds felt like a lifetime. Then when I heard my daughter cry for the first time, the kind anesthesiologist wiped the tears from my eyes, one at a time.
She was born two weeks early on September 1st. It had been the pregnancy from hell.
In case you have been under a rock lately, Senate Bill 8 (SB 8, aka The Texas Heartbeat Act), a law that prohibits women from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2021.
Here is a Summary of SB 8
- No abortions allowed after six weeks or when a heartbeat is detected (there is no heartbeat – it is an electrical pulse).
- No exceptions if a person is pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
- No exceptions for minors or older pregnant people.
- Abortion is allowed if the pregnancy will cause “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” to the mother.
But wait, that is not the end of it. There is more.
SB 8 allows for anyone anywhere to bring charges against anyone who helps the pregnant person to obtain an abortion. If you suspect someone helped a woman obtain an abortion, you can sue that person for $10,000.00. You can sue any doctor, the healthcare staff, the pregnant women’s friend who she confided in, or the driver who drove the woman to an abortion clinic. Anyone you suspect helped the pregnant person obtain an abortion in Texas is fair game.
Texas has put a bounty on women.
If you think this sounds pretty crazy, you would be correct. It’s insanity.
Most women or pregnant people have no idea they are pregnant before six weeks. Periods are inconsistent, so a woman would not know if she is pregnant unless she is constantly regular and senses something is off. She would then have to take a pregnancy test immediately, decide quickly that she doesn’t want to bring her pregnancy to full term, and immediately make an appointment to schedule an abortion. She would then have to obtain an ultrasound and wait 24 hours before the procedure is done, all before the six-week cutoff. This gives women two weeks to find out they’re pregnant, decide what to do about it, and get an abortion.
The republican legislators in Texas know this. They purposely created SB 8 knowing it would be very difficult for women to obtain abortions by six weeks. This law, in effect, outlaws abortion in the state of Texas.
Let’s think about this. I will use myself as an example and demonstrate how dangerous this law is.
Here is a run-down of my pregnancy.
I had severe nausea for the first five months. I had to take drugs that made me drowsy. The drugs did not remove my nausea completely, but they helped the severity. I lived with feeling like I wanted to vomit every day until month six. I could not eat much. I lost weight during the first few months. I craved fruit only and worried the fetus would not get enough nutrients. It was a give and take: eat and vomit, eat and vomit, eat and vomit. I lived on saltine crackers and fruit.
I felt tired all the time. I would work my eight hours and then sleep from 7 p.m. until the next morning when I had to get up and go to work. I felt faint and light-headed at times and wanted to sleep all day.
It was hell.
As a travel agent back then, I worked full-time chatting with clients. This was difficult when always feeling nauseous and sleepy. I vomited at work at least once a week. Luckily, I had a very understanding manager who allowed me to come in late, sleep in the break room, stay late to finish my work, take longer lunches, or go home if I needed.
Designated a high-risk pregnancy, I had four uterine fibroids that grew with my pregnancy that I didn’t know about until my first ultrasound. The fetus was normal, but the doctors were concerned my fibroids could bleed at any time as the fetus grew. They also were afraid the fetus would not have enough room to grow in my womb because of the fibroids. If one of my fibroids punctured and bled, I would have to have an emergency abortion and surgery to stop the bleeding. So, I lived with the fear of these possible complications for most of my pregnancy.
At four months, I developed Placenta Previa, a condition where the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. On top of that, my largest fibroid covered my cervix. So the fetus was sitting on that fibroid. If the fibroid had bled, I would have had to have emergency surgery and the fetus would have died. If this were to have occurred in my final months of pregnancy with the location of my fibroid, the fetus would have been delivered, might have lived or died, and my chances of dying would have increased. The pain was horrible. I was put on bed rest with medications, and the fetus soon moved (what a relief).
One morning during month six of my pregnancy, I had severe pain at work. My manager rushed me to the hospital. The fetus was sitting on the placenta – again I had Placenta Previa. Once again, I was put on bed rest with drugs, and the fetus eventually moved off of my fibroid and cervix.
Months seven through nine were worse. The nausea had stopped, but now the Braxton Hicks false labor pains started. I was in pain and a mess. Due to my fibroids and the growth of my fetus, I looked and felt like I was in month nine of pregnancy when I was only at month seven. It was hard to move, sit, sleep, or go to the bathroom. I used up 30 days of sick time at work that I had accumulated over seven years in my last three months of pregnancy.
At month nine, I was put on bed rest for the entire month. The fetus was fine but active and the doctors scheduled a C-section for delivery on September 15th. I had ultrasounds every week to make sure the fetus and I were okay.
Pregnancy is Dangerous
I am only ONE woman, and this is ONE story.
There are millions of women who have gone through similar or more dangerous pregnancies. Some women have to make the dreadful decision to terminate their pregnancy to either save their lives or because the fetus is unviable or missing a vital organ and would not survive inside or outside the womb. NO woman in their right mind wants to get an abortion in the later stages of pregnancy. As a matter of fact, late-term abortions account for one percent of all abortions in the U.S. and are done to save the life of the mother or if the fetus is nonviable. A law such as SB 8 puts women in grave danger. The law allows for women to be treated only if they have “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” – whatever that means exactly (the law is not clear so it allows for politics to play with women’s lives).
Pregnancy is dangerous. Did you know the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high resource country and black women are three times more likely to die giving birth? Poor people of any color do not fare any better.
SB 8 is nothing less than insanity. The law dismisses women or pregnant people. It takes away agency over their lives. It makes women incubators, a host body. It presupposes how a woman should live her life, what her purpose is, and removes the right to her own body.
Who should have chosen what to do with my body in my experience? It was my choice alone.
September 1st – Finally
The cord had wrapped itself around my daughter’s neck and she was in a breech position.
I had no chance of having her naturally since my largest fibroid covered my cervix. If I had lived before modern medicine when ultrasounds and adequate care for pregnant women were nonexistent (and assuming I would have made it till month nine in my pregnancy), my daughter and I would have experienced excruciating deaths. I would have bled to death after unrelentless pain, and she would have drowned in my blood. Or, my abdomen would have been opened, my fibroids cut, and I would have bled to death.
(Sorry for the visual.)
The doctors quickly removed the cord wrapped around my daughter’s neck and pulled her out of my uterus. She was covered in blood. The docs had to carefully remove her without snipping one of my four fibroids, or the complications from that potential snip would have further put me in danger. I could have bled to death. It was too dangerous to remove even one fibroid so they opted to patch me up and not remove any.
My blood pressure then dropped and I was put in the ICU for a few hours. I’m a tough broad though, and I made it. So did my baby girl who was born with a perfect Apgar score.
At any time during my pregnancy, especially from ten weeks on, I could have had to abort. Due to my age and condition, I could have developed Preeclampsia that could have threatened or ended my life. I was never forced to get an abortion, but I was told it might come to that if my complications increased. Luckily, I did not have to make that horrific decision. If I had had to, I would have been devastated.
I was very lucky. I had excellent maternal care and health insurance throughout my entire pregnancy. But, what about pregnant people in Texas? What about the millions of women who can’t afford healthcare? What doctor would want to be involved in aborting a fetus at any stage of pregnancy knowing anyone at any time can sue them or ruin their medical career?
SB 8 puts women in danger. Women will die. This law will not end abortions. It will create a living nightmare for women.
It’s outrageous and dangerous.
Fight like hell
The decision to give birth is central to a woman’s life. It was central to mine.
To bring forth children or not has to be a woman’s choice alone. To abort or not is her choice at any time during her pregnancy and no one else’s business. She has to carry the fetus. It is not the decision of doctors, husbands, boyfriends, or especially politicians! Yes, it’s HER BODY. HER CHOICE. I could scream that from every mountain top!
SB 8 is something from the Middle Ages. It’s barbaric, and I’m going to fight it like hell.
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