Monday, August 17, 2015

Scar tissue after D&E

Of fucking course I had scar tissue after my D&E. Scar tissue is a risk of any surgical procedure on the uterus. Any while it's not common to have scar tissue after a D&E, it's not unheard of either. (The more severe the scarring, the rarer it is. I don't know exact percentages of risks. Searching information about abortions online is scary because you can find yourself on pro-life sites. So scarring is rare, but it happens.)

The scar tissue was caught during an HSG at my fertility doctor's office to prepare for my frozen cycle. (Which I have very mixed emotions about--but that's a post for another day.) I had to have a SECOND surgery to remove it (a D&C this time) immediately to avoid delaying my cycle, because scar tissue can affect fertility. (It can hinder implantation of the embryo.) It was stressful and awful and unpleasant but it's over. Fortunately the scarring was minor and the doctor thinks that it was completely removed with the D&C. 

Being back at the hospital and having my poor veins hacked away at and being scraped again and all of the attendant stuff was really traumatic and set me back emotionally a fair bit. As I told my husband, knowing what I know now, I would not have tried to have a second child. But we're doing our best to move forward with the most positive attitude/outlook possible. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

A love letter to Planned Parenthood

Let’s talk about Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood is the largest U.S. provider of reproductive health services, with 97% of its services focused on breast and cervical cancer screening, HIV screening and counseling, and contraception. Only 3% of its services relate to abortion.  And no federally funded money is used to fund abortion services.

Now let’s talk about tissue donation.  Some Planned Parenthood locations may donate fetal tissue at the request of a patient; consistent with federal law, these samples are never sold (although shipping costs may be reimbursed).  Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota (as well as others) do not currently engage in any kind of tissue donation.

Now let’s talk about abortion.  It has been the law for over 40 years that a woman has a right to abortion until fetal viability.  Statistics suggest that somewhere around 3 in 10 women will have an abortion.  And women have a variety of reasons for choosing abortion.

I was in my early thirties when I had my first abortion.  My husband and I were very excited to start our family, and like many young-ish and na├»ve couples thought it would be a matter of weeks before we were pregnant.  Several disappointing months later I suffered from a variety of increasingly scary symptoms including severe pain and bleeding.  A visit to the emergency room confirmed that I was pregnant, but the pregnancy was not viable—it was an ectopic pregnancy (lodged in my tube).  Ectopic pregnancies are the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester.  Devastated, we terminated the pregnancy.

I know what you’re thinking—that’s not a real abortion.  The pregnancy was not viable and you could have died!  Even the Catholic Church has suggested abortion might be acceptable in such a situation!  Well, it was a real abortion.  And if the most strict abortion laws were in place—no exceptions, even if the mother’s life is in danger—that pregnancy would have remained non-viable and yet I really could have died.  Fortunately I had a right to terminate the pregnancy, and I was later able to go on and have a much-loved child.

I was in my mid-thirties when I had my second abortion.  After multiple rounds of fertility treatments, we were beyond overjoyed to find ourselves pregnant.  It was one of the happiest times of my entire life.  And then it wasn’t.  We received an absolutely devastating diagnosis at 16 weeks—the fetus was suffering from a severe, fatal, and non-curable birth defect.  (It was the worst day of my entire life.)  Even if the fetus somehow managed to survive the entire (risky) pregnancy and delivery, it would die hours after birth, never conscious.  I made the extremely difficult and heartbreaking decision to terminate my much-wanted pregnancy. 

This brings me back to Planned Parenthood.  I was able to have my abortion performed by a doctor from my OB’s office, who had been trained to do abortions by doctors practicing at Planned Parenthood.  If I had been just a few days further along, my safest and best option would have been to terminate at Planned Parenthood.  (And the procedure I had is not even legal in all states… for now.  A number of states have passed highly restrictive—and dangerous and stupid—limitations on abortion.  Hopefully the legal challenges to these foolish and misguided attempts to bar access to abortion will succeed.)  Many other women in my exact situation are either a little further along when they get their diagnosis or in a state where the only real option is to go to Planned Parenthood (possibly being required to travel to another state).  I am so very thankful that Planned Parenthood exists and provides a much-needed service to women when they are in their darkest and most painful moments.

This also brings me back to tissue donation.  Because our fetus was suffering from an extremely rare and devastating birth defect, I sought out a medical study (evaluating what causes this and trying to find a cure) and enrolled in it.  One of my only sources of comfort at that time that was that maybe some small amount of good could come from my experience, and that some other family would not have to be devastated by this experience.  The study did not pay for the tissue sample necessary for the research, but would reimburse shipping costs.  Ironically, had I had my abortion at Planned Parenthood, instead of at a hospital, I would not have been able to donate my fetus’s tissue because Planned Parenthood in my location does not currently engage in tissue donation for research.  What an absolute shame.

Without access to a safe and legal abortion, I could have died.  Without access to a safe and legal abortion, my ability to have a second child—one who could live—would be virtually nonexistent.

There are a lot of really, really important things that are facing this country and world.  Trying to take away a woman’s right to have an abortion before the fetus is viable is not one of them.  Likewise, Planned Parenthood is a fantastic organization that provides a variety of important health services to women—including abortions.  Trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood—funding used for purposes other than abortions—should not be on anyone’s list of things to do.  Politicians who are focusing on taking down Planned Parenthood / abortion rights do not have women’s best interests in mind.  They certainly do not have my best interest in mind.

I’m not just pro-choice.  I’m pro-woman.  

I stand with Planned Parenthood.  Please consider donating to Planned Parenthood.  (https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Donation2?df_id=12913&12913.donation=form1)  And please vote for candidates who support Planned Parenthood and a women’s right to choose.  (Elizabeth Warren’s speech is right-on: http://time.com/3983266/elizabeth-warren-planned-parenthood-speech/