Owen's Story Part 10: Trigger Warning Pregnancy Loss, TFMR

Yesterday, I read an article that talked about how fetuses send cells to help their mother’s body stay healthy during pregnancy. The article also talked about how those cells remain in the mother for the rest of her life. Just like the baby is made up of the cells of its parents, the mother carries the cells of her children long after delivery. I hope this is the case. I hope that Owen is still with me in some small, cellular way, even though his body is gone. I miss him every day. Some days are easier than others, some days are harder than others. I’ll never stop wanting my baby. 


A co-worker talked to me about her mother-in-law who gave birth to a stillborn baby. She never got over that lost pregnancy--even now as she’s entering her 70s. It’s always fresh for her. I think it’s a universal feeling for any mother who loses a child. You were responsible for them. You felt them kick and move inside you. Your body changed to birth and care for them. You aren’t the same person you were before that pregnancy. Their little existence seeped into every aspect of your life. Forever different, never the same. 


I wish that we could have given him a strong, healthy body. I wish we could have had him. I wish that he stood a chance. I’ve found myself watching his ultrasound videos over and over again lately. I feel like I’ve gotten to know him better by doing this. The clips are only 20 seconds long, but they’re seared into my memory. I still kiss his photos goodnight, sing to him, and talk to him. I hope that somewhere, somehow, he can hear me and feel my love. 


He’ll always be my first child. The child that made me a mother. The child of my dreams. It’s strange to think that if I get pregnant again, that baby won’t be my first, even if it lives a long, healthy life. They’ll be my second-born. The second baby to live inside me. In a way, it’s comforting to think that my future children will grow in the same place inside me that their older brother did. Justin mentioned the other day that it’s like Owen got the seat warm for them. I hope that warmth is still there for his siblings to feel. 


One thought I’ve had over and over again throughout our journey with Owen is where I stand with the pro-life, pro-choice movement. Before my pregnancy, I was pro-choice. However, I didn’t realize just how devastating it is to make the choice to lose a child. How crippling and agonizing that decision is--especially in a late-term situation. I didn’t view fetuses as living people until later on in a pregnancy. I think I viewed the process in an informed, but disconnected way. I always told myself that I would never choose to abort a child, but I, of course, supported other women who did. 


I also didn’t realize that a termination for medical reasons like Owen’s is technically an abortion. 


Then it happened to me. 


I felt connected to my baby in a way I never could have imagined. I knew he was a living person with a personality that was already developing and showing during his time inside me. I talked to him, sang to him, and touched my belly often so we could be closer to each other. However, I lived in Utah. A state that allows terminations/abortions, but with strings and cruel consequences attached. A state with legislators that didn’t fathom that someone like me and Justin could be in this situation. Painting all parents who abort or terminate as cold-hearted, selfish, lazy parents who never wanted their baby. Parents who flippantly decided one day to end their baby’s life. 


That wasn’t us. 





And I’m sure that isn’t the case for most of the other parents out there who have had to terminate or abort a pregnancy after 16 weeks. We loved Owen, prayed for Owen, hoped for Owen, and planned for Owen. But that wasn’t enough. He would have died inside me or outside of me right after being born. We tortured ourselves going through our options, trying to decide which choice would be the kindest to him. What would be a better way to die--before being born or choking and suffocating after being born?  No parent should ever have to make that choice, but we were grateful we had a choice, even if it was limited by state laws and regulations. On top of this, our baby’s life wasn’t recognized by the state because of the choice we picked. In their eyes, they gave us a choice, but we chose incorrectly. Owen will never get a death certificate like other babies that were naturally terminated/miscarried after 16 weeks, delivered stillborn, or died shortly after birth. We were required, however, to handle his remains by either cremating them or burying them because he was alive. At the mortuary, they told us that the state saw him as “Alyson Adams’ fetus”, not my baby. Not “Owen”. Not the kicking, stubborn guy who was alive when we walked into the hospital for the termination, and dead in a Tupperware box when we left. 


So in the State Legislature’s eyes, what was Owen? Was he a person or a fetus? An individual that needed to be buried/cremated to honor his life or a thing not worth recording because of how he died? Their laws regarding terminations were contradictory and heartless. The state wouldn’t even allow me to stop his heartbeat before the termination took place--even though it’s a commonplace practice in less conservative states. I was being punished for terminating him because his heartbeat meant he was a living person and could potentially feel pain. Owen was being punished. They were the ones that wanted him to suffer through his termination. They didn’t love him or know him. They just saw him as a bargaining chip. A way to make parents reluctant to abort or terminate. A way to eliminate and complicate the most difficult choice any mother would have to make. Even an induction at 23 weeks would have still counted as a termination according to them. They would have rather had me birth him full-term, choking on air, turning purple and blue, organs failing, and dying in my arms. To them, that’s more humane than ending his suffering before it began. That was the only “right” way I could do things. They provided choices, but they tried their best to make the choice for me. Even though he was my baby and it was my body. They were playing politics with his life. The fact that our state-provided insurance would not cover my medically required termination was just further insult to injury. One last dig they could make in response to us having the right to choose what we thought was best for Owen.


With all this in mind, I would say this experience has made me more pro-choice than before. I’m angry for myself and my baby. I’m angry that his life didn’t matter enough to allow me to end it with as much love and care as possible. I’m angry that I was made to jump through hoops and navigate red-tape during the most traumatic month of my life. I’m angry that I was punished for loving my baby and that my baby was punished for not having a healthy body that could live outside of mine. I’m angry that much of the dialogue around abortions and terminations villainizes the women put in situations where they have to make that heartbreaking decision. I’m angry that it’s a political issue where people don’t seem to realize that termination and abortion rights go hand-in-hand. If abortions are made illegal, so are terminations for medical reasons--like Owen’s. A termination is an abortion. 


If you’ve gotten this far in my journal, I hope it has made you angry too. Even if you still consider yourself “pro-life”. Things need to change. There has got to be a better, kinder way. The “Pro-Life” movement as we know it today doesn’t actually care about life or babies. They just want to take away a mother’s right to choose. Any mother, in any pregnancy situation, should be free to choose what is most comfortable and safe for herself, and her baby--without shame or additional hardships from those who aren’t in her situation. 


You might be thinking that you would have done things differently than I did or that what I did was wrong; but, you weren’t me, and Owen wasn’t your baby. Can you truly say you know exactly what you would have done if your baby had been given the same lethal diagnosis and you received the same test results and medical care? 


To be honest, you’ll never know the answer to that until you get put in a situation like ours. However, if you think you would have chosen something different, that’s fine. That’s the whole point. What worked for me, might not work for you, and vice versa. I’ll never know if I made the “best” choice, but it felt right for me, for Justin, and for Owen. It was a loving and informed choice. I’ll always have questions, doubts, and regrets about our decision, but I’m thankful every day that I wasn’t forced into a delivery scenario that would have left me more traumatized than I already was or put my baby in a situation I wasn’t comfortable with.


I also hope this gave you the chance to know Owen and what he went through. What we went through. To know how loved he was and still is. To know that he existed, he kicked and crossed his legs, he sucked on his thumb, and he played with his umbilical cord. To know that he liked clementines, sour candy, ramen, spicy food, and French fries. To know that he got mad when the ultrasound techs pushed him around too much, even if all of this was only for a tiny window of time. To know that his life was the happiest five months of our lives. 


I love you forever, Owie. 


Hugs and Kisses, 

Mommy


2 comments

  1. Hey! This is McKenzie Brewer. I messaged you on Facebook as well, but I have a question I would like to ask you. Know that I am sending you so much love 💕

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  2. Christine LavalleeJune 24, 2022 at 4:34 PM

    Your story breaks my heart. I’m angry and sad you weren’t better supported during those difficult decisions. But mostly I am grateful you shared your story and Owen with the world. Thank you ❤️ This is just from a stranger, but I hope you feel my support in your decision. I don’t think I could have chosen better. I’ll remember Owen and your family.

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