The grief was initially immense. Obliterating.

October 13, 2015

I had an abortion at 29 weeks after my first baby was diagnosed with a condition called lissencephaly. It means "smooth brain" meaning the cortex does not develop its normal ridges and folds, and it occurs in 1 out of 84,000 pregnancies. Children with lissencephaly have seizures which often cannot be controlled with medication and problems swallowing and breathing that result in frequent bouts of choking and respiratory infection. They typically do not develop mentally beyond 3 to 5 month milestones.

 

Sometimes they can track motion with their eyes, lift their heads, and smile socially, but many cannot even do those things. The average life expectancy is between 2 and 6 years. This was a planned, wanted, and very loved baby, but my husband and I decided we could not in good conscience bring a baby into the world only to watch her suffer and die. The brain does not begin folding until after 20 weeks, and we didn't get a diagnosis until 28 weeks, which is after the legal limit for abortion in Michigan.

 

We had to fly to Colorado and come up with $12,500 plus the cost of the flight and a week in a hotel, although we did eventually get reimbursed for the cost of the procedure by our insurance provider. An abortion is a multi-day process at that stage of pregnancy. The doctor stopped her heart with a digoxin injection on December 16, 2014 and used expanding seaweed strips to gradually dilate my cervix over the next few days before inducing labor with pitocin. I labored and delivered her on December 19, 2014. The grief was initially immense. Obliterating. But it is getting easier with time. I don't regret the decision we made, but I will always be so very sad that we had to make it. I'm also angry that we had to travel so far from our home and that our ability to make a decision in line with our values depended so heavily on our wealth.

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