Monday, January 22, 2007

The proof I didn't want to know

This post describes the events that happened shortly after Matthew died. It's also going to double as my Blogging for Choice contribution.

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

The day of the funeral, I started having cramps and bleeding, more than I should've. I called the OB/Gyn, Dr. C , who performed the termination and he got me into an ultrasound clinic across from the hospital that morning. The radiologist told me that I had retained placenta. We went over to see the OB/Gyn who gave me a prescription for Cytotec again and told me to take some more that night and not worry, it would probably come out.The thought of having anything still inside me completely freaked me out, since I was worried it might be a part of the baby. (Which of course was impossible, we'd seen him with all his fingers and toes, but still...)

My poor husband on the other hand, was terrified we'd miss the funeral. I guess the part about his wife hemorraging went right over his head. His Dad was coming to the funeral and he was freaked out about being late to meet his father. The things that go through your head when you are grief-stricken---hmm?

We got to the funeral on time, and the cemetary as I mentioned before. About a week later, I realized I was still bleeding to heavily and went back to Dr. C. He was mystified, but sent me for another ultrasound, and lo and behold that little tiny piece of placenta was still hanging around. More Cytotec, and antibiotics this time, just in case. He told me he didn't want to risk a D&C because I was so far along in the pregnancy that my uterine walls were very thin and there was a risk of perforation. I know many people get 2nd trimester D&Cs but the further you go into the pregnancy the riskier they get especially with a damaged placenta, and the risk was manageable until 4-6 weeks after the pregnancy when the risk goes back to normal. In my case, we ended up waiting for 2 and 1/2 months, while we kept trying round after round of Cytotec.

I eventually got my D&C and it turned out to be the tiniest little piece of placenta ever, but as Dr. C noted, it was more firmly attached than anything he had ever seen, even a placenta accreta. And then we had the talk...when I asked what this would have meant if I had carried Matthew to term. It turns out that my placenta was coming apart as I gave birth to him, and parts of it were stuck, and that would've meant not just a hemorrhage, but also in all probability a hysterectomy after a radical c-section to deliver a dead or dying child with hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus which would've swelled his head and prevented a vaginal birth or a regular c-section. This surgery would've taken place after I had already experienced severe blood loss.

It's been very hard to publish this post all day, because I'm having trouble facing what might've happened, & not just to me. My little son, my darling 6 year old who loves gorillas and art and wants to save endangered animals, wouldn't exist. I needed a uterus to have him, and God help me I can't contemplate a world without him. This proof of the risk to all our lives is the worst part, the final word, the end to my hope.

Protecting choice isn't just about women, or our current family when we make our choice, it's about protecting our future fertility, about making sure our future children get to exist.

Thank God I live in Canada, where my right to choose to end a pregnancy is protected at this point. And I hope someday ALL women around the world get to choose to have children, or not, get to stay pregnant, or not.


  1. Amen, Aurelia. There are so many reasons why a woman's right to choose is so important - and you've just highlighted a great one.

  2. What an ordeal on top of everything else. It hasnt been easy for you has it Aurelia?!

    This must have been just as hard to write as the other posts about your son. You're a brave women. I have a lot of respect for you, someone I've never even met.


  3. what an awful thing to find out, aurelia, and to suffer through. I'm so very glad you came out of (eventually) in one piece physically. The mental side of this, well, that's so much harder, isn't it?

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. There are so many sides to this issue and we can't forget this one either.

  5. It's something many of us do not want to know, but do. The only little bit of this that makes it easier is knowing that when we have to make difficult choices, that they shouldn't be made impossible.

  6. Powerful story, and beautifully told. You are a courageous woman, and my respect for you grows exponentially everyday. Each situation is so unique, I don't see how the legislature or any other governmental body has a right to make those intricate decisions for us. Your choice to end one pregnancy gave you the option of giving life to another. By telling your story, you have given me more ammunition for my firm belief in choice. Truly, you are an amazing woman.

  7. Aurelia, I am stunned at how much you have been through and I am also grateful you avoided the worst case senario. I was faced with the hysterectomy option during repair surgery after my placental abruption and the thought of that makes me shudder too. and you are so wise about the need to protect the right to choose. Where will we be without that right?

  8. This had to have been so hard to write. It was hard to read. I'm so sorry, Aurelia.

  9. This is so beautifully told. I am so sorry you are able to tell this story. For what it is worth, I think I would have made the same decision.