Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
When I was 22 weeks pregnant, I went to the doctor for my routine second-trimester ultrasound. My husband came with me. We were so excited to find out the sex of the baby, going in with expectations that the baby would be healthy. As I was having my ultrasound, the technician mentioned that the baby was looking a little small, so it was hard for her to get measurements on the organs. She then told us she thought the baby was a girl. I was so happy to hear I would be having a girl, and my husband and I assured each other that the baby was just little because I am little. The ultrasound tech gave us pictures of our baby. I got dressed and waiting in another room for the doctor. The wait felt so incredibly long, and I started crying out of worry. My husband told me that everything would be okay and that the doctor would be there soon. Once the doctor finally came in, she told us that the baby is about a month behind in size, and she can’t tell us why. When I asked her what the possibilities were, she said the baby could just be small or it may be something else, and that I would have to go see a high-risk doctor and get another ultrasound. When asked what the “something else” might be, she said she couldn’t tell us anything because it was hard for the technician to see the baby’s organs. She then asked me if I found out the sex. I said it was a girl and began to sob.
My doctor said she normally sent women to Christ Hospital, and that they would call to get me an appointment with the high-risk doctor. It took about twenty minutes and they had no available appointments. The next option was Good Sam. I waited for another ten minutes. They had to leave a message, and sent my husband and I off, and said they would call me once they heard anything. The nurse was very kind and told me to try and get something to eat while I waited. We decided to grab lunch, and I got a call right before we got in line to get our food. My appointment was set at Good Sam, but it wasn’t for another two and a half hours. The wait was agonizing. I went home and hugged my dogs. We left for the hospital.
My anxiety was through the roof. I was sick of waiting, but I had to wait again once I checked in with the receptionist. When they finally called me back, I got another ultrasound. The technician asked me what I was told at my doctor, and she confirmed that the baby was a girl. She took pictures of her face and feet and gave them to us. She was smiling and seemed oddly optimistic, so we felt at ease in that moment. She said she had to ask the doctor something and left the room. Then her and the doctor came in. The doctor did another ultrasound and gave us the bad news. She diagnosed our baby girl with a severe and fatal spinal abnormality. I had little to no amniotic fluid left, and the baby’s organs were barely visible. Her growth was severely stunted and it was possible she didn’t even have kidneys. She would not live much longer. I burst into tears and began to sob uncontrollably. I could not stop myself; the tears just kept coming. My husband was being so strong for me, but I could tell he was devastated.
We asked if there was anything they could do or if there was any chance our baby would get better. The doctor said no. We asked about termination and she said that was an option. She told us nothing about the laws in Ohio, didn’t give us any references and just told us she was sorry and that she understood our decision. We made the decision quickly because I didn’t want my baby to suffer, and I didn’t want to put myself in harm’s way. I was also worried about not being able to get the procedure done because of how far along I was. She asked if I wanted to get an amniocentesis done, to see if there was a genetic problem they could find. Since this was my only chance, I had to get it done right then and there. But, instead of being able to get it done while I was already undressed and in the ultrasound room, I was forced to speak to a genetic counselor for fifteen minutes, then go back in the room, undress, wait some more, get yet another ultrasound, and have an amniocentesis. I didn’t have time to process any of it. I knew I would be on a time crunch and had to push through the pain.
We called my doctor but could not reach her. I was to call later to make an appointment with her the next day so she could help me figure out next steps. I was so relieved that at least I was done and could go home, where I would have to figure out what to do next. But, as it turns out, I had more waiting to do. I had to go to another floor in the hospital to have my blood drawn, so they could make sure that the DNA they got was the baby’s and not mine, since we are both female. I was crying the whole time, and, finally, I could go home. I finally was able to make an appointment with my doctor, but was still given no information about how or where to schedule an abortion. So, I took it upon myself.
I called Planned Parenthood. They don’t do abortions past 17 weeks. They referred me to a place in Dayton. But, I soon found out that Ohio can’t do abortions past 22 weeks and 6 days, and I was 22 weeks 3 days…they couldn’t get me in on time. I was terrified beyond belief. I couldn’t let my baby die inside me and force myself to go through induced labor. I couldn’t continue this pregnancy. Dayton referred me to Chicago, the closest place I could go to terminate my pregnancy this late, and I made an appointment for two days later. So, my husband, his parents, and I had to drop everything and schedule a trip to Chicago. We didn’t have time to mourn. The law wouldn’t let us have any time. We had to pick up and go.
We arrived in Chicago at around 2pm on Thursday. My appointment was at 4:30. I had to have another ultrasound and was forced to see my baby girl one last time. Even though I was at 22 weeks, my baby was only measuring at 18 weeks and I had even less amniotic fluid than before. Almost none. My insurance would still not cover the procedure. I was dilated the next day, a Friday, and had the procedure on Saturday. And then I was done. We drove home on Sunday and I began to weep as we left the city. I was forced to go all the way to Chicago to have a medical procedure that I should have been able to have in my hometown. And the worst part was that I had to leave my baby all alone in a strange city, and I would never have her back.
Sheva Guy (M.S.) is a second- year doctoral student in the Educational and Community- Based Action Research (ECAR) program within Educational Studies at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Sheva’s research interests revolve around gender equality in STEM fields as well as women’s reproductive health. She is passionate about instigating and inspiring change at institutional levels in regards to gender equality and women’s rights. Sheva terminated her pregnancy late term due to fetal anomaly in 2015, and is an activist for a woman’s right to a safe and accessible abortion. Her personal termination story has appeared in several news outlets including NPR and Rolling Stone Magazine.