The only good abortion is my abortion

As I write this, it is 1:17 am on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012.

I am lying awake in bed, trying to decide whether or not to have an abortion.

Of course, we don’t call it an abortion. We call it “a procedure” or a D&C. See, my potential abortion is one of the good abortions. I’m 31 years old. I’m married. These days, I’m pretty well off. I would very much like to stay pregnant right now. In fact, I have just spent the last year—following an earlier miscarriage—trying rather desperately to get pregnant.

Unfortunately, the doctors tell me that what I am now pregnant with is not going to survive. Last week, I had an ultrasound, I was almost 6 weeks along and looked okay. The only thing was that the heartbeat was slow. It wasn’t a huge deal. Heartbeats start slow, usually around the 6th week, and then they speed up. But my doctor asked me to come back in this week for a follow up, just to be sure. That was Tuesday, yesterday. Still my today. The heart hasn’t sped up. The fetus hasn’t grown. The egg yolk is now bigger than the fetus, which usually indicates a chromosomal abnormality. Basically, this fetus is going to die. I am going to have a miscarriage. It’s just a matter of when.

Because of these facts—all these facts—I get special privileges, compared to other women seeking abortion in the state of Minnesota.

Nobody has to tell my parents. I am not subject to a 24-hour waiting period. I do not have to sit passively while someone describes the gestational stage that my fetus is at, presents me with a laundry list of possible side-effects (some medically legit, some not), lectures me on all the other options that must have just slipped my mind, or forces me to look at enlarged, color photographs of healthy fetuses.

Because I have health insurance, I can afford a very nice OB/GYN whom I chose and who does not exercise her right to deny me this option. Thankfully, I don't live in a state where she can legally lie to me about the status of my fetus, to dissuade me from having an abortion.

Most importantly, from my perspective, I have the privilege of a private abortion in a nondescript medical office. I will not have to go to an abortion clinic. I will not have to walk by any protesters—not even Charlie, the one guy who is paid to protest every day outside Minneapolis’ abortion clinic, where I have volunteered as an escort in the past.

Most of these privileges boil down to the fact that, as far as my doctor and my medical billing are concerned, this is not an elective procedure.

But here’s the thing. It is elective.

I don’t have to do this. I am making a decision. Plain and simple. An incredibly awful, heart-wrenching decision with positives and negatives no matter which option I choose.

Having an abortion would get this miscarriage over with quickly. That’s important, as I’m leaving for a speaking engagement this weekend and am rather apprehensive about the risk of miscarrying, all by myself, in Aspen, Colorado, in an environment where I am supposed to be on professional behavior. (Uncontrollable sobbing doesn’t really fit with the image of competent journalist.) Most likely, there would be less pain and less bleeding. That’s also a big deal. My last miscarriage happened at 4 weeks along. I woke up in the middle of the night wanting to scream and almost vomiting from the pain. I bled for nearly two weeks after that. My guess is that these effects are not weaker for a 7-week miscarriage. Finally, even if I wait this out, there’s still a pretty decent chance that I end up having to get an abortion after all. It’s not uncommon for miscarriages like this to take too long to start, or not finish completely on their own. With just enough bad luck, I might get to experience both options.

On the other hand, I’m scared. This is surgery. Surgery is scary. There are small but very real-feeling risks involved: Reaction to anesthesia, infections, and in rare cases some women develop scar tissue in their uterus that can make it hard to get pregnant again. That might be the biggest fear for me, honestly. It took 5 months to get pregnant the first time. It was a year after that miscarriage before this pregnancy happened. I know that, for the most part, this is random chance. I have bad luck. But part of me is terrified of anything that might make this process harder than it already is. Also: Psychologically, I’m still clinging to this pregnancy. I want the doctors to be wrong. I want to have one of those miracles where everything turns out to be okay and I am relieved to find that I haven’t actually lost everything.

Right now, at 2:06 am, I’m leaning towards a compromise. I think I probably want the abortion. I don’t think I want to have to jump from thinking I had a viable pregnancy to having an abortion in a span of two days. My husband has offered to cancel his own business trip and come to Aspen with me. Maybe I’ll take him up on that, and wait until I get home on Monday to do a final ultrasound and get the abortion. I have a list of questions to ask my doctor in the morning. This decision is entirely dependent upon her answers, but I think it’s the right one for me.

That was a lot of TMI, I know. But I am telling you this to press a point.

I am making a decision.

The only thing that makes my abortion decision different from anyone else’s abortion decision is that some people who are against abortion will think that my abortion is acceptable.

Some. Not all. Maybe not even most. I honestly have no idea. My life is not in danger, after all. I have not been raped. I merely think that I might not want to sit around, feeling the symptoms of pregnancy, for god knows how long, until a heartbeat stops and the ripping pain kicks in and the blood starts flowing on its own.

Let me be clear. I have options. It’s just that they all suck. That’s kind of how bad news related to pregnancy works.

If you are pregnant, and do not want to be, all of your options suck.*

If you cannot seem to get pregnant, and want to be, all of your options suck.**

If you are pregnant, and won’t be soon, all of your options suck.

There is no universal good option. There is no universal bad option. But for each individual there is an option that is the least bad. Here is why I am pro-choice. If someone has to make a decision and the best they can hope for is the least-bad option, I don’t believe I have any business making that choice for them.

My abortion is not a good abortion. It's just an abortion. And there's no reason to treat the decision I have to make any differently than the decisions made by any other woman.

*I’ve known women who had abortions, women who gave a baby up for adoption, and women who raised an unintended baby on their own. None of those options are easy. None of those options are any less painful, traumatizing, or side-effect filled than any of the others. They only seem that way to people who haven’t experienced them.

**Whether you try low-level infertility treatments, IVF and donors, start looking for an adoption, or accept a life of unchosen childlessness, you are going to experience a lot of stress and you are going to have to give things up and grieve. You will probably need to chat with a therapist. None of these options is easier than the others. It just looks that way to people who haven’t experienced them.

• This post isn't really about miscarriage, specifically. But part of why I wrote it was to break some of the silence surrounding what I like to call The World's Shittiest Secret Society. As many as 50% of conceptions end in miscarriage. Most likely, that's not because of any outside forces. It's just because of the way nature works. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. If you have had a miscarriage, and are struggling with processing this thing, then I really think you should read Jon Cohen's Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth About Miscarriage. Cohen's wife had four miscarriages in a row before the birth of their second child. His book provides an evidence-based, sane-making perspective on what we do and don't know about miscarriage and it provides many, many reasons for hope. In particular, the fact that Cohen's wife's experience isn't extraordinary. Even if you have four miscarriages in a row, you've still got a greater than 70% chance of having a perfectly normal, healthy pregnancy the next time out. Miscarriage is weird, and it's horribly painful. If you're anything like me, learning as much as you can about it helps.

• Carousel image: black box, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jlodder's photostream.
Light Box, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pinkmoose's photostream


  1. Our first pregnancy ended in a spontaneous miscarriage around the 8 week point. I’m lucky enough to be married to a very savvy, very science-and-medicine-literate woman who let me know when we started trying that there was a very good chance this could happen with first pregnancies. Didn’t make it a lot easier. But some.

    Hopefully this excellent (though sad… so sorry for your personal situation) post will help ease someone else’s pain/anxiety.

    Life is full of suck. Writing intelligently about it helps everyone. Thanks.

    1. Thank you. I really wish that the knowledge your wife had was more publicly available. It took me completely by surprise. And only after the first miscarriage happened did I hear about all the women I was related to and knew who had experienced the same thing. I hope this helps somewhat with that problem. 

      1. Indeed.  If we could track every single successful fertilization of an egg by a sperm, we might find that way more than 50%, maybe more than say 70%, end in miscarriage.  It’s a hugely complicated and awesome (in the true, old sense of the word — I had chosen “miraculous” originally but that has perhaps too much religious connotation for some) process biologically.  From egg/sperm production (where most failures start, e.g. chromosome abnormalities) to the correct and proper growth of the fetus to successfully birthing the child without harm to mother or infant, it’s fraught with peril. It’s no surprise that nature itself eliminates 50% or more of such attempts.  Sorry if that sounds too coldly clinical; I agree completely on the desire to make the knowledge of miscarriage common-ness more publicly available.

    2. My partner and I lost our first child at around eight weeks. Our hospital was a major Midwestern research hospital, and our doctors told us that this is very, very common. They also told us that the miscarriage would feel like a “bad period.” According to my partner, these people have a funny idea of what a bad period might be like, because it was rather painful, though granted, in hindsight, nothing like giving birth (which she did without anesthesia).

      If you decide not to have “the procedure,” you’ll likely have several hours of contractions (around 10 in our case). Also, they told us there’d be some “spotting” or that it would be like a “heavy period.” I will not go into detail, but a lot more mass emerges than that. It’s pretty traumatic. If I were choosing, I’d go with the procedure if my insurance covered it, and, if not, I’d go “natural.”And, you didn’t ask, but my opinion is that removing a dead fetus is not an abortion, nor anything to even bat an eye over. The tragedy is that the fetus stopped developing. What happens from that point on is mechanics/medicine and not ethics.

      1. Reading again, please don’t miss that word “tragedy.” It’s not that I’m dismissing the pain. We mourned for quite some time, about 18 months, I think.

      2. Just a word about the word “abortion” – it technically means the ending of a process before successful completion.  It properly refers to the pregnancy, not the fetus, alive or dead, and a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion. The word has become loaded in informal usage, but you don’t need to go along with that if you don’t want to.

        1. Yep… I remember reading the papers from my birth, and the health information for my mother included the line of “one abortion” for previous pregnancies. I was quite… surprised… until I realized it was the miscarriage she had before me.

          … Something to show in the face of picketers outside clinics. (And really… if they want to save fetuses… shouldn’t they be picketing for more research to prevent misscarriages?)

      3. Miscarriages can indeed be really nasty affairs, and at least for the main one of my wife’s that I really remember (prior to our first child), if anyone has that for a “heavy period”, I feel very sorry for them. We actually called 911 at one point because the bleeding was so heavy one might have called it “gushing”. Scared the hell out of us, but EMS came and checked her out and determined she was fine, so that was good. I know that we’d had a miscarriage happen again with our second, but it was more mundane (and we’d had the experience before, so knew more of what “normal” could be).

        “They” actually say that your fertility goes up after a recent miscarriage; I don’t know the reasoning behind that (your body was ramping up trying to take care of the fetus and so hormone levels are higher and more conducive to reimplantation?), and the trauma of having miscarried (at least if it was “bad”) tends to kill much enthusiasm for trying again very soon, but that’s what they say.

        I agree that in these sorts of cases, it’s just a difference in when exactly it happens, since either you try and remove it or your body will do it itself (hopefully sooner rather than later). Not every fetus is viable, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier, especially if your body’s not rejecting yet and you have the option of having the procedure done.

        Miscarriage is something that nobody really likes to talk about; it’s very painful and very personal and we would often prefer to just forget that it happened as opposed to sharing with the world. But it truly is common, and is something that OBs should ideally make sure every expecting parent is forewarned about. Giving birth is a very complex process, and there’s so many places that things can go wrong — but sometimes it’s for the best that the pregnancy aborts, whether naturally (miscarriage) or through intervention.

        Maggie , thanks so much for sharing your story, hopefully it can give hope to any parents-to-be who have gone through this before, as well as give insight into your decision-making process (having an abortion is a big deal, even if it’s pretty much necessary — nobody should want to have one, but sometimes it may be the best thing for everyone, and it’s good to have that procedure option available in those cases). And I truly hope that you’re one of the many people who has a healthy, happy, easy pregnancy next time around (as we did, both times).

        And thanks to Saltine and andyhavens and everyone sharing their own miscarriage stories. It’s a common occurrence, but it’s not common knowledge. It’s also not always easy to share, even years later (and after successful births). It also seems misunderstood, as with the law I’d seen talked about years ago criminalizing miscarriage in some state or other — as if you can help it when your body rejects the fetus, and I can’t imagine any woman being particularly happy about the process, even if the pregnancy wasn’t particularly wanted (if nothing else, you’ll tend to be a wreck from the all the hormone swings). :(

  2. You have my deepest sympathies, though being male and knowing that I will never have to face the situation other than as a partner makes that statement a little hollow. I also extend my thoughts to the doctors and nurses who risk their own lives and sanity so that you may be able to make this difficult decision for yourself. Strength to your husband as well.

  3. Maggie, thank you for writing so honestly.  I am sorry for your loss, and I greatly appreciate how you state your feelings about choice, and being pro-choice.  

  4. Oh honey. I am so sorry that you have to decide, but so impressed at you parsing your beliefs, emotions and analysis so clearly and thoughtfully. Thinking of you.

    1. Seconded. I had a friend who was close to the end of her pregnancy when things went horribly, horribly wrong. Her story is always closest to my heart when people bring up this issue, because, yes, she made a decision, but none of her choices were going to be easy. Thank you so much for telling your story, Maggie. It can’t be easy to share this with the world, but every time someone does, we succeed in putting this big issue into human terms.

  5. My heart aches knowing this decision exists for you.  Many thanks for being so open and willing to share to help others decide and find empowerment. 

    The different ways you mention that abortions are spoken of to women are all horrifying to me.  It really brings home the fear and disinformation that are being spread about abortion by too many people and that I need to help.

    I can only echo kpurcell.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through.  My wife and I went through a miscarriage and similar decisions some time ago.  I’m posting because of what you called The World’s Shittiest Secret Society – finding out, through friends and coworkers, that she was not alone helped my wife to come to grips with what was going on.

    Awful as what you are going through is, by taking the time to raise awareness about this you are going to make an awful time in someone else’s life better.  Thank you, Maggie.

  7. Good luck with your decision.
    I only just found out about the 50% statistic that you quote. I was told that’s why you shouldn’t make any announcements until after the first trimester.

    1. I think it depends. I told a lot of my friends and family, even after the first one, because I know myself. And I know that it’s not healthy for me to bottle up joy, or try to hide devastation. It’s a personal decision, but for me, I’m better off if people know when I’m pregnant, so that it’s easier for me to tell them when I’m not anymore.

      1. I realized recently that that approach makes a lot of sense. Why wait and then potentially have this terrible secret to carry alone? I’m glad your friends and family know so they can support you. Thanks for writing this, too.

      2. For my wife, she said no one really knows what to say and nothing they do say makes it any easier/better.

        Even though I was grieving, too, I never knew what to say or felt that what I did say was right.  Silent hugs (and time passing) were the best thing I could think of.

        Some people would say, “Well, you can try again.” And while that’s true, it seems to trivialize the terrible loss we just had.

        There is also, “Well, it is probably better it happened now than later.” There really is no better. It all sucks.

        In everyone’s defense, a simple “I’m so sorry,” doesn’t seem enough. There is no Miss Manner’s directive for how to express sorrow and sympathy in this situation. No one knows what to do, what to expect and just feels terrible and uncomfortable.

        Maggie, give your husband a big hug and know that things will get better. Maybe not this week, but it will.

  8. Maggie- thank you.  

     You have articulated an argument that often is unvoiced, but I wish that it didn’t have to come at the expense of your own pain and loss.   I hope the next few days and weeks are less suck-full than you anticipate.  

  9. I have been a longtime lurker in these parts, but I feel compelled to login and express my heartfelt condolences for you during this difficult time. I too live in Minnesota. I am a father of a 17 mo old. One year prior to the birth of my child, my longtime girlfriend (and mother of my current child) told me she was pregnant. And yes we were talking ALL necessary precautions so this was one of those 1% pregnancies.  We were young adults just getting serious in our relationship and our careers. Neither of us saw ourselves as parents so, after much deliberation, we went ahead with an abortion – a “bad” abortion if you will.  By some miracle (still despite supposed 99% coverage against pregnancy), almost one year to the day she became pregnant with our beloved daughter. I’m not a religious man…but I believe this child was meant to be born. I tell you all this because I want you to know you are not alone. There is no good or bad abortion. It is what it is – a complex, gut-wrenching ordeal that may or may not prevent future suffering. I feel privileged to live in a state where Women (as the choice is ultimately theirs) can make their own decisions given their own unique circumstances. I am still pro-choice, but the choice I/we made back then still haunts me.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Kevin. You are absolutely right. There is no good or bad abortion. I’m so sorry that you and your girlfriend were faced with that choice and I’m so glad that you are happy today. 

  10. This really struck a nerve with me and I’m pretty choked up right now.

    A loved one was forced to have a “procedure” because of major health issues and said health issues combined with a (conservative) doctor’s ineptitude led to it happening in the first place, but it’s a long story.

    The important thing is she is tormented to this day (and I mean tormented) because she can’t share her experience with any of her right-wing, Christian family members and friends because she fears their self-righteous, judgmental reaction to it.

    I think some conservatives sleep well at night because they are so absolutely clueless to all the destructive torment they cause other people with their ignorance, dogma and intolerance.

    Thank you for sharing this, Maggie.  I’m very proud of you.

    1. I think a lot of people just haven’t thought much about things outside their own experience. I don’t blame them. I used to have the same perspective. I just hope that stories like mine and stories like that of your family member will help people look beyond black-and-white. 

      1. “I think a lot of people just haven’t thought much about things outside their own experience.”

        True, but some people just aren’t capable of empathy.

      2.  Thanks for sharing the personal and painful. I hope to use this in teaching at the conservative Catholic college where I am a member of the Biology department. I have been collecting personal stories like yours to help kids realize the complexity of this issue and to spark more realistic debate.

  11. Sorry to hear about this, Maggie.

    My family has gone through this, more than once.  In spite of my own feelings about elective abortion (which have evolved as I’ve grown older), I remain pro-choice, based on situations like your own and those of my own family.

    1. Thank you for separating what would be the choice you would make from requiring that others make the same choice. I think that is an important distinction that often gets lost in these discussions.

  12. It was heart-wrenching to read this, and I hope that everything turns out as close to “well” as is humanly possible in situations like this.  

  13. Our family went through a miscarriage with our first pregnancy and faced a similar choice.  It was incredibly traumatic and something we largely had to go through in isolation.  I’m deeply sorry you have to go through this but I am glad you are sharing because so many others are going through this alone.  Thank you. 

  14. I’m so so sorry!!! And yes, it sucks!!! And I so agree with your * and **… none of them are easy, and I would suggest anybody who thinks so needs a very healthy dose of reality because they are living in LaLa Land.

    Take care of yourself! I don’t mean it just as a saying… do take care of yourself. Grieve, if you feel like grieving, pamper yourself if you feel like pampering yourself… give yourself permission to do what you feel inside, I’m sure you know what I mean.

  15. We’re trying to get pregnant too… it’s more my issue than hers, since I had chemo when I was a kid, but this is good to know about as a possibility.  So thank you for putting this information out there, and sharing your experience, painful and heart-wrenching as it is to go through.  Take care.

  16. Hugs Maggie. I haven’t been through any of this myself but I do know that in situations like this all the options suck.

  17. As someone who has had two miscarriages, I can completely identify with your pain.  This is the most well thought out, thought provoking, heart string tugging post I have ever read on the subject.  Well done.  And good for you for being so strong to write about this. I will be thinking you very positive thoughts, and I don’t even know you, but any good karma heading your way can’t hurt, right?  Good luck.  Take it easy.  Breathe. 

  18. I’m so sorry, Maggie. My wife and I haven’t started trying yet, but we were shocked to find out how common miscarriages are when several (!) of our friends had to go through that in the space of a few months (one of them four times, eventually). It’s an awful thing, and I hope your experience  involves the absolute minimum possible level of suck.

  19. Excellent post.  I’ve been in this situation (as a partner) and it isn’t easy.

    Being older, we are in a high risk group. Awareness of that risk forced us to prepare a little more for the real odds of miscarriage. However, it still sucked.  There should be more, better, earlier information about the realities of pregnancy, what can happen, and when.  Our country is foolishly squeamish about discussing such things.  Thank you for helping to correct that.

    On the upside, our situation was very well handled by our doctors and there were no longterm negative effects, apart from loss of the pregnancy.  I’m sorry to read that you’re having a difficult time.  Based on my experiences, I have every hope for your ambitions to have a family and that this is just a temporary setback.

  20. Thank you for sharing this.  While this is terribly traumatic for you, people won’t be able to discuss this until a few pioneers discuss it first.
    Whatever your decision, I wish you well.

  21. Even though it will, unfortunately, not do anything to ease your pain, I found this very rewarding to read. Like so much of what you write this was enlightening from both a philosophical perspective and a scientific one. I had no idea that miscarriages were so common, although commonality doesn’t make them any less tragic.

    I’d just like to add my voice to the other well-wishers, both for you and your husband. 

    1. Christopher,
      It has helped both Maggie and my pain for her to share this. The silence and (illogical) shame that surrounds miscarriages made it worse for us, more particularly for her the last time around. We had been discussing sharing that story publicly for the past year, but had been planning on waiting until we had a child in our arms to do so. Then when this happened yesterday Maggie decided she shouldn’t wait. It is extremely comforting to hear the well wishes, and that we are not alone in facing this.
      -Baker (Maggie’s husband)

  22. <>

    I know I haven’t had to experience a miscarriage yet with my wife.  We fall into the category of really wanting to have another child and having been unable to conceive for 8 years now of trying over and over.  Not wanting to go for IVF for Catholic related issues, but not wanting to adopt yet, just in case… there’s always a chance.

    My wife’s older sisters seem to have a much easier time of having children, but I know that between their combined 10 kids there’s been probably 5 miscarriages.

    The thought of having no option but to experience bad options honestly scares the hell out of me.  I’m sure it does for you too.  Probably starting with “Oh no, not again” and going on from there.  

    I don’t know how as a husband who loves his wife and children (because they are at that point, even if they don’t make it to the outside, you have the attachments and everything else that comes with it naturally), I don’t know how I could even approach it or handle it.  Mostly because I guess of that sense of a loss of control over what you thought was your life.

    I had a friend I worked with once who had to go thru it once with his wife.  He told me as he watched what happened to her, and everything she had to go through that there wasn’t a way he could ever put her through that again.  The look on his face was very stark and the color drained from his face as he was talking to me about it.

    What I hope for is that you are able to survive together, it’s what my wife and I have had to retreat to each time, each other.  Spend the time together, cry together, grieve together.  Take care of your family.  I’d very much suggest to have a funeral and service for your child.  They are there, with you always, no matter what your belief system is and will remain with you always.

    Don’t pretend to be strong, especially for each other, but cry and just let it pour out.  There isn’t some sort of extra credit in trying to bottle it up.  I pray for comfort and healing for your family in this difficult time.  I have confidence in you and your husband.  Life will get better.

    Take care, 


    1. It’s been particularly discongruitous for us the past day as we watched all of season 2 of Downtown Abbey, and how they bottled everything up and then put it in two plastic bags and in the freezer. The distraction yesterday, so it wasn’t hitting us all at once was good.

      1. Hang in there.  I’d bring over some cookies on our way over to WI for vacation as we’re passing thru if I could. (coming from Seattle!) :)  

        I really admire you guys for fostering such a wonderful discussion.  It’s really hard to read and stay dry eyes, but when it’s something as central to your own being like children are, there’s something wrong with you if you are so cold about it.

        I think we’re all better for the discussion.

    2. @jwellner: From my experience, and apologies to you if you have already considered this:
      You may not want to go to IVF, but fertility specialists might be able to find subtle things like a blood clotting disorder or progesterone instability and other treatments that require intervention that may be acceptible for your faith. 
      Also, the Catholics I know are not against IUI, which is often the first stage for infertility treatment.

      1. Thank you for the information!

        We have tried a course of clomid and progesterone treatments with my wife’s OB and his conclusion was that she simply isn’t producing an egg during her cycles and would refer us to a specialist to look into IVF.

        The lousy thing is that there isn’t any coverage available for infertility treatment in Washington state (not sure about the rest of the country). So as she is wrapping up a MS Chem right now, we only have so many resources to throw at trying right now since it’s all out of pocket.

        It’s difficult for me because while my wife was raised as a stricter Catholic, I wasn’t. So while I may be able to justify alot of medical intervention, and she may be able to at the time to justify the ends, she has concerns longer term.

        Also I’m adopted and have had reservations about adopting mostly because of my experience growing up and being very unsure of wanting to put a child through that. But my views on it have softened as I’ve experienced more of life.

        I really appreciate the information and concern drmeglet!!!!

        1. 10 years unexplained infertility. 3 IUIs that all became pregnancies, and 3 miscarriages (some doctors don’t count the last at 4 weeks). One current 2nd trimester pregnancy from a natural surprise (possibly after HSG test which occasionally increases odds) that we’re all believing will work out! 2 scientists as parents. Sometimes science doesn’t have the answers, which is so frustrating.

          Our fertility treatment clinic has a lot of advice about shared risk, financing, etc. (DC area). Our insurance covered pretty much all of the above. But it’s a tough choice to attempt and stick out any treatments. Best of luck to you in your journey, whatever you decide.

        2. Best of luck to you. I’m not yet old enough or settled enough to be wanting a family, so I can only imagine what you’re going through.

          I can’t help thinking – the children are (will be) out there needing to be adopted, so if they don’t get you as a parent they will have someone else; perhaps with your experience you can help them in ways no one was able to help you.

          But I appreciate that I’m way out of my experience here, and also completely understand why you want to look into other options first.

          Best of luck with whatever the future brings your way

          1. I hope so.  Part of parenting for me is watching and learning how others parent.  My wife and I discuss a lot of what we see and ponder how to apply it.  

            Then there’s that large list of things that our parents did that we want no part of and want to never do to our kids.

            I know in the end as I’ve grown and matured I’ve become more and more open to adoption for the exact reason you mention.

        3. I would really, really encourage you to go to an infertility specialist. OB:s are not experts in this… some may be, but most just give you clomid as a standard treatment without _any_ other tests or treatments. Were for instance you tested? I’ve seen sooooo many go through series of clomid treatments without the husband having been tested at all! Not producing eggs would be a sign of PCO, there is a lot you can do for it that doesn’t involve IVF, starting from dietary changes (going low carb helped me… didn’t help me get pregnant but it did get me ovulating regularily). 

          I also heartily recommend the book Taking Charge of your Fertility by Tony Weschler… it’s a book every woman should read, in my opinion. It’s more or less Natural Family Planning with the science behind it explained, so it should be more than OK in a Catholic family.

          I would also encourage you to look into the adoption community today. A lot has changed… there is a lot of knowledge and support, if one is just open to it (not all adoptive parents are, unfortunately). Here is for instance a really good book list:

      1. Just remember, you’re going to be an awesome Mom to have someday for a very lucky child.  If only because it was so hard to get to that point.

  23. Sorry you’re going through that, Maggie. It gives me a sinking feeling to think about it, so I imagine it’s ten times that for you.

    Personally, I think you ought to get the abortion. This experience is heavy enough without a miscarriage sneaking up on you one day. It seems better to preserve your well-being through a clinical procedure. Some people might call that self-insulation or sheltering, and I would say “duh.” Because if this pregnancy is going to end prematurely, you owe it to yourself to make it as easy as possible, so the next time you get pregnant, it won’t be as stressful for you. You don’t need to carry around extra trauma.

  24. {{hugs}} to you. Nothing I say can make any of this any easier. I feel honored that you chose to share your heartbreak with us – shining a light into the darkness that is “necessary” termination and miscarriage and the all the associated mess. Thank you, and may the coming days be as easy for you and your husband as possible.

  25. It really is time to take back some of the rhetoric – no one is pro abortion. No one is promoting that women get abortions for fun and convenience. Women do need to be able to make these kinds of decisions however, when their own lives are concerned. It is a life decision that should never be denied. In my mind pro-choice IS pro-life.

    Anything else is destructive religious fanaticism.

    1. While the entire focus of comments should be appropriately made to express condolences to Maggie and and her family during this time of loss, it is necessary to speak to this excellent position you take. While I agree with your standpoint, it is important to note that I would not say “no one is pro-abortion”, that there are people who mistake legal with “unregrettable” and are just as unable to explore the finer points of your position like in kind with the  “religious fanatics”. I wish those in favor of pro-choice would distance themselves from this faction as much and as soon as possible. They have harmed the cause more than religious fanatics and they do not speak for me nor, I believe, for the majority of pro-choice advocates.

  26. Thanks for breaking the silence. I had to make this decision and it is a difficult one. I decided against having the abortion and waited for the miscarriage, which never happened. I eventually had to take medication to get the miscarriage to start. I felt so alone at that time. Only my husband and mother knew. I wish I could have been as brave as you. I now have a beautiful baby girl who is five months old but I still think about my previous pregnancy. I wish I had known that I was not so alone at that time and I wish that every woman had the right to choose. Really, thank you so much for this post.   

    1. Thank you so much for bravely sharing your experience now. I am so sorry you have to be a member of this club. Hopefully, the more we talk about it, the fewer people will have to go through it so quietly. 

  27. I went through this last year – or at least something very similar – with the added complication of my body not naturally expelling ANY of what it should have. My doctor decided the risk in waiting to see if it eventually would was just too high (when weighed against the odds of infection, etc) and insisted I have a procedure immediately. Luckily, I was given two options. A longer, painful one that I could do at home (with less potential side effects that would interfere with a future pregnancy) or the D&C. Because I’m older, I chose the former, because I just wasn’t okay with the 33% change of uterine scarring (due to my age) for the latter.  As someone who has always been pro-choice (but would never dream of having an abortion herself) and who very much wanted this baby (it would have been our first child), it was absolutely heartbreaking on every level. You are right when you say there are no good decisions in this situation, because there aren’t. Not at all. I could only imagine the added misery of living in a place where doctors can’t just do what is right for their patients or not without graphic presentations and emotional coercion first. That would have made what was already one of the worst experiences of my life pure and utter hell, hands down.  Stay strong and be brave.  And good luck with trying again (or at least more luck than we’ve had).

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so, so sorry that you had to experience that. I hope you had (and continue to have) strong support from your friends and family and I hope that you are healing emotionally and physically.

  28. Thank you for being so brave as to share this. My heart aches for you, and I hope you find peace, comfort and the parenthood you so despeartely seek. My single experience with pregnancy ended in a heart, mind, and body wrenching miscarriage during a emotionally brutal, losing battle with infertility.

    As I lay in that tiny, curtained off space in the emergency room, listening to the cries of abused child next door unconsoled by the efforts of a kind police officer, I could feel the future slipping from my body. Such a cruel juxtaposition, I thought.

    We have been blessed with a beautiful son, now four, who came to us because a teenage girl had to make an impossible decision. Yes, we benefitted from her choice not to have an abortion, but to act as though there is but one choice for everyone is foolish. Abortion and miscarriage are always painful, agonizing experiences, no matter the situation. Anger, shame and blame have no place in what is already so unimaginably difficult.

      1. I miscarried at about 10 weeks. I did not have excessive pain, but heavy bleeding, “like a bad period”. But in my heart it was INCREDIBLY painful. And agonizing because I had had a “theraputic” abortion when I was much younger. Luckily I was pregnant again within a year, with the outcome of a beautiful bouncing baby boy. so abortion may not be “always painful and agonizing” physically, it is often enough at least psychologically.

  29. Maggie, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.  My wife and I have been through the same thing twice- due to a terminal chromosomal defect- once at 21 weeks, and once at  12.

    You are absolutely right about there being no good choice, and I truly, sincerely, wish that the anti-abortion crowd would understand this.  The “choice” is between almost equally bad options, and gods help anyone faced with them. 

    If I may make two suggestions based on our own experience- Firstly, the website at has a community of people in the same situation, should you need to feel less alone in your decision.  I don’t know whether sharing with others will help or not, but just know that they exist.

    Secondly, tell your husband to talk to someone.  Yes, you’re the one with the physical effects, and it is entirely right that your needs come first and he be there for you- but he is loosing HIS child as well.  People all too often forget about this, and we men all too often disregard our own pain to try to be there for our partner.  It’s wonderful to have each other to lean on, but in situations like this, neither of you has the strength to completely support the other.  It’s okay to ask friends and family for help.

    You have my deepest sympathies.

  30. Maggie, you and your husband and little one are in our prayers. Here’s to the docs being wrong, and that your little one can rebound and be a blessing in your life. Thank you for this article, and bringing light to the “World’s Shittiest Secret Society.”  

  31. Incredibly honest and brave of you to relate this, Maggie. 
    And you’re absolutely correct about the unpleasant truth about all options being bad ones when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I was escorting a friend of mine to a clinic for an abortion and still remember the sadness that was underlying the faces of every woman’s face in that waiting room. 

    Not that they were making the wrong choice, mind you. Just a very, very difficult one. I don’t think anyone in there would celebrate having this kind of a procedure. But it’s a difficult choice that needs to exist…a choice that should be fought for, in spite of all the zealots and misogynists that want to revert women’s rights back to second-class status.

    And also remember my overwhelming anger when we left the clinic and saw a sad collection of religious fools picketing the street outside. As if those poor women needed to be reprimanded for the anguish they just experienced…

    1. “Not that they were making the wrong choice, mind you. Just a very, very difficult one.”

      In some ways this is heart of the pro-life/pro-choice conflict. For many pro-lifers, there seems to be ignorance of the actual situations women face in making the decision to terminate a pregnancy (which may be doomed in any case).  Why do strangers want to interject themselves into these  emotionally tough, medically complicated and intensely personal decisions?

      I do not know.  I believe each of us has a life that is challenging enough to keep us occupied with our own moral choices, without trying to judge the choices of others.

  32. I am so sorry, Maggie. Because other people have a harder time making and carrying out their decisions doesn’t mean your pain is somehow not justified. However, it says a lot about you to acknowledge the unfairness many other women face at such a time. Sometimes life just kicks you where it hurts most, but remember there are a lot of people who care about you. (((hugs)))

  33. Thank you for writing this. In a society where it’s considered acceptable to censure a politician for speaking the word “vagina,” too much information about women’s health is considered inappropriate for polite society. When you write about it, you normalize a frequent, but frequently painful, situation. My wife and I struggled with pregnancy, too, and got lucky. I hope you do, too – I bet you’ll be a great parent.

  34. I went through something similar (from the male side) a few years ago.  I took away a similar lesson, as well.  It sucks.  Thanks for speaking out.

  35. I’m so sorry Maggie. I wish you didn’t have to make this choice, but glad that you at least have the option to do so. All my best wishes and hugs to you in this horrible time. My best friend went through the something similar 2 years ago and now has a happy, healthy baby boy. Sending good vibes and hope your way!

  36. It is the world’s Shittiest Secret Society.  The conspiracy to stay silent, and not be compassionate and supportive to people who are in this situation, is unconscionable.

  37. Thank you for sharing this, Maggie, despite the stigma and the heartache. It was deeply moving to read your description of your struggle and the weighty decisions surrounding not just your choice but the debate about abortions more broadly. You and your husband have my heartfelt condolences, and I wish you all the best in the future.

  38. Thanks for having the courage to write about this, here and now at the dawn of medicine, when the villagers still shake totems at those who dare speak of forbidden things.

  39. Long time lurker, first time commenter. I wish you the best in figuring this out, I know from experience it’s a difficult decision.
    Here’s some anecdata:
    I’m also part of a long-time “unexplained intfertility” couple. I am lucky to know that the women I am directly related to (siblings; mother) have each had anywhere from 2-6 miscarriages.

    I had the first miscarriage at 9 weeks, I had spent a week at a conference beforehand knowing that it might end poorly and quietly freaked out with every tiny bit of bleeding. I identified people I knew at the conference who might be available to support and the nearest hospitals (even going so far as to check that my insurance was taken there), and never needed that. It ended up being natural the afternoon after an ultrasound upon my return where they couldn’t detect a heartbeat. My cramping wasn’t too bad, the “mass” was upsetting but also cathartic, and I was lucky it was a weekend. Do not be surprised if the bleeding (at low level) lasts for weeks.

    The second was a suspected ectopic pregnancy. I had chemical treatment to get rid of it after it was clear that it was non-viable. All the time I fumed that if this pregnancy were allowed to develop: my life, and my future fertility would be at huge risk. And that some idiots are trying to make laws that would have put me in danger. I had to cancel a work trip due to the (small) possibility I might go into uncontrollable bleeding which can quickly lead to death on a plane. I was allowed to go on a road trip, however.

    I have had close friends and relatives in the experience of trying for a natural miscarriage and have it end up in incredible bleeding which leads them to the emergency room for a D&C, others it resolved naturally. I have heard a horror story from a relative about another country where they had to wait until she was definitely dying in the hospital (near-death experience) until they removed the non-viable fetus that was killing her.

    I am glad that we have the choice that we have been able to get the treatment we need and the information we need to make the decision that is right for *our health in that particular set of circumstances*. 

  40. My sympathies to you. It is a shitty secret society. I have never been pregnant myself, nor do I expect to be in the near future. Even so, I think because of my own family history I would not be surprised at a miscarriage if I were to become pregnant. Most of the women on my mom’s side of the family have experienced multiple miscarriages. 
    It doesn’t make it any less shitty or emotionally/physically painful, but I guess we just aren’t surprised anymore.  On one occasion, not only did my cousin lose the almost full term baby, she almost died herself due to toxicity. 

  41. thank you. the same thing happened to me. I chose not to have the procedure and honestly – the natural wasn’t that bad, as far as physical pain goes (I’m sure mileage varies) but as Saltine mentioned above, its a lot more than a ‘heavy period’ and emotionally quite traumatizing.

  42. My wife and I are going down the low-level fertility treatments (and likely soon IUI and IVF), and – aside from the very real possibility that none of them may work – this is what has us spooked the most, that after all of that it may still fail, and that it’s just nature being nature.

    Our thoughts and prayers will be with you. Good luck and God bless.

    1. Best of luck!!! It’s really hard dealing with the unsuccessful attempts as well even if you don’t get as far as having the chance to miscarry.  My wife will get into moods of dispair because she feels less like a woman and that her own body continues to fail her because she hasn’t been able to conceive again.  (The first failure being a c-section that was coerced on us by a pair of doctors who wanted to go home and have their day off and subsequent caesarian depression.) 

      Doesn’t help that our son keeps asking for a sibling either to remind us.

  43. Thanks for sharing your story.  I wish you and your husband the best.  I’m glad you have the option to make your choice, even though all the options are bad.

  44. So sorry for the horrible road ahead. Wishing you the best of health and that you find comfort.  I wish I had something better to say :o/

  45. This is a terrific post. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing so candidly about it.

    However, I would like to politely quibble with your claim that “None of those options are any less painful, traumatizing, or side-effect filled than any of the others.” The idea that abortion is always traumatic is an anti-choice lie. The website I’m Not Sorry has many stories from women who were relieved to be able to get an abortion and have never regretted it.

    Also, abortion is many times safer than childbirth. Obviously, it’s surgery and therefore carries risks, but not as many as childbirth carries.

    1.  Thank you for making this point. Framing abortion as something that is always traumatic silences women who feel relief, not sadness, and casts relieved women as damaged for not feeling properly sad.

      Sometimes abortion is a sad thing, as in Maggie’s case. But sometimes it’s a necessary thing, like a root canal, and there is nothing wrong with finding relief in abortion.

  46. I am a father of a perfect two year old. My wife, who is in her Forties, had at least 3 “early miscarriages” before this pregnancy. 

    Truth: miscarriages are incredibly common, even in young, healthy women, and in many (but not most) cases, D&C is a good idea.

    Thank you, Maggie, for bringing this to the attention of people. Medicine is in many cases a very sad profession. If only the power-mongers could leave well enough alone.

  47. Thank you for sharing your story. Too often the public hears only the stories of the awful, regrettable, eternally-damning abortion or the liberated, painless, almost callous abortion. In reality, people’s experiences are extremely varied and often contradictory. I would suggest researching an organization called Exhale that helps/lets women, their partners, friends, and families talk about their experiences after abortions.

    1. There’s nothing “callous” about a woman deciding what to do with her own body. And I find your use of the term “liberated” rather questionable. “Oh, those liberated wimminz.”

  48. I’m so sorry for your loss, the loss of a baby – particularly a much wanted one doesn’t just warrant the mourning of the lost child (who will be in your thoughts forever) but also the mourning of all the hopes and dreams for your life together.  These things are of course still possible but that does not take anything away from what you have lost right now.

    6 years ago, I sadly discovered my little girl had died in utero when I was 6 months pregnant and like you, I had to decide whether to abort the pregnancy or to wait for it to happen naturally.  The medical advice was strongly on the side of aborting, but I was lucky to be surrounded by amazingly empathetic and caring staff.  I didn’t choose them – I am in the UK and am lucky to not need health insurance to be treated in the manner I would wish to be treated.  We decided to abort; the induction was scheduled for 4 days later and my little girl was delivered. 

    At the same time a friend – at the same stage of pregnancy discovered her little boy’s brain had not formed properly and that whilst he could be carried to full term, he would not survive for long after birth, and that there could be a risk to her health.  She decided to induce labour at 6 months and had precious seconds with her little boy before he passed away.

    Knowing that your baby will not survive, or that it has already died does not make the decision to abort any easier.  I was the same as you, clinging on to the pregnancy and to take the tablet to start induction off was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

    I knew my risk of miscarriage was higher than the norm so to a couple of health factors.  And I was advised to not try again for a year but that was never going to happen and I tried again almost immediately.  It had taken 5 years and fertility drugs to get pregnant at all and there was no way I could wait longer.  It is scary to terminate a pregnancy, no matter what is ‘wrong’ with it, and knowing that there could be repercussions on your chances to successfully conceive and carry a pregnancy to full term.  All I can say is that you have to follow your heart.  If your partner has offered to be with you, then allow him to be.  Miscarriage is so hard on the fathers too, and I know mine husband just wanted to do anything he could to help and not be a spare part.  It’s hard for them when they can’t take the hurt away and they are hurting themselves.

    The situation in the US with regard to women’s health rights appals me.  That anyone, but particularly a woman, could castigate, judge or condemn another woman in this way is beyond my comprehension and I really feel for them.  Like you say, abortion is rarely the easy option.

    I’ve written far too much now, sorry about that.  I wish you lots of strength to get through this, and you will get through it.  I am so lucky to now have 3 beautiful children – 2 tucked up in bed upstairs, and 1 tucked up in my heart forever.  It sounds odd, but I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones in this respect.

    Thank you for writing this piece x

  49. As a double asterisk I want to thank you for writing this. Our infertility was and is very public. The world’s shittiest secret society did a really good job of making even close friends attempts to be comforting suck as they had no socialization to fall back on. We found that people who had miscarriages understood much more than anyone else, and I imagine part of this had to do with the bad options tone of all of the medical professionals we talked to. Thanks for reminding me of that 10 years out from my own experience. 

  50. Maggie,

    If I can be proud of a stranger, I am proud of you.  My wife and I went through this loss two years ago.  Like you, we felt alone and were totally unaware of how many of our friends had suffered a similar loss until months after the D&C. We have tried to be as open about our situation to all of our friends and family so that they might not feel so alone.

    There is no easy decision, there is the one you will eventually make for yourself.  It is heart wrenching and difficult and painful and terrible, and I wish you and your husband comfort.

  51. Oh no.  This very recently happened to a couple that’s dear to me, she was in the thirtieth week.  Paid them a visit last Saturday, they are well on their way to regaining peace in their lives, and Miss Koerth-Baker, I wish the same for you – peace and relief soon; while this is happening, it surely is a heavy and frightening burden.

    And yes, surgery is no small matter, so far I’d rather live with my deviated septum than to have an operation for it.
    Some procedures are much more… shall we say ‘routine’, than others, either of your two possible choices fall into this realm.  Whichever path you choose in the next few days or weeks, please take comfort in that.

  52. Maggie, I cried with you while I read this. I have never had to know this kind of heartache, but I do know this  — every decision that a woman must make about her health and what is best for her should be hers alone. Choice is that simple. And that being said — one of my dearest friends endured five miscarriages before she found out that she had an enzyme imbalance that made keeping a fetus impossible. Once that was corrected — she is now the mother of two beautiful children. There is a something waiting for you out there. And science made it possible for my friend to be healthy enough to carry these children. It will be well.

  53. “There is no universal good option. There is no universal bad option. But for each individual there is an option that is the least bad. Here is why I am pro-choice. If someone has to make a decision and the best they can hope for is the least-bad option, I don’t believe I have any business making that choice for them.”

    Unfortunately, there are millions of people who have never been in a situation similar to yours yet have decided that they should, in fact, be the ones deciding what you should (or shouldn’t) be allowed to do. These are the sample people who furiously oppose ACA (“Obamacare”) because they are outraged that somebody should require them to carry health insurance. Yet the rest of the insured population will have to pay higher fees to cover the non-insured when they do have a health crisis, but can’t afford to pay for their own health care. Such hypocrisy. All the best to you and your husband. Whatever you decide, it will be the right thing for you. We should have no say in your health care choices.

    Thank you for writing such a poignant piece.

  54. My wife and I went through a couple of miscarriages. We are both biochemists; she’s also a developmental biologist. On a rational level we understood the chances, and reasons, that pregnancies end. On an emotional level, I was gutted. She was stronger.

    Her D&C procedures were uncomfortable during (no full anesthesia, not even a MAC) and after but she didn’t complain. We are the parents of two wonderful children today, and thankful for the privelage. Maggie, I hope and pray for the same for you and your husband. I’m sure you will be great parents.

    I remember being a small child and finding my mother bleeding out in the bathtub at least twice, waiting for my father to get home. Catholics, practicing the rhythm method, in the 1960s – those times were not better. This perspective helped us deal with our losses. And please spare a thought for all the women in the world who will die from complications in pregnancy today, this very day, due to societal
    constraints and/or lack of decent medical care.

  55. I am so sorry for your loss. I had two losses like this. The procedure you have, which I have had, is NOT an abortion. The child already has stopped growing. You are not terminating a life. Again, so sorry. I have given birth to two children but never will forget my other angels.

    1. The procedure is exactly the same, and the anti-choice side in this country has not only introduced legislation to force women to carry miscarriages to term, they want no doctors to even be trained to do abortions, which means no one trained to do this. So it’s very much part of the debate. Bottom line, she is stopping a pregnancy before it stops on its own. That is an abortion, and you saying “Oh, but it’s not reeeeeally an abortion” isn’t going to make it any easier for her.

  56. There is no easy answer no matter which position one takes on this issue.  But it has to be the answer that you make.  I am very sorry for your loss, and I send my very best wishes and regards.

  57. Thank you for this post. I am 44 and have had 3 miscarriages and simply haven’t talked about it. One was for a pregnancy I would have terminated – I was quite young – but the others… As a childless woman it’s sometimes hard to bear. 
    Your post is an eloquent statement for our right to make our own choices for our bodies, and that those choices aren’t easy. Thank you. I feel less alone.

  58. Maggie, I am so very sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing your thinking about this.  It gives this pro-choice, childless by choice woman something to think about.  Best wishes to you and your husband.

  59.  don’t be discouraged. it took 2 years for my parents to conceive my brother, who was prematurely born at 7 months, less than 2 kilos light, and nobody believed he would survive. then it took them 9 years and 5 or more miscarriages to have me. I nearly died because of a double nuchal cord.
    now that I look on how both of us have turned out, I think even the pickiest eugenicists would be proud.

  60. Hi Maggie, I’m sorry that you and Chris have to deal with this. I haven’t had to go through this myself but I know plenty of ladies who have. You are certainly not alone and I wish you the best. You will both be incredible parents someday.

  61. I’m really sorry that you and your husband are going through this. It is very brave of you to use this situation to help and educate. No matter what decisions you make it will be difficult and I will keep you in my prayers (or thoughts, if that makes you more comfortable). The whole thing is much harder than people who have not experienced it realize. Stay strong and lean on each other.

  62. Thank you for sharing this.  I announced my third pregnancy early on, because I wasn’t sure it would last (I was 43) and I needed friends and family to know in case I lost it.  At six weeks, the heartbeat was strong and healthy.  A week later, the baby was dead.

    My friends told me their own stories of miscarriage, which helped a great deal.  As I wrote then, I had joined “a vast sisterhood:  women of all ages and backgrounds who have lost babies we wanted and could not have.”  I did pass the remains eventually, after several days of labor, and I buried them under a tree.  That helped too.  Yet nearly four years later, I still grieve.

    I’m glad you have a spouse to grieve with you.  Be gentle on yourselves.

    1. Ellen,
      My heart goes out for you. We also shared with more people than it may have been “polite” to share with, but we couldn’t imagine going through this without our friends and families knowing. I have no idea how people go through this without telling people. I don’t want it to be the only topic of conversation, but I also don’t want to have to pretend nothing happened. 

  63. Thank you for writing such a wonderful piece about this. I am so sorry for your loss. Someone pointed me in the direction of this post because I’d just written something about how angry all the silence surrounding miscarriage makes me feel (particularly early miscarriage – I think many people suggest it somehow “doesn’t count”). I wanted to say something to you because I hate it when people say nothing. I think what you have written will really help people. I am so sorry you have to go through this, but thank you so much for telling people about it. 

  64. Maggie, I am truely sorry to hear this, it must be an awful thing for both of you to be going through. I hope you come to a decision that is best for you, your very brave for posting this, you are in my thoughts..

  65. Maggie:   I am so sorry to hear of your and your husband’s ordeal.  Whatever you decide, it is the appropriate decision.  Feel free to e-mail or call.  Good luck.  Best,  Jim Kakalios

  66. There aren’t supposed to be any tears in this sterile, brightly-lit, noisy computer room.

    But there are.

    I don’t wish to speak for…oh, hell, sure I do: we admire your courage, we empathize with your situation, we will support you no matter what, and we love you.  So there.

  67. Maggie,

    I am so sorry to hear about this.  Thank you for sharing your story — hopefully, it will make things easier in the future for other who have to go through what you and Chris are dealing with right now.

  68. Wonderful post. You are brave and also an excellent writer. My best wishes to get through this difficult moment!

  69. This is powerful writing on a subject that lacks sensitive and powerful writing. Thanks for that. Wish I could help you with the feelings that go with this situation. You’re right it sucks. Someone needed to say that. Now I wish it didn’t suck for you.

  70. Maggie, your previous posts have moved me to think but today I am moved to tears.  You have humbled me with your openness and bravery. You are a wonderful woman and my thoughts are with you.

  71. I’ve shared this and bookmarked it. The nuance and individuality of your account is largely absent from the conversation (shouting match?) about abortion, birth control and women in general.

    Your article was thought-provoking, heartfelt, eloquent and honest. I can’t thank you enough.

  72. What a wonderful, tragic account. Thank you Maggie for being a voice for so many women out there. I haven’t personally experienced anything like this yet, but I have friends who have. No matter the reasoning behind the decision, it’s always incredibly difficult, and never, as one commenter put it, like pushing some “button” to undo things. I question the human capacity in someone who makes such a hard-bitten comparison. 

    May oodles of strength and support become you and your husband. 

  73. My husband and I started trying to get pregnant about 8 months ago. I started using the fertility awareness method about 6 months ago and started reading up on fertility.  I wish I’d known much earlier in life a) how difficult it can be to get pregnant and b) how difficult it can be to stay pregnant. I’m sorry for your loss and although I haven’t experienced that misfortune yet, I am beginning to understand the frustration of finally getting pregnant, then losing it for no good reason. 

    1. Amen to the a) and b). In school it was made to sound like you could get pregnant from more or less any time of your period and by just having the appropriate parts close enough. No you can’t! Gah, stop lying to kids and give them real information! One day those kids will be grown ups and actually want to become pregnant… and the information learned in school isn’t really going to help with that.

  74. Maggie – I have seen these situations depicted in TV and film (like in Downton Abbey S2 as your husband mentioned you just watched) but never gave it much real thought as it’s not something that’s touched my own life.

    I want to thank you for opening my eyes to this secret reality. Though I (presumably) won’t be having kids for quite some time, I know that I will be approaching that situation with a better-informed perspective because of you, so again, thanks.

    All the best to you!

  75. Maggie, Thank you so much for writing this, I know it must be extremely hard for you at this time, but from the bottom of my heart i thank you for sharing this story, especially in such trying times for women’s health. As a male, I understand that I can never begin to feel even a quarter of the pain that women must feel when faced with this decision. I think courageous writing like your own, is going to be a great tool to illustrate why we must protect women’s health and reproductive rights.

    Once again, thank you so much for pouring your heart and soul into this, it brought me to tears,

  76. Very courageous, and very educational… For all the pain you’re feeling, please know that you’ve produced an article that will help a lot of people, both directly and indirectly.

  77. I’m sure it is difficult time right now. My wife had both a miscarriage and then a separate ectopic pregnancy, yet 3 years later, at age 42, she gave birth to a healthy, normal boy (though now at 12 yrs old I sometimes wonder how normal!). Although your physiological issues are somewhat different, I hope this gives you just a bit of hope for a future healthy pregnancy.  As for the abortion politics, the whole thing just makes me sick. Best of luck, I enjoy reading your science posts.

  78. I am so sad for you and Baker to have to be going through some of this again… and some for the first time.  I commend you for being brave enough to put such personal information out there; the dialog it has spurred is quite encouraging.  I think a lot of medical professionals give the internet flak because it makes it so easy for individuals to share their information and stories… but it really is invaluable.  Feeling alone is one of the worst side effects any of these situations can have.

    I hope this encourages more people to share; at least with their family and friends when faced with these types of personal dilemmas and losses.  I am a notorious tell-all, I heal through sharing and have never kept a pregnancy secret for fear of having to face the loss alone.  And we did once… and now I have 4 healthy boys and an unexpected one on the way.

    Which brings me to my next point.  Do your research yourself; ALWAYS.  If you find yourself in a new situation and procedures and drugs are put forth to you- read as MUCH as you can about both the benefits and risks.  I have had too many experiences in the last year where my medical providers’ inability for full disclosure concerning my options have negatively impacted me, and my family.  Perinatal depression is real and it sucks, but had I known the high risk for preterm labor prior to choosing medication at my OBGYN’s encouragement- my last son my not have come careening into this world almost 7 weeks early.

    Also, no birth control is completely effective.  MANY people get pregnant on IUDs, and 50% will end in miscarriage.  I was not told this, and even upon further questioning my health care provider- they told me it was a “small percentage” that result in miscarriage.  1 in 1000 women will conceive on the IUD (both hormonal and not), and 50% of those conceptions will not be viable.

    Our current conception is the latter… something we are having very real and painful mixed feelings about ourselves since we were done having kids.  And the thought that I could potentially carry to 5-6 months and have the heartbeat spontaneously stop has been weighing heavily on us.  I never gave much thought as to whether I was pro-life or pro-choice (I mainly figured other peoples’ choices were none of my business), but I give more credit to those who have had to live the pro-choice life now that we are at our own crossroads.

    The exchange of information is important, so thank you again and I wish you both peace and a viable conception in the near future.

  79. That couldn’t have been an easy thing to write, thank you. It’s important, and maybe it will make things a tiny bit easier for someone else in a similar situation.  

  80. Love to you Maggie. I’ve been through 2 miscarriages myself. Including one alone on a business trip. Not fun.  Thank you for ‘breaking the silence’. The more we all realize we are not alone the less we will feel the weird shame that seems to go with this. PS – I have a beautiful healthy little girl now – I’m sending all kinds of good baby vibes your way that you will have a beautiful healthy child in your arms soon too.

  81. Thank you Maggie for writing this. Also, thank-you to all the people who contributed their stories. It is a strangely silent club.
    I miscarried a baby 6 years ago. I was youngish, and stupidly in love with someone who didn’t care about me – in fact, he walked away just before I miscarried. Even though it wasn’t logical, I WANTED – even yearned – for that baby. Losing it was devastating, and it is still horrible and awful to think about – even now when I see a child who is about that age, I wonder what would have been if I hadn’t lost the pregnancy. As sad as losing my baby was, the most difficult part was not being able to talk about it with anyone. I remember telling my mother and her reaction was “Good. You are better off without him or it. You would have had to have an abortion anyway.” Perhaps correct (I can’t afford a baby on my own), but not what I wanted to hear when I was in excruciating physical and emotional pain. After that, I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone else because I didn’t want to risk their reactions. 
    I’m very sorry that you are going through this. I hope that you find peace and healing.

    1. That is exactly what I think is so painful about miscarriage- it’s losing the future that you were already planning for that child!  I was only 6 weeks along when I lost a baby and people actually said to me, “It’s not like you were far enough along to be attached to it.”  Well of COURSE I was.  I am sorry that you had to keep it to yourself.  =(

  82. Years ago, my husband and I experienced similar pain.   I went through the same procedures, twice, before going on to give birth to two lovely daughters, now grown.   You met one of them recently, who asked you to autograph your book for me. 
    It saddens my husband and myself that after all these years, that a very personal, and painful process continues to be made all the more difficult by the unnecessary and wrong barriers that some portions of society has imposed.
    I commend you for your bravery in being so public about this.   Thank you for thinking of the women, and their significant others, in the future who will also find themselves in the same hard place.   I am encouraged by the discussion here and hope that it leads to better understanding.  I wish you well. 

  83. My wife went through 3 miscarriages before we had our second child. One of which required a D&C. Each one was a miserable, heartbreaking experience. My wife was in her mid-late 30’s and those were the odds. Of course that didn’t keep us from freaking out about the possibility of ever having a child again. Now we have an awesome son.

  84. My warmest thoughts are with you, Maggie.

    Just to let you know, I’m another Cohen statistic: I’ve also had miscarriages, including one that had to be completed with a D&C.  The children I had after all those heartaches are healthy and happy.  Bad luck can happen repeatedly and then good luck can come.

    Hope you heal quickly, on all levels.  I wish the best for you.

  85. My first pregnancy was a blighted ovum. My Dr said I could wait it out and have a natural miscarriage and then go in or do the D&C right away. I opted for the latter because I was scared about going through a miscarriage on my own…not knowing when it woud happen or how it would happen.  I was living in Canada at the time and I was fortunate enough to have the choice and for the procedure to be covered. I’m not going to lie, I cried  my frickin eyes out before and after. And it hurt like an SOB. The doctor said if I was to do it again I should go in and be put out because of the pain I went through. I told him I wasn’t planning on it happening again.

    Bottom line, I chose what was best for me.

  86. I really sorry this is a decision you have to make Maggie.  Has your doctor mentioned medication abortion?  Sometimes it’s called a medical abortion. There might be some reason it wouldn’t be appropriate in your situation, but it might be worth asking your physician about it. It’s not painless, but it’s not surgery. It can be used anytime in the first trimester. Basically you take one pill that ends the pregnancy and then a day or two later you take another which expels everything from the uterus. The second part is accompanied by intense cramps and bleeding, but quite frankly, it sounds like your previous miscarriage was more painful. Good luck with everything.

    And to add another positive anecdote, I knew a woman who had multiple miscarriages and then had a child with such severe birth defects that he died a few days after birth. Then she got pregnant again, but testing revealed that the fetus had the same fatal birth defect so they made the heartbreaking decision to abort. After that they gave up on conceiving and adopted a little boy from Russia. You know what happened next…. surprise pregnancy! A happy, healthy baby that’s probably entering middle school by now. They also went on to have 2 more of their own and it is one happy, full house.

  87. I have had the bad luck to experience both options, having had a missed abortion at 6 weeks (just after ultrasound identified a heartbeat) which misoprostol failed to complete (the pharm tech who gave me that Rx said, “Have a nice day!” (!)), followed finally, at the 11-week mark, by a DNC because my HCG was still climbing. I even got an ultrasound tech at that final appointment before the DNC who thought, briefly, that she had seen a heartbeat, and yes, I was still holding out for a statistically impossible surprise. She hadn’t seen one–it was my own heartbeat. The most horrific moment of my life was walking out after the transvaginal ultrasound that identified the nonviable embryo and sitting in my car in the parking garage where I was doing my postdoc, just howling with pain and rage. I am so sorry for what you’re going through and sympathize so strongly with your experience. No two couples will have the same situation, but we did conceive literally a month after the DNC finally ended my 5-week-long miscarriage, and he’s turning six in August. 

    It’s difficult enough being a woman and dealing with the very personal heartbreak that all of the decisions you describe carry with them without our having others try to make those decisions for us. Thank you for writing this brave piece in the midst of your personal nightmare.

  88. Thank you for telling your story.  I am so sorry that you are having to confront this and make these choices. It really is a private matter which should be left for a woman and her doctor, not the politicians.  Hope you feel physically better soon and the emotional pain will lessen with time.  Don’t give up.

  89. Maggie, thank you for your courage in sharing this story. I’m so impressed that you and Chris have replied to so many other comments. I hope that you make it safely through this weekend and are able to say goodbye to this child-who-could-not-have-been in the (relative) comfort of a doctor’s office. 

    I was raised by fundamentalist Christians, but I remember being very certain at a very young age that fetuses that don’t make it to full term as well as babies just get recycled- the memory is of sitting in a bathtub thinking that the water behind the wall in the pipes is like where we are before we’re born and that the water that goes down the drain eventually makes it back into the water supply and can come back out. Not sure what I am saying by that, just maybe that even as a currently rather die-hard atheist I think that the potential for life/consciousness/whatever is sort of an endless pool of ineffability and whatever potential life you had within you for those 6 weeks will surely come back to you.

    You guys will have a great kid one day. I hope that a natural pregnancy works for you, and if it ends up that it doesn’t, well, you are gonna give some kid who needs it a HELL of an awesome home. 

  90. I want to add one medical piece of advice: for any woman having difficulties with fertility, get a simple blood test to check your thyroid.

  91. I’m so sorry. I would say, “I know what you’re going through,” but that is demeaning: nobody can know what you’re going through. I can only say that I know what my wife and I went through with our losses (at 12 and 16 weeks gestational age, one to trisomy 13, the other to causes unknown), and that I feel for you.

    My wife and I both give thanks that we live in a society that is enlightened enough to teach the procedure in medical schools – something that too may preachers lobby to forbid. And that we should not have to face a coroner’s inquest to defend ourselves against a charge of unlawful abortion, the way some of my older family members did after undergoing the procedure – for a desperately wanted pregnancy – in the era before Roe v Wade.

    And I don’t try to “leave religion out of it.” I believe that condemning those with troubled pregnancies to unnecessary pain and risks to health and to life itself is evil, pure and simple. Those who claim that it is God’s will are committing no less than a profanation of His name. He does not will evil, ever. (He permits it to exist, for reasons of his own. I happen to believe that He does so because His primary attribute is that He is the Creator, and He wants His creation to tell an interesting story. Fortitude in adversity makes for a better tale than bland happiness.)

    I will always wonder what life would have been like with the first child that we lost. But had we been granted the boon of keeping her, my wife’s womb would not have been open for the wonderful daughter who graduates high school tomorrow, and for whom we give thanks daily. I say this, not to dismiss you with “you will soon have another,” but to say, “you will never get over this loss. Things will never ‘return to normal.’ But you are strong, and you will find a new normal, and other joys, and more people to love than the baby whom you will never meet face to face. You will always mourn that child, but a time will come when mourning is no longer the central fact of your existence.”

    May you go from strength to strength.

  92. What a courageous and intimate share.

    My wife miscarried (DNC’ed) about the same time in the pregnancy while trying to produce Thing 2.  We were surprised at how many people shared with us, only after becoming a member of the club, that they’d gone through the same experience.

    Perhaps this is yet another example of how opening up doesn’t distance us from our fellow humans; it brings us closer through common experience.

    Whatever your decision, please accept virtual hugs and support from a near-complete stranger.


  93. I appreciate what you are saying and I am truly sorry for the pain you are going through right now. I also really appreciated the sentiment of your article and I am grateful for the point you are trying to make about the need for shameless abortions unencumbered by the moral majorities ugly agenda.  However, I’m continually uncomfortable when well-intentioned people say that abortion is always a difficult choice for all women to make. I was only 22 when I had my first of two abortions. It was not a difficult choice, there was no internal conflict and I’ve never felt any regret. I feel like pro-choice people often feel like they have to say that it IS a difficult choice for everyone because deep down there is some sort of ‘buy in’ to the anti-choice idea in some sub-conscious way that what we are doing is wrong, and we need to offer up our pain as some sort of penance or to make the choice more palatable to them or ourselves. I am fully aware that many women do struggle with the choice of abortion, but we don’t all have that conflict. I don’t want children and when birth control failed, I used abortion to end an unwanted pregnancy. That was 14 years ago and if I ever looked back at my choice- I only feel relief and gratitude that I was able to have an abortion in a safe, clean place and wasn’t forced to have a child with an abusive ex or to serve as a brood mare for some hypothetical adoptive family waiting in the wings. The USSC decided years ago that was my right- no hand-wringing, regret, conflict or guilt required. 

    1. It’s not a penance. It’s a plea for compassion for those for whom it indeed is a horrible decision and a source of grief. Even if you can get no sympathy for elective abortions from those who believe that they are a horrible crime, maybe they can at least be convinced not to label as ‘murderers’ those who face the terrible choice of how best to lay to rest a nonviable foetus.

  94. Thank you  Maggie. My third pregnancy was a miscarriage at 10 weeks of an unplanned pregnancy followed by a D&C to prevent hemorrhage and/or infection. You’re right, there are no easy choices. I’m just glad my husband and I were able to choose the D&C. If it hadn’t been an available option, I probably would not have been able to conceive our youngest child. My condolences to you and your husband.

  95. Thank you for sharing this, difficult though it must have been.  Your candor will help others, rest assured.  May your healing journey be smooth and filled with love.

  96. I admire your courage in sharing this — it can’t have been easy to write.  I hope it brings some measure of comfort to others who are facing (or have faced) similarly difficult decisions, by letting them know that they are not alone.

  97. This was a powerful post, Maggie. Thank you for having the courage to share it.

    Your coinage “The World’s Shittiest Secret Society”, which couldn’t be more apt, really crystallized something in my thinking: there’s a vicious circle at work here. Because abortion is viewed as shameful, it’s kept secret by the women who have it; and because it’s kept secret by the women who have it, it’s much easier for others to stigmatize and shame those women, knowing they won’t speak up to defend themselves. When the women who get abortions are thought of as a faceless, voiceless Other, and not our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our friends or our co-workers, their motives can freely be impugned, their moral character can freely be slandered, and hateful, simplistic stereotypes can take root and grow much more readily. Your post is the kind of thing we need to break this cycle.

    I was at the Netroots Nation conference the other week, and one of the major themes of discussion was that we win by telling our stories. A progressive House candidate from Washington state, Darcy Burner, made mention of this when she asked how many women in the auditorium (a crowd of maybe about 1500 people) had had abortions and would be willing to speak publicly about it. A handful of people stood, maybe twenty or thirty. Then she asked who’d be willing to stand by them if they were attacked for speaking up about it. That time, the whole audience rose to its feet. We can win this, we can make reproductive choice a practical right and not just a theoretical one, if we do more to tell stories like this.

  98. 3 miscarriages here. The Worlds Shittiest Secret Society indeed. 

    The first, people were sympathetic, and we let it run its course. The second, was at home, chemical induced, a misery. The third, such hopes, and then…nothing. Opted that time for D&C get it over with. That time, I only recall 2 things: sitting at the table as they dropped that on us for the third time, and that the nurse who was tending to me said “cheer up! think positive!” and I believe my response sent her running from the room in fear, at which point I was transferred to the obgyn ward and treated with so much kindness. 

    The worst is the silence, the side-eye as people look to see ( at least it feels that way) what you did or didn’t do, and the i guess well meaning advice that comes off really bad : relax, try again,for the best. 

    And now I’m amazed that SO many people have had multiple losses. Secret society indeed.  I’m lucky I’m in canada, where the issue of how to manage the end of a pregnancy wasn’t the political hot potato. My doctor and I talked, decided, acted. 

     Take care.

  99. With 3 miscarriages, 2 abortions and 3 full term pregnancies, I have run the gamut of the sucky options you talk about. Emotionally, there was little difference for me between the miscarriages and abortions. All were awful, all came with their own dose of guilt, and all still weigh on me to some extent.

    I hope you find peace with whatever decision you make, though I wouldn’t really classify this as an abortion. In a similar situation, my first miscarriage was incomplete and I had to have a D&C. I suppose I could have waited to see if the process would complete itself naturally, but I never considered that I was having an abortion.  I later went through a natural miscarriage at home that dragged out for nearly a month, and I would have much preferred another D&C.

    Thank you for posting about your experience, in real time.  You’re adding a dose of reality for the pro-lifers who write off the act of terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons, as some rare mythical happening, when it clearly isn’t.

  100. Thoughts and prayers are with you at this tough time.  I had a miscarriage (unsure of cause) at 7 weeks between the births of my two sons.  Thank you for sharing your experience in your post.  I’m so sorry.  Yeah, it stinks, heartbreakingly stinks.

  101. Just wow.  I sure hope the process of writing this helped you work thu what you are going thru.  Obviously, you touched a number of people in a powerful way – both those painfully familiar with these things and assuredly those of us who are not.  Just … powerful.  Thank you.

  102. THANK YOU. And best of luck to you in this terribly hard situation. My condolences on your  loss.

  103. This is something everyone should read.  This is important, powerful writing.

    I had no idea that the rate of miscarriage is so high.  At that level, EVERYONE will have someone very close to them, at some point in their life, who has had a miscarriage.  The World’s Shittiest Secret Society, truely; I hope that one day, the stigma around miscarriage and abortion will decrease to the level that will allow those to get the support they need.  I feel like we’re not there yet.

  104. I can’t know what you’re going through, but I have a fairly good idea what it’s probably like for your husband.  My wife’s first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage right around 10 weeks.  We were so excited to be expecting a baby.  We had even picked a name and had told pretty much everyone.  It took me (not to mention my wife) quite awhile to heal from that experience.  I had quite a hard time being excited the next time around (which ended much more happily).

  105. I had a miscarriage last year.  It was very early.  I had one positive test early.  It took two weeks between the negative (and when the oh-so-exciting-and-comforting symptoms stopped) and when the bleeding began.  I was uninsured for a month at the time so I couldn’t get a beta, I couldn’t get a advice, and though I am part of a wonderful group of women with extensive pregnancy and birth loss histories, I still felt really alone because my loss was so early.  

    If I ever face a slowing or failing pregnancy again, I will hasten it.  Waiting that two weeks was so painful even though the cramping and bleeding was indistinguishable from a normal period.  Note this was the result of 13 months of trying.  I hope your healing is whole and you are successful in your next pregnancy.  And me too.Thanks for the book recommendation.

  106. I’m a woman, a mother, a nurse, a Christian, and I live in the real world. Each person makes the best decision they can, at the time, with the information and the resources they have available to them. It’s time to quit all of this insane judgement and start dealing conpassionately with people. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know you will do what is right for you. God is very big. He sure can handle anything humans might need to do and will be there to help with any grief or suffering – not judgement.  I hope you are well in the days to come and I will be thinking of you and praying for the “least awful” outcome.

  107. The only child I’ve ever fathered ended in a miscarriage (I know “fathered” and “child” aren’t quite the right words, but I don’t want to use other ones). It was 15 years ago and I still think about it often. The only comfort I have is that it was clearly never going to be viable or it simply wouldn’t have ended itself, so painful as it is, that’s that.

    I’ve always understood the miscarriage figure to be even higher than 50%, my memory was more like 80%, it’s just that so many miscarriages happen in women who never knew they were pregnant, and early enough that they just think it’s their period.

    The whole thing sucks and I hate it, and I think you’re really brave, and I hope you’re ok.

  108. I’ve got no story. Nothing to share with you… except for my wishes of courage and wisdom… both of which you’ve already demonstrated by submitting this post.

  109. Thank you for honestly sharing your thinking and your own mixed feelings about what should be respected as a personal decision about abortion.  Believing there is no good abortion or bad abortion – no shame and also no moral high ground – does not mean that the decision is heedless, uncomplicated or without a personal spiritual aspect.  Some women make a hard decision to continue a pregnancy, and not have an abortion, and then later wonder whether social or family pressures pushed them to that decision.  Such difficult decisions about abortion and reproduction need to be surfaced more in our culture, so more thanks for starting a rich conversation.  

    A friend actually did miscarry at a professional conference and received support and 24 hour tender care from two colleagues who showed themselves to be dear friends.   Though the experience was mostly awful, it helped her understand family in a new way.  Be gentle with yourself whatever you do.

  110. I am  so sorry Maggie.   In a similar situation, this “World’s Shittiest Secret Society” member chose to wait and see on the D&C.  It was the right choice for me at the time, but I’ll never ride that rollercoaster again.

    Be gentle with yourself.  You are loved.

  111. I’d say you were absolutely right to terminate on your schedule.  25 years ago, I was 6 weeks pregnant.   On Friday, I went to the ER because I was “spotting”.  I was alone because my husband was with our son, at least until he could find someone to watch him.  The ER was busy and I waited for hours.  The blood had pretty much stopped when I got there, but it started again, and I sat bleeding into the chair.  When they finally called me, after a short exam I was left alone in the room.  No  treatment, no one with me, not even a heartbeat monitor.   When my husband was finally able to come, he was the one that changed the the bloody sheets I’d been laying in.  I heard another patient say “Can’t anyone help her?”  That was the first time I realized that I’d been crying and moaning.   I’ve never had anything hurt so much in my life.  Not giving birth,  Not the pelvic infection that nearly killed me,  I don’t remember much of the rest, except none of the staff were there when I finally lost the fetus.   I found out later that they were treating someone that had been knifed.  Such bad planning, don’t ever have your miscarriage on a Friday night.  Two hours later a doctor finally came in, and gave this profession spiel about how much they much sympathy they had for my loss.  Yeah, right.   And I needed the D&C afterwards anyway. 

  112. I had my first baby at 17. I had an abortion I never talk about 7 months later- because no one ever talked to me about prevention, and a second pregnancy would have, literally, killed me. I felt complete relief at knowing the pregnancy would end, feel no lasting sorrow over it, but it was an uncomfortable medical procedure done under stressful situations.  Any idea that women go happily skipping off to the clinic, and come out whistling zippidee do da is BS.  22 years and two more children later, I am faced with the knowledge that those two more children have the constant, debilitating challenges of a rare inherited genetic glitch that people didn’t even know existed.  Would I go back and abort if I knew what the future held? I don’t know. I wrestle with the thought regularly. The retroactive decision I make in my head changes regularly too. But it is *my* decision, no one else’s- and no one should have the right to do anything that limits that decision making. 

  113. Dear Maggie,

    Thank you for your heart-rending honesty. You’re right that, in many real-life situations, there are no options that do not suck, that do not bring terrible pain. None of your options is easy. And so I pray instead that you’ll choose the Good. And know that you are loved.

  114. ‘The Worlds Shittiest Secret Society’ is a good name. There is a long gap between our early High School aged son and pre-schooler daughter and that was fairly filled with back to back miscarriages. We’re both medically trained and pretty pragmatic people so only officially announced 2 pregnancies — the two that gave us our 2 children. But they were the only ones that looked likely to survive (or were even alive at all) at first scan… 

    Wait or have the D&C? We did both and either way you go through it knowing you’ve lost something precious that might have been. Despite our initial pragmatism it was still shitty each time, reaching thoroughly miserable by the 3rd or 4th and way worse for my wife than for me each time. Even now we’re too old for more kids, it’s still difficult to field unthinking queries about why we left it so long between them.

  115. I found myself in a very similar circumstance 2 years ago, at 8 weeks. I went through with the abortion because the thought of waiting for the miscarriage to just hit me was terrifying. I was also walking the stage for my M.A. that weekend and really didn’t want it to happen spontaneously that day. I guess I wanted to feel like I had some control. I had a hard time reconciling “abortion” with the choices I was faced with, especially as a Texas resident, where women’s reproductive rights are so challenged and the word carries such weight. Though I am a sign-carrying pro-choicer, my experience certainly colored my view of the issue, for many of the reasons you mention. I am grateful for your post and your facts-I’m only recently considering trying again, and this gives me hope. I made the right decision for myself, and you will too.

  116. Something that rarely comes up in the dialogue about this issues is that a “procedure”, an abortion, is often done as a reproductive stratagem, to ensure reproductive health at a later date.  Were you to elect to let nature run its course, it could potentially harm your chances of conceiving later.  

    And despite the fact that evolutionary scientists of all disciples think reproduction is far and away the driving force that motivates actions of all species, reproduction in politics and public policy is downplayed as elective, the implication being that it is not necessary and less important than getting a pair of contacts, or your teeth whitened.  I would argue that for some it is a raison d’etre.  It’s elective in that you get to choose ‘if’ and ‘who with’ and ‘how’ and ‘when’ or ‘how many times’ (in a perfect world), but it’s not unimportant.  These choices matter a great deal, no matter what the choice is.  But, try finding a health insurance that will by default help you have a child.  Or cover you if you do.  And have fun finding the social program that will help you terminate a pregnancy if you do not choose to. 

    Everything is a choice, but some choices are more grim or healthier than others.  What I resent amid all the political talk of family values and happy christian procreating same sex couples, is that there is very little attention paid to *why* people choose what they choose.  Having an abortion today, could mean remaining fertile and reducing any number of risk factors; it could mean a greater attention to parental investment in a child at a later date; or it could mean not wanting to pass your health, mental or social problems on to descendants.  
    I loved this article.  But I think a woman’s first choice, if, like you, she wants to have another child, has to be based on what [the woman thinks] is best for her health, including future reproductive health. Because having options and being healthy is always better.

  117. Often I’ll pass up commenting on a thread because I feel I wouldn’t be adding much to the conversation. However in this case I need to make an exception, and add my voice to the chorus of well-wishers here. I am always awed when people write about deeply personal topics with such eloquence and brutal honesty. This is precisely the kind of vital conversation the world needs a lot more of. Thanks for this, and all the best.

  118. Maggie
    My condolences on your difficulty.  I deal with folks who are suffering from such troubles on a regular basis as an ER nurse, and there is very little we can say to emotionally assist them.  Because society chooses to not speak of spontaneous abortions, we have very little in the way of accepted syntax for these discussions.  Your bravery will help grow that communication, and for that we all owe you thanks.

    On to medicine:

    If you were a friend or patient, I would strongly urge you not to travel to Aspen in the upcoming days.  Travel is stressful in general, and will raise your risks of complications no matter what choice you make. 

    Aspen is over 8,000 feet above sea level.  For those not acclimated, a quick trip up to such altitude is a physically stressful event regardless of your level of fitness.  In your case, that great leap in altitude may increase your risks because it Will increase the metabolic demands on your body.  There is much less oxygen there, and the stress induced by that change is not to be overlooked. 

    Many otherwise perfectly competent physicians do not understand that travel to the mountains of Colorado means travel to low oxygen environments.  The partial pressure of oxygen in Denver (5280 feet) is nearly 20% lower than sea level, and causes great stress to many visitors.  Most folks should acclimate here for a couple days before heading up to 8200 feet.

    In the case of a woman who may have just undergone a D&c, or be at very high risk for a Spontaneous Abortion, the risks of travel to such altitude should be carefully weighed against the benefit of the travel.  I hope you have time to bring up this significant data point with your physician before you make your travel decision.

    Aspen is a small town high in the mountains and far from a big city hospital.  While they are competent, they fly out their high-risk OB patients, often all the way down to Denver (via helicopter or fixed wing depending on weather). 

    Under normal pregnancy conditions, with a short acclimation period, such travel would still be stressful. With your health conditions as described above, and knowing nothing else about your health, I urge you to be careful and take into account this information when you sit down with your physician tomorrow.

    Be strong, and know that there is a myriad of folks wishing you well.

    the Fiat RN
    Denver, CO

  119. I’m so sorry for the unfair decision you have to make. I’m currently living in the Philippines where abortion is criminalized for both providers and patients, with no explicit exceptions even for cases of maternal endangerment. I suffered a missed miscarriage (in which the body  doesn’t recognize fetal death has occurred, and thereby doesn’t expel the contents of the uterus) just into my second trimester of my second pregnancy, after a drawn out, poorly managed bout of amoebiasis. Because of the ban on abortifacients, which in cases like mine are used to open the cervix with less risk of future cervical insufficiency, my OB didn’t feel he could safely perform a D & C, so I had to live every day for three weeks—until we could make the long-haul flight back to the States, hoping I wouldn’t spontaneously miscarry in the air, schedule my procedure, and negotiate our crazy travelers’ insurance—with my dead baby shut tight inside me, risking rare but gruesome complications, and feeling stuck and morbid.

    My OB, who practiced for many years in the US, has shared some stories of other patients with circumstances much more tragic than mine. I’ve always been prochoice, but seeing the real impact when reproductive rights are totally stripped away has convinced me that I need to take a more active role in helping to preserve those rights for all of us when my family and I return home to the US. 

    Now I’m pregnant again, 9 weeks along with a so far healthy fetus (although I already miscarried one of two around 5 weeks) and have suddenly developed heart problems that I’m told could worsen as the pregnancy progresses. Because I’m pregnant, I can’t have all of the tests I need to properly diagnose and treat my condition, so for now I have to wait and see if things further deteriorate. I’m dreading the very real possibility that the next round of EKGs, echocardiograms, and Holter monitoring could bring about the need for a decision I don’t want to have to make between my health and continuing my pregnancy. And another long, sad, nervous flight home. 

    I wish you the best.

  120. It amazes me with all the ways women don’t implant the high rate of miscarriages the problems of birth how we survived as a species. The ,fact that we really really like sex saved the day. A

  121. Thank you so much for writing this, and for sharing it. I’m one of the fortunates who has never had this experience, or had to make these decisions, but the early days of my own pregnancy were eased by knowing what the real odds were, thanks to brave and honest people like you. I deeply admire your ability to connect frank personal experience with rigorous argument about political reality. I wish you both strength for the next few days.

  122. My wife and I have been there too. The thing which made me want her to have the procedure was that in a previous miscarriage she went into shock while we were driving to the hospital. I had to carry her into the casualty department. It was messy and dangerous. I didn’t want to go through that again.

  123. I’m so sorry for you. In February, I lost a baby (and yes, I had chosen to think of it as ‘a baby’) at seven weeks. I expected emotional pain, but as you say, the World’s Shittiest secret society doesn’t tell you much about the physical pain, or the three weeks of bleeding, or the guilt/ shame that can come with it. So I hope it works out for you to the best outcome it possibly can. 

  124. I am so very, very sorry for your loss.

    I went through this myself. I was trying to have a low-tech pregnancy, so I didn’t find out until I started bleeding at 14 weeks along. In my case, I wasn’t given the option of not having  an abortion; my midwife said that miscarrying naturally would be too dangerous. It got bad enough before they put me under that I was really grateful to have general anesthesia for the rest.

    Talk about “good abortions”: I had mine at a Catholic hospital, that’s how “good” I was considered to be. But it’s still the exact same procedure.

    I was stunned at the number of women who came out of the woodwork to tell me about their miscarriage. There is such a taboo about mentioning miscarriage to a young couple or a pregnant woman. When I miscarried, it was like I joined an enormous, quiet, grieving sisterhood ranging from women my age, with kids, to grandmothers who still had vivid memories of their miscarriage 50 years in the past. Those women made me feel loved, cared for, and understood in an awful, awful time.

    I am sincerely sorry that you’ve joined our sisterhood. I hope you are taking comfort from the stories here. I want you to know that four months after my traumatic D&C I got pregnant with my son, who is now three and a half. Not all stories end like that, but most of them do. May it be so for you as well.

  125.  I had exactly the same choices as youwhile in a foreign country far from home. The very sympathetic but firm doctor gave me the pills to take to induce the abortion and booked me in for a DC as a back-up, so I could travel home as soon as possible.  I have never cried so hard and felt so lonely as when I sat in my bed waiting to take the first pill. That desperate faint hope that somehow they’ve made a mistake and the little bump is still alive. By the time it turned out I needed the DC too, I was so numb to it all I didn’t care and it passed in a bizarrely almost nice blurr of being cared for and looked after by kindly medical staff, some of whom spoke English.

    Of the friends and family I did tell, none (!) had ever had a miscarriage nor knew of people who had, so were shocked and uncomfortable talking about it, beyond “That’s awful. Better luck next time”.  I think it was a blog post before I even got pregnant which made me realise “The World’s Shittiest Secret Society” existed; so, as someone who was in some sense prepared for miscarriage by words on the internet, thanks for writing this; people like you made me feel not so alone in the loneliest toughest time of my life.

    I know this isn’t really any comfort, but as I write this I’m pregnant again and the random dice roll seems to be in my favour this time. It’s all just chance.

  126. All my love to you and Baker, Maggie. And thank you for talking about it, and the book recommendation. I will look it up. Rob and I have been trying to get pregnant with our second for a year and a half now. I had a “missed miscarriage,” so like you I had to decide: do I wait for it to happen spontaneously, do I take drugs to induce it, do I go for surgery. I waited for it to happen, then had to take the drugs to finish it, but the pain wasn’t too bad for me. For me that choice period was the hardest part, but then I have one happy healthy kiddo.

    I know you know from the book, but I have two close friends who had three or more miscarriages before having a healthy baby, so keep trying, even though the process sucks. your old Sunflower house buddy, Elizabeth(now in Lisbon, Portugal)

  127. We found out at 22 weeks gestation (5.5 months) that our baby’s heart was not in perfect shape. In fact, it had only half a heart and would be a stillborn. We faced the same difficult decision as you. Although it was an elective procedure, there was no choice. If everything would be OK, our little girl would be celebrating her first month. It was our first child. The most difficult part to accept was that the movements that we felt were not a sign of good health and vitality. Hope is not lost. Another baby will come.

  128. Maggie,
    I’m so sorry to hear about this. I can attest, like many of the commenters here, that pregnancy and childbirth can be terribly fraught. We have had close family members face the prospect of severe chromosomal abnormality and almost certain miscarriage. On another occasion, we came close to losing a loved one through complications during delivery. 
    None of this is to draw equivalence with your experience, but instead to say, you’re not alone.
    Matt Van Dusen

  129. Bravo!  I appreciate this article so much as a married, middle-class woman with good health insurance who easily had my first child, then aborted a tubal pregnancy, then miscarried twins in the second trimester (and entered the sad sisterhood of those who have miscarried, something I knew nothing about until it happened to me!), and finally had my second child, seven years after the first.  I wish more women were open about the fact that many pregnancies do NOT result in the birth of a healthy child, no matter how much the parents desire that outcome, and that the hard choices about abortions are common for all ages, socio-economic classes, marital statuses, etc. — not just poor, unmarried teen girls who don’t want a child.  My eyes were closed until it happened to me, I am ashamed to admit.

  130.  Maggie, you have my sympathies; I have been in pretty much your situation, twice. It absolutely sucks. Wishing you the least awful possible outcome under the circumstances.

  131. I’m crying for you.   I really am.  I understand exactly what you’re going through.  I never had the chance to choose the inevitable ending, however even if I did, I still wouldn’t have opted for medicine.  The pain was excruciating, the blood was horrifying, but there was a small modicum of closure involved.  I still mourn, 5 years after it happened and now the mother of two gorgeous girls.  I still feel the acute pain of wondering what if. 

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this.  So sorry.  I wish there were words that could make us all feel better about this truly shitty hand we’re dealt.  But there aren’t.  There is nothing anyone can say except I’m sorry.  I am so so sorry.

    ~Annie B~

  132. Maggie: I have never experienced anything like this, but I am sorry this has happened to you and think you are very brave in relating it. You have my best wishes. 

  133. Thank you for writing about this; I do feel lucky to live in the UK where a lot of the political point scoring about abortion just doesn’t happen. I went through a ‘missed miscarriage’ at 14 weeks when my daughter was 1 year old. I still remember everything about that day, and she’s very nearly 7.  I’m absolutely with you about telling people before the traditional time – after my fourth miscarriage, I felt I had to be open with the people I would be sobbing on. 
    There is always hope – my gorgeous second daughter is heading for 3 now, and she was my eleventh pregnancy. We had decided that there would be no more if she didn’t stay because I wasn’t up to losing any more, but she was determined.
    Look after yourselves and take the time you need, ignore all the naysayers and hold on to your very obvious love for each other. 
    As someone else write, hugs from a stranger on the internet. Lisa x

  134. My heart goes out to you, Maggie. Thank you for sharing this so that others can understand that they are not alone, and perhaps understand why this is a choice that can not be universally judged due to the many factors behind it. Best of luck in all of this. 

  135. A million things can go wrong with any pregnancy, wanted or not.    I often feel quite guilty that I had no difficulties in pregnancy because so many of my friends have had great difficulty and much heartbreak on the road to parenthood.  It’s really not fair.  I sincerely hope you can find the strength to get through this difficult time and painful decision.  If you find the courage to keep trying, may you have great success.

  136. Praying for you and your family.  Personally, I feel a responsibility to hope for the best for my Happy Mutants as long as there is still a heartbeat.  Be kind to yourself and eat a good sammich once in a while.

  137. Thank you for doing your part to make the risks of miscarriage more well-known. My decision was “easier” because my child’s heart had stopped beating a couple days before the ultrasound at 10 weeks. I had no idea that miscarriage was so common, let alone that it might happen to me. I found support everywhere I turned, as women who had had their own miscarriages shared their stories with me. A co-worker who had miscarried twenty years before had tears in her eyes as she told me.  My experience confimed my pro-choice stance: I was so grateful that some mis-guided lawmaker didn’t make it harder for me than it already was.

  138. Dear Maggie, no personal experiences to share and no possibility of imagining what you are going through, but if the words of a former Minneapolitan stranger halfway around the world are worth anything, I just wanted to add my voice of support to the choir. Stay strong!

  139. Geez, Maggie.  Nobody should have to go through what you’re going through, and I admire your ability to write this to advocate for reproductive freedom even more as a result. I hope you come out of it healthy, and that better things happen in future.

    Everyone should always have the right to make the best health decisions for themselves.  I’m embarrassed that the reproductive rights of you and other women are even up for debate.

  140. I know someone who has suffered multiple miscarriages. Her last miscarriage occurred just before she was scheduled to leave the country, and due to the pain and recovery time associated with surgical abortions, she decided to take abortion pills. My friend was forced to visit three separate pharmacists before she finally found one who was willing to dispense her medication. Naturally, she explained to the pharmacists that she had miscarried and that the fetus was already dead, but they still refused to fill her prescription. As you can imagine, she was a complete wreck at the end of her ordeal, and ultimately, the only thing those pharmacists were able to accomplish was to cause a heart-broken woman more pain.

    All of that is to say that the public in general really needs to be more informed about miscarriages, especially those who seek to limit women’s reproductive choices. No woman should ever have to endure the emotional abuse that my friend suffered that day. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  141. Maggie,

    You don’t know me, but we have mutual friends.  My husband and I were faced with a similar situation with our first pregnancy.   My first ultrasound wasn’t until I was 18 weeks… almost half way through!  We were told our baby would not survive and we decided to go through with the D & C.   Our decision was made out of love for our baby.  It wasn’t a decision we wanted to make, but I’m glad we had the choice to make it.  
    On the upside, on the day of my original due date we found out we were expecting.   We now have a healthy two year old and are currently expecting again.   

    I hope you can find peace in your decision and know that you guys are not alone.   Wishing you both well during this difficult time.   (Big cyber hugs from a friend of a friend.)

  142. Long-time-reader, first-time-commenter. Your post is so very brave. I am sorry that you are going through this. I used to think of miscarriage as a thing that happens in an instant, but it’s really a process that can take quite long. However you chose to proceed, I support you.

    I have had 2 miscarriages, 1 termination (of twins) and have 1 healthy baby after a very complicated pregnancy. The termination was a horrible situation – the twins were identical and shared blood-flow, but Twin B was getting too much blood and Twin A not enough. B was rapidly dying and A was going to experience a great trauma when B died, because the loss of pressure would cause even more of the blood to flow over to B, depriving A. We consulted with many experts, and no one could give us good information about what would happen to A. She might have died from the trauma when B died. She might have had brain, heart or lung defects. She might have lived a long and healthy life. There was no way to have enough information to feel good about the decision. I used to think that choices were a good thing, but now know now what a burden they can be.

    This article is slightly off-topic, but this quote from a bioethicist really spoke to me and is relevant here: “In an odd way, having more choices actually places a much greater burden on women, because we become the creators of our circumstance, whereas, before, we were the recipients of them. I’m not saying we should have less choices; I’m saying choices are not always as liberating and empowering as we hope they will be.”

    After my termination, something happened that I understand to be fairly common. Some of the placenta did not come out during the procedure. This caused massive bleeding and chaos for 3 months when we were desperate to start trying again. It was horrible. I understand that this is common – one midwife said “yeah – the placenta’s really not designed to let go at that stage.” In some ways it is a good thing – doctors used to really scrape the walls of the uterus during a D&C, and they didn’t have as many problems with retained placentas, but they did do lots of damage to uteruses.

    So, in the spirit of talking about things that are common but not much talked about, I thought I would pass that along. A friend of mine had had this happen before me, and it helped me that I knew it was a possibility.

    Best of luck to you and your husband.

  143. I am so very sorry to read that you are not getting the result you and your husband want from this. I’m glad you have the options and support you need to make that least-bad choice. I’m amazed you’ve read through so many comments and taken the time to respond where you have.

    A wise friend of mine has impressed on me the mantra that “stoic silence is for suckers.” Today she shared with us the pain of having a surgical drain removed as she is newly home recovering from a cancer-forced mastectomy. We support her with our words as best we can. I hope that your choice to share your story continues to bring good things into your daily stream.

  144. Maggie, deepest sympathies to you and your husband as you go through this difficult time and face a difficult choice. I’d also like to thank you for writing such a balanced and well-informed piece that adds a note of sanity to the pro-life/pro-choice debate.

    Personally, I’ve never faced a known miscarriage, though it’s entirely possible that I had an early one a very long time ago when I was a teenager and my thyroid condition made for largely non-ovulatory cycles and heinously heavy and painful periods.

    What I am familiar with, is the agonizing over the decision whether or not to abort. In my case, there were no health concerns, either mine, or the baby’s, just a matter of timing as my divorce was not yet fully finalized, my partner wasn’t living with me and my kids yet, and my children from my first marriage were still showing signs of the grieving process from the split between their father and I, even several years out from the separation.

    Ultimately, the right decision for me and my partner, was to continue the pregnancy as I was concerned about the side effects of an abortion for future fertility, my age (pushing 40) and knowledge of myself – I don’t think I could have lived with the sorrow and regret of choosing to abort. It was a very difficult decision to make especially as I’ve observed my kids struggling with how this baby fits into our blended family, in spite of also being excited to have a new sibling,  and me not being as available to them as a single parent as  I’ve slogged through severe morning sickness and fatigue.

    If I’d decided the other way, if I’d chosen to abort,  I would expect the same level of support and understanding from my family and friends as they’ve offered to me pregnant.

    There are no good and bad choices as you say, only the choices that are right and ‘best’  for each of us in the face of a given time and set of circumstances.

    I wish you and yours all the best and hope that a better outcome is in your future some day.

  145. I ended up having to make this choice as well not more than 1 year ago.  My baby had a slow heart rate at 7 weeks, and I had been spotting for a week.  Baby’s size was that of a 6 week old.  I was in pain for 3 more days, as the slow heart rate didn’t alarm the ER doctors, or my OB who told me to keep my first appointment for next week.  By the 3rd day I went to my OB’s office, where they confirmed the heartbeat stopped, from what they could see.  I had a d & c scheduled for the next day, not wanting to experience this process naturally.  I did think about whether or not they had made a mistake, and maybe that child was really still alive and thriving even before I went in for the procedure, and even one year later, as the pathology reports found no indication that there was any kind of problem with the fetus.  It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.  Fortunately, I was blessed with a baby, not 3 months after the procedure I was pregnant again, and just delivered a healthy baby boy 3 weeks ago.  My heart goes out to you Maggie, I know whatever decision you make will be the right one for you.  Know that you have an angel baby and that you did the best you could do for him/her.  

  146. Thank you for speaking out and sharing this. I’ve had both a miscarriage and an abortion–and have been treated like a criminal anytime I’ve tried to speak openly about either experience. Wishing you strength and peace as you go through this difficult time.

  147. I am so sorry you are going through this Maggie.  Thank you for being willing to share what is happening to help others.  I wish you peace in your decision.

  148. I know it has been said many times, but I want to add mine: Thanks for posting this, which must have been difficult.  My wife and I suffered through two miscarriages (one very painful one, one very early in the process) but we eventually ended up with our beautiful little girl… thanks to IVF.  Thanks again, and may the future bring you a healthy child.

  149. I’m so sorry Maggie – for both of you. I have been through this two awful heartbreaking times now but I’m still hoping. 
    I hope you can mange it somehow. Thank you for writing such an honest, brave post – you have given me the courage to tell people about my miscarriage

  150. I work at Aspen Mountain Lodge — my name is Sherry.  Please call if I can do anything at all for you.  I’ll instruct my co-workers to give you my cell phone number.  PLEASE.
    I’m a long time local and know most of Law Enforcement, Emergency room docs, paramedics etc.   You won’t be alone, I’m one of the best possible friends you can have there who doesn’t have any money because I have lots of friends.

    No matter what, my heart is with you — I understand.

    1. Sherry, thank you. I was reminded that there are a couple of writer colleagues at the conference that I know fairly well and that helps, too. Most likely (according to my doc) there won’t be any issues this weekend, but I appreciate your support nonetheless.


  151. Hey All –

       First off, Maggie, I want to say that your work is impressive and important and I feel amazingly lucky to get to read it nearly every damn day.
       I also wanted add my voice to the chorus outing the members of the World Shittiest Secret Society (our chant: W-S-S-S?). My wife and I have had trouble getting pregnant, and lived through the choice you’re facing this week.  At 6 weeks we had a healthy growing fetus, and at 7.5 there was no heartbeat and ‘signs of reabsorption’. Our choice was the same as yours: abort or wait, with waiting being an option that would just drag out the pain for weeks more. We chose the mifepristone/misoprostol option, and lined up a Harry Potter movie marathon for light distraction to get through the few hours of discomfort that the doctor described. My wife then lived through at least eight hours of intense, body wracking pain while I lamely hugged her and rubbed her back through it, with the tidy, saccarine exploits of a young wizard on the TV in front of me. 
        In the weeks that followed, people came out of the woodwork, to tell their stories and try their best to help us through it, much as is happening right now in this thread. That helped.
        We’re both academics (me: evolutionary biologist, she: economist) and we’d approached pregnancy with the due diligence we dorks bring to our lives, so we knew the stats, but we had no idea how many people in our lives had lived through ‘our personal tragedy’.
         As much as I felt warmly to those that opened up, I was incredibly mad at a society that just never talked about miscarriage, so when we were in that moment, we felt broken, felt that there was something pathological about our inability to make this work, and felt alone about it all. As much as I love data, stats don’t help with those feelings. Personal stories do. And stats aside, the only personal story I knew of this happening to another person was Howard Stern’s miscarriage experience he told in his autobiographical film. Howard Stern. That’s it.
        Sympathies and empathies after the fact are wonderful. But building a dialogue between humans in our lives and in our literature so that everyone knows about this part of the human condition is the only thing that can disband the World’s Shittiest Secret Society. 
        So, thank you for getting people to tell their stories, and hopefully folks to whom this hasn’t happened yet will talk about it.

    To that end I propose: 
                          – The first rule of WSSS is that you do talk about WSSS.
                          – The second rule of WSSS is that you DO talk about WSSS.

    Any more?

  152. Wow–what strength you have and compassion for other folks in similar situations!  If only more of us had the ability to be so forthright and honest in dealing with difficult situations like this–the world would be a much better place!  Keep trying Maggie–we need more people like you bringing kid into the world–J

  153. Dear Maggie:

    This is not TMI.  Since you’ve come to BoingBoing I’ve been repeatedly impressed by your ability to take information and present it in a manner both thoughtful and succinct.  Though I understand this subject matter is not exactly in your wheelhouse, you’ve done the same again.

    All I can say is I’m sorry: that you are suffering, that miscarriages happen at all, that the procedure you are considering is so legally fraught.  If having this abortion will make your emotional pain easier to bear, then please don’t think you don’t need it.  Psychic suffering is real suffering, and no one denies that people in physical pain need treatment.

    Whatever happens, I hope that things get better soon.  If you need anything, please don’t feel afraid to call on the BoingBoing community for help.  

  154. I am so sorry, Maggie.

    Thank you for such an inclusively written article.  I fall into the “unchosen childlessness” group, and it’s rare to be mentioned in the reproductive rights conversation.

    Definitely not TMI. I wish stuff like this was less secretive.

  155. Maggie, 

    My heart goes out to you.  You’ll live through this and then get on with providing the world with some new happy mutants.  You won’t ever forget but whatever your choice it will be your history and your decision, as it should be.

    Life sucks sometimes.

    John G

  156. I couldn’t agree more.  I had 3 m/c in a row before my daughter, and if anything they made me more staunchly pro-choice.  Having a child is hard enough when it’s been your dream for years, and you’ve been able to plan and dream….If you don’t want a child, then I really doubt it’s in anyone’s best interest to bring a child into the world.

  157. I just want to say thank you so much for sharing your story here. Yes, this sucks. Big time. I’m so glad that you have a husband who can, and would, cancel his business trip in order to be by your side on yours while you face this difficult situation. I’m so glad that you are able to make these choices. And I’m so very glad that you have spoken up about your situation and your choices because so many women face these nightmares alone and need to hear voices like yours. Again, thank you. 

    I hope that this difficult moment passes for you with the minimum of pain and trauma, and that you and your husband be blessed with a happy and healthy pregnancy soon.

  158. Maggie, my wife and I went through two spontaneous abortions.  Our 3rd pregnancy had a rocky start with trimosy 12 mosaicism showing up in the first test.  We were in our mid 40’s at the time.  I remember the doctor telling us to hang on and give him time, we waited on pins and needles till my wife was far enough along to get an amnio.  1000 cells later and the conclusion was that the trisomy was in the placenta and the fetus cells had accomplished a trisomic rescue.  He’s a happy, beautiful 3 year old who is the light of our lives.  Not sure where your road will lead you, but thought our story would help.  I’m pro-choice and deeply believe it is a personal decision.

  159. I’ve been reading Boing Boing for years and never had a reason to post a comment until now.  I am so impressed by your honest and so very human (in the best sense of that word) story, Maggie.

    I am also even more impressed with your and your husband’s compassion for everyone else who has shared their stories here.  You both must be going through so much pain of your own that it is amazingly generous of you to express your gratitude and support for others right now.

  160. as far as I can tell, the mighty disqus ate my comment on this thread.  Am I the only one that has trouble with disqus pretty much every time I try to post?  Anyway — well, I found my post after reposting, and still dislike disqus. So I’ll sort of erase it and say this:

    What you have done here is create something beautiful. Your heartfelt sharing of a story has clearly echoed in the minds of literally hundreds of posters on BB, and what I see above is an outpouring of wonderful emotion and caring. You should be proud. You have started to create the very lexicon that we lack for this topic, and I thank you.

    I wish you the best outcome in this time of difficulty.

    Denver, CO
    the Fiat RN

  161. My second pregnancy ended in a partial miscarriage, was then deemed was ectopic, and I did what is essentially a chemical abortion with methotrexate.  I feel for you.  It is never an easy decision.

  162. First, I want to say thank you for writing this post. You’ve shown a lot of courage by being so open and honest about your situation. I hope you are able to have a healthy pregnancy whenever you wish to try again and get to take a baby home with you at the end. 

    Second, I want to agree with your astericks – or at least the one that I can speak to. Yes, when you are pregnant and don’t want to be all of your options suck. I found myself in that situation many years ago and after realizing that *I* couldn’t bring myself to have an abortion and deciding to find an adoptive family (a difficult choice as well, since I’ve always wanted children), I then miscarried. It was painful, both emotional and physically. I thought that I still had months to come to terms with letting this baby go to another family, and instead I had to say goodbye overnight. Even after this experience, though, and finding that I couldn’t have that procedure done on me, I’m still pro-choice. My decision would not have changed about whether or not to continue that pregnancy, though if I’d discovered that there were serious problems with the fetus, I’m not sure what my decision at that point would have been – or if it even would have been my choice any longer, as I’d elected to place my baby with another family. More importantly, the choice should always rest with the person who is carrying the fetus – and her partner if she chooses to include them in the decision. It still amazes me how many preconceptions there are around abortion and that anyone would think that a woman would or could make that decision lightly.I was lucky to know a woman who had adopted all 3 of her children and a woman who had been adopted as a toddler and another who was in the process of placing her newborn with a couple who would make a great home for that child. Seeing all of those faces of adoption made it easier for me to make that decision …… but it didn’t make it any easier to deal with the emotional effects of having a miscarriage. I’ve found bits and pieces of healing through the years, and I now have a wonderful daughter who turned 5 last month, whom I have cherished more than I thought would be possible *because* I know how fragile life is now.Again, thank you. It’s important that women stop being silent about the pain that is caused by these decisions. Maybe if we all start sharing our stories more openly, some of the misconceptions will be changed. Maybe another woman will be more prepared for the possibility of a spontaneous abortion. Maybe another woman will not feel so alone if it happens to her. Maybe if we all speak up just a little more, we can make the world a more understanding place – which can only make it better.

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