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When The Worst Happens: High-Risk Pregnancies & Medical Terminations

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

I love reading your writing, but I’m not sure if I should write this to you? I never really saw myself writing you, just being that person who sits in her office and laughs at your jokes and tears up when things are going bad for you. But now-things are going bad for me, really bad and I honestly just want a different spin on things–God, I ramble-okay, I’m pregnant, about 7 weeks or so pregnant and it wasn’t planned at all. My husband and I have been married about a year and I think this would be okay except I have a rare blood clotting disorder.

The doctors say I *could*, possibly keep the baby, but the baby may have serious problems from a lack of sufficient blood flow, and there is also a possibility I could have a stroke at anytime during the pregnancy. But they say, it’s also possible I could be fine and the baby could be fine, it would just be a very high risk pregnancy – I’d just be on strong blood thinners through out the entire thing and in and out of the hospital a lot. I have other doctors who are pushing a surgical abortion, soon! Now! And warning me constantly how dangerous this is.

My husband is on the fence, he wants me to be healthy, and his attitude is we can adopt, I just want you to be okay, and you know? I always felt that way too, but then I was sitting in the doctor’s office listening to my baby’s heart beat and all of the sudden, maybe dying, it didn’t seem like such a risk. All of the sudden in my very very pro-choice mind, it seemed there was no choice at all, because that heart was beating to me, for me.

I’m afraid, I have to make this choice soonish, and my friends and family all just want me to be healthy, but they don’t know! They do not understand! I’m so torn, I obviously do not want to die or maybe have a stroke, or have a child who has serious health complications because I was selfish and couldn’t make a hard choice, but…but…… This is my baby we’re talking about, not just a cough I need to take some medicine for. I should wrap this up, I’m stealing all my officemates tissue, glad she’s out today. Alright this is really long, and I’m sorry, I guess there isn’t really an answer you can give me, I just wanted to hear your thoughts.

Scared, and confused,
RB

Oh. Sweetie. Honey.

I’m so sorry. I’m just…so sorry. What a terrible, awful situation to be faced with.

You guessed correctly, of course, that there’s no answer I can give you. I couldn’t even tell you what I would do, if our situations were reversed, because I have no idea.

Being pregnant has always only strengthened my belief that yes, I am pro-choice. I am pro all possible choices. Pregnancy and childbirth are not small things. They are not something we should simply all “suck up and deal with” because a condom broke or miscalculated our cycle length. They are far too important to think of them in terms of “consequence” or “kittens rainbows baby dust meant to be squeeeee!!!” They require an enormous amount of self-sacrifice and putting yourself second, and since none of us can really predict the future, we must accept that pregnancy always carries risks and dangers for both us and our babies. I believe that women should not be forced or guilted into accepting those risks 100% of the time. I believe that the value of our own lives — our worth as human beings and citizens — is not diminished because we are pregnant. That our safety, health and well-being simply must trump the needs of a gestating embryo sometimes, and that only we have the right to make that call, that choice.

But being pregnant also means…oh, sweetie, I UNDERSTAND. I understand what seeing that flickering little pixel on the ultrasound screen can do to you. That the love and desire and instinct to protect suddenly trumps everything you know and believe about science and blastocysts and when life begins because LOOK AT MY BABY! I could never call my baby an embryo or a fetus or anything other than…baby. Child. Son.

I would die for my children. I would also do anything to spare them pain and suffering. In your case, these two noble instincts are at odds with each other, and…I’m sorry.

I punted the last question about medical terminations — the question I’m assuming prompted you to write in the first place — to the wonderful Cecily, someone who had been there, done that. I haven’t. In fact, I am biting a throw pillow right now as I type and hissing thanks to God that I’ve never been there. Again, I have no idea what I would do. But I know that whatever choice you do ultimately make — I could see myself making and I could understand exactly why you chose that path.

And while this isn’t a total punt, I did want to share an email I received with the class, since it contains some information that might help.

Hi Amy,

I just posted a lengthy comment in response to today’s Smackdown question from the person who has a friend faced with possibly terminating her pregnancy. First, I wanted to thank you for publishing the question at all despite the obvious hot-potato-ness of it. As someone who has been through the experience of terminating a much-wanted pregnancy, I know how isolating the whole experience is, mainly due to the societal taboos surrounding the subject. It’s important that these stories be brought to people’s attention.

The real reason I wanted to write, though, was to pass along a link to the support group my husband and I joined right after we ended our pregnancy last year.

www.aheartbreakingchoice.com is the main website–there is lots of information there on finding in-person support groups as well as other parents’ stories (which I highly recommend you NOT read in your current pregnant state), and I believe also links to other resources for parents who are making the decision. Then there is a private discussion forum.

The forum is full of literally hundreds of women and a few men who have ALL terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons. It was a lifesaver for my husband and me.

Thanks again,
A

Published September 18, 2008. Last updated March 27, 2018.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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