Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog For Choice Day

Today is the 40th anniversary of the landmark decision in Roe v Wade. In honor of this anniversary, it is national Blog for Choice Day. So, here is my blog for choice...

I spent my entire life being pro-choice for America and pro-life for myself. In fact, my mom tells me that as a teenager I told her that if I ever got pregnant I'd keep the baby. To this she replied, "then you better not get pregnant while you're living in this house 'cause I'm done raising babies." That pro-life mentality stayed with me through college as I worked to achieve my goal of becoming the first college graduate in my family. I was educated and took care of myself as a woman. (Side note, without Planned Parenthood I would not have received women specific health care in college. So, thank you PP.)

I considered myself pro-life until September 2, 2011 when I was presented with the most devastating news I ever hope to hear. My much wanted, already much loved baby was not going to survive the pregnancy; I had a CHOICE to make. Together with my doctor and my husband, and through a broken heart and many tears, I made the choice to terminate my pregnancy. I experienced so many emotions related to the news, our decision, and the aftermath of our decision that my head was spinning. Sadness, guilt, anger, resentment, relief, and everything in between, I felt it all. The bottom line is, I felt it. My husband felt it. Our family and friends felt it. Strangers did not.

So, when strangers react to my blogs and posts with hateful comments and aggressive name-calling, I can only shake my head. I've been called some pretty heinous names and have had some pretty heated debates. I've been ridiculed and judged, even by loved ones, and have been offended on way too many occasions. It used to really bother me because I felt like no one was listening. I'm not the uneducated, unwed, unemployed, abortion addict that pro-life extremists like to pretend that I am. I am one class away from finishing my Master's degree. I have been with the same man for 10-1/2 years and we've been married for 4-1/2. I wake up every morning and commute to a full-time job where I work 50+ hours per week. I've never been arrested and take pride in my volunteer work. I come home to a house that I own and cherish quiet nights at home with my family and friends. I am not the embodiment of evil that many like to accuse me of being. I am a woman who was faced with a very difficult situation and who was lucky enough to have the strength, knowledge, courage, support, and freedom to make the choice that was right for her family.

We all have the right to our opinions; I don't want to take that freedom away from anyone. With that said, NO ONE has the right to judge anyone for their personal decisions, decisions that have zero impact on anyone outside the family making that choice. You don't get to make me feel bad for choosing my own path without also having the compassion to listen to the why behind our decision. I'm not asking you to agree with me; I'm just asking you to listen with an open-mind.

While I have always been politically active and passionate, the debate over women's rights has suddenly became much more personal and much more important to me. I decided to share our story because I don't want any woman to feel alone in her pain. I don't want women to feel shamed into silence. I want to remind extremists that not every abortion is a result of promiscuity to get rid of an unwanted baby. There is a whole other side to this debate and that side needs to be heard. If I have to tell our story in a million ways a million times on a million forums, I will. I pledge this commitment to women everywhere who have ever been judged, silenced, or shamed for their decisions. You are not now, nor will you ever be, alone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another New Chapter...

I was going to blog tonight about how sick I am of being told I'm different. The blog was going to be about how many people tell me "your story is different" in terms of the abortion debate. No, I'm not one of the disgusting human beings that uses abortion as a form of birth control. Those women should be spayed. But, in the debate as it stands today, I'm not different. If you take away the right to choose you take away the right of women like me everywhere. Yes, the issue needs to be discussed and stories like ours need to be told AND HEARD. K, enough about that...this blog is taking a different direction.

So, our doctor called tonight. She received the results of the baby's tests and it looks like it was the same issue as last year. Baby no. 2 had full triploidy. Hubby isn't convinced that baby no. 1 had it and is going to call the surgeon from last year tomorrow. I'm about 110% sure that it was full triploidy and that hubby must have been listening with his man ears when we received those results. But, I understand his need to be sure so I encourage his call tomorrow.

Full triploidy is rare in its first occurrence. Our chance at having another baby with the same issue was no greater than a woman that had no pregnancies with baby's with genetic abnormalities. (ps- That is the ugliest term!) Supposedly it's all just "a freak accident" and "purely bad luck." Yeah yeah yeah..... I am doing my best to stay away from the Internet right now. I don't want Dr. Google to tell me ANYTHING so I'm just steering clear. That's why I'm here and why you have something to read right now. (Thanks, by the way.)

In February of 2011 I went for Jewish Genetic Counseling at the Victor Center. My mom is your typical Jewish mother and needed me to go for her own piece of mind. I went for her and 18 out of the 19 tests came back negative. My Tay-Sachs test was inconclusive so as a result of this latest pregnancy issue, hubby has to go get tested. I'm not too worried about that because my mom was not a carrier and the chance that I am is slim. The chance that hubby is a carrier is probably even more slim, which means the chance we're both carries (and could pass the disease on to a baby) is even more slim. But hey, we've beat slim odds before so who freakin' knows. In addition to having hubby tested to see if he's a Tay-Sachs carrier, we also have to go for "preconception genetic counseling." I'm trying not to freak out but it's hard. We've only had the news for about 2 hours now and I've already shed a shit ton of tears. (I truly believe that tears are natures way of cleansing the soul so if you need to cry....CRY!)

Your first thought when you hear that there could be issues with your genetics is, naturally, to ask "why me." You immediately think of the worst case scenario and pull the "it's not fair" card. You think about all of the people to which you think life comes easy. You think about all of the women you've watched get pregnant and go on to have healthy babies who don't really "deserve" to be moms. (This is not to say I wish pain or heartache on anyone at all. I'm just being honest about the emotions and feelings that come with the situation that hubby and I are facing.) You start thinking about what you did to deserve this. It's all irrational but it's all okay to feel and you HAVE to let yourself feel every emotion. I know life isn't fair but I'm allowed to be mad, and jealous, and resentful, and sad, and confused. I'm also allowed to say it all out loud and let my feelings happen. I've had to work hard for everything I have in my life. Statistics say I should be everything that I'm not: a drop out, uneducated, unemployed, on welfare, etc. I've fought hard to get where I am today and once, just once, I want something in life to come easy and just go the right way. I want it to be this.

I'm not one for self-pity and I try not to feel sorry for myself. I really do believe that we're given only what we can handle. (Even though I believe that G-d and I sometimes have different parameters for what my limits actually are.) With that said, I do feel lucky in so many ways. Though we're embarking on another scary chapter in what has been a tragic story, I do have a lot of really wonderful things in my life. There are a lot of things that have gone "right" and I'm thankful for each one. Hands down, I have the best husband in the entire world. Secondly, my mom is the most extraordinary woman I know and I am very lucky that I am the one that gets to call her mommy. Lastly, my friends are the most wonderful family I could ever know. I'm grateful for each and every person in my life and I find it difficult to put into words what they all mean to me. (Imagine that! Me, no words!)

So, maybe we are experiencing all of this tragedy because we have the strength and support to get through it. Maybe we are going through this so that a couple who wouldn't be able to handle it can have an easy pregnancy and the family they'll cherish. Maybe we're facing these issues because someone up there knows we'll be the voice for so many women/families who are silenced by fear and shame. Who knows, right?

Whatever the reason, what I do know is that we'll get through this and we'll be better people for having experienced it together. So, as I tell my students when they want to give up: onward and upward.