I haven’t been on here in a few days. I wanted to write this post, but also wanted to be sure that I got it right. I wanted to write about my own experience taking Mifeprex and Misoprostol, the abortion drugs known as RU-486.
In July of 2006, I was 18 weeks pregnant with our sixth child. We were excited about this new person , but had all of the normal trepidations that come with a new baby. I don’t think it matters if you are expecting your first or your tenth, the worries and fears are all the same.
On the fourth of July, we went to a friend’s house for swimming and a bar-be-que in celebration, with plans to go downtown to watch the fireworks that night. I hadn’t been feeling right for a couple of days and complained to my friend that I had a back ache, and just generally felt run down. I spent the day curled up in a chair and went home before the fireworks began.
The next day, I had the kids’ grandmother come over and I drove myself in to my midwife’s office for a little reassurance and to just get peace of mind that everything was okay. It wasn’t. Our baby had died at some point during the previous week. I was given three options for what to do now:
1. Surgical intervention- Called a D&E;, the doctor would dilate my cervix and evacuate the “contents” of my uterus (that’s the way he put it..touching isn’t it?)
2. Induce labor with Mifeprex and Misoprostol within the next 24 hours to get things over with quickly
3. Wait for nature to take care of it.
Normally I’m in favor of doing things naturally, but it could have taken 2 or more weeks for me to go into labor, and I didn’t feel that I could emotionally handle walking around with my dead baby inside of me waiting to set off an emotional time bomb. The surgical option carries with it the chance of significant damage to the cervix and/or uterus, so this was not an option. I chose the induction, then I had to call my husband and tell him our baby was dead, then tell our other children.
We went to the hospital the next morning at 9:00 AM for the induction. I was told that it could take up to 24 hours for labor to begin. Really, I just wanted them to give me the drugs and let me go home. I didn’t want to spend 24 hours on the maternity ward listening to the cries of other people’s healthy babies and wait for my own heartbreak to begin. I have been in labor a few times and thought it was reasonable to think that I would know when to come to the hospital. I was told I could bleed to death. I stayed.
Labor began for me about 3 hours after I took the first dosage. It was administered both orally and vaginally. Within the first hour, I understood why I couldn’t have gone home. I began to pass blood clots. They came in steady succession as if on a string. They ranged in size from the size of a chicken’s egg to as large as my fist. Every time I moved another clot would become loose and come out. I thought I was hemorrhaging; I thought I was going to bleed to death. It was horrific. I forgot why I was there for a while and just sat on the bed crying and shaking in fear that my 4 living children would grow up without me. I have no idea how much blood came out of my body. I stopped counting clots at 20. After 20, it just didn’t seem to matter any more. I asked the nurse if my experience was normal and she assured me that this was what an RU-486 abortion looked like and that I was fine.
Our daughter’s body was delivered four and a half hours after the first contraction. She was the size of my hand. She was smooth and shiny and pink with perfect fingers and toes. Heartbreakingly small and achingly perfect. Our midwife wiped her clean and laid her on a blanket before handing her to me. I have never seen such agony as I saw on my husband’s face when he heard her whisper, “It’s a girl.” His face looked like it folded in on itself. Our baby was really and truly dead. Somehow it didn’t seem real until we held her in our hands and looked at her through our tears.
It wasn’t over yet. I still had to deliver the placenta. It took another two hours for it to let go and come out of me. The doctor who was supervising kept coming by to check and ask “Is it out yet?” in a strangely cold voice. I later learned from my midwife that she performed abortions herself and was deeply disturbed by our pain. She told our midwife to get us out of the hospital as quickly as possible because we were upsetting the staff, and that she didn’t understand why we were crying over something which was little more than a tumor in medical terms.
I can not imagine being 14, at home, trying to hide this from my mother, and having this experience. My brain can’t even get to that place of fear. A child, scared and alone, passing blood clot after blood clot, thinking you’re bleeding to death, but afraid to tell in case you aren’t. And then, delivering that impossibly small body. Perfect, lifeless, and undeniably human. What does a little girl do when her body hurts that much, and her mind fears that much, and her baby lies dead in her hand? How is this okay?
I am not sure what the answers are, but I do know that women deserve better than to be treated this way. Our bodies and our minds deserve better protection. People can chant and scream about the rights of women, but I know that women and girls have a right to something better than this. They have a right to something better than abortion.