Written by Elizabeth Hundley Finley for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.
In their latest attempt to restrict access to abortion care, Republicans in the U.S. Congress have passed an amendment that would prevent medical students and residents from learning how to safely perform basic medical procedures used to perform abortions, address miscarriages, or treat women suffering from other gynecological problems. As someone who required surgery after a miscarriage, I find this measure particularly offensive.
On April 16, 2010, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. Overjoyed, we started to navigate the overwhelming process of having a baby as upper-middle class Americans. (Any new-ish parent knows this starts long before you get to decisions about feeding.) We ate “brain-building” foods. We put an unreasonable amount of thought into finding the right nursery paint, ultimately choosing a gender-neutral, VOC-free, soothing gray with a yellow ceiling. We talked about naming the baby – boy or girl – after my late father.
My pregnancy was relatively easy. I had the nausea, but not the morning sickness. I gained a little bit of weight, but it all went to my boobs. I had some on and off spotting, but an ultrasound always confirmed the baby was okay: We always saw a baby that was the right size for the gestational age. We always saw and heard a heartbeat.
We followed common wisdom not to share the pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, and waited until a Memorial Day visit to tell my husband’s family about the baby. We had plans to tell my family the next weekend. Seeing increasing spotting – this time with cramping – and feeling uneasy, I called my doctor Thursday morning.
My doctor arranged an appointment with the lead obstetrician in the practice. He performed a physical exam, and reassured me, “Everything looks okay. We’ll do an ultrasound just in case.” I waited an hour as the non-emergency, last-minute patient squeezed into the day’s schedule. Everything was not okay. We saw a baby, but no heartbeat. My pregnancy was supposed to be twelve weeks along, but the baby was the size of a ten-week-old: It hadn’t been alive for almost two weeks. I had had a missed miscarriage – when the baby dies but stays inside the mother’s body. … Read more