It's something I don't talk about much.
In the past I referred to it as a stillbirth. It was a stillbirth. But it was also an induced labor in my third trimester, hence making it a third-trimester abortion.
When I discovered I was pregnant I was only 16 years old. I'm pretty sure Christopher was conceived on the night my mom walked in on my boyfriend and I having sex on the couch. I thought she was going to be at work but she came home early. He ran out the door and I cried while my mother yelled profanities at me. It was a horrible night for all of us.
I wasn't smart enough to consider pretending I was on my period. After a few months my mom asked me if I was pregnant. She was right but I denied it just the same. Tim and I had talked about giving the baby up for adoption but we were scared out of our minds and decided I'd get an abortion. Another month or so passed, I hadn't gotten an abortion and I couldn't deny my pregnancy to my mom anymore. I told her about my abortion idea. She said it was too late for that. I think Tim and I both breathed a sigh of relief, neither of us were really okay with the abortion.
One of my mom's coworkers knew a family who wanted to adopt. We didn't meet in person but exchanged letters and phone calls. Tim and I spoke to an attorney about the adoption procedure. My heart broke.
I finally went to the doctor who verified that I was indeed pregnant. I started taking prenatal vitamins and trying to eat healthier for the baby. I enjoyed being pregnant. It was a secret between Tim, my mom, and myself. I was due in October, people at school would find out then, I wasn't going to tell anyone. I decided to see my dad, stepmom, and sisters in May before I really started to show and then see them again after the baby was born. They didn't need to know, it wouldn't be that much longer than the normal amount of time that went by.
My mistake was that I broke down and told my Aunt Susie about my pregnancy. I told her everything. She wanted me to give the baby to her. I tried to explain that it was already set up with this other family and I thought it would be easier to let the baby go rather than have to see him/her and not be able to be the parent. This was a nice family who would love him/her with all their hearts.
Susie's son, my cousin Doug, had died the year before. She was angry that I refused. She went and told my dad what I planned to do. He and my stepmom came and confronted me in McDonalds of all places. They were heart broken, not disappointed and angry like I expected. My stepmom told me to hold my head high and not worry about what everyone would say or think.
I started to show and I also started to share our secret.
The doctor sent me for an ultrasound. Every ultrasound I had since then I held my breath until I could see the spine connected together like a zipper and heard the words, "Everything looks good." There was silence as the sonographer moved the wand over my belly and stared at the screen. "Is everything okay?" "Uh, yeah, I'll be right back." He went and got another person to come and look at the screen and move the wand some more. They knew something but didn't breathe a word. They told us not to worry and that the doctor would call us.
I don't remember when the doctor called or even what he said. What I heard was that my baby was not going to survive outside of the womb. This little creature who kicked like a star soccer player wasn't viable. My baby had spina bifida and was anecephalic. This means that instead of a formed skull to protect his brain all he had was a strip of skin to cover his brain. His head would cut off at the eyebrows. According to the doctor I had two options, go through the pregnancy as normal and perhaps the baby would live for a few days, he had never heard of such a child living longer than that, or we could induce labor and save time, money, and my emotions.
The family was out, they weren't going to pay for the birth of a baby who was dead. I didn't and still don't blame them, it was their heartbreak too.
After a few weeks along with some pressure from my mom and Tim, we set up the appointment for induction of labor. We had to go to Wichita for the procedure. The night before they stuffed an enormous seaweed tampon inside of me to stretch out my cervix and help me dilate. In the morning they pulled out the "tampon" and started the induction. I was over 6 months so the only way was for me to go through labor. I had plenty of painful contractions, the only difference was that they let me have medicine for the pain since they knew the outcome was going to be bad.
Finally, I gave birth to a little boy in a silent delivery room. We named him Christopher Thomas. The nurses cleaned him up, swaddled him in blankets and put a little beanie on his head. When the nurse laid him in my arms, she said we could take as much time as we wanted.
We did all the things parents do when there is a crying baby born. We counted his toes and fingers, I gently stroked and kissed his face. I told him how much I loved him.
This is what a third-trimester abortion looks like. It breaks the heart of each person involved. It's not an easy decision. It's hard on everyone, including the doctors and nurses. Our nurses were wonderful and after they took Christopher back, they took pictures of him for us.
Each August I experience a bought of depression. Each year I mark his birthday. Each holiday I think of who he might have been.
This is what a third-trimester abortion looks like.