My Story: I have had six children. After the first one, I was over the moon in love. After the second I felt violated by the birth process and the doctor I had, but I got over it as soon as I left the hospital. The third one I felt over the moon again. My fourth child was disabled and my feelings took a back seat, but in the back of my mind I wondered if it was somehow my fault. After my fifth child, my first son ever, I was overjoyed but also nervous. I felt like a new mother again as I knew nothing about how to care for a son. It was only with my last child that I had any depression, but it hit me like ten tons all at once.
My youngest child was not planned. We had intended to stop at five children. My husband and I were still on the fence about how to permanently end our fertility. I didn't want to tie my tubes because the process was so invasive. I tried different birth control methods that worked ok. I had an IUD in. I went for a checkup at a local health office and the nurse removed it without my permission. I ended up pregnant about one month later. I was confused because I thought I still had protection. It was only after a check up at the same health office did I realize what happened. My health was terrible and I was in no shape to have a baby.
I found out in July that I would be having a baby. I wasn't as happy as all the other children. I didn't want to believe it at first. I knew my body miscarried often even when I didn't have an IUD, so I assumed I would probably miscarry again with this one. An abortion wasn't an option without speaking to my husband. I don't do anything without him in that regard. I came home from the doctor and told him what they had found out. He was pretty upset and asked me how could this have happened and I explained how the nurse took out the IUD at my previous appointment without my permission. He was livid. I felt like utter crap. I was bringing another mouth for him to feed into this house even though I did what I was supposed to do to prevent an unwanted birth. He felt violated. I felt violated. We both talked.
We decided an abortion might be the best course of action. I hate abortions. I felt like I was up against a wall though. My husband didn't like the idea of his child being adopted out and I didn't like the idea of killing our child. It was an impasse. Still, I looked at my options for an abortion. Financially we were beyond strapped, living on less than $500 a month of earned income, getting our health insurance from medicaid, food was from food stamps, and what I could earn for everything else. It was not a good situation to be having a baby in. My husband lost his job just the month before I found out I was pregnant. I was the sole earner in our house. I hated what was happening, so I felt the only reasonable recourse I had was an abortion.
What I found out was that an abortion is expensive and very hard to obtain in Arkansas. I could go to Missouri and get one for about $300. I didn't have the $300 unless I stopped paying the bills for a month and risk losing the children I already had to social services when the utilities were shut off. Also, because I was married no one wanted to help me have another. "You do know how to stop having them right?" Yes, and it was a nurse that took away my ability to stop having them while still having sex with my husband you prude idiot. She didn't even tell me that she had done it. People like that should be shot. All she said at the time was, "you should bleed for a day or two, but you'll be fine." Mind you I was getting checked for cervical cancer. Of course you bleed a day or two after that procedure. So, everyone assumed I was a rabbit and didn't even know how to use birth control. I lived with these comments throughout the pregnancy. "When are you shutting the fetal factory down?" "I heard there is a cure for that, it's called not having sex." Just because you are a prude old wrinkled dare I say bitch, does not mean I have to be one.
Anyway, I told my husband our options. It boiled down to give birth and either care for it or give it up. Those options are like not having options when you aren't even allowed birth control as a 29 year old woman. My husband looked very sad for me. I told him I really did not want another. He said he understood, but he could not live with himself if his child were raised by someone else. We agreed to talk some more as the pregnancy went on.
It was a very hard pregnancy. I was in the hospital twice with him for kidney issues. I was not capable of carrying him to term. The day he was born, was 8 weeks early. He was having trouble breathing. He was weak. When he came out, there was silence in the delivery room. The doctor came to my bedside and apologized. "We don't have a NICU here. If he doesn't start breathing right in an hour, we will have to fly him to Jonesboro." The atmosphere was like a funeral. I looked from the bedside as my new son struggled to breathe with underdeveloped lungs. He was five pounds and two ounces. After putting a basic sugar water drip into him, the entire staff left us alone with our gasping son. My husband and I stayed up all night afraid he would die. After carrying him for so long and resigning myself to the fact I would have a child, whether I wanted another or not, I still didn't want him to suffer. The hospital let him suffer like they do children that are aborted alive.
My husband and I held him to our skin. That's when I started crying. I didn't know what to do. He gasped for air and I cried for him. I knew I was not ready for another. Why did an old woman with her Christian ideals consign my son to this fate? I wasn't healthy enough for another child. I knew that. This woman only knew how healthy my womb was, not my body as a whole. Why did he have to live only to suffer? I cried all night, as my husband passed out from exhaustion, as my son's breathing slowed to that of a somewhat normal pace. I cried as the sun rose on a new day that my son had got to see. I cried instead of eating breakfast. Why did this have to happen to me and why did he have to be born only to suffer? Why did no one help us?
The next morning the nurse asked me about shots. We are against shots at such a young age. In fact we feel certain shots should not be administered at all such as the flu shot or the chickenpox shot, to small babies. I refused all shots except the vitamin K shot. I know babies need that. Afterwards the nurse treated my son like garbage. He still wasn't breathing well and she handled him like a rag doll. After that, I was hyper vigilant. I didn't sleep, I didn't eat, I was with my baby 24/7. My husband could not understand why I was so super upset, because he was calling his brother when they treated our son so horrible. I breast pumped every two hours even if nothing came out. I mean every two hours. By the third day in the hospital, the nurses were worried. A doctor came in and asked why I wasn't sleeping and eating. I explained I just wanted to go home with my son and then I could sleep well. He said he understood. They released my son early, even though he still could not drink from a nipple or breathe properly. When we left I asked my husband if our son would make it since he was released early. My husband said he would be ok, we would just have to take it a day at a time and make sure we had plenty of gas in the car to go to the hospital if anything went wrong.
All the clothes I had sewn for my son, were huge on him. The premie diapers came up to his neck. Cabbage patch clothes were huge on him. We finally had to break down and use tiny doll clothes on him. The nurses said he had lost a pound from his birth weight when we left the hospital. He was only 12 inches tall and barely 4 pounds. Part of me worried if he would ever grow into premie diapers. I was afraid to hold him because he was so tiny. I was afraid to let him lie down. I spent every day a nervous wreck, but I finally got sleep, two hours at a time. I had a timer to wake me every 2 hours to breast pump since he could not suckle. Then my husband had to feed it to him with a tiny medicine cup. After the first week, a doctor's appointment, and some help, he could suckle out of a special nipple. They said he was too weak to suck out of a normal nipple. He stayed on the tiny nipple until he got into sippy cups.
I hated myself for being so stupid as to trust the nurse when she said I was fine. I hated myself for not asking why it hurt when she checked for cervical cancer. Part of me knew biopsies were supposed to hurt a little. Why would she do that without my permission? I lost all trust in the medical establishment. Every suggestion our doctor gave for him, I spent 2 hours verifying on google before actually doing it. My husband too spent every free hour caring for him, our other children, or me. He had as little sleep as me. In all of this, I still had to work part-time, homeschool my children, and breast pump every two hours. I went back to work a week after he was born.
By month three, I was so exhausted, I cried myself to sleep every two hours. I had to be managed like a basket case. My husband had to bathe me, dress me and put me to bed. How I worked in that time, I will never know. I was so sleep deprived, I slept during my lunch, right after I breast pumped. Driving home from work one night three months after he was born, I felt like I was passing out. I pulled over for what I thought would be a cat nap. Hours later a man knocks on my window to see if I was ok. I made it home at 1 am, even though I left work at 9 pm. The baby was screaming for food. Luckily I had the days pumped out and handed that to my husband to feed him, while I pumped out whatever I could as soon as possible.
At that time I realized if I didn't do something I would end up dead. I cried because I couldn't do it all. I felt like I was a failure. I wanted to die. How could I be such a horrible person to have this baby? I had so many children already counting on me. Why didn't I give him up? My husband held me. He told me I didn't give him up because he asked me not to. He apologized for making me go through this. He promised to help out more. He promised me this would never happen to me again. I switched jobs with the help of friends to a work at home position. I switched to breast pumping every three hours instead of two. This gave me more time to sleep and kept me off the roads when I had no sleep. My husband found part-time work to make up for the lower pay I recieved working at home. My husband got a vasectomy to make sure no one could force a pregnancy on me again because I was sexually active with my husband.
By six months after his birth, I started to feel better. I gave up breastfeeding. That too felt like a failure, but I accepted that I had done the best I could for him. I accepted my failure to be the perfect mom who breastfeeds for a year or two. I accepted that my son could drink formula for a couple months. He was on formula for only 3 months. After that he was on regular food we smashed up for him. I fell into a routine. My children were all cared for equally again. My son, the baby, was finally the size of a two month old. He is six now and the size of a 3 year old. He was born with hypothyroidism and they never even thought to check. He takes medicine everyday so he can function like every other person. He is strong, feisty, and able to do things they told me he never would.
Although, the first year of my sons life was a blur of worry, sadness, and pain...I have come to be grateful he is here. My health is totally destroyed and I may not even get to see him become a man. I wish I had been able to keep my IUD in. I am glad I did not abort him though now...and I am so glad my husband was willing to go under the knife to ensure I never have to suffer again. It ought to be illegal to take an adult woman's IUD out without her permission. It ought to be criminal not to explain it was taken out. In fact, that nurse should be paying me child support. I'm so glad I do have my baby though. I'm so glad my husband was there for me. I'm so glad my children understood mom was going through a hard time. No one should be forced to have a baby because someone else thinks that an IUD is an abortion. No one. Especially someone in as poor health as I was and am. I hope no one ever suffers like I have, but I know unfortunately others will.
Dody M. | Arkansas | Mama to Precious 19, Danilla 15, Aluciana 14, Aukxsona 12, Alestria 10, Illyan 6.