Archive by Author

How blogging made me more open about my abortion

27 Mar

BaileyI used to only talk about my abortion with very close friends, my sisters (only when I found out one of them had had an abortion too), or people my friends knew who needed abortions and wanted someone to talk to. I was ashamed that I was a statistic: pregnant in college, too young to be a mom, too selfish. I told my boyfriends, when we would talk about accidental pregnancies, “You only get one [abortion]. There are no do-overs. I used mine already.”

For years, I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t talk about it until I did, and then never without crying. I wasn’t crying over the loss, though I felt that too. I would have an 8 year old. His birthday (I was convinced I was pregnant with a boy) would be in late-October or November. His missed birthday is a milestone I’ll never forget I didn’t have. For years though, I cried because I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want my friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or family members to look at me differently. I felt that while my abortion was right for me, it wasn’t right for the people in my life to know about it.

Then I found the Abortiongang. I felt compelled to write about my experience. Writing was easy because I could be nameless, faceless, totally anonymous if I chose to be. But it was a step. I decided to use my first name to sign my posts. Another step. I met Steph, and Shelby, and some of the other bloggers in person. I found a community of women braver than me. Every day Steph reads threats of violence towards herself, towards us, towards women in our feminist community, towards women of every shape, color and identity. I don’t know how she does it. But Kaitlyn, and Sophia, and Nicole, and Peggy, and everyone who currently writes or has ever written for us, and especially Shelby and Steph, inspired me to be more forthcoming.

I started doing little things, like talking about abortion with my close female colleagues. More of us have had abortions than I thought would be possible. I attended rallies and abortion fund-raising events. This process took over two years.

Now, nine years after my abortion, after three years of writing for the blog, I finally talk openly, to strangers, to acquaintances, about my abortion.

Inevitably, when meeting someone new, my dog will come up in conversation. Coincidentally, he’s nearly 8 years old. Everyone is surprised that I got a dog in college; so much responsibility! Now, instead of shying away from explaining how and why I got him, I start my story with “so after I had an abortion in college, I wanted to get a dog.” Bailey is a huge part of my abortion story because he helped me heal. He’s also a great way to turn what could be a conversation that feels defensive and shameful for me into a positive, happy, constructive conversation.

Inevitably, some people will look at my differently when I mention my abortion. My hope though, in sharing my story so casually and with love, is that the people who are listening will reevaluate their opinions on abortion, the people who get abortions, and the people they think abortion-havers become. It’s also a huge relief for me that I don’t have to keep hiding. I think I never needed to hide, and I hope that my sharing will help others share casually and happily too.

Advertisements

I would like to keep my ovaries, thanks

18 Mar

I’ve been having some ABSURD women’s rights dreams lately, you guys. All of this legislature must be making me go a little off the deep end. Listen to this most recent dream:

I wake up in a hospital bed, in a gown, with my boyfriend. I have no idea what is going on and I’m a little disoriented. A nurse comes in a tells me that the doctor is almost ready for me, and that the anesthetist will be in soon. My boyfriend, concerned, looks at me and asks “Are you sure you want to do this?” He looks devastated. My first thought is that I’m pregnant and having an abortion, but that doesn’t seem right. I ask the nurse who comes in shortly thereafter what I’m in for, and she tells me that I’m there to have my ovaries removed. She makes it seem like it’s been state-mandated and “for my own good” (sounds kind of like mandatory waiting periods and trans-vaginal ultrasounds…

My boyfriend and I are panic-stricken (though why he’s suddenly this way, in retrospect, makes no sense… he knew all along… oh well, dreams). I’ve got an IV in, and I’m hooked up to some machines, but I’m suddenly looking for a way out, not just of the room, but out of the damn hospital. I’m trying to get up, but nurses keep coming in and “checking on me.” In my dream, I think they’re spying. I can’t find a way out, and my boyfriend can’t keep them out of the room long enough. Eventually the anesthetist comes in and puts something in my IV. I’m getting really sleepy, but I keep fighting it. I’m just trying to formulate a plan so that they can’t take my ovaries, but I can’t think straight.

The nurses are wheeling me down the hall to the operating room. They’re trying to be encouraging, telling me that I’m brave, but I’m not feeling like this is a choice, so nothing is brave about it. I’m placed in the OR and am waiting around for a few minutes, and while my thoughts are screaming to get out of there, my body can’t move. Finally, the doctor comes in and introduces himself. He seems nice, as he asks me to count backwards from 10. I tell him I don’t want to do this, but he just keeps asking me to count down. Finally, totally miserable but resigned to my fate, as it seems like I have no other options, I close my eyes and say “ten.” Then, thank god, I wake up. I gasped myself awake, and woke the boyfriend up as well.

What a terrifying dream.

I live in a state that doesn’t make access 100% easy, but it’s certainly not impossible to get an abortion. My insurance covers it, and the co-pay is even really low. I think that this dream, for me, was my pain for people in North Dakota or Ohio spilling over. I can’t even imagine what being forced to carry to term, regardless of choice, fetal anomalies and other factors notwithstanding, would do to me. The misery and fear I experienced in a dream alone was enough to wake me, gasping and terrified. Living that reality would be horrific.

Sign the petition calling for a reversal of the newly-approved personhood laws in North Dakota here.

Egg Donation, Round Two: Becoming a better advocate for myself

1 Mar

Egg donation number two was FAR less fun than egg donation number one, if “fun” is even an appropriate word to use here. My body responded a bajillion times better to the hormones (though my mind did not, and I’ll get there), and I developed eggs much faster that were larger (more inconsistent in size), but nearly all were considered large enough for use.

This meant that my largest egg in my right ovary was .3mm, sharing space with 12 other eggs, all hovering around or above .2mm. My left ovary was more reasonable in size, though not in number. There were 15 eggs and they ranged in size from .14mm-.21mm. A total of 28 eggs were produced between the two, taking up nearly 5mm of ovary space… considering that the normal ovulation cycle produces 1 ovum to ovulate at an average of .2mm… it sucked. Like more than I could have ever anticipated. I was bloated to the point of looking pregnant (5 months pregnant, according to my formerly pregnant – now mothers – friends), and I could not do normal activities. Even walking was just terrible. And, this was right before Christmas, so much celebrating and being around people was inevitable.

Boy, was I miserable to be around. Just ask my boyfriend. He thought I was going to break up with him, and to be frank, so did I. Everything he did was annoying to me, not just because I was in pain (and I was in pain nearly constantly for the last week of shots), but because it seemed that my patience had been reduced to nothing for whatever reason. Poor kid. I still feel bad about how I treated him during that time.

Anyway, how does this relate to advocating for myself? So, like the 5th day of shots, I asked the doctor if it was normal to begin feeling my ovaries inside my body, because it had taken at least 2 days longer for me to notice them the first time. They assured me that this was fine. But like 3 days later, they had begun to hurt enough to interfere with my life. I SHOULD have asked for more frequent ultrasounds, and I should have advocated for having my surgery a day earlier than I had it. I literally felt like my ovary was going to burst, which is not a cool feeling. I should have told them I wanted an ultrasound every day after that 5th day… but I didn’t, and I paid the price. My recovery was much longer this time (10 days as opposed to 7), and overall it was just a miserable experience.

IF I choose to donate again (a big “if” at the moment), I will not allow my doctors to ignore unusual and more dramatic pain. I will not allow them to keep me to a schedule that puts me at greater risk with an enlarged organ. And I will ask more questions than ever before.

What do I want for my “eggs?”

30 Nov

Yesterday, I attended a luncheon held by the New York Times on Women in Leadership. It was a great opportunity to sit down with women who are leaders in their fields, and who have great stories to tell, and to learn from them. One presenter, in particular, spoke extensively about her research on the lives of women who were pioneers in their field; what were their lives like as children, how did their families interact, when they went to college, who encouraged them to pursue their dreams?

When I speak with friends and family members who are new to the idea of egg donation, they all say the same thing: “You’re going to have a child running around somewhere! Doesn’t it bug you?” And, first of all, not my kid. I just don’t have the same connection to my DNA that other people do. But second, even if I had that connection to my genes, it wouldn’t bug me. I’m happy to have given this gift to another family. We’ve spoken extensively on the blog about adoption, and I think this is similar. I’m happy to help others have a family.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want good things for my eggs. Of course I’m curious about the type of family that they’re going to. The screening process is entirely unfair in that I don’t get to see THEIR family profile. They know almost everything about me; my height, weight, eye color, but more than that, they know my hobbies and my skills and my passions. But I know nothing about where my little eggies are going.

But I can hope. And I hope that they go to families that will support them in whatever they want to do. I want a family that will challenge them, argue with them, and make them critically think about why they do what they do. I want them to be loved, of course, but I don’t want it to be a love that limits them by overprotecting them. I want them to have the freedom to make their own choices, and parents who are responsible enough to make them own the consequences, good or bad, and who will help them learn and grow. I want purposeful parents who encourage creativity and who find joy in their successes, but who can find the silver lining in their child’s failures. I want a father who invests in his children, especially his daughters, and who allows them their voice. And I want a strong mother who encourages her babies to find balance and joy.

I’d love atheist parents, but if my eggs aren’t raised that way, I want a family that is ok with the idea that religion doesn’t define life, but it can complement it. I want parents who will teach and encourage compassion and kindness and humanity.

Basically, I want parents who are like me. But I’m so grateful that it’s not me having and raising these eggs. They’re not my children, despite our DNA connection, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t and don’t hope for wonderful things for them.

Final Egg Donation Post about the Actual Event: The Recovery

12 Sep

So, I’m going to lay it all out there. This may be TMI, but for those of you who have or are considering doing this, you’ll thank me later. For the rest of you, I’m sorry. Fair warning, this post will mostly be about poop.

So, I walked y’all through the actual donation. I think I stopped at the point at which I woke up and was like, damn, this is sucky… no? Ok, backtracking a little bit: when I woke up from the anesthesia, roughly 10 mins after the procedure was finished, I was like damn, this is sucky. Ok, now you’re caught up.

So, I woke up from the pain of being dilated. Being dilated is balls, guys. Terrible. Like the worst fucking feeling. Instantly induces cramps, major ones, and they don’t go away for a while. So the nice nurses gave me a shot of an extra painkiller for that day. That was nice of them, and I went home feeling ok. My friend picked me up, and we went and got diner food, which was a rockin decision because when are johnnycakes (corn pancakes) ever not a good idea? (The answer is that they’re always a good idea. Always.)

After he dropped me off is when I decided a nap was in my best interests. So I napped. And I woke up in a ton of pain again. Took more Aleve, per the nurses instructions.

WHAT NO ONE PREPARED ME FOR WAS THE CONSTANT AND PAINFUL NEED TO POOP FOR THE NEXT 4-5 DAYS. I feel as though this is something that SOMEONE should have mentioned to me. Like before it happened. Like WELL before it happened.

So, from what I can gather (mostly my own observations), as your ovaries are getting more and more swollen, you are being more and more ginger with them (it’s a weird fucking feeling), and you’re doing less of the things that put pressure on your swollen abdomen, like pooping on a regular basis. Thus, you’re left with an abdomen full of poop that would have otherwise been eliminated, but you were being a wuss about it, so now you’re cramping and we all know from getting our periods what cramps can do to your intestines. You poop. A lot. The end.

Except, in this case, not the fucking end. Because you still can’t exercise, so aside from the cramps, which in and of themselves are shitty, you can’t even do anything to help make the pain go away and get the poo out of yourself faster (a good, long run would accomplish both of these things). Because you’d totally put yourself at risk of twisting your fallopian tube. Because your ovaries are still swollen like motherfucking key limes. And I can’t stress this enough: you have to shit like all the time. For the next 5 days. It was total nonsense.

Sigh, so you cramp for 3 or 4 days, you shit your brains out for a week, and then at some point, walking doesn’t feel entirely shitty, and you start being nice to people that you work with again (and they stop asking if you if you’re feeling ok, because you don’t look so hot), and you try bouncing on a trampoline (if you’re me) and you feel pretty ok (7 days later).

Two weeks later, it’s like nothing ever happened, except you’re $8,000 in the positive and you’re mildly traumatized by your own bathroom.

Recommendations: have some stool softener on hand. Take pain meds in advance of the pain (not in advance of the surgery though, duh). And buy nice toilet paper for that week. Your ass will thank you (and me) for it.

Happy donating!!

Egg Donation Chronicles: The Retrieval

16 Jul

Egg retrieval day has come and gone. Here’s the DL:

To begin at the beginning, we need to go a few days prior to retrieval. 3 to be exact. It’s Friday morning and I’m at the doc, and they’ve been doing regular ultrasounds, so they know that my ovaries are producing nicely. I’m feeling pressure in my uterus, mostly in the area where my ovaries are, but sort-of-generally-all-over down there too. I mean, my ovaries are, at this point, hugely swollen. I can feel them when I walk, but it’s not that uncomfortable, just weird. So, they do another ultrasound and they’re like “Huzzah! Your retrieval will be Monday!” And I’m all “Score!” since I totally planned for that day to begin with, and taking off of work was challenging enough without them having to push it back any. So, go ovaries! You rock! I get one more shot of the Follistim and the one that makes you not ovulate (can’t remember the name…).

2 days before retrieval: One more shot of Follistim, none of that other nonsense (which is cool because that other shit burned. Like a lot.) And then they handed me a sheet that covered the basics for the next two days and the morning of my surgery. The gist: You need to give yourself these two shots that we’re going to call in to a local pharmacy for you at EXACTLY 10:30pm tonight. Keep them cold. On Sunday night/Monday morning, no food or drink after midnight because surgery, duh. Also, take this antibiotic starting tomorrow morning until it’s finished.

So, my friend is looking for an apartment in NYC, and this is sort of relevant to this post because she dragged my ass all over g-ddamn Bushwick looking for a room on Saturday afternoon. I’m a nice friend. Seriously. Here’s why: My abdomen is swollen, it’s 100-fucking-degrees out, and walking around isn’t appealing at all, but I go all the way from Columbus Circle (where the Columbia Center for Women’s Reproductive Care is) to friggin Harlem (not too bad yet) and then ALL the way to Bushwick, which is like a half-hour into Brooklyn (for a total commute of an hour and a half just to get to the place where we can see apartments). You guys, NYC subways suck, if you didn’t know. I couldn’t really sit, and it was crowded and hot. Whatever, I’m just trying to explain why I chalk my later outburst at her up to the heat and the hormones. So we find her a place that she likes, she jumps on it, and then like a half a second later (but long enough for us to get onto the subway) starts second guessing herself. To the point where she was going back and forth about getting her deposit back. My patience lasted for about 45 mins of this nonsense before the aforementioned drugs and heat took their toll and I started yelling at her. I tell this story because the hormones, for the most part, treated me well. I didn’t feel badly on them. I didn’t hyperstimulate. I was good! And then I had this outburst. Sigh. It wasn’t a perfect melding of my body and hormones…

The final thing on this day is to give myself these shots. They changed me from the intramuscular shot, which I was super not looking forward to, to 2 subcutaneous ones, and I was thrilled. Yes, I can totally and without practice, shoot myself in the belly with two incredibly short, thin, pre-filled syringes. Walk in the park, y’all.

1 day before retrieval: Easiest day ever. Blood work (ONE VIAL! THAT’s it!). Boom. Done.

Morning of: I get there an hour early for no reason whatsoever. This is entirely unnecessary for any of you who may choose to go through this process. Just get there when they tell you to or you’ll get stuck in the waiting room for an hour reading your Kindle.

They take me into the outpatient surgery area. I strip all but my bra off, put the silly robe on (facing front! my favorite kind!), and then wait until the anesthesiologist is ready. Eventually, they put an IV in my arm (elbow area, which I appreciated because I HATE the wrist ones), and bring me into the surgical room. The anesthesiologist is a nice guy, but the surgeon starts to talk to me, and he’s talking over her, asking me questions about myself, and I can’t hear her (the surgeon) instructions. So that part was kind of annoying. He was a really nice guy though.

I was a little concerned that they didn’t weigh me before they did the anesthesia, but then I figured that this guy does this for a living, so I should probably chill out about it. He did the injection right into my IV, and for like 10 seconds I totally fought the anesthesia. For those of you that have never been under, there’s this period of time where you can ABSOLUTELY feel the medication starting to work, but your brain is fighting its absolute hardest to be like “NO. Fucking NO! I will not allow you to put me into a quasi-coma right now.” Once I realized that I was doing that, I let myself fall asleep.

Blessedly, the surgeon and her staff waited until I was out to so much as put a speculum in. I’m so unbelievably grateful that they did that. I’m sick to death of people putting things in my vagina at this point (and I can’t be the only person on the face of the planet that thinks that transvaginal ultrasounds hurt… not the wand part, but the actual ultrasound waves. I’m telling you, painful!).

I woke up 15 mins later because of the pain. This is certainly not a pain-free experience, so if anyone ever tries to tell you that it was easy-peasy, they’re lying. I walked to a chair and they gave me some pain stuff and I think an antibiotic. A few minutes later, they hand me some saltines, a survey and my CHECK! Then they ask about the pain and I’m being whiney about it, so they gave me a shot of something into my IV to make it bearable. About a half-hour later, I’m walking out the front door to meet my friend who was picking me up.

That’s the story of the retrieval. But the recovery is something special, let me tell you. I’ll have another post in a few days with how that’s going (it’s going…). Thanks for reading and for the support!

Egg Donation Update: Hormone Shots

2 Jul

Day 5 of the hormone shots and all is quiet on the western front. By that, I mean that aside from some sleep issues, I have yet to go crazy and murder anyone, or even yell at anyone unnecessarily. In fact, the only weird thing that’s going on is that I’ve been able to think a little more rationally about my ex-boyfriend (who I work with… sucks), and I finally told him off (he wants to be “friends,” I don’t.) It’s the oddest sensation. Normally, hormonal things are just awful for me, so I was truly expecting the worst.

So, I was at work yesterday, teaching trampoline (like you do), and it can be a stressful job, given that I’m fully responsible for the safety of my students and I have to try to clearly communicate things that are very, very challenging to verbalize. Anyway, I’m working, having more fun than is normal for a 96o degree day on top of a roof teaching people how not to be idiots on a thing that could kill them, and all the sudden I’m panicked that the drugs aren’t working and there won’t be any eggs. Random fits of anxiety over things that are entirely beyond my control are not out of the ordinary for me, so this was normal. I was like… uh, am I supposed to be feeling so GOOD? Why don’t I want to kill anyone or sleep all the time (side effects that one of my friends who is also an egg donor described)? But I was pretty easily able to soothe myself, and I didn’t harp on the anxiety for as long as is typical. I’m telling you guys, this is so weird!

I should have just waited until this morning before freaking out about the meds not working, because I have 8 or 9 small, uniformly sized baby eggs developing in each ovary. The doctor was psyched. Apparently that’s a slightly better than normal number of eggs, and their uniformity in size is ideal. I even asked her if I was supposed to be feeling weird at all, and she said that if I’m not, so much the better.

So, tomorrow (or the day after) I will start 2 doses/day of the Follistim, which will be given at the same time each morning. I’ll start to have blood work more regularly and more sonograms (I’m so sick of sonograms you guys). And then my retrieval is on the 9th! Keep me in your thoughts, and thanks for the positive vibes!