why as a woman and mother I'm terrified to live in a post-roe world

My last post shared my feelings during the early days of my miscarriage earlier this yeara failed, very wanted pregnancy that thankfully passed without the need for additional medical intervention. Had the pregnancy not passed on its own, I had chosen to have a D&Ca medical procedure that is the most common method of early abortion.  

In today's post-Roe world, where elective abortion can be outlawed or heavily restricted, the health care choices I had when I miscarried will be nonexistent for millions of women. My miscarriage experience has provide me with a different lens in which to view the reality and rhetoric surrounding abortion laws. The overturning of Roe v. Wade today leaves me terrified to be a woman and mother in this country. 

At six weeks pregnant this past February, I started spotting on a Thursday afternoon and bleeding in the early evening. We waited nearly five hours to see a doctor at the hospital's OB triage and have a transvaginal ultrasound, which confirmed there was a heartbeat. It was a little low but it was there. I had stopped bleeding and my cervix was closed--all positive signs. 

We left the hospital with instructions to return if I started passing clots but otherwise follow up with our 8-week ultrasound to see how things were progressing. We knew the pregnancy might end in a miscarriage but had hope it would not. 

When we got home at almost midnight that night I went to the bathroom and started passing large clots. Then the cramping started. We got back in the car and returned to the hospital to have our worst fears confirmed. My cervix had opened. There was still a heartbeat but the pregnancy was no longer viable. 

That's when we were presented with our options: 1) wait to see if my body would miscarry the pregnancy on its own, which could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks 2) take medication to pass the pregnancy at home or 3) have a D&C to empty my uterus. As Jessica Groes notes in her excellent New York Times opinion piece, "Overturning Roe Will Make Miscarriage Care Worse", the last two options are the same choices given to abortion patients.

Dale and I talked with the doctors about the pros, cons, and safety risks of each option. Then we counseled together and decided a D&C was the best, safest option for me. I didn't want to prolong the nightmare of losing the pregnancy, run the risk of hemorrhaging or going septic, or not know when the pregnancy would pass and have that impact my ability to care for our almost two-year-old. 

The hospital referred me to the women's reproductive health care clinic to schedule my D&C. I called the next day and was put on a waiting list. Thankfully, they called me back shortly thereafter and said they had an opening on Monday morning. I spent the weekend bleeding off and on, distraught with grief and fear but also doing my best to show up for my toddler who had no idea why mom didn't feel good. 

When I went to my D&C appointment, they performed another transvaginal ultrasound. It confirmed that my uterus was empty. My body had passed the pregnancy on its own. I'm fairly certain that the huge clot I passed on Saturday was the pregnancy that could have been my second child. I was relieved that my body had done what it needed to do on its own and equally devastated at the reality of what that meant. 

I believe it is wrong to deny women access to reproductive health care and take away their right to make their own decisions about their body. I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. Those two things can co-exist. I don't believe in abortion as a form of birth control. I also don't believe it is my or the government's place to control women and their bodies. 

These words from Dr. Julie Hanks echo my own personal feelings on the subject: "I’m pro-choice because societies where abortion is legal have fewer (not more) abortions and the abortions are more safely performed. I trust women and doctors to make these decisions more than I trust primarily male legislators to make decisions for women. I’m anti-abortion because I value human life and I think abortion should be a very rare occurrence."

I know sharing my story and opinion will not be received well by some and that's ok. You don't have to agree with me. But I have to speak up for women, and this is me trying to do that. 

the early days of a miscarriage

I should be meeting Dale at my first doctor appointment this morning but I’m not. We should be hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time but it’s not beating anymore. 

My uterus should be expanding with new life but instead it’s empty. Two weeks ago I was worried I was showing too much already. Now my belly is just soft with no precious cargo inside. 

One minute I’m fine and the next I want to disappear into the pain. I thought I’d escaped becoming a member of this awful club that no one ever wants to join.

starting a new work, life chapter

After over five years with the same nonprofit organization, I started a new, full-time job last month. I forgot how demanding it is to be in a new environment with a new set of responsibilities to learn. In the course of the first week I went from euphoria to exhaustion with every other emotion in between. 

There were times over the past few years that I wanted to leave my former job but I either didn't have the energy for all that would entail, it didn't feel like the right time to leave, or I couldn't find a better opportunity. Making this shift in my work life has been a long time coming. I didn't know if it was something I wanted or needed---"it" being a mom who works full-time outside the home. 

three years without you

On Saturday it will be three years without you. I so badly want to slow down. To stop my mind from racing and be quiet. To really feel and disconnect from the world. I took a mental health day from work today. I'm taking the time to write this while Henry naps. I'm trying. But I need your help. And you're not here. 

Over a year into motherhood and all that it entails, I find myself struggling with how to take care of my family and also take care of myself. What does time to myself look like now? How do I give myself permission to take a break? I know I'm not alone in these feelings but that doesn't make it easier. I wish I had a hobby like gardening that could help me disconnect from everything else. I know that helped you. But I haven't found mine yet. I need to keep looking. 

the joys of motherhood

Today I had the honor of speaking in my church's sacrament meeting for Mother's Day. The following is the talk I shared with my congregation. 

The Joys of Motherhood 
by Clarissa Earl

In the scriptures we learn that men and women are that we might have joy. Today I feel truly joyful. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to you about the joys of motherhood. However, Mother’s Day hasn’t always been a happy day for me. I know it can be a difficult day filled with complicated emotions and heartache for many people. 

9 months with henry grant

You spent nine months growing inside mama and today marks nine months you’ve been growing earth side. 

I marvel at the fact that your dad and I created you. That I birthed you and brought you into this world. I don’t think it will ever cease to amaze me. 

You’re not the tiny baby we brought home nine months ago. You’re getting bigger every day wearing 9 month clothes and 18-24 months shoes. You’ve got big some big feet kiddo.