Owen's Story (Part 4): Trigger Warning Pregnancy Loss, TFMR

That same week, we also went to a birthday party for one of our nephews. I thought it would be good for us to be around family and kids. Mostly because I have a tendency to run away from uncomfortable situations, and because I also wanted Owen to have a chance to be around everyone who loved him before he was gone. 

At first, I was fine, but as I watched my siblings interact with their kids, my heart began to sink. I wouldn’t get the opportunity to carry Owen on my hip, to soothe his tears, to watch him play with cousins, or to joke around with him. I was jealous that their pregnancies had all gone how they were supposed to, and that their children were happy and healthy. I kept imagining what it would be like if Owen were there. What would he be doing? What kinds of games would he like to play? Would he be shy or outgoing? Who would be his favorite cousin? Would he cling to us or go off on his own? Would he like caramel ice cream or cookie dough ice cream? Everything came to a head when the grandkids got in a picture together. Even though Owen was alive inside of me, he would never get to be in that picture. His cousins would never know him and everyone outside of our family of two would forget him eventually. It would be like he never existed. It was painful to walk away from where they were taking the photo. I wanted Owen to be included, but it wouldn’t make sense for me to stand there with all the kids.

I couldn’t decide how I wanted everyone to treat me. My brothers and dad hadn’t seen me since we told them the bad news, and I could tell they weren’t sure what to do or say to show that they were worried about us. Everyone was trying to gauge how I was doing the whole time we were there. I wasn’t sure if I wanted people to pretend like everything was okay or if I wanted them to walk on eggshells around me. I guess uncertainty should be something I’m comfortable with now. Aside from when I was crying, I felt empty most of the time, like a shell of myself. I still don’t know how I’ll ever be completely okay again. 


On Wednesday we started the first day of the termination procedure. We drove out to the MFM office in Murray and met with a nurse and the doctor who would be performing the D&E. They asked if we had named him and we told them his name was Owen. They wrote it in quotation marks on the paperwork for the doctor. Those quotation marks really bothered me. His name was Owen and will always be Owen. It wasn’t a nickname I gave him or an imaginary friend’s name. It was my child’s name. My son’s name. 

We had to sign paperwork that the state of Utah requires--the nurse actually apologized to us as she had us sign document after document since most of it didn’t apply to our situation. The wording on it was specifically intended for elective terminations/abortions. It’s almost like the state didn’t even realize that people like us would be in this terrible situation where we were terminating our baby at 22 weeks not because we wanted to, but because we had to. Despite this, it was still considered a "late-term abortion." (Only 1% of all abortions/terminations happen after 20 weeks, and most of them are wanted pregnancies. https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/abortions-later-in-pregnancy) They also told us that since we were terminating the pregnancy past 20 weeks, the state required us to have a mortuary handle Owen’s remains instead of the hospital. However, they still wouldn’t grant us a death certificate for Owen because we were terminating. (The state of Utah does not provide death certificates to terminated babies at any stage in a mother’s pregnancy because they technically count as late-term abortions, but if the mother delivers naturally with no induction and the baby dies, if the baby is still-born, or if the mother miscarries, they will provide a death certificate past 16 weeks.) They were forcing us to acknowledge that Owen was a living baby with a soul by making us bury or cremate him, but in the same breath, telling us his life really didn’t matter enough to be documented because my body didn’t kill him naturally. It was cruel. We were forced into choosing how and when Owen would die. We felt we were making the most-loving choice for him by ending his suffering before it began, and not having his only moments outside of my body be gasping for air and choking. When I pointed this out to the nurse and doctor, they were just as upset and confused by the state laws as I was. I was angry for my child, but there was nothing I could do about it. 

After signing the paperwork, they had to watch me take a progesterone blocking pill to soften my cervix for the procedure the following day. Progesterone is what strengthens the cervix during pregnancy and since they were going to forcefully open my cervix on Thursday, they needed it to be pliable so it would be less painful for me. Once I took the pill, there was no going back. The process had already begun. We talked about the big procedure on Friday where Owen would be taken out of me. There were risks involved--they could accidentally puncture my uterus, my cervix could be damaged, I could have placental remains left inside me that would come out during the following week, and my blood sugar would need to be closely monitored since I was technically going through labor and I would need to fast until the procedure. I asked about the risk of pieces of Owen being left inside me since they would be breaking apart his body and sucking him out during the procedure. The doctor said that it was highly-unlikely and that they would have an ultrasound on my belly during the entire procedure to make sure nothing was left behind. 

After leaving the office, we had to go over to a different building to get a Covid test in preparation for Friday. Ironically, I had been feeling cold symptoms since Monday and I had a coworker out with Covid. It was like someone in the universe hated me and wanted to kick me while I was already down. I cried in the car as I tried to spit in the sample tube. I just wanted my baby. I didn’t ask for any of this to happen. I didn’t want any of this to happen. I couldn’t change my mind, I couldn’t go back, we were locked in to the next three days of the termination. 

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