Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'll Plant You Forget-Me-Nots

When I was younger, I didn't exactly think I was indestructible, but I certainly figured I was smart enough to beat the odds.  Early 20s are like that.

I had my first son.  Did everything right-- all the prenatal visits.  Everything.  One of our favorite memories is still the day we went in for our first ultrasound and there he was, our little dancing bean.  It was amazing.

Times got a little harder when we found out I was pregnant again two years later.  We didn't currently have insurance.  I couldn't afford all the trips to the doctor, so other than that, I was doing everything I had before.  Prenatal vitamins, etc.

Except that at the three month mark, just as I'd saved enough up to start getting ready to head in to the doctor, my weight gain was off.  In that three months, I'd gained a whopping 70 lbs.  And I wasn't 'eating for two' or any of that foolishness.

And then one afternoon in midsummer, after heading to the bathroom, I woke up on the bathroom floor.  Laying in a pool of my own blood.  I gathered myself together as best I could and rushed to the hospital sitting on towels the whole way.  I still remember apologizing profusely for bleeding on their floor and refused to sit in a wheelchair so that I wouldn't ruin it.  In fact, I cried because I was ashamed of the mess that I was making.  It turned out that I had miscarried and needed a d&c to make sure I didn't bleed out.

What no one talks about, what no one mentions, is that a miscarriage is almost exactly like a regular pregnancy and delivery.  It's just as painful.  It requires as much attention from the doctor and nurses.

...but you don't get to go home with the prize of your labors.

There's nothing.  Except guilt and sadness and a swirl of other unhappy emotions.  And medical bills.

Did you know it costs just as much to not have a baby?  Neither did I.

All of three months later, I found myself pregnant again.  And I was terrified.  I set up my doctor's appointments immediately.  And was scared for the entire first 3 months that it wouldn't take.  That it wouldn't keep.  That I would lose this one too.

Then the day came that we did the prenatal tests and they confirmed that my baby was healthy and there not a thing wrong.  And finally-- FINALLY, I could stop being afraid.  I could start hoping.

Because I blamed myself for the miscarriage.  Maybe, if I'd gone to the doctor, we could have run prenatal tests and found out what was going on.  Maybe there'd never been a heart beat.  Or maybe this was all just wishful thinking.  It will always be a mystery.  I didn't go.  I have no idea why I miscarried.

What I -do- know is that after passing the first trimester and receiving the clean bill of health on my third pregnancy I started to do what most women who want to have kids do when they find out they're pregnant-- I looked forward to meeting the new person growing inside of me. Without those prenatal tests, I would have been in fear the entire time.

Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to have, my answer was always the same, "Healthy and whole.  I don't care what the gender is, as long as it's healthy and whole."  And then at full term, I got to meet my youngest son for the first time, and he was everything I hoped.

As I started paying the medical bills for the birth of my baby, I still had three months of bills left for paying off the baby that wasn't.

I mention all this because it feels like we're living in a political world gone crazy.  I woke up this morning to news of Santorum wanting to get rid of those prenatal tests-- the same ones that allowed me to stop crying at night in fear.

Because of this, I take it personally.

I won't be having any more children.  I'm thankful every day for the two miracles that I do have.

But I think that other women, other new soon-to-be-mothers who still think they've got it all figured out, should be allowed the peace of mind those tests provide.  Even if they can't afford them out of pocket.

To help spare them the anguish, and guilt, and unknowing.  To alleviate -their- fears.

Santorum considers it a tool used for abortion.  I consider it a tool to relieve heartache.

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